Tag Archives: Isehara

University student interaction at Tokai University in summer 2017

Today we went to the Tokai University. It is a huge place with many different things to offer, such as a swimming pool or an international café. After our arrival, we got three options – visit a mathematics lab in the university, go on a tour with students, or explore the place ourselves for about an hour. I walked around with a map and let my curiosity lead me. In Japan, there are many vending machines everywhere, and this university wasn’t an exception – you can easily get yourself something to drink or eat.

After exploring, we ate lunch at the school cafeteria and talked to the students. Some of them spoke English and some didn’t, but that wasn’t a problem since we found our way to joke and laugh together anyway. People there were very nice and excited. After finishing my lunch, I had a little bit of time left, so I looked around at the shops and what they had to offer. Not only you could buy new books for your subject, but also t-shirts saying “TOKAI UNIVERSITY <3 ". When everyone finished their lunch, we moved upstairs for some activities. We were welcomed by a big room with tables covered in paper. It got me interested - what are we going to do now? First, we learned about the 7th of July and it’s celebration in Japan. We could write our own wish to get the feeling of this special day called Tanabata. I still wondered why the tables were covered. Apparently, after writing our wish on a piece of paper, we were about to make our own fan! We got blank fans, pencils, and other things to decorate each in our own way. I must say, many people had creative ideas and executed them well, the fans were beautiful to look at. Everyone seemed very focused and happy. In my opinion, it was something that could bring us all a little bit more together, everyone started complimenting each other’s skills and there was no one who thought something was ugly. Some people got time to decorate even two fans!

After finishing the previous activity, we got divided into seven groups where each group tried a different Japanese game, and we rotated around so everyone could try everything. My group first played a Japanese card game called karuta. It got very competitive very fast. It was about getting as many cards as possible by touching the right card with the correct syllable on it. After playing a short turn of it, we moved to the next point – Japanese calligraphy. It seemed easy but to get a pretty outcome, you need to practice a lot. We all tried writing our own word – mine was yume, which means dream in Japanese. After that we could try cutting shapes with a pin. You need to be precise and steady. I gave up after a while of failing. These three activities were in the first room.

In the second room, we could use chopsticks as a gun, or play with spinning tops (which is a mascot for this city as well). I don’t know how these kids are able to play with that, it’s so hard to spin it and control where it goes. We could also catch our own yoyo balloon from water and try Japanese sweets. It was a very fun day, I am especially glad for being able to interact with local students. Some of the conversations were very funny and interesting.

Adriana Misztowt (Norway)

Climbing in the rain

Group picture by Oyama shrine with water evaporating from the shrine roof
Group picture by Oyama shrine with water evaporating from the shrine roof

Today was the first activity day of a new city, Isehara, which I also happened to be the city runner of! So, definitely no extra stress for me there, none whatsoever! My host family happened to live just 100 meters from Oyama elementary school, which we would visit in the morning, so instead of going 15 km the wrong way just to come back I walked straight to the school. I was earlier than the rest of the group, so I had time to talk with the principal before the activities.

I have to say, I was really nervous having my first proper morning meeting after 1st Session, and I’m sure it showed. But the group is very diligent and hardworking, so we survived and headed out for the activities with the kids. We would interact with the kids, signing dozens of forms accommodated with the ever-repeating cycle of “Hello! My name is _ What’s your name? Nice to meet you!” until we became deaf to the words we spoke. It was fun though, and the kids were really cute. Also, by my experience with Japanese elementary school kids their English was really good. Afterwards we tried to play a traditional game with spinning tops, at which I failed spectacularly, for the second year in a row. At least no-one but me was hurt. Anyways. Finally, we got kanji for our names from the fifth and sixth graders and then tried to write them ourselves. I was dubbed “the friend in heavens”. Charming, although could be interpreted as somewhat sad as well.

After the school visit we had a delicious lunch of tofu in various forms. The lunch charged our batteries enough so that we were ready to tackle the final challenge of the day, climbing Mt. Oyama! We put on traditional pilgrim clothes and climbed the approach to the cable car station. When we reached the station, however, the dark, rainy clouds of doubt descended upon us, quite literally. Luckily though, the LOC were not shaken by small drizzle and we continued up the endless steps along the mountainside. Halfway up the mountain the rain got worse and towards the end we were running up waterfalls. Also, who had the great idea of making a hiking trail that consists of 97% stairs? In any case, we made our way to the top, drenched, exhausted and with a lifelong hatred of stairs, but happy at our achievement.

We had some time to gather our thoughts and change before we were given a tour of the shrine. We learned a lot of interesting things about the shrine, Oyama, connection between Shinto gods and Pokemon, and much more. It was a great ending to this very active day.

