Category Archives: Temple Japan

Shizuoka Green Tea Farm

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Shizuoka Green Tea Farm

Shizuoka Green Tea Farm

TUJ students picking their own green tea leaves

TUJ students picking their own green tea leaves

TUJ students learning how to make green tea

TUJ students learning how to make green tea

TUJ students compiled their leaves and had a chance to cook them as instructed

TUJ students compiled their leaves and had a chance to cook them as instructed

TUJ student rolling green tea leaves while the instructor finishes cooking the rest of the leaves.

TUJ student kneading green tea leaves while the instructor finishes cooking the rest of the leaves.

TUJ student kneading the green tea leaves after they were finished cooking

TUJ student kneading the green tea leaves after they were finished cooking

The farm had a beautiful Japanese tea garden

The farm included a beautiful Japanese tea garden

Mt. Fuji seen from the farm's Japanese tea garden.

Mt. Fuji seen from the farm’s Japanese tea garden

The tea garden included lots of beautiful scenery.

The tea garden included lots of beautiful scenery.

More beautiful scenery from the tea garden

More beautiful scenery from the tea garden

Pathway in the tea garden.

Pathway in the tea garden.

Overnight Trip To Shizuoka

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Horai Bridg

The first overnight school trip was a journey to Shizuoka, a prefecture along the coast of Japan. Unfortunately, the trip really didn’t start off on the best foot. After boarding another early morning bus, prepared for another several hours driving through the countryside, we learned that there was a change of plans. Due to rain and safety concerns, two of the activities, hiking the bottom of Mt. Fuji and visiting Shiogo Suspension Bridge, needed to be cancelled. Instead, we were informed, we were going to be visiting a few other destinations, including an aquarium and the Horai Bridge, the world’s longest wooden bridge.

While certainly not as glamorous as climbing on Mt. Fuji, it still turned out to be a pretty great day. Personally, I love aquariums and thought the bridge was actually pretty cool. It took about half an hour to go from one end to the other and back again. It also made for some pretty nice pictures!

Kawane Onsen Hotel

Kawane Onsen Hotel

Fortunately, once we arrived at Kawane Onsen Hotel, the rest of the trip went perfectly as planned. The TUJ students were pretty much let loose on the hotel once we checked in, which gave me time to explore the nearby riverbed, enjoy a relaxing bath at the onsen, and hang out on the roof-level observation deck before heading in for a buffet dinner! After dinner (the highlights of which included a chocolate fountain and freshly made diced steak), we tried renting a room for karaoke, but the price was a little steep at 1000 yen for the room for an hour, and 100 yen a song. So instead, we enjoyed the cool night air on the observation deck.

Picking green tea leaves

Picking green tea leaves

The next day, we all loaded back up into the bus and headed to the first destination, a green tea farm called The Tea Museum. There we learned about the process of making green tea firsthand. We picked our own leaves, and brought them in for preparation. We learned how to properly cook and dry the leaves and turn them into green tea itself. After making tea, we also got to walk through the museum’s beautiful Japanese gardens, which offered some great views of Mt. Fuji and the surrounding area. Upon leaving, we were given both pre-made tea and bags of green tea leaves to bring home and make ourselves.

The gardens at the Tea Museum

The gardens at the Tea Museum

After a quick lunch at a rest stop, we arrived at Nihondaira, a scenic seaside area in Shizuoka. There we took a ropeway across to Mt. Kuno Toshogu Shrine, which is a shrine dedicated to the deified spirit of of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Tokugawa Ieyasu was the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the last of the feudal governments in Japan. The shrine is located at the top of Mt. Kuno, accessible by either the ropeway that we took, or a stone staircase with more than a thousand steps cut into the mountainside.

The shrine, like all of the previous shrines I have visited, was peaceful and beautiful. After climbing up through the stairs and courtyards to the top, the only way forward was down. We weren’t lucky enough to be able to take the ropeway both ways, so to get down we had to descend the giant, imposing staircase. The climb down was a little tricky, as the stairs were worn away in some places, but it offered some beautiful views of the town below and the ocean in the distance. Once at the bottom, we got back on the bus and headed back through rain and traffic to get to Tokyo. Even despite the rocky start, it turned out to be a pretty excellent weekend.

