Cultural training held in Wakayama for international students
The annual autumn Japanese cultural training was held on Saturday, November 28. This program, developed to promote interaction among international and Japanese students, provides students with an opportunity to directly experience Japanese geography, history, customs and culture. Each year numerous students participate, and this year a total of 72 international and Japanese students led by five faculty members visited famous sites in Wakayama Prefecture.
The group first visited the Uruwashi Kan museum where they saw Aizu, Echizen and Yamanaka lacquerware as well as Kishu lacquerware (considered one of the four famous styles of lacquerware in Japan), and participated in the traditional art of makie, i.e. decorating lacquerware with gold. Participants selected a patterned tray, painted it with lacquer and sprinkled it with gold dust. Although the trays were the same, the finished products were all different depending on how each was painted and decorated with the gold dust. Students expressed their happiness at having created their own unique work of art.
For lunch, the group visited the Kuroshio Market, a famous tourist fishing port, where they enjoyed a lunch of Japanese seafood.
Lastly, they visited the Kimiidera Temple (formerly known as Kimiisan Kongohoji Gokokuin Temple). The site is well known as the home of Japan’s largest 11-headed wooden Kannon in a joined block construction, which was built in the 21st century, but the ancient inner sanctuary Bentendo Hall atop the mountain at the back of Kimiidera is known to few. The climb up the stairs to the main temple was good exercise for the students after lunch, and from up above they enjoyed the expansive view from the town at the foot of the hill to the ocean. Kimiidera’s Enmusubi no Saka (“matchmaking slope”), is a flight of stone steps associated with Kinokuniya Bunzaemon who famously made his fortune through mikan (mandarin oranges). Afterward, the students bought Arida mikan, which filled the bus with a citrus aroma, and headed back to Osaka, tired but happy from the day’s experience. It proved to be an enriching day full of friendship and Japanese culture and customs.
International students who participated said: “The makie experience was very interesting, and making one myself helped me to have a greater understanding of traditional Japanese culture,” “The Japanese volunteer guides explained the history and development of the area, so I gained a better understanding of the past background,” and “The lunch was delicious and Kimiidera was beautiful. It was an amazing trip.”