In the spring of 2004 families living in the Kent village of Bridge hosted a group of pupils and teachers from Tenryu Junior High School, Nagano. The pilgrimage provided an opportunity for the Japanese visitors to meet William Rose, who was a prisoner of war at the labour camp formerly on the site of Tenryu School. Mr Rose’s diaries, written during his captivity, were edited and published in 2002 under the title ‘You Shook My Hand’. The book is now central to the social studies curriculum at Tenryu School.
A special feature of the 2004 exchange was a symbolic act of peace and goodwill scheduled into a special evensong at Canterbury Cathedral, attended by the Japanese Ambassador, Mr Masaki Orita and Mrs Masako Orita. Two Japanese schoolchildren lay colourful garlands of origami cranes at the High Altar. The bird is a symbol of peace in Japan and subsequently the origami cranes have been placed at the Hiroshima peace memorial in Japan.
During their stay, the Tenryu pupils taught the art ancient craft of origami at Bridge school. They were also given a tour of the stately home of Higham Park in Bridge, by one of the owners, Amanda Harris-Deans. The eight-day programme of social and educational activities included a meeting with the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, a tour of Eastbridge Hospital, a visit to Leeds Castle, and two days in London.