Hi everyone! My name is Adam Franklin, and I’m the new Coordinator for International Relations at the Kyoto Prefecture International Affairs Division. I’m taking over for my predecessor Maia Hall, and I’m very happy to be living and working here in Kyoto City!


Truth be told, I’ve lived in Kyoto City for the past 6 years as I did both my Bachelor’s and my Master’s at Rtisumeikan University. When applying for this position I expressed my hopes to stay here in Kyoto City, but never in my wildest dreams did I actually think that could become a reality!


I was born and raised in a small town called Denbigh, which is in the north of Wales, the UK. It’s a largely rural area with lots of castles and sheep, so moving to Japan and living in the big city has certainly been a change of pace for me.


A question I get asked a lot is why I chose to study at a Japanese University. I think the answer to that question ultimately lies in my thought process around about the time I was graduating high school. I didn’t have a domestic University that I strongly wanted to go to, nor did I have a subject that I desperately wanted to study. When I came across the idea of studying abroad, I thought that wouldn’t it be great to study in a foreign country and learn the language whilst earning my degree!


I scratched other European countries off the list of possible destinations as I was worried that the prevalence of English fluency among those countries would mean I wouldn’t be able to fully immerse myself in the local language. Following this logic, I decided to look at countries that had a language that was far removed from English, and the prevalence of English-speaking natives not being a given.


Asia in general was a big area for this, and specifically within Asia I started to look at China, South Korea and Japan. I was particularly interested in Japan after being exposed to so much Japanese pop-fiction while I was growing up. Growing up in the 90s and early 00s, I used to hear a lot about how advanced of a country Japan was, that they were supposedly decades ahead technology wise. Couple this with “cool” images of samurai and ninja I had in my head, it became cemented as a place I wanted to visit when I was older.


So now with the chance to live and study there, I became very eager. I applied to Ritsumeikan University and spent a lot of effort on my applications. I was selected for an interview, did the best I could and crossed my fingers in anticipation! Luckily, I was accepted, and thus began my 6-year University journey in Japan.


I started my language study from scratch when I came here, but after 6 years of study I had a strong enough understanding of the language to apply for the position of CIR, and here I am now! I love my job, and I’m incredibly happy that I can pursue this kind of work in the city of my beloved university days. Kyoto has well and truly become a second home for me, and I look forward to what the future might bring!


Goodbye for now, Kyoto! またね、京都!

Published by Maia Hall・マヤ ホール

Hi everyone! I’m sad to say that my time as a CIR for Kyoto Prefecture is coming to a close. I have made countless wonderful memories and met so many different people here over these two years, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Drinking matcha at Ginkakuji Temple!・銀閣寺での抹茶体験


Elementary school visit・小学校訪問

Some things I got up to during my time in Kyoto will stick with me in particular. With the Kyoto Prefectural International Affairs Division and Kyoto Prefectural International Center, I was involved in many different regional level sister-city events and projects. For example, I helped out with the Kyoto Infused with Tea Expo in 2017, attended by the Deputy Lord Provost of Edinburgh, which was a success! I attended various festivals and events specializing in the wonders of Kyoto, such as the Tomorrow’s Kyoto Festival and also worked with Keihanna Science City and getting involved in the fields of sustainability and smart city, something that really piqued my interest. I met, guided and interpreted for foreign officials and organizations from all over the world; helped residents with disaster preparedness, traffic and extreme weather safety; assisted international students and residents in Kyoto… the list goes on!

Intercultural communication workshop・異文化コミュニケーションワークショップ


Getting involved in the community by speaking at Pechakucha Night・Pechakuchaのイベントにスピーカーとして参加

Through KPIC, I am especially glad to have been able to run a number of intercultural understanding lectures, where I had the opportunity to interact and debate with diverse people from all over the prefecture. Some of the topics we covered include introducing the culture, history, and politics of Scotland; Easter festivities where we also did a traditional European activity of dyeing eggs with natural onion skin dyes; talking about the real Grimms’ Fairytales from Germany and how they relate to Japanese folklore and mythology, whilst making glass silhouette candle holders; and most recently, a lively workshop on intercultural communication and the many socio-anthropological theories and reasons behind these differences, and how we as individuals can help cross cultural boundaries to make for a more open society.

