A "Japanese culture activity" for international students in universities in the Nara area is held every year to promote understanding of Japanese culture among international students through cultural experiences and interaction with the local community.
This year, as host university for the event, NAIST organized a tour to the northern part of Ikoma on Saturday, November 10. A group of 40 students from 6 different universities and of 15 different nationalities joined this tour.
After the introductions on the bus, participants experienced traditional "chasen" making, which has continued from the Muromachi-period in the Takayama area, which is known as the origin of and for the production of chasen. All the students listened to the craftsperson's directions eagerly and worked hard making them. Also, they enjoyed tea ceremony using chasen themselves.
Then, they walked through the paths in the beautiful bamboo grove at Takayama Chikurin-en.
After that, the group moved to Chokyu-ji Temple and had "Shojin ryori", vegetarian dishes, at "Yakushi-in" and then they joined "Templish" at "Enshou-in", both of which are in Chokyu-ji Temple.
"Templish", which is a term coined from "Temple" and "English" is a program where local children experience Japanese culture such as tea ceremony or macha making in English. NAIST international students and volunteers usually offer their support for this monthly program. This time, 40 international students joined Templish and interacted with 20 local children, playing games and doing activities together. In this interesting atmosphere, the international students actively interacted with children using Japanese and English. At the end of the activity, they all sang a sutra together in the "Main hall" of Chokyu-ji Temple, which is a national treasure. That was precious experience.
The tour ended successfully with students having deepened their understanding of Ikoma traditional culture, established relationships with students from other universities, and interacted with local children through the Templish activity.