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45 Japanese students visit Ripon High
Japanese exchange DSC 8566
Exchanging high school logos are Mutlsuki Yamashita, left, a teacher from Kyoto, Japan, and Ripon High Principal Keith Rangel who looks forward to Ripon students traveling to Japan for another exchange between the two schools. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

Forty-five Japanese exchange students from the Kyoto, Japan’s Gakven High School spent four days attending Ripon High classes and living with host families.

The juniors and seniors from Japan went to class with their Ripon counterparts. They also took in the sights in and around Ripon and Northern California with their host families. 

 One family headed by police officers Mario and Kami Ysit took two girls to the Bay Area and to the Mother Lode, among other places. Their stops included the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Pleasanton Mall, Strike Zone Bowling and the In ‘n Out restaurant in Manteca for their first hamburger along with dinner at the Ripon Roadhouse. They also toured the Ripon Fire Department – including a ride on a fire engine – and made a stop at the Ripon Police Department. 

The Ysits said the students were so grateful for being taken around to see everything in the few days as well as the hospitality while they were in Ripon, they couldn’t say thank you enough.  

Their wish was to have pizza, tacos and hamburgers saying the portions in America were much larger than what they were accustomed to in Japan. After attending a Ripon High School football game, they said they were hungry for a snack. They went to a grocery store with their hosts where they chose fruit.

Japanese students at the Kyoto school are required to visit the United States for a minimum of one week before they graduate from high school.  The students were 16 and 17-year-old juniors and seniors. 

On Friday they were the central focus of a student body assembly in the north gymnasium at Ripon High School where they were all seated in the center of the bleachers in a packed house.  

Ripon High principal Keith Rangel and Japanese educator Mutlsuki Yamashita exchanged wall-hanging logos from both schools before the assembled students.  Rangel told the Japanese teacher, “We look forward to continuing this relationship in the future and we can come visit you in Japan.”

The Japanese students – boys and girls alike – went to the center of the gym floor and put on two dance demonstrations followed by the spirited style of two cheerleaders.  A full complement of Ripon’s best cheerleaders did the same.

Some 300 students came to the U.S. in staggered numbers at different times flying into San Francisco.  There was a period from 2002-2005 when students were not allowed to fly out of their country due to active terrorism threats.  The founder of their school, Mitsu Ji Moto,  had first come to the U.S. at the age of 15.  


To contact Glenn Kahl, email