May 14-24, 2013: 10-Day Study Tour in Japan
The participants gathered at the university at 4 am on Tuesday may 14th 2013 and departed for the O’Hare airport in Chicago. The flight to Japan departed at 10:50 am that morning.
First Day (5/15)
The study abroad began after we arrived at Narita Airport at 1:45 pm Japan time. On that first day we checked in to the Sunroute Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo. After we checked in we went to eat dinner at a restaurant which was close to the hotel.
Second Day (5/16)
In the morning of the second day we went to Japan Foundation’s Tokyo Headquarters for orientation. We listened to lectures about the history of Japan-US relations and Japanese pop culture. After that we practiced greetings in Japanese. In the afternoon, we toured the Tokyo National Museum. We then went through the Kappabashi Doogu Street and to Asakusa Kannon Temple.
Third Day (5/17)
Throughout the morning on the third day we were allowed to view the CULCON (United States – Japan Conference on Cultural & Educational Interchange) meeting being held at Waseda University. During the meeting, there was a panel discussion and lecture concerning international study between the U.S and Japan. After the meeting, we headed to Chiba where we toured the Kikkoman Noda factory where Kikkoman soy sauce is made. At the factory, we learned Kikkoman’s history and how to make soy sauce. After the factory tour, we even had the opportunity to learn how to make soy sauce by ourselves. That night we checked in to the Candeos Hotel in Chiba.
Fourth Day (5/18)
In the morning we visited the National Museum of Japanese History, which displayed the history of Japan from the Jomon period to modern day Japan. Many of the exhibits offered descriptions in English so we were able to gain a firm understanding of the history. In the afternoon we toured the city of Sawara, a historical town also called “Small Edo.” After we watched a video of the Sawara history and looked at huge festival floats, bilingual tour guides from the town kindly volunteered to show us the attractions of their town.
Fifth Day (5/19)
This day took place entirely at Kanda University of International Studies where we volunteered to assist with the Makuhari Charity Flea Market. We were divided into groups and worked together with Japanese Students from Kanda University of International studies and people of local organizations. In addition, we visited the nearby “friendship square” which celebrated the relationship between Wisconsin and Chiba Prefecture as sister states.
Sixth Day (5/20)
On this day we visited Chiba University. After a tour of the campus, students were given a tour of various club activities and, afterwards, participated in special lectures by teachers of Chiba University. During the lectures, we were able to have discussions with Japanese students at Chiba University. We even ate lunch in the school cafeteria! We could experience what a day in the life of a Chiba University student is like.
Seventh Day (5/21)
In the morning we visited the Makuhari Messe convention facilities. After we watched a video which gave a general description of the facilities, we were able to see the actual facility. After that, we visited the Umi Hotaru.
In the afternoon we visited the Chiba Prefectural Government for the sake of the sister state relationship between Wisconsin and Chiba Prefecture. After we heard speeches from Chiba Governor Kensaku Morita and Chiba Nippo Press Co. President Yasuhide Akada, we toured the disaster prevention and crisis management room and the chamber of the prefectural assembly.
That night, we returned to Shinjuku to check in to the Sunroute Plaza Hotel again.
Eighth Day (5/22)
Throughout the morning we enjoyed a workshop and demonstration of Nihon Buyo (traditional Japanese artistic dance) at the Japan Foundation Tokyo Headquarters. Mr. Minosuke Nishikawa, one of the most anticipated Nihon Buyo artists, organized the special workshop for us. Basic movements of Japanese dances were demonstrated while they were being explained. After the demonstration, students were given the opportunity to gain actual experience in Japanese dance by performing the dance themselves.
In the afternoon we toured the display of "the beauty of Japan and mono no aware" in the Suntory Museum of Art in Roppongi where students learned about the concept of mono no aware (appreciation of things) of Japan. Afterwards, we went to tour the town of Akihabara and were given a tour of Kabuki theatre. We did not actually watch Kabuki, but we enjoyed the Kabuki gallery at the theater.
Ninth Day (5/23)
In the morning we went to the Meiji Shrine and Harajuku. At the Meiji Shrine, in addition to enjoying the beautiful shrine, we saw a couple getting married in a Shinto ceremony. We were able to see the participants in the wedding dressed in traditional Japanese clothing. At Harajuku, students were given free time to explore on their own. Students visited the Takeshita Street and many of them tried Japanese pancakes and crapes for the first time.
In the afternoon, after we visited the Imperial Palace, we visited Mitsubishi Corporation. We listened to a lecture on efforts of Mitsubishi as Soogoo Shoosha (general trading corporation), followed by a Q&A session.
In the evening, we summarized our study abroad in a final meeting at the Japan Foundation Tokyo Headquarters. After we filled out a questionnaire about our study abroad experience, we held group discussions in which representatives from each group gave a presentation about our experience in Japan.
Tenth Day (5/24)
On the final day, we left the hotel at 7:15 am and went back to Narita Airport. We left for the U.S. at 10:45 am using All Nippon Airways. We arrived at O’Hare Airport at 8:20 am and went back to our university by bus.
During the 10-day study tour, the participants were able to better understand Japanese culture and society through the visits to various places and the interaction with many Japanese students and locals. We have built strong friendships with various people throughout the trip. For all participants, this was a great experience that will never be forgotten.
Lastly, we would like to thank all organizations and individuals who worked tirelessly for planning and implementing this study tour. In addition to the above-mentioned organizations, we thank the following organizations who supported us behind the scenes throughout the tour.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
- Japan Foundation
- Consulate General of Japan at Chicago
- Nippon Travel Agency
- The Laurasian Institution
- Japan International Cooperation Center