International understanding lecture・国際理解講座


Junior high school visit・中学校訪問

Living in Kyoto City has of course been incredible, but with the CIR role, I was also able to travel further afield, all around the whole of the beautiful prefecture that is Kyoto. I went on school visits where I felt like I was able to directly connect with and learn from the next generation of young people in Japan; helped out on tours; and worked at a kids’ English Camp! It really has been a blessing to see every corner of Kyoto Prefecture and know that it is not just the world-famous city that is so special.


At the top of Daimonji Hill in Kyoto City・京都市の大文字山の頂上
Junior high school visit・中学校訪問

As I prepare to continue my studies in Public Policy in Berlin from August (something I grew interested in through this position), all that remains is to say a huge thank you to all of my wonderful and supportive colleagues, both at the International Affairs Division and at KPIC, and the welcoming and enthusiastic people of Kyoto Prefecture who have made my stint as a CIR something I have learnt so much from, and of course, an absolute and unforgettable dream. ありがとうございます! I’ll be back!


英語村オリンピック・パラリンピック講座 English Village Olympics・Paralympics Lecture

(Posted by Maia Hall, Kyoto Prefectural Office CIR)

On the 22nd November, 2017, I had the opportunity to go visit the Kyoto Higashigaoka High School to take part in their annual English Village Hello Week. I, and two Kyoto Friendship Ambassadors spoke to a group of about thirty high school students about the Olympic and Paralympic Games.


We were all from past hosts of the Games: I from the United Kindgom, and the other two from China and the United States respectively. Our talks and discussion ranged widely from the breakdown of the Games, the meanings of the symbols and mascots that were used, the Opening Ceremonies, Olympic legacies, what a country can learn from hosting the Olympic Games, and what Tokyo and Japan do in 2020.


Understanding that these students were a similar age to mine when the London 2012 Games took place, I wanted them to get a feel of how important a step the Olympic Games can be to internationalisation, and the things they can contribute to these changes in the next few years.


The students seemed to enjoy themselves, asked many questions and had excellent English. We hung around for almost half an hour after it was over to speak in both Japanese and English to those who were more keen. I hope their brief but intensive encounter with some outside opinions about the Olympics managed to inspire them to action, or at least think about how Japan can become more accepting and open to diversity!2611535.jpg


Kyoto CIRs participated in the Gion Festival! 京都府の国際交流員が祇園祭に参加した!


IMG_0363Gion MatsuriOn July 17th, 4 CIRs of Kyoto Prefecture (Mark at Kyoto Prefectural Office, Jake in Seika Town, Brian in Kizugawa and Eric in Kameoka) participated in the Gion Festival and pulled one of the big float, the Houka Hoko.
In spite of the typhoon and heavy rain, all of them had the brighest smiles during the day, and were delighted to have been able to participate in such a major festival, as well as being able to experience first-hand Japanese culture and traditions.

Gion Matsuri7月17日(金)に京都府国際交流員の4名(府国際課のマーク、精華町のジェーク、木津川市のブライアン、亀岡市のエリック)が祇園祭に参加して、放火鉾を引きました。


Mark (CIR in Kyoto Prefectural Office, from Scotland)
マークより (スコットランド出身、京都府国際課CIR)

Gion MatsuriHi everyone, Mark here!
I had the pleasure, and privilege, of taking part in the first of the two parades of the Gion Festival (the saki-matsuri, 前祭) on the 17th July, along with Jake, Brian, and Eric. Although there were worries that the typhoon would scupper the plans, we all got up bright and early anyway to head over and get ready. Ultimately we got the green-light to go ahead, so after getting dressed into our outfits, donning the hats, and taking pictures, we joined the 50-strong team to heave the Houkahoko through the wind and rain.

I’m actually very glad for the rain as it kept us cool throughout the day, and although it was a little tough at times, I think I would have struggled more in the blazing heat of a sunny summer’s day!

