Satoshi Fujimura Presentation

By Skyy Genies

During our Wednesday, March 22, 2017 meeting, our class had the opportunity to receive presentations from a panel of people who work in relations with Japan or work to expand the knowledge of Japan nationwide. One of the panelists was Satoshi Fujimura. During their presentations the panelists were asked to speak about their job and the steps they took to get to where they are. Satoshi Fujimura’s presentation resonated with me the most because he started his academic and career journey with an interest in Chemistry like me.

The most intriguing part of his presentation was his role change. He spoke about how he worked at Sony in many different positions. Then he “changed his role again” to Mistletoe Inc. I found his presentation very inspirational because it showed me that life isn’t a guaranteed thing. You may or may not have an exact plan of where you think your life is going to go; but his presentation showed me that it’s not certain. He also showed me that I should not be afraid to change my path if that’s where my heart leads me, because after his whole journey, he ended up in a place that he is comfortable and content with. Always follow your heart.


By Kharan Pierce

As read in A Geek in Japan, the word chotto is used by the Japanese on a daily basis as an alternative for saying no. In America, it’s absolutely no problem to tell someone “no, I don’t want to eat salad,” but in Japan, the abruptness of simply saying no is rude and almost only used in tense situations. Along with chotto is a slight tilt of the head, which indicates that someone wants to say no or is disagreeing with whatever situation. I think that if someone were to use chotto in America, they’d be thought of as extremely shy and would eventually be pushed to share their opinion directly. On one hand, stating exactly how you feel isn’t bad, but this is coming from someone who was raised to do so. In a culture completely involved in avoiding confrontation and being direct and therefore terse, something like chotto is perfectly okay.

What do you think?

How We Start Our Class

By Kharan Pierce

At the beginning of each class session, the students in Japanese Plus mimic traditional Japanese schools by performing a series of actions, triggered by command words, that show respect for the teacher and the rest of the class. Our sensei selects a student at the beginning of class to be the class leader. This student will stand to indicate they’re ready to lead the commands. They then say “kiritsu” which calls for the rest of the class to stand. Then, they say “kyotsuke” which calls for the class to stand with good posture facing the teacher. They then say “rei” which calls for the class to bow and greet the teacher by saying either good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, in which the teacher responds accordingly. Finally, the leader says “chakuseki,” which calls for the class to sit down and prepare for the lesson.

By doing this before every class, it is sort of a call for focus and a shift from our days at school into the program.


By Tara Martin

During December, we learned about the Japanese new year’s card: nengajo. The custom dates back to nenshi-mawari, or new year’s visit. The visit was intended to keep good relationships in the new year. When post offices began sprouting up, sending cards became popular. Nowadays, you can buy one, send one virtually, or hand make one. They’re extremely popular, over 4 billion are sent each year! Many people still make theirs by hand with brush calligraphy, painting, stamps, and creativity.

Nengajo incorporate common symbols: the zodiac, Mount Fuji, the rising sun, tako (kites), hagoita (Japanese badminton), kadomatsu (festive decorations), and common characters. The postal service also holds a nengajo lottery (where the lottery numbers are on the cards). There’s also a specific etiquette for sending nengajo. For example, you shouldn’t send a nengajo to a family in mourning (out of compassion). The culture behind nengajo is very interesting!



By Tara Martin

Giri translates to something like obligation or social duty. Giri is the belief that you are indebted to someone who has given you something. I find this concept very interesting because it shows that there is a moral obligation to returning a favor or giving a thank you gift. It’s kind of similar to the US, where we feel that we must get a gift for our loved ones and those who have given us a gift. However it’s not really seen as mandatory and you usually give gifts because you’re being kind, not because you’re indebted. Giri really shows the level of gratitude in Japan.

The first time I walked into a Christian church

By Ana Nguyen

The first time I walked into a Christian church, I was 15 years old.

So, my family are Buddhists. Though I was raised with the statue of Buddha in my house, and my parents practiced Buddhist traditions and praying methods, it wasn’t strictly ingrained into me. Though churches here can have a welcoming atmosphere, no matter the area one is in, I felt really uncomfortable walking into that church. Religion wasn’t a huge thing in my upbringing, and I felt like I was trespassing on someone’s house.

From “A Geek in Japan,” I learned religion is entwined with the culture and daily life of people in Japan compared to the U.S. In Japan, one can be Christian and still go to a Shinto shrine to make a wish. Religion in the U.S. stays within the church or home mainly, and yes, people practice their religion in their daily lives, but it’s not widely done. That’s compared to Japan where saying “itadakimasu” before eating is a habit to say thank you for the food, but it also stems from a religious practice similar to giving grace. That separation of religion and school or work sort of creates a barrier. It’s amazing that religions like Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, or Shinto can cross over one another in Japan, while here it stays separate.

