Uda City, Nara

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Though every day is a precious, September 4th became an especially memorable one for the Class of 2007.

It started with the visit of Muro-ji temple, a national treasure of Japan, where the chief priest of the Buddhist temple offered us a guided tour. We were also given rare permission to enter the “Hondo” (main temple) to admire the magnificent Buddha statues which date back to the 7th century.

After having a lecture from the chief priest, participants had the chance to explore the extensive temple ground. Many of us climbed some 400 steps to pay a visit to the “Oku no in” (the innermost sanctum) on the top of the ancient cedar-covered hill.

Delicious vegetable curry was cooked for us by the citizens of Taguchi district in “Muro Genki Mura” as well. The recently opened art village is hosted in a former elementary school which closed down 6 years ago, where various activities are designed by local initiatives to invigorate the neighborhood. It was there that experienced craftsmen and artists taught us how to make handcrafts. With their help, we enjoyed creating tie-dye scarves, bamboo accessories, origami motives and painting pottery.

Kumamoto City, Kumamoto

On Aug. 25, the class visited the City Museum for Minamata Disease as well as a glass recycling factory.

Located some 40 km south of Kumamoto city, Minamata city is known internationally for its tragic past. Due to the contaminated waste water from a chemical company which was dumped into the sea, many people in this coastal city suffered from severe mercury poisoning. 

Today, Minamata city is one of the most environmentally friendly cities in Japan, having strict regulations on waste separation, and supporting many ecological businesses. 

“I was so surprised to see how they recycle so well. I’ve got a very clear idea about how to recycle bottles and really wanted to take the idea back home. “Peace” and “Recycling” were two main issues I wanted to know when I decided to join the program. So far, I can say I achieved my goals. Thank you very much!” – Mary Ma (China) 

We were also fortunate to visit Japan’s first “baby-hatch” on Aug. 27th. At Jikei Hospital, a local private hospital in Kumamoto city, we were able to take a closer look at the “baby-hatch”, or “Stork’s cradle” as well as talk to the director.  The “baby-hatch” is a place where parents can leave their children anonymously if they are unable to take care of the child and has been a controversial topic ever since it was established in Japan in April this year. Upon our visit, the class was able to hear the director’s passion for saving innocent children’s lives from both physical and mental abuse by creating “Stork’s Cradle”. 

“Dear Sir, I admire the courage to start the “Babyklappe” (German term for the concept) in Kumamoto. I think it is a great act of humanity to give parents and the infant child a solution to their desperate situation.” – Caspar Schwalbe (Germany)

Unique Access to Japan!

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