"KAKEHASHI Project" Invitation: Southwest High School (Minnesota)

Invitation in July 2013

Short-term stay in Japan: Group 3 (High School Students)
Southwest High School, Minnesota

Period: July 8 - 18, 2013
Local Visit Destination: Kishiwada City, Osaka Prefecture
Number of Participants: 25

Tour Photo Album

Photo of orientation (Lunch Break)
Orientation
(Lunch Break)

Photo taken at Tokyo National Museum (Studying Japanese history and culture)
Studying Japanese history and culture
(Tokyo National Museum)

Photo taken at Senso-ji/Nakamise in Asakusa (Learning about Japanese traditional culture)
Visit to Senso-ji/Nakamise in Asakusa
(Learning about Japanese traditional culture)

Photo of first Japanese dinner
First Japanese dinner

Photo of courtesy call at Osaka Prefectural Board of Education 1
Courtesy call at Osaka Prefectural Board of Education

Photo of courtesy call at Osaka Prefectural Board of Education 2
Courtesy call at Osaka Prefectural Board of Education

Group photo taken at Osaka ATC Green Eco Plaza (Learning about the latest Japanese local eco-businesses)
Visit to Osaka ATC Green Eco Plaza
(Learning about the latest Japanese local eco-businesses)

Photo taken at Osaka ATC Green Eco Plaza (Learning about the latest Japanese local eco-businesses)
Visit to Osaka ATC Green Eco Plaza
(Learning about the latest Japanese local eco-businesses)

Photo of school exchange at Osaka Prefectural Izumi High School 1
School exchange at Osaka Prefectural Izumi High School

Photo of school exchange at Osaka Prefectural Izumi High School 2
School exchange at Osaka Prefectural Izumi High School

Photo of school exchange at Osaka Prefectural Izumi High School 3
School exchange at Osaka Prefectural Izumi High School

Photo of school exchange at Osaka Prefectural Izumi High School 4
School exchange at Osaka Prefectural Izumi High School

Photo of school exchange at Osaka Prefectural Izumi High School 5
School exchange at Osaka Prefectural Izumi High School

Photo of school exchange at Osaka Prefectural Izumi High School 6
School exchange at Osaka Prefectural Izumi High School

Group photo tken at Osaka Prefectural Izumi High School
School exchange at Osaka Prefectural Izumi High School

Photo taken at Kofukuji Temple (Learning about Japanese local historical architecture)
Visit to Kofukuji Temple
(Learning about Japanese local historical architecture)

Photo of homestay experience
Homestay experience

Photo taken at Sumiyoshi-taisha (Learning about Japanese local historical architecture)
Visit to Sumiyoshi-taisha
(Learning about Japanese local historical architecture)

Osaka City Abeno Life Safety Learning Center 1
Visit to Osaka City Abeno Life Safety Learning Center

Osaka City Abeno Life Safety Learning Center 2
Visit to Osaka City Abeno Life Safety Learning Center

Group photo taken at Kobudo tournament (Learn about Japanese classical martial arts)
Visit Kobudo tournament
(Learn about Japanese classical martial arts)

Photo taken at Meiji Shrine (Learning about Japanese traditional culture)
Visit to Meiji Shrine
(Learning about Japanese traditional culture)

Group photo taken at Meiji Shrine (Learning about Japanese traditional culture)
Visit to Meiji Shrine
(Learning about Japanese traditional culture)

Photo taken at Tokyo Toy Museum 1 (Japanese cultural experience)
Visit to Tokyo Toy Museum
(Japanese cultural experience)

Photo taken at Tokyo Toy Museum 2 (Japanese cultural experience)
Visit to Tokyo Toy Museum
(Japanese cultural experience)

Photo of Monjayaki experience 1(Learning about Japanese food culture)
Monjayaki experience
(Learning about Japanese food culture)

Photo of Monjayaki experience 2(Learning about Japanese food culture)
Monjayaki experience
(Learning about Japanese food culture)

Photo of Monjayaki experience 3(Learning about Japanese food culture)
Monjayaki experience
(Learning about Japanese food culture)

Group photo taken at the National Diet Building (Understanding Japanese society )
Visit to the National Diet Building
(Understanding Japanese society)

Photo taken at Miraikan, The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Learning about cutting-edge technologies of Japan)
Visit to Miraikan, The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
(Learning about cutting-edge technologies of Japan)

