OAKHURST — Yosemite High School (YHS) junior Nicolas Guynn returned on June 30 from a ten-day wrestling tour in Japan with Team USA California’s Cultural Exchange Program.
From Tokyo, the thirteen-member team and three coaches flew to Okinawa where they trained and competed for three days.
Next, they flew to Kagoshima where they boarded chartered buses, traveled to and wrestled in Miyazaki, Oita, Fukuoka, Kurume and Kokura.
“Honor is everything in Japan,” observed Nic.
“Japanese respect toward one another and to us was amazing. Even when we were introduced to the presidents of wrestling committees, they treated us as equals, greeting us by bowing — as they do to everyone. The students have no need for lockers because no one steals. No one was ever rude. They were always polite.
“Cleanliness is most important to the Japanese. Out of respect for one another, no one litters. There is no trash on the ground anywhere, even though there are very few trash cans. They use few disposable items in Japan and they don’t eat snacks. They eat three large meals each day,” shared Nic.
“We were served lots of fish, fried chicken and rice — even for breakfast,” Nic continued. “We did not have many fresh vegetables or fruits, although we did see kiwi the size of avocados.”
While touring, Nic observed, “The flat lands in Japan are either covered by buildings or rice fields called paddies. Bamboo and forest cover the hills and mountainsides, making them look like jungles. Everything is so green and lush.”
Team USA California wrestled Japan’s Prefecture (state) Teams, made up of 17 to 19-year-old students. Nicolas learned that the Japanese students’ education is targeted. Enrolling high schoolers take entry tests. A major is selected for them. They are then enrolled in the school that offers the pathway to their targeted career.
As he learned more about the Japanese culture, Nicolas’ wrestling opponents taught him about himself while on the mat.
“I must always, constantly be the aggressor,” acknowledged Nic. “I have to be the mover, not be moved. The best way to not be thrown is to throw. To not be taken down, I need get the take downs.”
Both the team overall and Nicolas individually finished the tour with three wins and three losses.
“I want to thank my coaches and teammates for a great experience in Japan as well as those who supported me while I prepared for it,” concludes Nic.