The Yamanashi Summer Program for Japanese Language and Culture was an amazing experience which allowed me to learn and make friends while being away on a holiday! I applied for the course because I wanted to further improve my Japanese language skills first-hand, be absorbed in the Japanese culture and have a productive holiday. The program ran for 20 days at the University of Yamanashi in the city of Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture. It provided a wonderful opportunity for me to experience everyday life in Japan in a smaller city, away from all the tourist attractions.
The program put us up in hotel accommodation by the main station in Kofu, which was a 20-minute walk away from the university. At first I was annoyed that our accommodation was so far away from the university, however after living there I began to appreciate the fact that our accommodation was so close to central Kofu, allowing us to conveniently enjoy the city during our free time.
The course also put us in a buddy system, assigning each of the foreign students with 2 Japanese buddies to become acquainted with. This was a mutually beneficial arrangement which saw the improvement of my Japanese conversation as well as the English conversation of my buddies by the end of the course. I also often met up with my Japanese buddies outside of university time for meals or karaoke, where I was exposed to elements of the Japanese lifestyle and entertainment.
Although, I am usually the opposite of a morning person, the schedule of the course however had fixed my sleeping pattern for the better for the duration of the 3 weeks. The course generally consisted of Japanese language class from 9am to midday, a lunch break at midday where we mostly met up with our Japanese buddies for lunch in the cafeteria and a culture class after lunch. The culture classes consisted of a range of traditional and modern activities such as ikebana (flower arrangement), tea ceremony, tofu making and judo. Furthermore, the course also took us on multiple exciting and scenic excursions by bus to Mount Fuji, lavender fields by the lake, peach picking and more. The range of Japanese cultural activities allowed me to truly understand and value the depth and complexities of the Japanese culture.
The course was a truly magnificent experience and I had a lot more fun than I expected. I was enjoyably busy for the entire 3-week period with the schedule of the course keeping me busy during the days, and hanging out with the other students and exploring Kofu city and its activities during the nights.
– Alice Guo