Striking up a Conversation

By Shawma Brown

We were in Z-burger having lunch when the instructor told us to mix it up a little bit with the Japanese students from Meiji University. I sat at a table with four Japanese students. I just sat there exchanging awkward looks with them. It was awkward to be surrounded by people I didn’t know and that were from another country. The word that kept popping in my head was socially awkward. That is what I was being. I had so many questions I wanted to ask but I was very nervous. It was not until three of the students left that I was able to talk. Me and one of the students started conversating. He asked me why I was holding back from talking. I said I was just nervous.

I was glad to have conversated with him, because I was grateful for every single moment of the conversation. We started talking about food, education, American and Japanese society in general. The most intriguing part of the conversation was how he told me how Japanese see Americans. He said they talk too much. That made me laugh. I then said why do we seem to talk too much. He said we talk to strangers and we have no boundaries. I was just astonished because this was true, whether I would like to admit it or not.

Our Meiji Kakehashi meeting

By Raven Bluford

We had another Kakehashi visit from another set of students – from Meiji University. This time we got a chance to practice our Japanese with them. The conversation was very hard due to the fact that we had to talk for 7 minutes in Japanese and I don’t really know that many questions in Japanese. But the person I was talking to was very willing to try and understand what I was asking, even if the way I was asking questions could be seen as confusing due to the questions lacking sentence structure.

Like the other Kakehashi visit, we were invited to go to Z-burger with them. This time I decided to sit with two of them and try to practice my Japanese. I asked them questions about what they think of America and their response was quite interesting, because the way they saw America was quite different from the way I look at America. The first thing they thought of when I asked that question was large serving sizes, which was quite funny. I also asked questions about what they do and about them learning English. Overall, I really enjoy getting to have experiences like this because it allows me to meet people and interact with actual Japanese people in ways I otherwise never would.

Trying New Foods

By Shawma Brown

I never understood why people eat foods that they never tasted before. I do eat foods that are new to me but they’re mostly American food. Trying food from another culture always intrigued me. Going to a Japanese restaurant and trying miso soup for the first time was magnificent. As soon as I put a spoon full of the soup in my mouth an unreadable look appeared on my face. The words “OH MY GOD” had slipped out my mouth. Eshita Sensei and Layana had looked at me with a concerning facial expression. They asked me what was wrong? There was nothing wrong with me; it was just me admiring the miso soup. Like I never had tasted soup that was so good. To many people this may seem like not a big deal, but it was for me because food is my soulmate. If you’re ever wondering what I ‘m thinking about, it’s always food because food is an obsession for me. I plan to go back to that restaurant and have miso soup again.

Eating red bean ice cream for the first time was weird. First of all the idea of ice cream being made out of beans sounds utterly ridiculous. Usually I’m not a picky eater but I turned into one real quick. I have always gotten the same ice cream flavor all my life – vanilla. Trying a new ice cream flavor was heartbreaking for me because I was betraying my first love, vanilla. I got over my heartbreak fast. The red bean ice cream was so good. I just couldn’t get over the texture. There you go, I was being picky about food for the first time. The texture of the ice cream was so weird but the taste was exquisite. The miso soup and the red bean ice cream was my favorite part of the restaurant.


By Skyy Genies

In Geek in Japan in the Religion and Philosophy chapter, I read about how “most Japanese don’t believe in one specific religion but combine aspects of several religions in their daily lives, often unaware which one they’re following.” I find this as a huge contrast to American perspectives on religion. In Japanese society, religious flexibility and freedom is normal, where here in the United States our religious institutions and practices are more rigid. For an example, in our cultural conversation, one of my classmates, Talia, spoke about how uncomfortable an Islamic person may feel if they walked into a Christian institution and vice versa. I think this may be due to the religions sprouting from similar ideas/locations in Japan rather than here in the United States where the religions practiced are very strict and came from many different places. Which is expected given the homogeneity of the Japanese society and the diversity of American society.

Additionally, the values in America and Japan differ, which influences the prominence of religion in everyday life. As Eshita Sensei said, she didn’t know how much her daily activities were rooted in religion until she learned about religion in college. Everything (almost) has a religious aspect in Japan. This may seem true at first glance in America; however, we separate our religion and social, business relationships. Religion can’t be discussed/taught in school. This idea is also tied to the changes in America today, where many Americans are non-religious and questioning what they once believed. This is very different from Japan where respect and avoiding confrontation is an automatic standard. It’s just so interesting to me!