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Field Trips & Other Events

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Field Trips & Other Events(2014)

Field trips, 2014 Fall

Hiroshima Field Trip

From September 17th to 20th, UC students and Prof. Takahara’s seminar students visited Hiroshima to gain a better understanding of Japanese history and Japanese experience as both a victim and victimizer in WWII.

They had the opportunity to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and park, Okuno-shima (the site of a WWII era weapons plant), the Fukuromachi Elementary School’s Peace Museum, The Old Hiroshima branch of the Bank of Japan, and a memorial site for atomic bomb victims (U.S captives). They had an opportunity to hear of the experience from a survivor of the atomic bombing, and also saw some pictures painted by other survivors.

[ A student’s reflection on the trip ]

The ability to visit Hiroshima certainly was for me, one of the most sobering and memorable of my experiences in Japan. The sobering realization that a relatively small atomic bomb was able to decimate such a large city struck all the students. The suffering and the status of Japan as the only victim of nuclear weapons thus demonstrates the intertwined histories of nuclear armaments and the peace movement that originated in Japan in opposition to nuclear proliferation. In addition the account offered by one of the atomic bomb survivors also was important as it put a face to the victims of the bomb, demonstrating the immoral and indiscriminate killing that was experienced by so many.

However our trip to Okunoshima also revealed Japan and the Imperial Japanese Army’s role as victimizers. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the usage and manufacturing of chemical weapons that were used as part of Japan’s imperial expansion. The most shocking thing is that many Japanese do not know about this usage of chemical weapons by members of the Imperial Army.

Overall the field trip was very enjoyable and interesting and I’d like to visit there again someday. (written by Jaime)

Tohoku field trip

From December 5th to 7th, a number of exchange students from the UC and ISP programs along with several their colleagues from MGU visited the Otsuchi and Kamaishi areas of Iwate to study present conditions and the accounts of survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011.

Their study tour in Otsuchi township included a talk given by the abbot of Kisshoji Temple, and a visit to a temporary shopping area that continues to serve the needs of the residents. They also had a chance to talk with local people living in temporary housing, and they visited an evacuation route with a volunteer guide in Kamaishi City.

[ A student’s reflection on the trip ]
I am glad that I could go to Tohoku to clear my misunderstanding on and better understand Tohoku area after the 3.11 disaster.
When we first visited a temple in Otsuchi-cho and heard the speech given by the abbot, I learned this temple was used as an evacuation place after the tsunami hit, and it became a temporary residence for those who were lucky to escape up there. Through his speech, I was impressed by how people remained optimistic and helped each other to survive despite the disaster that destroyed their homes. He also showed us many statues of Kannon-sama (the bodhisattva of compassion). I was moved when he said everyone could be Kannon-sama as long as they did what they could to help others in need. I secretly promised Kannon that I would be one of them.

Even though Otsuchi-cho was devastated, there were still people who stayed behind to contribute to the reconstruction of the city. The guide who took us around Otsuchi was one of them, and his story really moved me. From his introduction, I realized that he was originally from Otsuchi, and he and his fiancé decided to stay Otsuchi to pursue their dreams. In fact, they were to be married in a few months after 3.11. However, on 3.11, his fiancé did not have enough time to flee up to the evacuation site which less than 30 minutes away from where she was, because she was trying to help an elderly person to flee. He lost his fiancé, but he chose to stay behind to reconstruct the city in the memory of his wife to be. I felt this was his biggest regret in life, because he said he could not do enough for her, and he could no longer tell her that he loved her. He said that at first, he hated people who came from the outside to their city to sightsee and take pictures, because these kinds of visits humiliated the people who suffered. However, he was willing to take on the position as a professional guide to inform others of the conditions in Otsuchi. He reminded us of the importance of telling someone you love that you love them. And he said the most important lesson to take away from his tour was that when disasters like the 3.11 occur, each person should flee for their own lives first, and the help others.

