Today some of us got to go to the JR Suita shopping district. Our mission was to evaluate what we like about the place, and how it could be improved in order to revitalize it, since the shopping district is in a declining state and needs help to get back on its feet.
We visited two craft shops (Terubonoya and PaoPao), a comic store (Kitamoto), a tofu shop (Kurata-syokuhin), an optician (Vision-Megane) and an okonomiyaki shop (Oishinbo). After the tour, we got together to try out some Japanese foods (including natto, tofu, umeboshi, takoyaki and okonomiyaki) and talked about what we thought about what we saw. We were also asked to write down our comments and ideas to improve the shopping district.
Visiting a traditional Japanese shopping district was very interesting, since in Finland we mostly just have malls. The staff in each store were very friendly and it was amazing to see the craft masters work on their products, since usually you never meet the people who make the product you’re buying. The food was delicious, especially tofu donuts and okonomiyaki, and the staff had a great time watching us eat the different foods.
It was a lot of fun to take part in the improvement of an area. Together as a group we came up with many ideas, such as clearer maps and trails to make it easier and more interesting to explore, decorations to make it more pleasing to the eye, and utilization of social media in advertising. I hope our ideas will really help them out and that in the future it becomes a flourishing shopping district once again!
A big thank you to Suita shopping district staff for letting us take part in this experience!
In the morning, we had a nice meeting where the counselors explained everything that was going to happen today. After the meeting, we were out in our scheduled groups and left to our shops. Our group would be helping out in Senri temple. The people working there were so nice; the first thing we did was drinking matcha tea and seeing a beautiful tea ceremony. Because of the matcha’s bitterness we also got a red bean paste cake filled with mochi.
After that we sang a song and they explained how Buddhism came to Japan from India. After a while we had to say our goodbyes and go back to the Senriyama community center. There we got a nice lunch from the kitchen staff. They’re so nice to talk to. While we were eating, Yui, from the local organizing committee, who does some of the activities with us explained what was going to happen in Kansai University. Not only did we get a tour of the University that explained where everything is located, we also went to their little museum and got to play games with the students there.
After all these fun events, we still had one thing planned: a bon dance practice at Senri temple. There we got to see how a summer festival works. We got to write a wish and hang it on a bamboo tree. The bon dancing we were taught was really tiresome but super fun. So, to give us some energy we ate some shaved ice and watermelon! It was such a fun day.
We went to the shopping street in Suita, where we were each assigned to a specific shop. A group of five World Campus – Japan participants (including myself) were supposed to be teaching English, but ended up getting a private karate class from our student instead! At the end of the class, we decided to thank our student/sensei by performing some Rakugo for her, which we learned about for the very first time yesterday. I did not want to perform then, because I’m not good at improvising, but today I felt confident enough to try. And I actually sorta liked it, too!
Later in the day, we went to Kansai University to interact with the students. First, we got to play with the juggling club’s materials. My favorite was the diabolo: spinning it was easy and fun. I also tried really hard to catch it after throwing it up in the air, but I just couldn’t do it! Later, we talked about the differences between our countries, for example, what type of food we eat or how we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Our group’s question was: “what do you study at your university?” It turned out we all did something with languages, either English, Japanese, Korean or computer programming (we think it counts).
When the day’s program was over, we made plans with some Japanese students to hang out at the arcade the day after. We might also see them again at the Arigato Event. Somehow, World Campus makes it easy to make foreign friends, even when we have little time together!
Francine Geurts, The Netherlands
Unique Access to Japan!
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