Homestay Experience in Japan | Student Voice

Posted by Punyavadee Yiengsubhanond on Jan 22, 2022 9:54:00 AM

In this Byline ICS piece, Pun MBA Class of 2020, whom we previously interviewed regarding her Japanese Language studies, shares her experience of doing a short-term homestay with a family in Tokyo. Read in this blog post why she decided to live with a host family and the rewards this experience has brought.  

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Topics: Japanese Culture, Life at Hitotsubashi ICS, Student Voice, MBA Program, MBA in Japan

Introspection through Japanese Culture

Posted by Mina Nishisaka on Jan 28, 2020 6:33:04 PM

The Japanese Culture Course at Hitotsubashi ICS takes students on a 6-week journey from ancient/traditional Japanese culture to modern-day Japanese pop culture, each course under a concept such as 和(Wa Harmony, ), 神仏(Shimbutsu Gods and Buddhas), 節(Setsu Milestones and Transitions), 礼(Rei Manners, Appreciation, Courtesy), 粋(Iki Chic, Cool, etc.), and かわいい(Kawaii Cute, Adorable, Imperfect,etc.) Course instructors Motoko Kimura and Mina Nishisaka from WaNavi Japan take students outside the classroom each week to allow students to use their five senses and to discover Japanese culture in a holistic way.

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Topics: Japanese Culture, Life at Hitotsubashi ICS

The Best Spots for Autumn Foliage in Japan

Posted by Mina Nishisaka on Nov 12, 2019 11:29:17 AM

As the nights get colder and longer after a hot and muggy summer, the leaves tell us that it's autumn in Japan. Colorful foliage, called koyo in Japanese is just as magnificent as the pink cherry blossoms in the spring. For centuries, the Japanese people have enjoyed the koyo, and we can see many poems and haiku dedicated to the autumn foliage. The spectacular blend of red, orange and yellow is truly a breathtaking palette created by nature. 

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Topics: Japanese Culture

Summer in Japan

Posted by Hitotsubashi ICS on Aug 15, 2019 6:58:00 AM

It's obon, an annual buddhist event for welcoming our ancestors back to this world, and a time when many Japanese spend their summer holiday. Many Japanese associate summer with obon, and many of Japan's summer scenery has a close relation with it. It is believed that each year during obon, our ancestors' spirits return to spend time with family. Although it is not a national holiday, many businesses are closed during this time, and the Tokyo becomes empty since many people return to their home regions.

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Topics: Japanese Culture

Japanese Business Etiquette

Posted by Mina Nishisaka on Apr 19, 2019 11:46:20 AM

In Japan, the new school/fiscal year starts in April. For many Japanese, it is a fresh start of the year, often accompanying different positions, roles, and starting in new environments. 

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Topics: Japanese Culture

Sakura Season in Japan

Posted by Mina Nishisaka on Mar 27, 2019 4:18:23 PM

It's the time of year again when the sakura (cherry blossoms) paint the entire Japanese archipelago in pink. The explosion of pale pink petals is astounding and breathtaking, and the Japanese people check the sakura forecast (yes, there is such thing) on television every day to see when they can enjoy the sakura in full bloom.

Flower Viewing 

Since the sakura petals fall almost as soon as they bloom, the Japanese people are frantic about when to plan the best ohanami, a cherry blossom viewing picnic under the sakura tree. The literal translation would be "flower viewing," but its meaning expands further into Japanese culture, Japanese people take this opportunity to spend a good time with family and friends (and as an excuse to drink). If you ever visit Japan during the cherry blossom season, you will be surprised at how the usually rigid Japanese people are merrily drunk in public under the cherry blossom trees. Companies also take this opportunity to end work early and have ohanami with colleagues. In fact, it is one of the newly hired employees' job to get the best ohanami spot, spreading a blue tarp sheet and reserving the spot from early in the morning. Businesses also take advantage of this season, and anything from cafe lattes, bento, sweets and especially beer and sake have a special sakura-themed edition, only sold during this season.

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Topics: Japanese Culture

How Does Japan Celebrate New Years

Posted by Mina Nishisaka on Jan 1, 2019 11:40:32 PM

Oshōgatsu, or New Year in Japan, is a time for custom and tradition even in modern Japan. 

Japan has always had a special place for Oshōgatsu, the most auspicious celebration of the year.
Oshōgatsu is typically celebrated the first three days of January, but preparations for the celebration start early. Soon after Christmas decorations are set aside, the entrances to many homes, stores, and buildings in Japan are decorated with Kadomatsu, a decoration made of pine and bamboo that welcomes the Shinto deities, especially the Toshigami-sama (the deity of the New Year). The Kadomatsu is a symbol that each house/building has been cleaned andpurified and that they are ready to welcome the Toshigami-sama. The evergreen pine and bamboo embody the vitality and strength to overcome hardships. 

The Start of Oshōgatsu

The official start of Oshōgatsu is midnight of December 31st, as the new year approaches. As midnight nears, the solemn air is filled with the deep, slow sound of a local temple's bell being rung, and many people gather to their neighborhood temples to offer their first prayers of the year. The temple bell is rung 108 times as the old year passes and the new year arrives, along with a prayer to renounce the 108 different earthly desires that humans suffer from. A bonfire is started at many temples and shrines for people to bring in old charms and amulets that were used in the previous year - they are burned with prayers by Buddhist and Shinto priests to express gratitude for the protection provided. 
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Topics: Japanese Culture

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