This blog is continued from Part I https://mockford.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/waseda-university-international-division-1974-1975/ that covered the fall of 1974 and promised photos and stories to be added for 1975 in Part II. For younger readers I should note that the photos were originally processed as slides or prints and were scanned for digital use 40 years after they were taken so the image quality will not be as good as photographs taken digitally today. And, I am still in the process of finding and scanning old photos that may be added when possible.
Winter 1975 will be remembered as cold and occasionally snowy in Tokyo and we bundled up to stay warm in the classrooms and in many of our homes that mostly had limited heating via space heaters or electric kotatsu or if you had a really traditional home a hori-gotatsu (掘り炬燵) with charcoal burner. My house had an electric kotatsu where the family gathered to study and watch TV and was the location for a great deal of Japanese language learning for me. It is quite probable that I learned more Japanese sitting in the warm kotatsu than in the cold classroom.
Several of my classmates from Waseda including Dan Foote, Mark Hirabayashi, Keith Petersen, and Nancy Sydor had part-time teaching jobs at the Tokyo Education Center. We learned a lot of Japanese while teaching English and went to 0ff-campus training programs called Gashuku at sports and resort facilities on the Izu Peninsula and other scenic locations. The program included teaching English while doing sports and I had fun teaching tennis in English and helping organize an orienteering course with tips and directions in English for elementary and junior high Japanese schoolchildren.
I enjoyed a winter trip to Fukushima Prefecture and went skiing with the Tanaka family near Mt. Bandai that I climbed later in the spring. The Tanaka’s maternal grandparents lived at Aizu-Wakamatsu in a very traditional farmhouse that was able to visit several times during the year including fall rice harvest, winter snow, and spring rice planting time. When it was time for Waseda spring break I decided to travel to southern Japan via Kochi, Shikoku and Cape Ashizuri before crossing for Uwajima to Miyazaki, Kyushu by ferry and traveling past the Nichinan Coast, Kagoshima, Kumamoto and finally Hakata before crossing back to Honshu Island to see the town of Hagi in Yamaguchi Prefecture and Hiroshima.
Returning to Tokyo for spring classes I felt my Japanese language abilities had really improved as a result of these various experiences and challenges of traveling, teaching, and exploring Japanese culture. In the spring my Japanese host family brother Shinya Tanaka and I travelled to Hokkaido as the snow was just melting around Lake Mashu (摩周湖, Mashūko) and stayed in youth hostels around Japan’s northernmost of the four major islands just as I had stayed in youth hostels on Honshu, Shikoku, and southernmost Kyushu.
I remember the class taught by Professor Mori (Joji) who happened to be the grandson of the Meiji period novelist Mori Ohgai and how he carefully explained Japanese poems to us.
Professor Mori later became Professor Emeritus at Waseda and I think he is now 83 years old. Years later I occasionally stayed the Suigetsu Ohgai
Hotel in order to see the Mori Ohgai House in the hotel courtyard. See http://www.ohgai.co.jp/ohgai.html
In late May I learned that I had been selected to give the farewell address in Japanese on behalf of the American students in the International Division at the final farewell party or Sobetsu-kai as our year at Waseda came to an end. Several Japanese friends helped me write the speech because I wanted to surprise my Japanese host mother and give her and the Tanaka family a great deal of credit for my ability to become fairly fluent in Japanese making my year in Japan an experience I have treasured for 40 years.
Here are few photos from my year in Japan.
Some of us have had the chance to get together over the many years and some of us have had careers that have been enriched by our experience at Waseda. We also have enjoyed the camaraderie of the shared college experience and the opportunities for reunions with old classmates when possible. Here some photos taken of classmates now 40 years after the exchange program in Japan.