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Showing posts from August, 2019

Mino and Mino Washi Paper

After completing the intensive Japanese language study at the YAMASA, the group traveled to Mino City, Gifu Prefecture. The city is renowned for its traditional Japanese Mino Washi paper and the streets known as "Udatsu Townscape”. Mino  W ashi  is considered “intangible heritage” by the  UNESCO  (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). M ade  out of wooden leather fiber, washi is famously used for Japanese style sliding door as a replacement of glass, when crafting origami, as well as the kind of paper used for wagasa, the traditional Japanese umbrella. Other items made with washi include sensu, uchiwa, the traditional Japanese fan,  paper lanterns, and painting & writing materials.  Udatsu is a small kind of pillar attached to the roof of a Japanese house, often used to protect it from fire damage.  However, in the middle of the Edo period, it became used more as a decoration to show off one ’ s financial strength. The city offi

Yamasa Japanese Language School

After touring Toyota City and Okazaki, the members of CEI attended classes. At the Yamasa language school, the classes are divided into three sections: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The beginner class consists of learning the fundamental basics of Japanese. The intermediate class consists of learning keigo, the humble form of speech used in Japanese to show respect to others. The advanced class consists of open discussions on various topics in Japanese. Each day, there are six 50 minute classes that focus on the five different language skills: reading, writing, speaking, listening, and cultural awareness. These classes are led by a rotation of enthusiastic and passionate teachers with a variety of teaching styles. CEI members working studiously in class At Yamasa, cultural activities were also part of the learning experience. For example, the CEI members participated in making dragonfly charms with beads and string. The dragonfly is famous in Japan because it represents

Kyoto Trip

While they were staying in Okazaki, the CEI members took a day trip to Kyoto for cultural activities. First, they went to the Yasaka Shrine located in the Gion district on the eastern side of the city. Originally built in 656, this shrine is home to the Gion Matsuri. This festival takes place over the entire month of July. It was originally a religious observance to appease the gods and avoid plagues. Now, it is a festival celebrating the culture of Kyoto. CEI members and Kumiko-San taking a group photo together in front of the shrine's entrance gate Next, the members traveled through the Higashiyama District that consists of many narrow pathways between the Yasaka Shrine and the Kiyomizu Temple. This district highlights the historical style of Kyoto from the wooden buildings to traditional shops.  CEI members posing in front of the Yasaka Pagoda Then, the members visited the Kiyomizu Temple. Founded in 780, this temple is surrounded by wo

Toyota City and Okazaki Tour

On August 23, the members of CEI explored various attractions in Okazaki. First, they visited the Toyota Kaikan Museum in Toyota City next to the city of Okazaki. The museum showcased Toyota's latest innovations that will be displayed at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo as well as Toyota's contributions in the automobile industry. Next, the members toured Toyota's Motomachi Factory and observed how the cars were made. The tour featured robots welding pieces of metal together to make parts of the car as well as workers putting together car pieces to build the car. CEI members and Kumiko-San gathered together at the Toyota Kaikan Museum. Next, the group visited the Maruya Hatcho Miso. There, they received a tour around the company that creates hatcho miso. The members learned abot the process of creating miso with large wooden barrels, a traditional method that has been passed down from generations. After the tour, the members were given a sample of hatcho miso to try. Some

2019 Mino Boston Exchange Program Begins!

The 2019 Mino Boston Exchange Program began on August 22, 2019. The members of the program gathered together at the Tokyo station. There, they took the Shinkansen, the Japanese bullet train, to Okazaki, where the YAMASA language school is located in. Unfortunately, Alexandra fell ill and could not continue with the program. Members of the program from left to right: Bingnan Zhou, Lei Lek In, Bill Chiem, Luis Guerra, Doug Smith, Alexandria Forte, Julie Huynh, and Bob Graham. When they arrived at Okazaki, the members were picked up at the station and taken to the YAMASA language school. Then, they attended orientation to become familiar with the rules and expectations as students of the language school. Next, an opening ceremony was held to introduce the members to the school. At the ceremony, graduates of the school also gave out commencement speeches. Bingnan Zhou introducing himself in Japanese at the opening ceremony. After the ceremony, Kumiko-San from the YAMASA langu

2019 CEI Meeting

The members of the 2019 Mino-Boston Exchange Program gathered together on July 13, 2019 at Showa Boston to discuss the details of the itinerary. Members of the 2019 Mino-Boston Exchange Program gathering together from left to right: Bingnan Zhou, Luis Guerra, Mikiyo Hattori, Bob Graham, Alexandria Forte, Doug Smith, and Bill Chiem. At the meeting, the members introduced themselves to each other. Unfortunately, Lei Lek In and Julie Huynh could not attend the meeting, but Bob Graham was able to join the meeting through video chat. During the meeting, each member received a handbook for the program. The handbook featured a welcome letter by CEI founder Mikiyo Hattori, a detailed schedule of the journey, and a self-evaluation template to reflect on the progress of one's goals during the program. During the program, the CEI members will meet in Tokyo on August 22 and travel to Okazaki together. From there, the members will be attending the YAMASA language school