Category Archives: Kumamoto City

Stereotype games with university students on midsummer

Signe with takebana bamboo branch with wishes and shoudo in Kumamoto
Signe with takebana bamboo branch with wishes and shoudo in Kumamoto

I woke up at around 6:45 am and got out of the bed after my alarm went off for the second time. For breakfast my host mom had made rice and soup and she had also put different kinds of furikake (basically a type of sprinkles that you put on rice) on the dinner table, with different flavours like tuna roe, salmon and sesame. It was so good and interesting to eat that I actually had two bowls of rice that morning.

After breakfast I packed my things for the day, freshened up and put on makeup and around 9:00 am me and my host mom were out of the door and on our way to the destination of the day, which was the prefectural university of Kumamoto. After arriving, gathering and having the morning meeting we went to the CPD centre to meet the students of the ELLA program. The students arrived after a few minutes and sat down with us. We later stood in two lines, WCI on one side, ELLA in the other and we had 40 seconds to introduce ourselves and get a hang on who we where. After that we played something called “the stereotype game” where on three two-sided whiteboards we wrote stereotypes that we had about the other countries and later the representatives from the countries got to explain some of the things that were written. Most of the things on the Sweden board were about snow, shrimps and the cold.

After that we went to a special classroom to eat lunch consisting of Obento lunches and talk with the students. I told some of the students about Swedish food and celebrities. After lunch we did some calligraphy and got our names written in Kanji. My name became Shigure which kind of means the sound of a drizzle of rain in fall, I also got my last name in kanji which was a bit easier as my name literally means south 南. We drew different words like ‘love’, ‘dream’ and ‘friend’. After about an hour or so we moved back to the CPD centre where we made some origami to put on a plastic bamboo branch and writing wishes on the origami.

Time is up and it was time for some group photos and waiting for the host families to pick us up. My host mother drove me home and we made dinner together in the form of Japanese hamburger steak. What I didn’t expect was that along with the food she had also brought appetisers from the Italian restaurant where she worked. While waiting for the steaks to finish in the pan we were feasting on bruschetta and liver pâté with crunchy focaccia pieces.

After dinner we discussed Swedish holidays and when my host dad came home from work we looked at pictures of my home city and my university. I also gave my host their gifts which were a Swedish midsummer maypole and a glass bowl which was nice considering my host mom was collecting glass. A very unique way to celebrate a midsummer weekend I would say.

Signe Söder (Sweden)

Host family day in Kumamoto

Charlotte making soba noodles with her host family
Charlotte making soba noodles with her host family
Charlotte with her host family at the soba restaurant
Charlotte with her host family at the soba restaurant

Even though we couldn’t complete the original plan of going on a boat ride to see dolphins because of the predicted storm, I had so much fun! Instead of going to the coast we went up into the mountains. Coming from the Netherlands, where there are no mountains at all, it was amazing to see all the sights. We never saw the predicted storm but the mountains shrouded in clouds were very beautiful.

After stopping a few times to see the view we arrived at our first destination: a soba restaurant where you can make and then eat your own soba. After mixing the dough you roll it out into a big square, then fold it a few times and cut it to make the long soba noodles. They may not have been the prettiest, but they were the best I’ve ever tasted!

On the way back to Kumamoto we stopped at the Shirakawa fountainhead, a spring where you can see the fresh water bubble up. This water becomes the big Shirakawa river that flows through Kumamoto city. The small shrine there is very old and placed in a very quiet piece of forest, it was a very peaceful place.

During all these car rides we were watching the movie finding Dory. I’m still not used to the fact that so many Japanese cars have a television screen installed in the dashboard. This television doesn’t only play DVD’s but can show live TV as well.

When we arrived back home I taught my two host sisters the ninja game, which they proceeded to play for the rest of the afternoon and evening. In between they also found time to teach me a counting game where you have to name the right amount of raised fingers and two card games as well.

After having made our own lunch of soba noodles we also made our own dinner, takoyaki! You have to turn these small balls of dough filled with octopus and anything else you want around very quickly in one movement so they become nice and round. My host sisters (11 and 7 years old) were very good at it. I was not.

Because this was the last day in Kumamoto and with this host family I felt a bit sad to have to leave so soon after meeting them. I’m looking forward to meeting a new host family in Omuta, but leaving my Kumamoto host family will be very difficult because my stay there was so amazing!

Charlotte Lamping (The Netherlands)

Arigato Event 2: The Technical Guy

Today was the last organized activity day of the visit to Kumamoto city. We spent the entire day at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto, where at first we were given a presentation regarding the general demeanor of the Japanese people. I found this very interesting, as it went in depth on how the average Japanese person thinks, and how past events helped shape their current behavior.

The rest of the day was pretty much dedicated to rehearsing and doing the Arigato Event. As the staff member on tour responsible for the technical aspects, my job was at this point just to run the correct music at the correct time, and ensure that all the pieces went in order and that the volume for the different pieces was correct. However, during this particular event, I was also given the extra task of timing how long we took on each individual part of the event. This was a little bit of a challenge, just due to remembering to write down the time every time it was necessary. However, I believe that the event was held very successfully, and it seemed like the audience was entertained throughout our little show.

I was also charged with making the slideshow for this event, and although I didn’t get any feedback as of writing this, I think it went well considering I only had three days’ worth of pictures and videos to choose from. The day in general felt really good, and I’m pumped for continuing with the program!

Simen Solumn (Norway)

Today we went to a university

Charlotte with origami roses in Prefectural University of Kumamoto
Charlotte with origami roses in Prefectural University of Kumamoto

First, we tried to break the Ice by having a little chat so we lined up in two rows, World Campus members in one line and high school students in the other. After one minute of talking, we changed our partners.

Later we had lunch together. Sadly, some of the students were very shy so I didn’t have a very deep conversation, but I think everyone gave their best. After lunch, we tried to make friends with an origami master by bribing him with licorice. Unfortunately, the taste of salty sweets seems to be new for Japanese. The origami master then showed us how to fold a rose.

We probably could have folded paper for the rest of the day because that was so much fun.
Last thing at this day was a lecture about nonverbal communication and its differences in different cultures. For example, counting with fingers and gestures like “come here”. The differences between cultures and gestures was interesting.

Michael Buehlmann (Switzerland)

Baby hatch! – Kumamoto 22.06.2017

Videoblog from Kumamoto City, filmed on the 22nd of June 2017.