Japanese Language, Culture, Fun and Games (TUJP Spring 2024)

The Spring 2024 Tohoku University Japanese Programme (TUJP) hosted 26 students from partner universities around the world.

From February 28 - March 12, the participants attended intensive Japanese language classes, as well as traditional and popular culture workshops on campus. They were joined by a number of Tohoku University students who provided support as buddies and teaching assistants.

"This programme is really amazing. It's only two weeks but you see and learn so much about Japan, the culture and the language," said Niklas Fertig, a physics student from Germany. "It's really cool to learn new Japanese vocabulary and be able to immediately use it in restaurants or convenience stores."

For the workshops on Japanese culture, the students tried their hand at making "nerikiri," a Japanese sweet, and playing traditional children's games such as "kendama," "koma" and "hagoita." That workshop was jointly hosted by student groups TUSTEM and IPLANET.

"Japanese people know 'nerikiri' is but most have not had the experience of making it. So we thought it would be fun to give the TUJP students a chance to try something that even Japanese people don't usually get to do," said Nao Fujita of IPLANET. "It was my first time too so I felt like I was able to learn about my own culture whilst sharing it with others."

"After eating the sweets, we wanted an activity where everyone could move around, so we introduced Japanese traditional games that children play," said Itsuki Tsuchida of TUSTEM.

"We knew the students would be able to learn the games very quickly. But like many Japanese traditional arts, these games are easy to learn but difficult to master. So different people have different skill levels, but everyone can have fun right away."

Despite the cool weather of early spring, the participants also enjoyed the experience of putting on a Japanese yukata, traditional clothes usually worn at festivals in the summer.

"I'm really into fashion so I liked trying on the yukata," said Kim Spreyer, an economics and computer science student from Germany. "The material is light and comfortable, but it's also very fashionable and you can style it in unique ways. A lot of thought goes into putting it on, and I found the process of wearing a yukata very interesting."

While most of the classes and workshops were held on campus, there were many opportunities for the participants to get to know Sendai city with their Japanese buddies.

There was also a field trip to a strawberry farm, and to Nakahama Elementary School, where the participants learnt about the impact of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on the community there.

"The field trip was really powerful," said Amalia Adian, who's studying architecture and urban planning. "We talked a lot about earthquakes and tsunamis. I'm from Indonesia, so that is something that is very close to me and my family. It was moving and also enlightening to see how people went through it, survived and are now trying to mitigate future disasters."

"In Singapore we don't usually get natural disasters so it was eye-opening to see the school and hear about how the earthquake affected the people of the town and city, even the whole country," said Christopher Navarro, a nursing student from Singapore. "I realised how strong the community has had to be and how important it is to always be prepared."

On the last day, the students gave their final presentations, using their Japanese skills to share some of their favourite moments of the past two weeks.

TUJP, which began as one of the university's most popular summer programmes, is now held throughout the year due to increased demand. In-person sessions are held twice in the summer, once in the winter and once in spring.

To find out about more about future TUJP sessions and other exchange programmes at Tohoku University, visit the Global Learning Centre's website


Tohoku University Global Learning Centre
Tel: +81 22 795-4818
Email: (for TUJP) (for all other exchange programmes)

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