Another memorable activity was our visit to one of the temporary housing sites. The people we met were so friendly that they treated us their local snacks and coffee. They were very welcoming, and were willing to share their stories with us. I was really impressed by how they were still very positive about their life, even though they had experienced such disaster. One of the ladies even gave me a handwritten poem as a gift. The lesson they taught me was that I should appreciate everything and everyone that I have in life. I think everyone should also learn about what has happened to the people of Tohoku, and offer what we can to help them rebuild their homes. (written by Yulan Rachael)

They also took an excursion to Hiraizumi and the World Heritage Site of Chûsonji temple on the way back to Tokyo.

Other Events

Tohoku field trip, 2014 Spring

From June 27th to 29th, students from the UC and MGU went on a field trip to examine present conditions in Otsuchi-cho and Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture. Iwate was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011.

June 28 : Visit Otsuchi town
(Visit City Hall, Temporary shopping area & housing, Temples)
・Lectured by local NPO (reconstruction plan and discussion) and a Buddhist priest at Kishoji temple
・Volunteer activity at Kirikiri Elementary School
・Temporary housing visit

June 29 : Visit Kamaishi City
・Guided by a local volunteer (former Unosumai station, evacuation route)

Learning Life Lesson in Otsuchi
The most memorable part of the trip was when we visited the temporary housing area in Otsuchi. The lady we visited was very welcoming and willing to tell us her story. I was very moved by her story of surviving the tsunami. Even though she was faced with such tragedy and hardship following the 3/11 disaster, she was still very positive about life. Her positivity and strength were so inspiring, and I am so humbled and grateful to have heard her story. The trip to the Tohoku region, especially hearing the story of the tsunami survivor, helped me appreciate everyone and everything in my life, and I’m glad that I went on this trip. I would be more than happy to have another opportunity to return to participate in volunteer activities and spend time with the people of Otsuchi. (written by Sara for MGU magazine called Shirokane Tsushin)

After the field trip
The participants of this trip reported what they saw and learned to share the experience with others.

last updated on 2016.01.18

Japanese Cultural Activities, 2014 Spring

UC and ISP students participated in Japanese cultural activities at Mejiro Garden. They tried wearing Kimono, calligraphy, Tea ceremony and Japanese handicrafts.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the cultural activities at Meijiro. I had dreamt of trying on a kimono since I started learning Japanese, and actually was able to fulfill those dreams! It was as glorious as I imagined it would be (and more elaborate a process to put on than I expected!).
I also had the opportunity to try ikebana, or traditional flower arranging, which I never thought I would have the opportunity to do, as well as calligraphy, a short tea ceremony, and even a craft project! (written by Sarah)

last updated on 2014.09.01

Field Trip to Hiroshima, 2014 Spring

From April 26 to 29, UC students and Prof. Yoshii’s seminar students visited Hiroshima to study Japanese history and the peace movement in modern Japan.
They visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and park, Okuno-shima (the site of a WWII era weapons plant), and Kure. They also had an opportunity to hear a story from a survivor of the atomic bombing.

[ A student’s reflection on the trip ]

I think my experiences in Hiroshima prefecture were some of the most impressive during my stay in Japan. In Hiroshima, the old and the new coexist dramatically; the result is a city unlike any other in Japan. The prefecture’s rich history created a compelling environment to not only learn about Japan during WWII but also about Japanese culture, religion, and the people of Hiroshima’s peace movement.
I was really impressed that most of the speakers we heard from were so devoted to what they were doing.
I am especially grateful that we were able to hear an atomic bombing survivor’s story and also talk with her afterwards. Her story honestly shook me to the core.
Additionally, our tour guide in Okunoshima was extremely knowledgeable and took us to some historical sites that most people wouldn’t be able to access. The region’s beauty and good friends to explore it with was something I’m really glad I could see and do. (written by Ricky)

last updated on 2014.08.01

The students also took an excursion to Miyajima to see the famous Itsukushima Shrine.