Mishima – June 26

30 06 2010

by Professor George Sanchez

On our first full day back in Tokyo, we once again got on the bullet train to travel one hour out of Tokyo to a more “rural” part of the country, Mishima. Our hosts were Gary Okihiro, Columbia University professor, Marina Henriquez, his spouse, and the faculty and students of Nihon University, the largest university system in Japan. We were greeted at the train station and taken to nearby Nihon University, where we were welcomed with a student speech in English, two wonderful hip-hop performers, and a series of songs sung with accompaniment of an electric guitar and keyboard.

At this point, the students were broken up into groups to engage in focused discussions about the similarities between U.S. and Japanese students. One striking feature of this exchange was that the Japanese students and faculty had studies our students’ biographies and photographs, so they initiated the exchange by sight. They even had special students assigned to those with language ability from Indonesia and China, to take advantage of this form of linguistic exchange. Quite a lovely gesture and a real feeling of being welcomed!

After lunch at the cafeteria, where students saw a traditional ticket purchase system for food, we gathered on a bus for the Hakone District at the foot of Mount Fuji. Unfortunately, the weather was rainy and foggy, so we never actually saw the iconic Japanese mountain. But we enjoyed the local museum which features items on this famous travel road to Tokyo, and especially the boat ride on the lake system in which friendships were formed between the students from both countries. We were particularly struck by the friendliness of these students, and their real openness to talking about Japanese society and culture. Once again, the personal contact initiated here will go a long way towards establishing lasting memories for each of our USC students.




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