Japanese Culture Course Annual Report (2019) Part 2 SJSU

Japanese Culture

Students of San Jose State University, U.S. visited Kagoshima University in January 2020, and vice-versa, students of Kagoshima University visited San Jose in February-March 2020.


Eight San Jose State University (SJSU) students and their professor visited Kagoshima, Amami, and Okinawa from 5th to 18th January 2020 as part of the course: “Local and Minority Culture in Japan” organized by Kagoshima University (KU) in collaboration with SJSU. The course examines how identities and cultures of the ethnic minorities of Japan, such as Okinawans and Amamians, changed over time from Edo era to present, interacting with majority groups in mainland Japan and the U.S. under their political controls.

SJSU students participated in an American literature class in Kagoshima University (KU) and had discussions with KU students. They made research trips to Sakurajima island, Japanese gardens of Sengan’en, and Chiran Samurai Residence Complex. They identified traditional Japanese garden style and enjoyed local foods such as Ramen, Shochu, and the largest radish variety in the world, the ‘Sakurajima Daikon’ grown in ash fields at the foot of the active Sakurajima volcano. Also, whilst in Chiran, they visited the Chiran Peace Museum where they learned about the experiences and memories of the young Kamikaze suicide pilot corps in the second World War. In Amami and Okinawa they discovered how local folk culture differs from “Japanese Culture.” A field research in Amami was made collaboratively with KU students who major in anthropology and archeology. They interviewed local elderly people on whether they identify themselves either as Amamian or/and Japanese.

A month later, a group of Kagoshima University students visited California to participate in a course consisting of a leadership workshop and hands on training at educational institutes and business companies in San Francisco Bay Area. KU students visited SJSU campus where SJSU students made a poster presentation about their research findings during their Kagoshima, Amami, Okinawa trip and shared their experiences in Japan with KU students. It was an exciting event in which both student bodies confirmed their friendships and enjoyed interactions.

Sumie Nakatani

Course Schedule: San Jose University

Date Topics, activities
1/4(Sa) Departure from the U.S.
 1/5(S) Arrival at Kagoshima airport.


Orientation 09:00-11:30am

11:30-12:30  Lunch at Kagoshima University Cafeteria

12:50-14:20 Discussion and interview with KU students of American Literature course

14:30-16:00 Discussion and interview with KU students of  Comparative culture course

16:00-18:00 Campus tour of Kagoshima University

18:00-20:00 Mixer @Inamori Memorial Building 2F Vege Marché

1/7(T) 8:30am-6pm


Sakurajima Mountain sightseeing

08:30 Start Sakurajima nature and agriculture lecture

10:30 Arimura Lava view point Walking

11:10 Sakurajima Visitor Center (Museum, Foot Bath)

11:40 Radish cooking at Café Shirahama

12:40 Lunch at Café Shirahama

15:00 Reimeikan museum (Kagoshima History and Culture)

Dinner: Kagoshima Ramen/Soba/Udon



9:00 Start from Kagoshima University

10:00 Chiran Peace museum

11:00 Lecture in English

12:15 Chiran Samurai Residence Garden

13:00 Lunch

14:30 Shouchu, Satumaage and Karukan making and eating at

Musouzou and Musouan

16:00 Scholarship procedure



09:30 Sengan’en (Garden) & Shuseikan museums*

11:00 Satsuma Kiriko factory and shops

12:00 Shiroyama hiking

13:00 Lunch: Biking restaurant in Reimeikan

14:30 Nanshuu park and Takamori Saigo

16:00 Ferry Port

18:00 Departure to Naze



05:00 Arrive at Naze Port, Breakfast, Drop by hotel

08:00 Amami city Naze Elementary school (center of reversion movement), cultural exchange with Naze elementary school kids, Ogamiyama park walk, statue of Yoshiro Izumi and reversion memorial statue, View of Naze city,

10:30 Amami museum (History&culture of Amami)

12:30 Lunch, Keihan at Torisen

14:00-16:00 Yumeorinosato Oshima Tsumugi Kimono wearing or dyeing experience

Reading: The Return of the Amami Islands by Eldridge Chapter2



07:15 Move to Koniya harbor, arrive at 8:45am

09:15 Ferry to Kakeroma

Lunch: Umi Yado

Kakeroma WWII battle sites visit and talk with elder

1/12(S) 05:30 Ferry From Naze to Okinawa, Naha



08:30 Shuri Castle*, Benzaitendo, Ryutan, King’s graveyard*

11:00-12:00  Shikina garden* ¥400

13:00 Lunch at Omoshiro machi

14:00-16:00 Okinawa Prefecture museum (Okinawa history and culture)



09:00 Namino Miya (Okinawan shrine)

10:00-11:30 Okinawa International Peace Research Institute ¥500

12:00-13:00 Okinawa soba

13:30 Bingata dyeing experience at Kokusai street ¥2570

15:00 Kokusai street walk( Makishi public market, Tenbusu Naha2F Sakurazaka Theatre)



09:00-13:00 Gyokusendo and Okinawa world

Lunch: Abura somen

14:00-17:00 Okinawa Peace Memorial Park*



09:00 Kakazu takadai park(Futenma Base)

11:30 Road station Kadena (Kadena Air base)

Lunch: Uchinaa Bento at Kadena Michi no eki

13:30 Goza histreet museum (Free) and Eisaa museum(Free)

03:00 Katsuren Castle(Free)



10:00 Yomitan village,  Chibichirigama, Shimukugama, Gosamaru’s Zakimi castle ruin*

13:00 Lunch : Tako rice at American Village

14:00-16:00 Chatan (American Village, Ahama beach, Sunset beach)

1/18(Sa) Departure for the US.


