July is the first month of summer break at HSE. It is the time to participate in different summer schools, special seminars, lectures, camps, etc. Every summer students majoring in Japanese studies and International relations go to Japan. This year for the first time five students from HSE attended the “TUFS Japan-Russia Business Summer School” held by TUFS in conjunction with the Inter-University Exchange Project undertaken by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan. One of the participants, first year student Mr. Andrey Okhrimenko, shared his experience and impression both in English and Japanese languages.
“Hello! My name is Andrew and I am an international relations student of the National Research University Higher School of Economics. I will tell you about my first experience of being an international student in Japan.
I have been keen on Japan from long ago. During my childhood I often played computer games and read literature about Japan which inspired me to choose Japanese language in the university. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the academic year I was not at all expecting to get to Japan as an international student.
After Christmas holidays my Japanese language professor informed me that I could compete for JASSO scholarship and win a 12 day trip to summer business school in Tokyo. Of course I decided not to miss the opportunity. Fortunately, my application was approved, and after getting a visa I headed for Tokyo University of Foreign Studies to explore the wonders of Japan.
The summer school took place between 16 and 28 of July. On arrival we were met by university staff and transferred to a small hotel, and after a few days we moved to students’ dormitory. Both hotel and dormitory were equipped with all the necessary facilities and impressed me by their tidiness and comfort. Generally speaking, this is what the whole Japan is about – unbelievably clean streets and flawless roads both in the city center and the suburbs. The communication between the area where TUFS is located and Tokyo is done by the network of suburban trains and subway lines which are notorious for their sophistication of usage. However, a couple of days of practice and Google Maps app easily compensate for this inconvenience.
The weather in Tokyo happened to be, so to say, extraordinary. During my stay a historical temperature record of 40 degrees was set up in the city of Tokyo. On the other hand this meant the complete absence of rain (though a typhoon started right after my departure back to Moscow) which allowed to walk around the beautiful city of Tokyo with easy soul after lunchtime, when the heat used to retreat.
The actual learning process was divided into two parts – the first week was devoted to tandem work and the second to lectures on culture, politics and economics of the Land of the Rising Sun. Moreover, two days were reserved for excursions and 1 day – for visiting Japanese firms, while Sunday remained free of any activity. The tandem work appeared to be the most challenging but also the most productive part of the course. During the studies the students were divided into “Russian-Japanese” pairs and discussed various topics in both Russian and Japanese languages. As I study Japanese for only one year, my command of the language was often limited, but the Japanese students were very helpful and always ready to clarify any details in Russian or English when necessary. After several days of studies my confidence increased dramatically and, what I think is even more important, I was able to make good acquaintances with my tandem partners.
The excursions were also a part of the tandem work. This means that sightseeing was organized in such a way that the Japanese could become the guides while the Russians could share their impressions from the new experiences. This brought such an important element of diversity into a usually monotonous process of sightseeing. The sights themselves, however, were also incredible. The pagodas of Sensou-ji temple, Edo-Tokyo museum and other major tourist attractions in Tokyo do not need additional advertisements.
When it comes to lectures, they covered the very basics of almost everything. This gave me an opportunity not to get stuck into the quagmire of theory, but, at the same time, learn a lot about those aspects of Japanese life which were not previously my point of interest. For instance, I really enjoyed a lecture on traditional Japanese music.
On free time after studies I used to go shopping and try the specialties of Japanese cuisine with my new friends. Tokyo allows for all kinds of shopping imaginable. Just think of anime and techno heaven Akihabara, or the Mecca of fashion-lovers Harajuku, or Shinjuku, which tries to suit each taste. This is especially relevant also because many famous clothes and electronics brands are much cheaper in Tokyo than, say, in Moscow.
On the only free Sunday I got on a super fast Shinkansen and went to Kyoto, a city of shrines and the former imperial residence. It takes only 2h. 17m. to get to Kyoto by Shinkansen, which is rather impressive when taking the distance into account. After a brief shopping on a station I made my way through ancient streets straight to Fushimi Inari Shrine, where I spent the rest of my day. After 15 minutes of climbing the Inariyama maintain the crowds of tourists and visual-key concerts on the entrance were replaced by harmony and sounds of nature while the chain of red gates to the world of spirits, torī, seemed to have no end and led to the peak itself, which was to be reached by only the most persistent. Luckily, resting points with souvenirs and water were placed along the whole length of the path, which made the task a bit easier. Being constrained by time, I was not able to reach the top, but, nevertheless, the visit to this magnificent shrine and the city of Kyoto will always remain as one of my best memories about Japan.
