It’s a long, long way from the Land of the Rising Sun to Big Sky Country. How far exactly? Try more than 5,200 miles! That’s how far the Japanese national high school wrestling team recently traveled to take part in a handful of meets with high school wrestlers in Montana.
The squad of 13 wrestlers, two coaches and a translator also visited the Rocky Mountain Elk FoundationAccompanied by local wrestlers as well as family members and coaches who served as hosts, the group spent the morning viewing a video presentation about the life and biology of elk, checking out some of the largest elk mounts in the world and experiencing other hands-on exhibits throughout the facility.
Though wrestling is the actual activity that brought the two sides of the globe together, the trip is more about a cultural exchange for all involved.
“What’s really neat about it, it teaches -- you really get some insight about the world,” Big Sky’s Bryant told the Missoulian newspaper. “… It kind of gives you some insight as to what the world’s really like and what we go through. There’s misunderstandings, and there’s thing we learn through our cultures.”
The visitors also enjoyed the wintry weather by playing outside and throwing snowballs at each other.
After their RMEF visit, they participated in a meet with local high schoolers that evening before traveling to three other Montana destinations for plenty of wrestling and greater opportunities to soak in the American culture.
“You make friends, and these kids get an understanding and the difference of our world in the United States and their world which is a far different culture,” Bryant said."