Japanese Culture Course Annual Report (2019) part1

The U.S.-Kagoshima-Asia Triad Program in a Multi-Polar World

 Inter-University Exchange Project


  1. Taiwan National Cheng Kung University(NCKU)→ Kagoshima University(KU

From July 8th to July 16th, 2019, students from Taiwan National Cheng Kung University came to Kagoshima University to participate in the US-Kagoshima-Asia Triad program’s Japanese Culture Course.


Date day
1 8th July Mon Taipei-Kagoshima
Saigo Park
2 9th July Tue Lecture (Prof. Takatsu)
Campus Tour
3 10th July Wed Senganen Museum
Free time
4 11th July Thu One day Bus trip
      Amami no Sato
     Chiran Peace Museum
5 12th July Fri Izumi Farm Stay
          Shochu brewery
          Crane Park Izumi
          Farm Stay
6 13th July Sat Breakfast at Farm Stay
          Samurai Residences
          Kimono and Tea Ceremony Experience
7 14th July Sun Fieldwork with KU students
8 15th July Mon Presentation preparation with Japanese students
Farewell Party
9 16th July Tue Kagoshima-Taiwan

Lecture: Professor Takatsu Takashi gave a lecture about the rare historical books in KU library. Students had a precious experience to see these rare books in person at the library after the lecture.

Farm stay in Izumi: Izumi city is in the north-west part of Kagoshima prefecture. KCKU students were divided into groups and each group stayed one night at farmer’s residence. They were able to experience authentic Japanese way of life, eat delicious Japanese foods with fresh vegetables they harvested on that same day.

Fieldwork with KU students: NCKU students prepared to make a short film presentation about Kagoshima with KU students. The NCKU students shared the experiences in Kagoshima and discussed about differences between Taiwanese and Japanese cultures with KU students. With the KU students as their guides, they then started to shoot video footage in various places around Kagoshima. They then edited the videos and each group showed their short film that highlighted the differences between Japanese and Taiwanese culture.

Library in KU

Senganen: Stately home and gardens of the Shimadzu family

Kimono Experience


Student voice1: We had an amazing life experience with the local family in Izumi. Especially got along well with the grandparents in farm stay and made me feel impressive about their kindness. Just like the TV show “Stay in Farm One Night”, it was really interested. Grandpa took us to walk in the evening, and then lay on the road, feeling the warm ground and counting the stars in the sky. That place is full of nature and really remote, so everything there needs to be made by themselves. Not only for things of life, but also for foods. And it was most fortunate that we saw the wild deer there! We were so surprised!!!

Student voice2: Inside the core of cultural exchange, people who are involved undoubtedly play a great role. The possibility of communications, dialogs, and interactions give participants a bigger heart with greater tolerance. Within this program, several people who introduced things to us and who interacted with us enriched my mind and deepened my thoughts.

Student voice3: On the day of presentation, the topics each group have chosen were so diverse and stimulating. Students growing up in different backgrounds provided distinct observations and opinions. For example, if you grow up getting used to child pick-up, you will surely be shocked by how “brave” Japanese parents let their children go to school alone. Without the chance of this discussion and cooperation, we wouldn’t have known the difference.


  1. KU→NCKU

From 20th to 29th 2019 students from KU participate the study tour to Taiwan to understand Taiwan’s history and diversity and had an exchange program with NCKU students 25th and 26th July.

Date day
1 20th Sep Fri Kagoshima-Taipei
2 21st Sep Sat Lecture (by the member of NGO for immigrants)
Interview to a Journalist
3 22nd Sep Sun Dihua Street (AMA house etc.)
228 Memorial Museum
4 23rd Sep Mon National Kaohsiung University of Science Technology
      exchange program with NKUST students
5 24th Sep Tue NKUST exchange program
6 25th Sep Wed Kaohsiung-Tainan
National Cheng Kung University
          exchange program with NCKU students
7 26th Sep Thu NCKU exchange program
8 27th Sep Fri Taiwan History Museum
9 28th Sep Sat National Palace Museum
Military dependents’ village museum
10 29th Sep Sun Kagoshima-Taiwan


Tainan: NCKU is in Tainan city, Taiwan. This is a very historical city where KU students visit very old mausoleums and Fort Provintia and so on with NCKU students. KU students specially enjoyed visiting the old incense factory and embroidery factory which Professor Lee introduced them.

Exchange program: KU students joined Professor Lee’s class at NCKU and a KU student made a presentation about the Japanese and Taiwanese traditional events and discussed about the both cultures.


Embroidery factory

Incense factory

Fort Provintia

Student voice1: Apart from Japan, I could see my country objectively. I thought Japan is the developed country, but I often found that Taiwan was more advanced in terms of their policies concerned with foreign labor issues and so on. If we look at the problem from a global perspective, we could discover a new and different solution.


Student voice2: I found the mistakes made during the war were not transmitted through education or the media in Japan. I thought that the problem of “the comfort women” have been solved already, but I could get a new perspective about the problem in Taiwan. I was able to learn history and problems which I couldn’t know if I was just in Japan.


Student voice3: We hear about Taiwan from a Japanese journalist who live in Taiwan, I was most interested in the environment problem. For example, in Taiwan these days straws and toothbrush handles are made of different materials, like paper, stainless steel, bamboo, etc., to reduce the amount of plastic used. After I came back to Japan, I found the stainless-steel straw, I think I would not have been as concerned about it if I hadn’t heard this story.