"KAKEHASHI Project" Tama Art University (Tokyo Met.)

Dispatch in March 2014

Group 1 (University Students and Graduate Students)
Tama Art University (Tokyo Met.)

Period:March 3 – 14, 2014
Local Visit Destination:University of Cincinnati (Ohio)
Number of Participants: 13

Tour Photo Album

Photo of Orientation in Tokyo
Orientation in Tokyo

Photo taken at at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Arrival at Newark Liberty International Airport

Photo of Orientation in the U.S.
Orientation in the U.S

Photo taken in Times Square
Times Square
(Learning about U.S. history and culture)

Photo taken on Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge
(Learning about U.S. history and culture)

Photo taken at Makerbot
(Company visit)

Photo taken in The High Line
The High Line (elevated park)
(Learning about U.S. history and culture)

Photo taken at IceStone
(Company visit)

Photo taken in Manhattan
(Learning about U.S. culture)

Photo taken at Reception at the Japanese Consulate-General in New York
Reception at the Japanese Consulate-General in New York

Photo taken at University of Cincinnati 1
University of Cincinnati
(University exchange)

Photo taken at University of Cincinnati 2
University of Cincinnati
(University exchange)

Photo taken at University of Cincinnati 3
University of Cincinnati

Photo taken at Talks by Koki Tanaka and Gabriel Ritter
Talks by Koki Tanaka and Gabriel Ritter

Photo taken at Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
(Viewing the Price Collection)

Photo taken at Lecture by Masaki Kaifu
Lecture by Masaki Kaifu, President of Wowmax Media

Photo taken at LA City College 1
LA City College

Photo taken at LA City College 2
LA City College

Photo taken at LA City College 3
LA City College
(University exchange)

Photo taken at LA City College 4
LA City College
(University exchange)

Voices from Participants

1. What impressed you most in this experience of promoting the charms of Japan in the U.S.?

  • As students studying product design our presentation proposed products that represent Japanese lifestyles and sense of beauty. We also created a video to help people understand our ideas. Among the various responses we received from the students, the comment that impressed me the most was that all of our products seemed to have a common message to treat things with care. I was glad to hear this, because we had created our products to convey attractiveness of Japan and I felt our message had been understood.
    Before the presentation I had imagined it would be difficult to make people, who are in a different culture and speak a different language, truly understand our ideas. Even if they could recognize the characteristics of Japan we were trying to convey, I assumed their understanding would be only superficial. But I think we were able to share our thoughts better than expected, probably because we had casted our ideas into the shape of products instead of just explaining today's Japan.
  • During my visit I became aware of the different mindsets toward making things, or monozukuri in Japanese, between the two countries. I know that Japan's monozukuri is recognized for its delicateness and meticulousness, but I have always taken this for granted in my everyday life. While in the U.S., however, I noticed a difference in small things at supermarkets or restaurants and came to appreciate Japan's good aspects.
    In the meantime, I saw many U.S. products that made me feel people's freewheeling ideas and rich imagination. They were fascinating and powerful, and I felt the positive energy of people who create things with out-of-the-box thinking. Compared with the U.S. style, Japanese designs seemed too quiet. I thought Japanese products can be further improved in many ways. I also noticed during the presentation that the audience's reaction was different; for instance, people unexpectedly erupted into laughter at some points and asked us questions from different viewpoints. I found such differences very interesting.

2. What would you like to pass on to people in your community and school after you return to Japan?

  • It seems to me that museums in Japan are mostly visited by art students and people interested in art, but in the U.S., art interacts with politics and other things, and I saw art works that people can feel and enjoy casually. I thought we can adopt these ideas in our future productions. Before taking part in this project I was not very interested in overseas travel, partly because I was not fluent in English. But during the KAKEHASHI project, my motivation was stimulated by various things, and I learned there are so many interesting things in the world. History, culture, food, the way of communication—everything was new and exciting. I could never have experienced such excitement without actually visiting the U.S. Large buildings, wide streets, hearty meals, skin tones, colors of eyes—everything was far more beautiful than in pictures. These things may hardly be special for other people, but it was a great feeling to see various things with my own eyes and I really enjoyed the experience.
  • People interested in visiting the U.S. even a little should not hesitate to go, if they have a chance. Before this trip I worried about many things, including my English skills, but I am glad I took part in the KAKEHASHI project as it helped me take a big step forward. I observed local towns, cars, people, landscapes, culture, food, manner, etc. I found there were things different from those in Japan and others things similar or the same. This is what I would not be able to have from knowledge. The trip was also an opportunity to learn more about Japan. The language barrier may be daunting, but I think the important points here are to have something to say and desire to communicate, which are also strong motivations to improve ourselves.
    It was only a ten-day trip, but I became a little more comfortable about communicating in English. I hope many people who want to improve their English skills will have the same experience.

3. Please freely describe your experience in the KAKEHASHI Project.

  • The experience in the U.S. was truly inspiring. Everything I came into contact with made me think about what I lack and what I need to do. I observed what U.S. students of my age study at university and felt the urge to work harder. While in the U.S. I found myself wanting to start so many things to improve myself that I could hardly wait to return.
    Before this trip I had never considered ways other than entering university and looking for a job, but I have learned that this is not the only way. Having been to the U.S. I am now able to see the world from a wider perspective and can visualize future possibilities in various fields more specifically. Now that the ten-day KAKEHASHI project is over, it is important for me to think about what to do next. There are many things I want to try and achieve, so I will start working as soon as possible. Utilizing this experience I want to improve my skills, even a little at a time, and grow further as a person.
  • When I first heard about the KAKEHASHI project, I thought it would be exciting to visit the U.S. with my friends and make a presentation, so I decided to join. But there were so many things to do before going; we had to finish the products we used to introduce Japan, prepare our presentation and practice our English, but the most difficult part for me was thinking how to introduce Japan. I thought over and over about what "Japan" is, about the things in the minds of young Japanese today, and about how I should reflect these elements in our products. I also did not know how to convey our ideas to other people, or whether the audience would even understand them, so I was extremely nervous. But when we finished the presentation, I felt that people understood us and I was deeply moved. While enjoying the beautiful townscape, I thought it was worth all of the hard work.
    I would like to thank all the people who supported us—friendly Americans who welcomed us warmly, our kind and intelligent guide, Seiju-san, those people who cooperated with the program, my teammates for their hard work on the presentation, and the teachers who gave us encouragement. I would like to use this experience to try various things in the future. Thank you again for providing such a wonderful opportunity.

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