Leiden University (The Netherlands)GJO Activity Report / 活動日誌

2021年1月 活動日誌 / January 2021 Activities Report

2021年1月31日 / January 31, 2021
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / TAKEMORI Banri

The New Year has arrived before we even noticed. The lockdown continued throughout January, and a night curfew was imposed starting January 23. We are not allowed to go outside between 9:00 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. in the morning unless there are special circumstances. During the first couple of days of the curfew, there were riots against the measures in Amsterdam, The Hague, and other large cities, and for a while, disturbance was in the air. But now such demonstrations seem to have stopped.

Those who violate this night curfew will be fined 95 euros but there are several exceptions. You will be exempted if you have documents to prove you had a valid reason to be outdoors: to attend an emergency; to travel from the airport; to be on the way to answer a judge or prosecutor; to go to take university/school exams; or to travel to or from a live broadcast that you are hosting or appearing as a guest. What is interesting is that food delivery and walking dogs are allowed after 9:00 p.m., and the Dutch people I know are all joking about buying delivery uniforms and getting dogs.

While dealing with this and that, the winter holidays started. But I stayed home every day. I enjoyed the peace, but half of the vacation flew away in a blink, and while we were getting ready for February, January was over before we knew it.

 1月は私が参加していた大学院生むけの会話クラブはお休みでした。2月から再開する予定です。2月からはまた、ライデン大学日本学(Japanese Studies)の3年生向けに私が担当して会話練習のコースを設ける予定です。コースといっても単位はなしで、自由参加で会話クラブのようなものですが。学生たちはコロナのため日本留学の機会も奪われ日本語を話す機会が減ってしまったので、何か大学でそれを補う機会がほしいと学生から要望があったのに答えた形です。内容は今どうするか参加希望者にアンケートを取っている段階ですが、とりあえずディスカッションの練習はすることになると思います。今の3年生と会うのは2019年に彼らがまだ2年生だった頃に前期のクラスを担当した時以来ですので、どれほど日本語能力が向上しているか楽しみです。
The conversation club activities for graduate students that I participated in were not held in January. It is scheduled to resume from February. From February, I will also be in charge of a conversation practice course for junior students of Japanese Studies of Leiden University. Although it is called a course, it is a non-credit course and more like a conversation club with voluntary participation. COVID-19 deprived the students of the opportunity to study in Japan and reduced their opportunities to speak Japanese. So this course has been planned in response to a request from the students to provide an opportunity to learn Japanese conversation. We are currently taking a questionnaire about what to do, but I think we will practice discussion for the time being. I haven’t seen the current juniors since 2019 when they were still sophomores and I was in charge of the first semester class, so I’m looking forward to seeing how their Japanese language skills have improved.

See you next month!

ロックダウンでも街を散策すると少しは面白いものが見つかります。こちらはライデンにあるLeiden American Pilgrim Museumの内部の写真です。ライデンはピルグリム・ファーザーズがアメリカに出発する前に滞在していた土地として知られています。現在ロックダウンで入れませんが、外から窓越しに中を覗くことが出来ます。
If you walk around the city, you will find something interesting even under lockdown. This is a picture of the inside of the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum in Leiden. Leiden is known as the place where Pilgrim Fathers stayed before leaving for America. It is currently closed due to the lockdown, but you can look inside through the window from outside.

2020年12月 活動日誌 / December 2020 Activities Report

2020年12月31日 / December 31, 2020
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / TAKEMORI Banri

“I heard that we will have to wear a mask even when we go to the supermarket from December.” When a student told me this one day in November, I was so surprised that I almost couldn’t believe it. It seems like a distant memory now. The requirement to wear a mask was only the beginning: after Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s address to the nation on December 14, the country entered the second full-scale lockdown since this summer. Restaurants had already been closed since October 14, but the biggest change with this measure is that stores other than those dealing food and other daily necessities have been closed. The number of people in shopping streets have decreased drastically. Personally, I thought that I would be able to enjoy my life even amid the pandemic as long as art museums were open, but now they are also closed. People are requested to refrain from unnecessary and non-urgent trips until March. The current situation puts those living in the Netherlands in a very inconvenient situation.

