"KAKEHASHI Project" Invitation: Kent State University (Ohio)

Invitation in May 2013

Short-term stay in Japan: Group 1 (University Students)
Kent State University, Ohio

Period: May 11 - 21, 2013
Local Visit Destination: Kobe City
Number of Participants: 25

Tour Photo Album

Photo taken at Senso-ji in Asakusa
Visit to Senso-ji in Asakusa

Photo taken on a bullet train
Moving to Kobe by a bullet train

Photo taken at Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution
Visit to Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution

Photo of English Rakugo experience
Enjoying English Rakugo presented by Master Kaishi Katsura
(The Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Kansai)

Photo taken at Lecture on the super computer
Lecture on the super computer “K computer”(RIKEN)

Photo taken at Arima hot springs 1
Visit to Arima hot springs
(Experience of foot bath)

Photo taken at Arima hot springs 2
With a tour guide of Arima hot springs

Photo of Chikuwa making experience
Chikuwa making experience
(Kanetetsu Delica Foods Inc.)

Photo taken at Kwansei Gakuin University 1
School exchange/tea ceremony experience
(Kwansei Gakuin University)

Photo taken at Kwansei Gakuin University 2
School exchange
(Kwansei Gakuin University)

Photo taken at Lecture on Nagata-district recovery
Visit to “KOBE Tetsujin Project”
(Lecture on Nagata-district recovery)

Photo of Nihon Buyo experience
Nihon Buyo experience instructed by Master Minosuke Nishikawa

Photo of Debriefing session
Debriefing session
(The Japan Foundation)

Voices from Participants

1.Having participated in the KAKEHASHI Project, what do you think are Japan’s strengths and attractiveness?

  • The ability to come back from tragedy to help each other even when the government or official organizations fall through impressed me. The willingness of people to help strangers was also wonderful. Japan is also amazing at using everything efficiently, from energy to resources. Despite having so little land, Japan has room for the beauty of nature, even in its largest cities. Customer service in Japan is of a very high standard that always makes you feel at home. Most of all, the generosity of Japan and the Japan Foundation has impressed me again and again.
  • One of the things I noticed the most that really impressed me was the efficiency of different technologies and services that are unique to Japan.
    Also, I personally relate to the idea of “mono no aware”, which we learned about today. Even though things are very fast and efficiency-oriented in the city, I love that Japanese people take the time to slow down and appreciate nature and natural surroundings. This was the most noticeable with the different shrines, Arima Onsen, the tea ceremony, traditional dance, and etc.

2.How do you change your perspective of Japan through the project?

  • I knew that Japanese society was very flexible and adaptive, but now I can see that this is not simply accepting everything, but standing together to change what can’t be accepted, like fires due to electrical company negligence after the 1995 Kobe earthquake.
    I also knew that Japan has very many people with very little space, but I was surprised to see how much greenery there is and how much more beautiful Tokyo and Kobe are than other large cities like New York and Chicago.
  • This trip has really caused me to love Japan even more. Being immersed in a culture is such a wonderful way to better understand it. I have constantly been emotionally touched by the kindness and helpfulness of all the different people I’ve met; shopkeepers, guides, and even strangers on the street. My perspective on Japan now is absolutely nothing but positive, and from this trip, I have firsthand experience to back up my love of Japan.

3.After returning to the U.S., what aspect(s) of Japan do you want to learn more?

  • I plan to look up more about rakugo and nihon-buyo. We received very good introductions to them that have made me want to know more. I also want to learn more about daily life in Japan and about applying to Japanese universities.
  • I would really want to learn a lot more about “mono no aware” and Japanese poetry and literature in general.
    I am also fascinated by the different traditional art forms, dances, and rakugo, especially.

4.It is hoped that you will promote further mutual understanding between our two countries, serving as bridges in the Japan-U.S. relationship. What will you do to deepen understanding of Japan’s strengths and attractiveness?

  • As the new president of Kent State Japanese Cultural Exchange Circle, I will bring back the knowledge gleaned from these experiences to help Japanese exchange students at our school. I also want to attract more American students to the club and encourage them to study Japanese as well.
    I have many friends who love Japanese pop culture, so I hope I can help them understand how interesting and dynamic the country is outside of TV shows or games. Of course, I’ll be sharing all the great photos I took and experiences I had with my friends and family, and on my blog.
  • I would definitely do a lot of research on the things I listed above. I also plan to tell friends and family all about my wonderful experiences in Japan. I have been keeping a journal, so I plan on forming it into blog posts on the Internet.

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

  • I loved it! It’s been my dream to come to Japan since middle school. I got to meet so many kind people, practice speaking Japanese, and learn so much. Thank-you so much!!
  • This experience has honestly been extremely life-changing for me. I would not have traded it for anything in the world. I have more lifelong friends and have met wonderful people that I will never forget (even the kind strangers!). I have noticed my understanding of the language (speaking and listening) slowly improving. I still have moments of uncertainty, but more and more, moments of clarity and understanding have replaced that uncertainty. I still am feeling from the beauty and wonder of Japanese culture, history, art, etc.… and most of all, the wonderful people who have made this whole experience possible. From the very bottom of my heart, thank you so much. I will never forget this incredible life-experience.

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