Photo of debriefing session 1
Debriefing Session

Photo of debriefing session 2
Debriefing Session

Voices from Participants

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

  • I think it depends on who you ask of what are Japan’s strengths and attractiveness; each person holds their own opinions on the country. For me, Japan’s strengths lie in multiply areas: I believe a strong point for Japan is its community. In America, many people strive to be independent and believe that individually we can work towards common goals. In Japan, it’s different. The Japanese tend to work more as a team to accomplish goals. Another strength for Japanese is its courtesy which some may view it as weak. But the politeness of the Japanese people made them more approachable. It wasn’t scary to ask for help or explain something you didn’t understand. One thing I really like about Japan, being a strength and attractiveness in my opinion (though it may be an unpopular opinion depending on who you ask), is its ability to balance between tradition and the progressing western world. There was a healthy mix between the two and that is something you don’t taste in America.
  • Japan’s attractiveness is highly due to the friendly people, and unique historical culture. The attitude of most people was courteous and helpful. Compared to countries outside of Asia, it was significantly different from the western culture I am accustomed to. The architecture of the shrines and temples only added onto Japan’s physical attractiveness. When visiting the largest wooden structure and visiting Buddha, I felt a connection that can’t be explained on paper! The modern aspect of Japan was originally what attracted me, but upon seeing, feeling and hearing Japan, I realize how deep the culture and religion is, and I’ve seen it in a new light.

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

  • I travelled to Japan two weeks prior to this trip so I already had an idea of Japan to an extent. But I believe that this trip still had an influence on my perspective of Japan. This trip provides me opportunities to explore Japan on many levels-the most basic: economic, political, and social. My perspective on the Japanese economy and politics changed a little; experiencing the economy firsthand, I learned the differences between their cultures and mine. As for the politics, little knowledge I knew of the diet expanded to future information I can later use in class. The social aspects were molded into a deeper understanding for the respect people show to each other how they react to Western culture and their opinions on foreigners. (I mean there is a lot more but provided the limited time and space I chose ones that stuck out to me). Previous stereotypes either faded or enforced-not to stay that stereotypes are good (whatever they may be) but let me rephrase: I witnessed some people fitting the stereotypes and others breaking them.
  • Visiting Akihabara wasn’t exactly a bad experience; it helped me to see Japan in more than one way. I’ve come to realize Japan is multi-dimensional. From Harajuku’s fashion to Japan’s Edo period, such as shrines. Before I came to Japan, I had watched anime and manga. But I also watched video blogs made by English teachers currently situated in Japan. Around the 7th grade I knew I wanted to learn Japanese and experience all of these things for myself. I see Japan as a hub of new ideas, creativity and tradition grouped together to create Japan.

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

  • I want to learn more about the pressure of education in Japan. I also want to learn about probably the more sensitive topics like bullying and the challenge to provide the same chances as the academically gifted.
  • I definitely want to learn the language more when I return to the US. I am that grammar-nerd, so I want to deepen my understanding in Japanese grammar: how to form complex sentences and advance vocabulary. I would also want to learn more about the culture so that I would feel more comfortable when I return to Japan. There is so much I want to learn about Japan though that I might as well absorb in all aspects of Japan.

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?

  • I will continue to take Japanese through high school and college. I believed that my biggest challenge here wasn’t cultural shock or not understanding the lifestyles, but it was the language barrier. It was so frustrating to speak to other Japanese with ease but not being able to, because of how little I realized I knew as well as understand them.
  • I will continue to study Japanese and focus on understanding not only the language but also the beautiful culture with it. I hope to return to Japan very soon in the future, and also build more onto the connections I have made on this trip.

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

  • I loved, loved LOVED (although it was challenging) the home stay experience. I wish we could have stayed with our family longer and had a closer look into the high school like visiting into the classrooms and watching after school activities. I liked all of the activities we’d had, however I wish we had said our option in places elsewhere we could have visited. All in all, we as a group did so much here and I loved every part of it.
  • I was expecting to have a wonderful time here and this trip exceeded my expectations. Every activity was planned so that we experienced as many aspects of Japan as possible. From the shrines to the shopping arcades, I enjoyed everything we did and the people we did it with. I’m sad the trip is over, but I’m excited to bring back to the U.S. stories and what I know. I plan on returning to Japan soon, and hopefully I’ll be ever more experienced in the language. Thanks you so much for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity. I don’t plan on wasting the wonderful connections this has given me.

[Contact Us]

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FAX: +81-(0)3-5369-6042
E-mail: infokakehashi@jpf.go.jp
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