This week marked a very special occasion for high school friends Gina Hilson and Atsuko Yajima.

The pair attended what was then Bendigo Senior High School in 1985. Atsuko was an exchange student via the Rotary youth exchange program and was enrolled at the school for 12 months, before going back to Japan.

Gina and Atsuko were reunited yesterday, after Atsuko flew over from Japan to spend the week in Bendigo.

“Prior to this week, we hadn’t seen each other for over 30 years,” Gina reflected.

During Atsuko’s time studying at Bendigo Senior High, she struck up a strong friendship with Gina – a friendship which was rekindled in October last year, after Gina found and reconnected with Atsuko on Facebook.

While Gina’s family wasn’t Atsuko’s host family during her exchange, the girls spent a lot of time together and Atsuko shared many meals at Gina’s house.

One of Gina’s favourite memories was when, in 1985, Atsuko gave her a beautiful cherry blossom pin, which she has kept all these years, and proudly wore on her visit back to the college today.

Atsuko and Gina have a full week planned in Bendigo while Atsuko is visiting from Japan, however both ladies agreed that a visit to Bendigo Senior was at the top of their list.

Though many of the buildings have changed since the pair studied at the college, the great memories haven’t.

Both Gina and Atsuko thoroughly enjoyed their trip down memory lane.