Theme of this year : Have Your Own Japan
President of the year : Luka Ishino
If you’ve never been to Japan, what comes to your mind may be the stereotypical images portrayed through anime and manga. We aim to break this image constructed by the media, and provide opportunities to see Japan through your own eyes—by experiencing traditional culture and the day to day lifestyle.
During the 2 weeks of the SKIP program, we visit various places and talk to the local people in order to grasp an idea of what is actually happening with our own eyes, and to look at Japan from a whole new perspective. Our ultimate goal is not just rediscovering Japan, but for Japan to be in a special place in your heart, and just maybe become a second home for you all.
For students from Stanford, we hope that you have a chance to look at Japan with the lenses of your specialties. We wish for this to become a starting point, to consider the future relationship with Japan in your future careers.
So if you're interested, take a look at the schedule we had for SKIP 2018 so that you can have an image of what to expect during the upcoming programs that you may participate in!
This was the very first day of the program. We welcomed all the Stanford students and introduced each other. Some of them had already arrived the before this day, but some also arrived on this day! This year we had 17 participants. All the host families also participated in the welcome ceremony, and we got to know them as well.
In the morning, we met up at Sensoji, which is one of the most famous temples in Tokyo. As we did a scavenger hunt, where we were divided into groups and completed various missions, we also felt the Japanese tradition through walking in the city of Asakusa, since the atmosphere of ancient Tokyo still survives there. Asakusa is a must-go place as a tourist if you're interested in the cityscape of ancient Japan!
In the afternoon, we visited Fukagawa Edo Museum for a tour and learnt about how the people in Edo period lived their lives. After all that, we announced the winners of the scavenger hunt, and gave them some prizes. At night, some of us visited Tokyo Sky Tree or went somewhere else to grab dinner!
As Shibuya has been working on its redevelopment recently, on this day, there were lectures held by the mayor of Shibuya Ward and Tokyu Corporation, which is a company that has been doing the town planning of Shibuya. The mayor told us about what he has been doing and what his goal is on the development of Shibuya. From Tokyu Corporation, we learned about the unique concept of Shibuya Cast and Shibuya Stream newly built by Tokyu Corporation, and had a tour in Shibuya Cast. (Shibuya Stream was still under construction at the time)
In the end, we divided into groups and had a discussion on what we can do to improve the city environment and call more visitors from abroad. After that we all went home and the Stanford students had dinner with their host families.
Short Trip to Tochigi Prefecture
On the second day, we went to a farm named “Hojoan” and there we experienced modern agriculture. We pounded mochi (Is this word correct?) and made rice balls together. Also, we went into the rice field and helped their farm work. At night, we had BBQ for dinner and talked all night long.
As a short trip, we went to Nikko and Kinugawa in Tochigi prefecture. Our aim was to gain new perspective of Japan by going to the rural areas and learning the history of Japan.
On the first day, we went to Nikko shrine. We talked about the Tokugawa family and Edo era.
On the third day, we went to Nikko Wonderland. There, we experience the lives of Edo era. Some of us played “Shamisen”, traditional instrument in Japan, and played “Kendama” together.
Through this trip, we not only experienced new things, but we were also able to strength our bond.
Japanese Tradition Day
In order to deepen our understanding about the traditional Japanese culture, we had lectures on Japanese cuisine and origami. In the morning, first, we had a lecture by Kai Group, which is a company that sells kitchen products and is famous especially for knives, and learned about what is special about their knives. Some of us got to experience their cutting method as well. Next, we had a lecture by Minokichi, which is a traditional Japanese cuisine company, and learned about Japanese ‘dashi’. We all got to taste their delicious ‘dashi’. Last but not least, we had a lecture by Toraya, a traditional Japanese confectionery company, and some of us got to make our own confectionery. For lunch, we had a delicious meal served by Minokichi, and for dessert, we had a Japanese confectionery from Toraya. After the program, some of us went to grab dinner.
In the afternoon, we heard a lecture about the long history of "origami" at Meiji University, and made our own hats from paper with the origami method. We also got into groups and discussed what we would want to create out of paper.
Japan-US Peace Relations Day
On this day, we focused on the importance of peace, and considered how we could sustain, further develop the relationship between the U.S. and Japan. Mr Ichiro Fujisaki, who was an ambassador, from Japan to the United States, came to give us a lecture about U.S.-Japan relations. It was a great opportunity to know difference in opinion and background between and within Keio students and Stanford students!
We visited five Japanese companies in total. In the morning, we all visited Rakuten, which is a Japanese IT company and heard about their marketing strategy, and had a tour in their office in Futako-Tamagawa. In the afternoon, we split into groups and visited one company that we were mostly interested in out of four other companies, which were, Shimizu Corporation, a construction company, Hoshino Resort, a hotel company, TV Tokyo, a television station, and Aeru, a company that aims to spread Japanese tradition.
This was the last official day of the program, before the final presentations and the farewell ceremony. We visited the Yagami campus at Keio University. In the first half of the day, graduate students from the Murakami Lab majoring in system design engineering and the Imai Lab majoring in information and computer science offered to give us a lecture on their current research themes. In the second half, we divided Stanford and Keio students into groups and discussed about education systems in each of our countries.
The Murakami Lab taught us how humans have to learn to live with robotics and how the members are coming up with ideas to invent wheelchairs that can go over stairs and facilitate the movement of the elderly. Especially in an economy where the aging population has become a severe problem, we must find ways to improve our social welfare with technology.
The Imai Lab is tackling the latest topic on artificial intelligence, more specifically on interactive artificial intelligence. While many robots are made to interact with human beings, members of the Imai Lab are inventing a new way to allow these robots to predict the users’ thoughts and to adapt to them.
After the lectures, we moved on to the discussion on education. The Japanese students talked about their efforts to enter university and how to get credits. Stanford students taught us how they take exams and how their exchange programs work. Overall, we were all able share our last thoughts on the differences between America and Japan.
Preparation Day for the Final Presentation
Every year, we have a final presentation on what we have learned through the program on the very last day. This year we divided into five groups, and our themes were, “Japanese Families”, “Japanese Companies”, “Technology in Japan”, “Cityscape / Urban Development”, “Japanese Tradition”, and “Japanese Education System”. Through preparing for our presentations, we got to deepen our understandings about Japan, and build teamwork. After that, some of us went to karaoke or went to Tokyo Disney Sea.
Final Presentation & Farewell Ceremony
In the evening, we did the final presentation in front of many SKIP alumnis. At night, we had the farewell ceremony, and each of the Stanford students did a speech and said good bye to us and their host families. After that, some of us went to karaoke or grabbed some drinks, as it was the last night we get to spend time together!