Report on “Invitation program for Japanese American Students.”

Joshua Oliver, a student of Westview High School, Oregon, participated on the “Invitation Program for Japanese American Students,” a study tour in Japan from June 24 to July 4, 2016. This program aims to deepen students understanding and to strengthen the relationship between Japan and new generations of young Japanese Americans.

The below is his impressions on the tour and the photos of his memories.

Japan was amazing! After seeing how incredible Japantown was in San Francisco, I knew that my experience in Japan would surpass all of my expectations. One of the very first experiences I had in Japan was at the Asakusa temple. Learning some of the religious rituals that Japanese people do at temples was very interesting and very cool to actually do myself. After going to Asakusa, we went and walked through the Akihabara district of Tokyo. Before going to Japan, I had the idea that Japanese people were always studying or working, and that there wasn’t much time for fun. However, seeing all of the Japanese teenagers with their friends cleared that misconception out of my mind and helped me realize that Japan and its people aren’t all that different from America.
After walking through Akihabara, we went to Shibuya. The huge crowd was crazy! However, unlike in America, the people that were rushing to get where they needed to be were still mindful and polite to those of us just sightseeing. From this, and the fact that there was no litter anywhere to be seen, I determined that Japanese people are more conscious of others than Americans. After visiting Shibuya we went to the 45th floor of a large building to look at the view of Tokyo from the above. It wasn’t until this moment that I realized how massive the city actually was. There was no visible end to the city in any direction. All the lights in the city looked beautiful from above.

In the days that followed we went to school, visited the Panasonic museum, rode the bullet train to Kyoto, and had our homestay. The high school was a very interesting experience as well. I didn’t understand much, but all the teachers were more focused on having a relationship with the students than in America. The classroom experience seemed to be more of a happy one. After school I participated in Kendo club, which was also very fun!

The Panasonic Museum was incredible. Seeing all the innovative technology was very educational and fun as well. Kyoto was definitely my favorite part of visiting Japan. We participated in traditional activities (such as Yuzen dyeing and a tea ceremony). These activities made me feel more of a connection with my ancestors than anything that we had done yet. The temples in Kyoto were also exceptionally beautiful. After heading back to Tokyo we began our homestays. My family was extremely nice and fun. We went to Kawagoe and saw the monuments there, and we also made washi paper. They were incredible.

Finally, the hardest experience I had was leaving. I had made so many good friends and still wanted to see more! The experience I had was incredible, and has changed my life. I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity that I had to go.

Thank you!
Joshua Oliver