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One of the trolleys that crossed the Mt. Kuno ropeway

A Day In The Water: Rafting and Onsens

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Nagatoro Outdoor Center’s scenic front area.

After a lengthy bus ride beginning at seven in the morning, a bus full of TUJ students arrived at Nagatoro Outdoor Center. After a quick briefing, we all scattered to change and get ready for the trip. The center offered rentals for a variety of gear, including wetsuits (which they recommended, saying a number of times how cold the water would be), waterproof jackets, water shoes, straps to keep glasses on, and the mandatory helmets and life jackets. Personally, I only opted for glasses straps: it was a hot day, and I figured that the water would be cold and refreshing.

After getting ready, the first thing we did was drag the boats down to the river. Each group of six rafters helped lug a heavy rubber boat down a narrow forest trail which ended up at the shore. To “acclimate” us to the water, our guides had us wade out into the water, stand in a circle, then just splash each other with the river water. That’s about the time I started regretting just wearing my t-shirt and shorts under the safety gear.

The actual safety briefing (aka “Learn how to whitewater raft in five minutes”) was, disconcerting, mostly about what to do when you fall into the water. Not “if,” when. And with that assurance, we set off down the river.

The actual journey was beautiful. It was a scenic ride past jagged rocks, stony beaches, and waterfalls cascading out of the forest. Periodically along the way, our guide had us jump out and swim in the river. It was freezing cold, but the current made actually swimming pretty fun and easy. At the halfway point, we all pulled our boats off to the side and made makeshift diving board out of them.

Really there was only one instance where the safety training was necessary. My group was in the lead boat, and several of us hopped out to swim. After a few minutes, our guide said to get back in the boats and said something about upcoming rapids, which prompted a panicked, struggled to swim back upstream and climb into the boat. We all made it back in, but it was a nice little adrenaline rush.

After making it to the stopping point, we all loaded up into a bus filled with plastic-covered seats and headed back to the outdoor center for a lunch of yakiniku.

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For obvious reasons, I couldn’t take pictures in the baths, but even the hallways were nice.

After the morning’s strenuous activities, everyone was ready for the next activity: a trip to a Japanese onsen, a hot spring bath. Usually described as a uniquely Japanese experience, I was interested in seeing what it was like. And it really was the sort of experience you could never have in America.

After changing in a locker room, you go out into the public bath, donning nothing but a towel (if that). There, you wash off in a designated shower area in preparation for entering the baths. The onsen we went to had three primary parts: an indoor bath, an outdoor bath, and a sauna. I mostly spent time in the outdoor bath, since it was along the river and had a nice breeze. Really, there are few experiences as unique as hanging out with a bunch of naked Japanese men in a hot spring bath along a river.

I briefly tried the indoor bath, which in my opinion wasn’t as nice. I also took one step inside the sauna, and then immediately backed out after nearly drowning in the 100% humidity and billion-degree heat. Fortunately, afterwards I was able to take a cold shower and have some ice cream.

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On the way home we made a quick pit stop at The Hundred Caves of Yoshimi, a cluster of ancient grave-sites.

Traditional Arts Workshop II: Calligraphy and Kimonos

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TUJ students watch the demonstration closely before beginning their own work.

TUJ students watch Ms. Akagi, the main instructor of the Traditional Arts Workshop, demonstrate an exercise that helps to practice proper form and technique.

Host demonstrating an exercise that helps to practice proper form and technique for calligraphy.

Ms. Akagi teaching a basic exercise of writing three lines with proper brush technique.

TUJ male students during their lesson of calligraphy.

TUJ male students during their lesson of calligraphy.

TUJ student diligently practicing before attempting to write his own character (kanji).

TUJ student diligently practicing before attempting to write his own character (kanji).

Ms. Akagi kindly helped students write their own characters (kanji).

