American students under the U.S. Department of State's "Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program" visit Shoukinji Temple and Inujima Island in Okayama.
July 11, 2019
26 American college students under the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State visited Shoukinji Temple (Naka Ward, Okayama City) and Inujima Island (Higashi Ward, Okayama City) on June 29.
At Shoukinji Temple, students participated in a tea ceremony, a quintessential part of traditional Japanese culture. They learned about the set rules of etiquette for the traditional way of drinking tea while interacting with students and alumni of the Junior High School Attached to the Faculty of Education, Okayama University. American students asked several questions in Japanese, including "Why do you turn the cup?" and "A folding fan - what is this all about and how are we supposed to use it in the tea ceremony?" They seemed to have enjoyed such "meeting of minds" throughout this cultural experience.
In the afternoon, students moved to Inujima Island by the Okayama Kyobashi Cruise--which connects Kyobashi, located in the central area of Okayama City, and islands in the Seto Inland Sea. They visited the Inujima Seirensho Art Museum, the Inujima Art House Project, where visitors can enjoy artworks constructed out of a diverse range of materials and components of old houses, and the Inujima Life Garden. During the tour, students showed great interest in the creation of a recycling-based society and asked questions about the details of making it happen, including but not limited to the reconstruction and preservation of structural remains, an architecture that takes advantage of natural energy sources (solar and geothermal energy), artworks as a motif of Yukio Mishima, one of Japan's most famous novelists, and a plant-based water purifying system.
Okayama University is Japan's first national university to have been selected as a partner institute of CLS. We hosted 26 exceptionally talented American undergraduate and graduate students for eight weeks from June 14 to August 10, and provided university-level Japanese language coursework, as well as cultural activities and excursions.