The typhoon was slowly approaching. Recently bright blue sky were covered by heavy rain clouds, and the shore wind was getting stronger. The youngsters were joking nervously, while the professors anxiously warned about possible flight cancellations. With the accompaniment of the deafening noise of the raindrops hitting the glass, the bus was rushing through the wall of rainstorm to Narita airport. As appeared, the whims of whether were not an obstacle for brave Arab pilots from Etihad Airways to do their job. An enormous Airbus got off and left the infuriated Raijin behind its wings. Goodbye, Japan! Can’t wait to see you again!”
Andrey has just finished the first year of undergraduate studies, yet he also expressed his impression of attending “TUFS Japan-Russia Business Summer School” in Japanese language.
We hope that the success of the first “TUFS Japan-Russia Business Summer School” will become a great start for new projects between TUFS and HSE in the future.
This month at HSE, it was dedicated to final exams for 2017/18 academic year. As one of the instructors in Basic Japanese courses, I had a chance to assign first-year students takes for their Japanese language knowledge and ability to react to different language situations.
Some of the students performed extremely well. They not only tried to speak fluently, but they also chose pretty difficult topics for their speeches. For instance, one of the students presented Tadao Ando’s Garden of Fine Art in Kyoto (京都府立陶板名画の庭).
Gladly from now on such students can participate in different TUFS’ study and exchange programs. Next month the first group of HSE students will go to Summer Business School. Shortly after that, Short Stay Summer Program will also welcome some of the HSE students. As a GJO’s coordinator, next month I am going to meet the first participants of the both programs to talk about their experience and impression.
This month the main cultural event was Oriental Crazy Day organized on May 20 by HSE’s Professor Yulia Korovina and volunteer students of School of Asian Studies. This annual event is dedicated to cultural exchange of traditions and knowledge of different Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, China, and the Arabic region. This year the meeting was held for the fifth time. As 2018 is proclaimed to be the year of mutual cultural exchange between Japan and Russia, a lot of activities were related to Japanese culture. TUFS’s Global Japan Office Moscow also took part as one of the partners of the Oriental Crazy Day.
The program of the Day started with presentations. At special booth GJO Moscow coordinator presented the Office itself together several programs possible for admission since TUFS and HSE signed the Academic Exchange Agreement in May 2017. First year students (4) were interested in short programs. Second and third year students (5) asked mostly about exchange study programs. Some students participated in a quiz about Japanese culture and got prizes from TUFS’s GJO. The booth was also visited by high school students who are going to apply for admission to HSE this or next year.
After that guest, professors and students participated in different activities like calligraphy (Japanese, Chinese, Arabic), sumi-e （墨絵）painting, tea and coffee ceremony, origami, uta-garuta, （歌かるた）etc. Volunteer students wore traditional costumes.
The main part of the Oriental Crazy Day was the concert organized by students. They sang songs and recited poems in Asian languages, danced and made presentation about distinguishing features of the cultures and language they are majoring at. A group of students staged Japanese play “Shibiri” 痿痢 (in English “Cramps” or “Pins and Needles”). The original text of this kyōgen play is anonymous. Students’ performance was based on the YouTube video (URL:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=sZFWpbC4u7U, accessed 05.06.2018).
TUFS’s student Mr. Anzai Yoshihide, who is currently taking course at Moscow State University, also participated in the event. The following is his impression stated in Japanese.
「Oriental Crazy DayはHSEが主催する催しでアジア圏の言語を学んでいる学生がその国の文化等に関して紹介する場でした。アジア圏の文字の紹介や文化の紹介をするブースト学生達による舞台での催しがあり、舞台では各国の詩や歌、劇やダンスが行われました。
私はOriental Crazy DayについてはHSEの友人から日本の出し物について協力してくれないかという事で参加しました。私は会場で日本のブースの手伝いをし、その後は劇を見ていました。」
April marks the beginning of the 4th, and so the last, semester of the academic year 2017/2018 at Higher School of Economics. We did not have any cultural events this month, so it was mostly dedicated to studies and research.
However, our office started to make preparations to participate in one of the biggest events of HSE’s School of Asian Studies ― Oriental Crazy Day that will be held in May. This event is aimed at the cultural exchange through the presentation of original traditions and customs among students, who are majoring in different Asian languages: Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and also Arabic. As far as the year of 2018 was proclaimed to be a year of cultural exchange between Japan and Russia, the introduction of Japanese culture will become the main theme of the event. Global Japan Office Moscow will participate as one of the partners of the Oriental Crazy Day for the first time.
