They have taught me about the customs and history of their respective prefectures, the differing types of food, music, but above all else their fantastic sense of humour. In return I have attempted to explain British and European equivalents, with escorted visits on off-duty weekends to such locations as Paris, Edinburgh, Brussels and Rome - not all on the same course, obviously!
At first you may think that the language barrier would have prevented learning - not the case at all. All the students had gone to great lengths to learn some English prior to their course. I in turn with each successive year managed to learn some Japanese, so couples with an ability to illustrate resulted in a free flow of information in both directions. Differences in translations, though, caused many funny incidents, far too many to list here. One, however, sticks in my mind. On the first day in the classroom, a series of personal introductions take place. It helps all to quickly get to know each other. The Japanese officers completed theirs. Now time for the British. The inspector at the time started. "Good morning, my name is Ian and I am married to Annette." There was an immediate buzz of conferring Japanese. "A net?", said one confused student. "Does she like fishing?" The good natured laughter could be heard for a great distance.