I had a really great time, especially along Oike-dori and Shinmachi-dori when everyone was cheering us on and shouting words of encouragement, despite the bad weather. Hearing and seeing them cheer us on really gave me the extra energy I needed towards the end to finish the day. I am also happy to have finally experienced first-hand Kyoto’s pre-eminent festival and feel more attached to the city.

I’m very grateful to KPIC for organising it, and perhaps we can take part again next year!

Gion Matsuri皆さん、こんにちは!マークです~





Jake (CIR in Seika Town, from America)
ジェークより (精華町CIR、アメリカ出身)

Gion MatsuriGion Masturi was a lot of fun! The Hoko cart was surprisingly heavy though, so I am happy it rained. If I had to pull it when it was sunny out, it would have been really tough. It was also nice to see all the spectators cheering us on. Thanks to them pulling the Hoko didn’t feel so tiring. I think it was a good experience and I would love to be able to do it again if I have the chance.

Gion Matsuri祇園祭りはとても楽しかったです。鉾は思ったより重かったから雨降ってよかったと思います。晴れている日に鉾を引いていたらもっと難しかったかもしれません。また、観察者が応援してくれて、嬉しかったです。おかげ様で鉾を引いてもそんなに疲れなかったです。とてもいい経験だったと思います。機会があればまた参加したいと思います。


Brian (CIR in Kizugawa, from America)
ブライアン (木津川市CIR、アメリカ出身)

Gion MatsuriIMG_0427It was an honor to participate in Gion Festival, one of the three representative festivals of Japan. I have been to the Gion Festival while I was studying abroad in Kyoto, but never have I imagined myself actually being a part of the festival and pulling the floats. The volunteers, the locals, the visitors, the community came together for the millennium-old tradition. Although we were all soaked by the downpour, it didn’t take away our passion. It was a great experience.


Eric (Kameoka CIR) was the flag holder for the float! エリック(亀岡CIR)が鉾の旗を持つという大事な役割が与えました!

Eric (Kameoka CIR) was the flag holder for the float!

A very Scottish September! スコットランドらしい9月でした!

Hello everyone, Mark from the International Affairs Division here! Although we’re in October (already!) I want to talk a bit about what was going on during a very busy September for me.


I mentioned in my last post about an event that I was going to hold at KPIC at the station on the 6th September. The event itself was called 「英国におけるスコットランド – Scotland in the UK and its future」and was split into two main parts: the first part being a 45 minute or so presentation that I made, introducing Scotland, the UK, and the main ideas and concepts behind the Scottish Independence Referendum held on the 18th September; the second part being a discussion-style Q&A session where participants could ask questions freely. The whole event was held in English, and I was very impressed by the participants’ ability to not only understand the content, but to also field their own questions about a difficult topic.


前回のポストで、国際センターにて9月6日開催のイベントについて書きました。このイベントのタイトルは「英国におけるスコットランド – Scotland in the UK and its future」と言いまして、大きく2つのプログラムに分けられていました。前半では、約45分にわたって、スコットランド、イギリスの紹介と、9月18日に行われるスコットランド独立に関する住民投票について、投票に至った経緯や現地での主な意見の解説をしました。後半では、参加者の皆さんとフリーディスカッションの形で、繰り出される様々な質問に回答しました。全て英語だったのですが、参加者の聞き取りの力だけでなく、難しいテーマも理解して自分の考えなどを英語で質問されるのには大変感じ入りました。

More than that though, I was so happy by the interest that everyone had in Scotland and the UK – I was kind of expecting to answer more general questions, but once I started getting questions about currency unions, the UK’s role in protecting world peace, and cultural awareness in education, I really was taken aback by everyone’s enthusiasm to learn more about my home country.