On March, 2, School of Asian Studies, HSE hosted a lecture-interview by contemporary Japanese author Kaori Ekuni (江國香織). The meeting was organized by Japan Foundation. During the lecture Atsushi Kiba, an interviewer and Ekuni’s editor, asked many questions about the way of writing, creativity, style and the message that Ekuni states in her stories. Russian readers warmly welcomed the author. In Russia Ekuni is mostly famous through two translations, “Twinkle Twinkle” and “God’s boat”.
On March, 3, HSE’s Japanese Culture Club organized another interesting event, presenting Japanese culture. This month the members and guests celebrated Hina-matsuri (雛祭り). Once again I received an invitation to participate, as a representative of GJO Moscow. The student from TUFS Mr. Anzai Yoshihide also took part in the meeting.
Some students from the permanent members of the Club began with educational presentation about Hina-matsuri (Momo no Sekku). They also touched upon other children’ festivals of Japan: Children’s Day (Tango no Sekku) and Shichi-Go-San.
This time the organizers suggested to make origami Hina doll sets (ひな壇, Hina dan).
On March, 15, I met TUFS’s postgraduate student Ms. Rina Ajima, who came to Russian State University for the Humanities (RSUH, Moscow). It was her third visit to Moscow as a researcher. The following is our small talk about her studies, experience and Moscow life in Japanese.
安島里奈さん AJIMA Rina
東京外国語大学 博士前期課程 世界言語社会専攻
ショートビジット モスクワ ロシア国立人文大学
The beginning of February 2018 was marked by celebrating setsubun. The event was organized by Japanese Culture Club, opened in September, 2017, at the School of Asian Studies (SAS, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, HSE). The founders of the Club, Professor Yulia Korovina, Professor Roli Dzhayn and Professor Maria Kireeva, together with their student assistants prepared special program to entertain students and other guests. The special guests, HSE’s Professor Abe Hiroshi and Professor Kurita Satoshi, took parts in different activities. I was also invited to attend this event, as a representative of GJO Moscow.
To make the party more educational, students began with the presentation about the origins and customs of setsubun. They also held a quiz and games with small prizes.
The main activity was to make a group mask of demon oni. When all masks were completed, the demons were banished by throwing beans and shouting「鬼は外! 福は内!」 (“Demons out! Luck in!”)
February was also the month to present to the HSE students two summer programs that Tokyo University of Foreign Studies offered for the academic year 2018-2019. TUFS Short Stay Summer Program 2018 for individual regisration and TUFS Business Summer School as a part of the special TUFS project “Inter-University Exchange Project (Russia) 2017”. The project aims to strengthen and maintain ties between TUFS and six Russian universities, one of which is HSE (Moscow). TUFS is going to welcome five HSE students at the summer school 2018. Professor Fesyun, Professor Strizhak and other teaching members of SAS have already made primary selection of the participants based on academic grade and social activities of applicants and have notified HSE’s coordinators, Alexei Kotlov and Ekaterina Bolshova, who are in charge of international affairs and students’ support. The process of screening has almost completed.
We believe this summer programs, and especially TUFS Business Summer School as a part of important exchange project, to be the next step for cooperation between our universities.
On November 22, 2017 TUFS has established the 15th Global Japan Office and the first office in Moscow, Russia at the National Research University ‘Higher School of Economics’ (HSE). The opening ceremony was attended by TUFS Vice President Kayoko HAYASI, Professor Kyoko NUMANO, Professor Yoshikazu SUZUKI, Professor Shigeru ARAI, administrative staff Mai NAKAGAWA, and Russia’s branch coordinator Keiko KOBAYASHI. From the side of HSE there were Ms. Marina BATALINA, Head, Office for International Cooperation, Mr. Andrey FESYUN, Associate Professor, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, Ms. Uliana STRIZHAK, Associate Professor, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, Ms. Sofiia PASIVKINA, Coordinator, Global Japan Office Higher School of Economics, and Ms. Maria PONOMARYOVA, undergraduate student, Japan Studies at Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs. During the ceremony both parties exchanged warm greetings and strong willingness to collaborate cross-cultural education and research through student exchange and activities introducing Japanese culture in Russia. The main goal of the newly opened HSE Global Japan Office is to provide students with information and support to conduct research on Japan studies.