4th Okurayama International Students Forum in Yokohama 2015 (Student Report)

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On June 27, we participated in the fourth Okurayama International Student Forum Yokohama in 2015. The purpose of this forum is introducing Japanese culture to Harvard students and exchanging ideas with them. Students coming from Tokyo Institute of Technology, Yokohama City University, Keio University, University of Tokyo welcomed Harvard Students. As you know Harvard University is one of the best universities in the world, we were very nervous at first because we were not sure what we should talk and how to escort them. However, we soon had a friendly chat with each other because all students were very friendly. This forum was a great opportunity for us to know what Japanese culture is.

The purpose of this forum was to introduce Japanese culture to the students of Harvard University. In recent years, Japan’s relative position in global society has fallen and there is a growing sense that Japanese people have to apprehend not just about political economics, but also to explain Japanese culture to people from abroad. Therefore it was a great opportunity for us to become aware of how much we know about Japan.

The topic of this year was “Art”. We invited two big guest speakers, Mr. Robert Campbell a professor of University in Tokyo and Japanese literature specializing in comparative Literature and Culture, and Mr. Noritaka Tatehana the Creative Director known as a person who made lady Gaga’s shoes. Mr. Campbell taught us words from images of 19th century in Japan. He showed us some portraits of great people during the last term of Edo era. Through his lecture, I became aware of how images and words link to each other and create one art. Mr. Tatehana gave us a lecture about Restructuring of Japanese Traditional Art. He talked about what translating culture was and how he started his job. There were two messages from his experiences I was impressed ; “If you have something you want, just create it by yourself instead of just buying it.” “There might be something you feel is your disadvantage and not your wish, but those things make you strong and create your future.” Through both lectures l started to love sincerely Japanese culture both those of past and current.

After the lectures, we had workshop time with Harvard students. We drew pictures and messages on folding fans (sensu) and talked with each other. As the last part of this forum, we had a casual dinner party. In this session, we enjoyed talking a lot. Through the whole program, I felt how important opportunities of exchanging ideas was to understand students coming from other countries.

To conclude, it was one of the best days in my life. I was very glad to spend such an exciting and priceless time with wonderful students. I would like appreciate to Mrs. Yoko Okura and staff of YCU International Affairs Division who supported this pleasant forum.

Written by Marina Takahashi,
Sophomore, International College of Arts and Science.

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