何より、想像していた以上に皆さんが スコットランドに興味を持っていただいていた事がすごく嬉しかったです。一般的な内容の質問を受けると予想していましたが、実際には 通貨連合、世界平和を守るためのイギリスの役割や、教育における自国文化に対する理解などについての質問が出て、僕の母国であるスコットランドについてもっと学びたいという情熱に触れて驚きました。

Doing all the research for this event Scot4really helped me to understand my own situation and opinions, and although there was a time when I thought that maybe voting Yes would be a good idea, it was only fleeting, and eventually voted No by postal vote, as I had always expected myself to do.Scot6

このイベントのために いろいろ調べていくうちに、僕は、より深く自分の立場や意見を理解することができました。今回投票するにあたって「Yes/賛成」に投票するのが良いのかもしれないと迷ったこともありましたが それはほんの一瞬だけで、もともと考えていた通り「No/反対」で投票用紙を郵送しました。

Ultimately, as I think most people know, the people of Scotland voted to remain as part of the UK, and I am very happy and relieved. The results of the referendum were coming in all through the morning and early afternoon of the 19th September, so I was glued to the BBC website checking for updates and results all day. That is, in between interviews with various newspapers and even NHK! Friday was a very high-octane day, with a few of Japan’s national newspapers calling or coming to visit to ask questions and take photos, and NHK coming to film a short segment. With only 5.3 million people in Scotland, I can’t imagine that there are that many living and working here in Japan, so many people called me throughout the day to ask my opinion, although I think they were secretly hoping for someone who wanted Scottish independence…sorry!

結局、皆さんがご存じのように、投票の結果、スコットランドは英国の一部として残留することに決まり、とても嬉しく思うと同時に安心しました。19日の朝から少しずつ投票結果が発表されていたので、一日中BBCのHPにクギづけになっていましたが、見ていなかったのは、僕が新聞やNHKのインタービューを受けている間だけでした!開票日だった金曜日には、僕のところに次から次へと、いろいろな全国紙の新聞社が、電話してきたり、質問や写真を撮るためにやってきました。そしてNHKも短い時間ながら取材しに来ました。スコットランドには530万人しかいないし、その中でも遠い日本に暮らして仕事をしているスコットランド人の数はとても少ないせいか、一日中 何回も感想を訊かれました。質問者の多くは、スコットランド独立賛成派としての感想を聞きたかったようですが、残念ながら僕は反対派でした・・・。

Article included in September 20th's Sankei Shimbun newspaper. 9月20日に産経新聞に掲載された記事。

Article included in September 20th’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper.

It was a very Scottish September with Scotland and the UK receiving much more coverage than I had expected. I hope that Japanese people will use this opportunity, as well as NHK’s new Massan drama, to learn more about Scotland and its unique culture.

この9月は スコットランド一色でした。僕の期待以上に、スコットランドやイギリスのことが報道されました。これを機会に、新しく始まったNHKの連続小説ドラマ「マッサン」などで、スコットランドやスコットランド独特の文化に親しんでいただければ嬉しいです。

Mark visits Kyoto St. Catalina High School

Hello everyone, it’s Mark from the International Affairs Division. Although late, I would like to write a quick post about a school visit I made to Kyoto St. Catalina High School in Nantan City on the 16th July.


I was asked by the school to come and speak to the students about myself and my home country of Scotland, introducing to them a country and region that they may not have heard of before. Indeed, many people seem to think only of London and Fish & Chips when asked about their image of the UK, so I am always happy to tell people about Scotland!


After a very brief introduction of myself and my work here in Kyoto, we started up a game-show style quiz with questions about Scotland, ranging from the flags of the UK to famous Scottish inventions. With a chance to lose and gain lots of points depending on whether each team was correct or incorrect, there was a lot of excitement, especially towards the tie-breaker end question. With two sessions, we had a team come back from behind both times to clinch the victory at the end, and everyone seemed to really enjoy the game and learning about Scotland. The presentation and quiz was in English, so all the students were listening hard to understand and answer in English as well.photo1


We finished with a sing-along of Let It Go from the movie Frozen, which the students had practiced in English to sing for me on the day. They had obviously practiced well and we all had a great time acting along with the video.

最後に、生徒達がDisneyの「Frozen」の大名曲「Let It Go」の英語版を事前に練習しておいて、当日に歌ってくれました。皆が頑張って練習したようで、一緒にビデオを見ながら楽しめました。

At the end I received thank you cards and notes from everyone saying how much they had enjoyed learning about a different country that they hadn’t really heard of, and it made me happy to think that I had broadened the horizons of at least some of the next generation of students, even if it’s just a wee bit! I also had a chance to eat lunch with some of the students and talk about various things, such as English study, in a more relaxed setting. Overall, it was a really fun day for me, and I think the students enjoyed themselves as well.