Ms. Akagi kindly helped students write their own characters (kanji).

Female TUJ student writing out her character (kanji).

Female TUJ student writing out her character (kanji).

The completed calligraphy works of TUJ students were hung on the wall for display.

The completed calligraphy works of TUJ students were hung on the wall for display.

TUJ female students dressed in beautiful yukatas, which is a casual summer kimono typically worn during summer festivals by young girls.

TUJ female students dressed in beautiful yukatas, which is a casual summer kimono typically worn during summer festivals by young girls.

TUJ students dressed in their yukatas.

TUJ students dressed in their yukatas.

Handmade kimono button/pins in various designs were given to TUJ students as a gift.

Handmade kimono button/pins in various designs were given to TUJ students as a gift.

Group photo of TUJ students at the Traditional Arts workshop, wearing their yukatas and pins.

Group photo of TUJ students at the Traditional Arts workshop, wearing their yukatas and pins.

TUJ Azabu Hall Quick Preview

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Temple University Azabu Hall outdoor entryway. Located in Azabu-Juban, Tokyo, Japan.

Temple University Azabu Hall outdoor entryway. Located in Azabu-Juban, Tokyo, Japan.

Temple University Japan Campus Azabu Hall. Floors 1-6 hosts the Student Activities/Advising Offices, cafeteria, library, and majority of TUJ classes.

Temple University Japan Campus Azabu Hall. Floors 1-6 hosts the Student Activities/Advising Offices, cafeteria, library, and majority of TUJ classes.

TUJ Billboard outside the entrance of Azabu Hall.

TUJ Billboard outside the entrance of Azabu Hall.

Entrance to TUJ Campus Information Center/Bookstore.

Entrance to TUJ Campus Information Center/Bookstore.

First floor lobby of TUJ's Azabu Hall.

First floor lobby of TUJ’s Azabu Hall.

TUJ Bookstore selling exclusive TUJ merchandise such as hoodies, mugs,  totes, shirts, towels, and cat statues.

TUJ Bookstore selling exclusive TUJ merchandise such as hoodies, mugs, totes, shirts, towels, and cat statues.

Academic advisors and the Student Activities Center are located in the TUJ Information Center located on the first floor of Azabu Hall.

Academic advisors and the Student Activities Center are located in the TUJ Information Center located on the first floor of Azabu Hall.

The Learning Center located on the 2nd floor of Azabu Hall in room 206. Tutors for writing, mathematics, and Japanese are available by appointment.

The Learning Center located on the 2nd floor of Azabu Hall in room 206. Tutors for writing, mathematics, and Japanese are available by appointment.

TUJ Student Government bulletin board which posts information such a books for sale, announcements, club organizations, etc. The student government office and billboard is located on the right side of the hallway leading towards the cafeteria on the 2nd floor of Azabu Hall.

TUJ Student Government bulletin board which posts information such a books for sale, announcements, club organizations, etc. The student government office and billboard is located on the right side of the hallway leading towards the cafeteria on the 2nd floor of Azabu Hall.

The TUJ Cafeteria located on the 2nd floor of Azabu Hall where students study, hangout, and can buy various snacks and drinks from the vending machine.

The TUJ Cafeteria located on the 2nd floor of Azabu Hall where students study, hangout, and can buy various snacks and drinks from the vending machine.

Expansive outdoor smoking area located outside of TUJ's cafeteria on the 2nd floor of Azabu Hall. Offers a great view and atmosphere for hanging out.

Expansive outdoor smoking area located outside of TUJ’s cafeteria on the 2nd floor of Azabu Hall. Offers a great view and atmosphere for hanging out.

TUJ Computer labs located on the 3rd floor of Azabu Hall. Labs offer both PCs and Macs.

TUJ Computer labs located on the 3rd floor of Azabu Hall. Labs offer both PCs and Macs.

TUJ Study Lounge located on the 4th floor of Azabu Hall.

TUJ Study Lounge located on the 4th floor of Azabu Hall.