Juuso Myller (Finland)

Behind the scenes of the Arigato Event

Arigato Event group picture in Isehare
Arigato Event group picture in Isehare

Hi, I am Jørgen Steen from Norway. I am one of the counsellors of World Campus. My responsibility is the technical stuff and the video blog.

So today was Arigato Event day. The busiest day for me. This is because on top of being part of all the activities and the normal work, I also have to make the collect pictures from everyone and make a slideshow from this weeks event. For those who do not know, Arigato Event is a 2 hour event where we dance and sing for our host families to show our gratitude towards their hospitality. And on top of that this was the last day of the session so I also had to film a lot of video blogs.

The day started with a meeting as all days do; we talk about today’s events in detail so the participants know more specifically what they are going to do that day. After that we went to make dream maps.

Dream maps are something that they do in Japan to manifest what you want in your life. It is divided into 4 areas and then you present it like it has happened. We were going to present it at the arigato event. First what you want to have, materials goods. Second is what you want to become. Third is who you want to make happy and who you want to have in your life. You do not use specific pictures from this just like a girlfriend/boyfriend, parents, children etc. Lastly you put pictures of what kind of world you want. So we sat down with some Japanese students and started to cut in newspaper and magazines and glue the pictures on our piece of cardboard. When we all were done we presented some of them as practice for the real deal. About half of us did it serious and the rest kind of joked around with it. Mine was kind of a joke, as I did not have a lot of time since I had to film a special kind of end of the session video blog. “A message to the next year’s participants”. It is to counter the lack of knowledge of what we do in World Campus that a lot of people actually have before participating.

When the dream maps presentation was over we went to make mochi, which were quiet good after I sprinkled them with some sweet sesame powder. For lunch we had Japanese curry. I am not a big fan of that, but this time it was kind of good, maybe it is growing on me. After I hurriedly ate lunch I started to transfer the participants’ pictures to my computer and started to make the slideshow. So while the participants and the other counsellors had the end of the session wrap up, I worked with the slideshow. I didn’t finish in those 2 hours they used, so I continued while they had breaks and practised for the arigato event dances and songs. After I was done I went straight to work on all the technical stuff for Arigato Event. I have to check the volume for all the microphones, the songs we are playing, check that the projector is working as it should and etc.

The Arigato Event was fun and worked out well. After that we had a pot-luck party where all the families brought different kinds of food. There was a lot of good stuff there! While we ate someone performed a sort of geisha dance.

When everything was over I went home showered, packed and hang a little with my host family before going to bed.

Jørgen Steen, Norway

Summer festival in Isehara

Three samurais preparing for the festival in Isehara
Three samurais preparing for the festival in Isehara

Today we in the World Campus – Japan program went to a summer festival. I had been looking forward to it ever since I had heard about it, and it ended being a bit different from what I had anticipated. Some of it was honestly a bit disappointing while it still ended up being a very fun and memorable day.

We started the day meeting up in a building at the street where the festival was going to be held. We had a meeting, going through what was going to happen during the day and what we were supposed to do. After this we got an assignment where we would get a piece of paper each that we would then pass around to the people around us and write down our honest thoughts of each other. After this we had lunch, a short break and then it was time to change into the kimono that each and everyone of us had gotten as a gift. I am a bit taller than most so the kimono did almost not fit me but I still liked it and the sandals we got were not terribly uncomfortable either, it was time for the festival to start.

We had tent at the festival were we worked in shifts. Before my shift started I took a look at festival with a few other friends. We did not have time to look at the whole festival (mostly because we got almost lost looking for an atm) but we did manage to buy something to drink and one of my friends played a game in which she won a balloon. (I did not understand the rules of that game)

Surprisingly, I enjoyed working at our tent more than I did the actual festival. The world campus tent was a café where you mostly got something to drink and then chatted with us participants. Me and my Swedish comrade talked with quite a few different people through our shifts, and I did enjoy all of it.

Other highlights from the festival would be the nagashi somen that almost run through the entire street. Nagashi somen is when you have several pieces of cut bamboo with water running through it. Somen noodles run with the water and you try to fish it up with chopsticks and eat it. I find really fun but I had already tried it and the line to get chopsticks was long so I ended up not participating in this event. There was also a troupe of samba dancers who regularly danced through the entire street and a bit more. I had not expected the samba dancers.

Once I had seen the whole festival, all the tents and such, I was a bit disappointed because there were mostly food stands and I could not find any interesting food. Nevertheless, the festival was ending and the last event was a sort of discoish dance that we learned on the spot and participated in. Part of why that was fun was because we danced in our kimono and sandals which made it all feel a bit more accomplishing. The dance was a surprisingly fun ending to what had been a surprisingly fun day although for me the kimono was the highlight of the day. I think the kimono is one of the best souvenirs I could have ever gotten on my own and I will surely remember this day if only for that.

Adam Olsson, Sweden