Speaking of Scotland and events, I would also like to take this opportunity to plug an event on the 6th September, when I will be making a short presentation in English about Scotland and the idea of Scottish independence before the referendum on the 18th, then leading a discussion and answering questions. Applications are already full and is now on a cancellation basis, so hopefully it will lead to interesting discussion!
See the event page on the Kyoto Prefectural International Centre’s website for more details:


Study Abroad in Europe Fair - 欧州留学フェア

On May 18th, I participated in the Study and Research in Europe Fair, and I got to help at the booth of Campus France, a French government agency which encourages those in higher education to study abroad in France. The fair was organized both in Tokyo and Kyoto and I helped with the Kyoto event.

A lot of universities from all over Europe participated in the event. We had representatives from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

Europe fair5月18日(日)に欧州留学フェア2014年に参加し、キャンパスフランスのブースで仕事をしました。キャンパスフランスと言うのはフランス政府留学局であり、フランスへの留学を推進する公式機関です。

Booth of Toulouse University トゥールーズ大学のブース

Booth of Toulouse University

French universities and business schools were there too, catering to a broad range of students and specialties. Famous schools such as HEC or ESSEC for business and Sciences Po for political studies were present, and we got two universities coming from Lyon and Toulouse.

The French higher education system is very different to the Japanese one, with the ranking of private business schools and universities being reversed, and with universities fees being very cheap compared to those in Japan for example.

The Campus France booth was in charge of providing general information about scholarships, procedures before leaving, and French language schools and programs etc.
A lot of people seemed to be interested in studying in France because we sometimes had a queue of people waiting for counseling with the staff.

フランスの大学とビジネススクールもブースを出し、学生の様々なプロジェクトとそれぞれの専攻に対応しました。ビジネススクールで有名なHECやESSEC学校及び政治学で有名なSciences Po学院がいれば、リヨン市とトゥールーズ市の大学も出席しました。


Mayumaro at the French Institute's booth まゆまろがアンスティチュ・フランセのブースで相談

Mayumaro at the French Institute’s booth

In the afternoon we even got a visit from Mayumaro, Kyoto Prefecture’s official mascot, and he was immediately surrounded by rows of fan wanting a picture with him (me included).
I’m sure he wants to go to France as well because I spotted him asking for information at the French Institute booth!


Together with Mayumaro in front of the Campus France booth キャンパスフランスのブースとまゆまろと写真を撮る

Together with Mayumaro in front of the Campus France booth

On that day, we had more than 600 people visit the fair and I got to interact with a wide range of Japanese students, all with different kind of projects and backgrounds but all with the same interest in France and its culture. I was really glad to give an insight into French university life, and I hope they will be able to carry on their projects in France and become bridges between Japan and my home country too.


Smart City Expo in Kyoto

Hello everyone, Mark from the International Affairs Division here.
I’d like to write a very quick post about an interesting event that was held here in Kyoto Prefecture on 26th and 27th March. Over the two days, the Kyoto Smart City Expo 2014 was held in Keihanna Plaza (26th) and at Kyoto International Conference Centre (27th), bringing together specialists and people from all over the world to discuss projects and technology surrounding “Smart Cities.”


For those of you who don’t know what a “smart city” is, it is a movement for cities to become more technologically “smart” by implementing new technology and introducing new ways of thinking to urban planning and development issues. The Keihanna Science City, in the south of Kyoto Prefecture and on the border with Osaka and Nara prefectures, is one of Japan’s 4 smart city model areas, and there are many projects and trials ongoing in this area. (http://jscp.nepc.or.jp/en/)

さて「スマートシティー」とは一体何でしょうか? これは、都市計画や都市開発問題を解決するために、最新テクノロジーを使ったり新しい考え方を取り入れたりして、都市を科学的にもっと「スマート」にしようという動きの名称です。京都府の南部に位置し、大阪府と奈良県の境に隣接するけいはんな学研都市は、日本では4ヶ所ある、スマートシティーの実証モデル地域の1つであり、ここでは日々多くの実験や試みが行われています。(http://jscp.nepc.or.jp/en/)


The Smart City Expo World Congress has been held in Barcelona since November 2011, and this event in Kyoto was the first Asian edition. Kyoto was chosen for its significance in the Kyoto Protocol, and its ongoing efforts and trials, particularly in the Keihanna Science City area, towards creating an environmentally “smart” city for the future.