Azabu-Juban Station: the closest/main subway station for students studying at TUJ. About a 10 minute walk from the school.

Azabu-Juban Station: the closest/main subway station for students studying at TUJ. About a 10 minute walk from the school.

Traditional Arts Workshop: The Koto, Ikebana, and Tea Ceremony

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TUJ students entering a traditional Japanese home in Ogikubo, Tokyo Japan for the Traditional Arts Workshop.

TUJ students entering a traditional Japanese home in Ogikubo, Tokyo Japan for the Traditional Arts Workshop.

The traditional Japanese home used for the Traditional Arts Workshop located in Ogikuro, Tokyo Japan.

The traditional Japanese home used for the Traditional Arts Workshop located in Ogikuro, Tokyo Japan.

The koto, a traditional Japanese string instrument.

The koto, a traditional Japanese string instrument.

TUJ students watch Ms. Akagi, the instructor of the Traditional Arts Workshop, as she trims flowers to a desired length in order to create a sense of balance.

TUJ students watch Ms. Akagi, the main instructor of the Traditional Arts Workshop, as she trims flowers to a desired length in order to create a sense of balance.

Ms. Akagi, sharing with TUJ students that she uses flowers freshly picked from her own garden to execute an ikebana.

Ms. Akagi used flowers freshly picked from her own garden to execute an ikebana.

TUJ students focusing on the ikebana demonstration.

TUJ students focusing on the ikebana demonstration.

The host explained and demonstrated the use of varying heights as well as a balanced color palette to TUJ students.

Ms. Akagi explained and demonstrated the use of varying heights as well as a balanced color palette to TUJ students.

The completed ikebana on display.

The completed ikebana on display.

A tea ceremony was performed by the hosts who presented matcha (powdered green tea) and various Japanese snacks.

A tea ceremony was performed by the hosts who presented matcha (powdered green tea) and various Japanese snacks.

TUJ student and one of the Traditional Arts Workshop instructors formally bowing to each other after tea is served during the tea ceremony.

TUJ student and one of the Traditional Arts Workshop instructors formally bowing to each other after tea is served during the tea ceremony.

TUJ 2015 Graduation Commencement: Ceremony and Reception

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Temple University's Main Campus President Neil D. Theobald initiating the ceremony.

Temple University’s Main Campus President Neil D. Theobald initiating the ceremony.

Temple University Graduation Ceremony stage filled with staff and administrators.

Temple University Graduation Ceremony stage filled with staff and administrators.

TUJ graduates getting ready to walk the stage and receive their diploma.

TUJ graduates getting ready to walk the stage and receive their diploma.

TUJ graduate shaking the Temple University's President Neil D. Theobald hand after receiving her diploma.

TUJ graduate shaking the Temple University’s President Neil D. Theobald hand after receiving her diploma.

TUJ graduate happily showing her diploma to her family.

TUJ graduate happily showing her diploma to her family.

TUJ MS.Ed student walking the stage after receiving her diploma.

TUJ MS.Ed student walking the stage after receiving her diploma.

TUJ MBA graduate shaking the hand of Temple University's main campus President Neil D. Theobald.

TUJ MBA graduate shaking the hand of Temple University’s main campus President Neil D. Theobald.

TUJ student receiving his diploma.

TUJ student receiving his diploma.

TUJ A.A. graduate giving a heartwarming hug to his professor.

TUJ A.A. graduate giving a heartwarming hug to his professor.

TUJ A.A. graduates were adorned with a special sash on stage after receiving their diploma.

TUJ A.A. graduates were adorned with a special sash on stage after receiving their diploma.

TUJ graduates after moving their tassels to the left after receiving their diplomas during the ceremony.

TUJ graduates after moving their tassels to the left after receiving their diplomas during the ceremony.

New TUJ graduates and family begin to fill the large banquet hall set up next to the graduation ceremony hall after the conclusion of the ceremony.

New TUJ graduates and family begin to fill the large banquet hall set up next to the graduation ceremony hall after the conclusion of the ceremony.