A one-day excursion to Shiga prefecture for international students was held on Sunday, May 21, to offer an opportunity for students to deepen their knowledge of Japanese history and culture, and to strengthen ties within the international community.
The group of 38 students first tried Shigaraki pottery making. Shigaraki is a town famous for its pottery, stoneware ceramic products, and Tanuki (raccoon) figurines with a history dating back to the 13th century. The students listened to the instructor's directions and worked hard on making their own shigaraki bowls.
Following this, they visited the national treasure Hikone Castle. While many castles were destroyed during wars or by fire, Hikone Castle is one of only 12 Japanese castles that is original. The students climbed the main palace tower and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. They were surprised by the steep staircase inside the castle tower, but enjoyed the castle which still retains the atmosphere of the Warring States period.
The last activity was a Genkyu-en Garden walking tour. The sounds of nature could be heard throughout the garden and there were beautiful views of the castle utilizing the art of shakkei, or "borrowed scenery". After the tour, students enjoyed their free time walking around and shopping along castle road.
Thanks to the good weather, the students had a lot of fun on the trip. Some students' comments were, "I was able to experience the craftsmanship of traditional Japanese ceramics," "I was able to experience the wonderful Japanese castle," and "I made new friends". The excursion ended successfully as students were able to expand their knowledge of Japanese history and culture through hands-on experience together.