With Kyoto Prefecture as joint organisers of this Kyoto expo, I was involved heavily in the translation of many of the documents that were on show during the event, and I was there on the 26th to help with interpreting for all the guests that had come from abroad to participate in the discussions and lectures.


Overall, I felt that this was a very interesting event for Kyoto, and there are plans to hopefully hold it here in Kyoto again in the future! I look forward to seeing people come from all over the world sharing ideas again.

準備段階から開催まで関わった僕にとっても、大変興味深いイベントでした。 このエキスポを、これからも京都で開催しようという話も出ていますので、ぜひ僕も再び、今回のように全世界の人々が京都で意見交換するというワクワクする場面を見てみたいと思っています!


2013 Horikawa High School Visit – 堀川高校訪問2013年

Alice from KPIC!      京都府国際センターのアリスです!

On December 16th and 20th the CIRs of Kyoto Prefecture went to Horikawa high school in Kyoto City to participate in an interview about our respective countries and culture, and give a presentation about multiculturalism.


Interview with the students 学生によるインタビュー

Interview with the students

On the 16th, all the CIRs writing for this blog ( Mark (Scotland) from the Kyoto Prefectural Office, Eric(Australia) from Kameoka, Brian(America) from Kizugawa, Steven(America) from Seika and me, Alice(France) from the Kyoto Prefectural International Center) participated in an interview by the students about the culture of our respective home countries and how we viewed Japan and its culture, as well as the current state of foreigners living here. Students had prepared really precise questions such as “how much would you say you know of the Japanese language” or the cultural faux pas to avoid when going abroad and it was sometimes hard to answer, even though it made me think a lot about my own culture and identity. It was fun to ask back the question to the students and see them think really hard too.

Alice from France, CIR at the Kyoto Prefectural International Center フランス出身のアリス、京都府国際センターの国際交流員

Alice from France, CIR at the Kyoto Prefectural International Center


Presentation 講演会


On the 20th, Brian and I went back to give a short presentation about multicultural societies in France and the US, to speak about the problem of multiracial identity and the current state of multiculturalism in Japan. Students were really reactive to our talk, laughing or nodding as we spoke, and after a brief moment of shyness, they asked a lot of questions at the end, mainly about how to interact with foreigners and how to behave when faced with different cultural codes and attitudes. I wished we had more time for discussion in a more casual atmosphere after the presentation but it was a really rewarding experience!

Presentation 講演会



Brian (Kizugawa) – 木津川市のブライアン

Brian from America, CIR at Kizugawa  アメリカ出身のブライアン、木津川市の国際交流員

Brian from America, CIR in Kizugawa

It was great to have the opportunity to have an international understanding lecture at Horikawa High School. It was my first time presenting to a big crowd so I was quite nervous. However, I think we had an interesting and informative talk with the students. Bombarded with information today, sometimes we may have wrong ideas or impressions of others, may it be a foreigner or a member of a culture. With this lecture, I hope the students understood the increasing trend of multicultural countries and diversity, as well as its problems in the globalizing world.


With limited time, we couldn’t have enough time to answer many questions from students. I hope there will be more opportunities to interact with students not only to share interesting cultural differences of our countries, but also lead them to see our similarities as humans.


Eric (Kameoka) – 亀岡のエリックより

Eric from Australia, CIR at Kameoka オーストラリア出身のエリック、亀岡市の国際交流員

Eric from Australia, CIR in Kameoka

I was interviewed by two students and they asked me some very interesting questions about Australia. Such questions included country and cultural differences between Australia and Japan, differences in greetings, manners etc.

