SWU Summer Program–Day16 [2013年08月07日(水)]

2013.8.6—The theme of the day was Japanese cuisine.

The day started with a lecture from a professor Imai in Department of Elementary Education. Her lecture looked at Japanese attitudes towards food and how this has changed over time, including traditional Japanese festival cuisine and the Westernization of the Japanese diet.

Next, students learned about formal Japanese table manners, which would come in handy in the afternoon activity. This section of the lecture covered things including the correct way to pick up chopsticks, enter a room, and remove a lid from a bowl.

Lastly, students from department of food science and nutrition prepared program students tea and mochi, and everyone sat down to enjoy it together.

In the afternoon, students were taken to a, kaiseki restaurant the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine.
There, they were treated to a lavish multi-course meal tailored specifically to reflect the season of summer. The caterer explained the ingredients and meaning of each plate, and students were given the opportunity to make tea for themselves. Many students said that they enjoyed the dessert, which was a sweet tomato accompanied by noodles in cane sugar sauce, because it was “interesting and unique.” Others expressed admiration for the beautiful decor of the restaurant, which covered everything from the hand-painted napkins (given as gifts to customers) to the slippers used in the bathroom.

SWU Summer Program–Day15 [2013年08月06日(火)]

2013.8.5—Today’s theme was pop culture.

The day started with a guest lecture detailing the history of Japanese pop culture and its differences from both Western pop culture and Western perceptions of Japanese pop culture. The talk covered everything from anime to pop music.

One student told me that the lecture was her favorite part of the day, saying, “I liked that [the lecturer] asked very open-ended questions. It really engaged us.”

In the afternoon, students were taken to the Studio Ghibli Museum, which honors the work of one of Japan’s most famous animators, Hayao Miyazaki.
The museum included concept sketches and storyboards from his films, exhibits about different animation styles, and even a movie theater that shows short films available only at the museum. Many students said that the museum visit was their favorite part of the day, with one student saying that the museum was so cute she wanted to work there herself.

SWU Summer Program–Day13 [2013年08月05日(月)]

2013.8.3—Saturday was another cross-cultural project day.

In the morning, Nico came in and gave a talk on the history of beauty in Japan.
Starting from the Heian period and going up to the modern day, his talk catalogued the different traits deemed desirable or undesirable at different times, highlighting the fact that there is no such thing as a universal aesthetic. Many students reported this to be their favorite part of the day. One student said that it was fascinating for her because “you forget that things like beauty change over time and are not universal.” Another found the lecture’s look at male beauty to be very interesting.

Next, students broke into groups and discussed ways in which gender expectations are presented in their countries. Students showed videos featuring gender-swapping, news stories about the education of women, and told personal stories about the gender expectations their family placed on them.

After lunch, students went to see a demonstration from the Aikido club at Showa.
The club members illustrated various techniques and did some sparring. After that, program participants were invited to learn and try several Aikido moves.

After the Aikido demonstration, students regrouped for more work on the cross-cultural project.
Nico gave another lecture, this time on different philosophies on how to go about social science research. Students then watched clips illustrating good and bad interviewing techniques. Then, in groups, students brainstormed questions for the oral histories they would be collecting as part of the cross-cultural project.

SWU Summer Program–Day12 [2013年08月05日(月)]

2013.8.2—Today was an excursion.

The first part of our journey took us to Kamakura, where the shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo set up his capital city in the 12th century.

Students visited Enkakuji, a Buddhist temple, and Kamakura’s famous Daibutsu, or great Buddha statue.

After touring around, students were treated to a lavish lunch of traditional Buddhist cuisine that included multiple dishes, all vegetarian. One student said that the lunch itself was “worth the entire trip to Kamakura.”
After this meal, students were given free time to explore one of Kamakura’s famous Shinto sites, as well as the shopping streets of Kamakura, which are renowned for their crafts. Many students enjoyed looking around these shops, which they said had “a very different selection from the ones in Tokyo.”

The second part of the journey took the students to Yokohama, the second largest city in Japan and the port of call for Commodore Perry and his famous Black Ships.
Students were given the choice to either go to Yokohama’s famous Chinatown or Yamashita Park.

SWU Summer Program–Day11 [2013年08月02日(金)]

2013.8.1—Today was devoted entirely to the cultural collaboration project.

In the morning, Nico came in and gave a lecture on motherhood in Japan, paying particular attention to the concept of “good wife, wise mother.”

He also stressed that the stereotypical salaryman/housewife image of a Japanese family never applied to a majority of the Japanese population. His lecture examined the pressure placed on mothers by society to conform to a certain image, as well as the way that motherhood can be channeled into political activism, as happened after the Fukushima disaster, when a large number of mothers became involved in the food safety movement. One student was particularly interested in the idea Nico brought up about how people internalize rules and police themselves to the point where they do not need an authority figure standing over them in order to conform to norms.

The afternoon was devoted to analyzing gender in commercials. Students were shown several commercials which were either outright sexist or relied heavily on gender roles and the idea of beauty to market their product.
Students were then broken into groups and given a task: design a commercial (for shampoo, deodorant, etc.) for a product aimed at a specific gender without making reference to sex, beauty, gender roles, or gender stereotypes. After every group performed their commercial, students analyzed each group’s work asking questions and pushing their ideas further. Students said that the task was fun and light-hearted — most of the commercials used humor — but still engaging and thought-provoking.

SWU Summer Program–Day10 [2013年08月02日(金)]

2013.7.31—Today’s topic was Japanese business.

In the morning, students were given a lecture about the history of Japan, and how it has reacted to external shocks in its history using a strategy of “adapt and adopt.”

Students then delivered presentations that they had worked on in groups, each on a different topic related to the Japanese economy. Together, these presentations pained a picture of Japan’s past, present, and future, outlining problems and solutions to Japan’s current economic woes.

Next, students took a tour of Japan Airlines (JAL).
Students got to witness a stewardess training session, learn about JAL’s history and philosophy, and take a tour of the offices of JAL’s technical staff.
One student said that she found this activity very rewarding because she plans to go into the tourism industry in the future. Another said that she found it interesting seeing all of the detailed behind-the-scenes work that goes into every flight.