They were surprised at facts such as that public transports don’t run as conveniently like Japan and that the vending machines do not work properly at times.

The questions were fun and interesting but became more difficult when we moved onto the human rights issue topic, which included questions about bullying and racism in Australia.

The students listened with interest and it was a lot of fun answering some unexpected questions. I hope they will find the information that I gave useful for their overseas study trip.

Mark (Kyoto Prefectural Office) – 京都府国際課のマークより

Mark from Scotland, CIR at the Kyoto Prefectural Office スコットランド出身のマーク、京都府国際課の国際交流員

Mark from Scotland, CIR at the Kyoto Prefectural Office

I had a really great time with the students interviewing me. Not only did they seem keen and enthusiastic to know more about the UK and Scotland, but they came up with good questions that made me really think about the answers, so I think even I learnt a little more about my own country too!

Steven (Seika) – 精華町のスティーブンより

Steven from America, CIR in Seika アメリカ出身のスティーブン、精華町の国際交流員

Steven from America, CIR in Seika

The interview at Horikawa was my first time visiting a high school since becoming a CIR, so I was not totally sure what to expect. However, I found the students to be open-minded and inquisitive. At the same time, I could infer from the questions that they asked that they had an image of America as a dangerous place full of guns. I hope that their upcoming trip allows them to discover the positive aspects of travelling abroad and gain a more accurate image of the world outside of Japan.


Fushimi-Inari, Sake, Sweets, and Kimono! 伏見稲荷、日本酒、和菓子と着物!

Hello everyone, Mark from the International Affairs Division here! It’s been a while since my last post, but this is about a field trip we organised and held on Sunday 15th December. Altogether we were 21, with exchange students studying at Ritsumeikan and Doshisha universities, from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, USA, Germany, and Australia! We all managed to meet up on a chilly morning and left on our bus just past 9am.




Our first call was Kyoto’s famous Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine. Arriving just past 9:30am, it was already busy with many people trying to get the best shots of all the torii gates. Everyone enjoyed trying to do the same, and our guide taught us lots about the meaning and the history of the shrine. Personally, Fushimi Inari is one of my favourite shrines in Kyoto, so it was nice to go and help show the exchange students around!



Afterwards, we took a trip to the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum. Here we were given a very detailed, but easy-to-understand, explanation on the sake-brewing process and history of sake by a very knowledgeable guide. The tour through the museum includes replicas of the actual traditional tools and containers that the brewers used in the olden times to create the famous sake made in and around Kyoto. Once we had finished the tour and the explanation, we were all (the members over 20, of course!) given a chance to try some of the local sake and umeshu brewed there. As there was a shop there, I myself was very tempted to purchase some! I think the students came away with a good understanding of both what sake is, and the taste of it!




Once we had our fill for lunch, we went on to a place called Oimatsu, which crafts and sells traditional Japanese confectionery, and in particular, Kyoto confectionery, or kyogashi. Here we were given a wonderful demonstration and taught how to make our own kyogashi creations! We were all given the basic ingredients, and shown how to make one, then had the freedom to make a couple more of our own designs. It is said that enjoying this kind of confectionery is an experience for all 5 senses: naturally, the taste is to be savoured; the design of the sweet appeals to the eyes; the touch and the smell as you eat it as well. However, how are the ears and hearing involved? Apparently, hearing is the most important sense of them all! By giving a name to our creations, when we hear it, we can imagine the scene and what the sweet represents as we enjoy eating it. Once we were finished, we had one with some maccha tea, and brought our other ones home with us for later!




Finally, we finished the day at the Nishijin Textile Center, where we were again given another great explanation and shown examples of the exquisite detail that go into Kyoto’s Nishijin silk products. Ending the day with the kimono fashion show at the Center, I think all the students got a great selection of photos of some of the best kimonos that Kyoto has to offer! After the show, we all made our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves despite the chilly weather, and I think we gave everyone a really good opportunity to learn a bit more about things that exchange students don’t usually get a chance to. All in all, a great success, and I had fun too!