In the midst of all this, the first semester of this academic year ended at Leiden University. Since we already had experience with online exams, there were no unforeseen problems, and in general, the semester went smoothly (all of my classes are team-taught, so it’s not so much to my credit as it is the work of the other teachers). Some of the students told me that they really enjoyed the class, even though it must have been difficult for the teachers to teach online. Despite that it must have been very stressful for them to learn online and not be able to see their classmates, our students studied very hard.

As for the conversation club for graduate students, I was only able to participate once this month, on which I will report here. On the second Tuesday of December, the participants talked about the efforts to reduce plastic bags. The Netherlands began charging for plastic bags in 2016, ahead of Japan, which began doing so in 2020. According to the accumulated data, the use of plastic shopping bags decreased by 80% from about 3 billion to 600 million a year. In Japan, the starting number was about 30 billion bags a year. We will see how much it will decrease in the future. There is not much difference between Japan and the Netherlands in terms of population ratio in the figures before charging.

The difference is the price of the bags. In Japan it costs 3 to 5 yen a bag, whereas in the Netherlands it’s 25 to 30 cents, about a tenfold difference. It is possible that plastic bags in Japan are so much thinner and smaller than those in the Netherlands that the cost is lower; but even so, the participants talked about whether this price would curb the plastic bag consumption in Japan. 

There was also a debate over whether reducing plastic shopping bags actually helps protect the environment.

 面白かったのはオランダ人が日常的に環境を守るためにどんなことを市民や消費者としてしているかというトピックで、参加した学生によると、市民としてできることは大してない、1.ストローなど使い捨てはできるだけ使わない、安くなるところもあるのでマイコップを使う、2. 「Ekoplaza」といった環境保護意識の高いスーパーに行く(「めちゃめちゃ高いスーパー」とも形容されていましたが)、3. 市民運動に身を投じるぐらいといったところでした。個人的に感じるのはそれでも日本と比べるとペットボトル飲料を手に持っている人は少ないということです。代わりに水筒を持っている人が多いです。一因としてはコンビニやキオスクで売られているペットボトル飲料の価格が割高であることも挙げられそうです(スーパーでは安いのですが)。
What I found interesting was the topic of what the Dutch do as citizens and consumers on a daily basis in order to protect the environment. According to the participating students, there is not much they can do: 1) Avoid using disposable items such as straws as much as possible. Some shops offer a discount if you use your own cup, so bring your own cup with you. 2) Choose environmentally conscious supermarkets such as “Ekoplaza” (some called it “an awfully expensive supermarket”), and 3) Engage in civil movements. I personally feel that in the Netherlands there are fewer people buying plastic bottled drinks than in Japan. Instead, many people have their own water bottles. One of the reasons is that plastic bottle drinks sold at convenience stores and kiosks are relatively expensive, although they are cheap in supermarkets.

Finally, since entering lockdown, although my daily life is limited, it has been quite peaceful. However, I must point out that it is customary in the Netherlands to set off fireworks all over the place during the last few days of the year, culminating in the moment of the New Year. Although this year, a complete ban was announced by the government, it was not observed. Even though the noise was more subdued than last year, the roar of the fireworks echoed through the night as if there was some kind of war going on. Where did these people get the fireworks when selling them was prohibited?

The city emblem of Leiden representing a key that shines over a canal in front of the Leiden City Hall. With Christmas lights, a skating rink, and a Christmas market, the town this time of year is usually busy, but this year it is quiet.

2020年11月 活動日誌 / November 2020 Activities Report

2020年11月30日 / November 30, 2020
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / TAKEMORI Banri

Now that it is the end of November, it is not unusual for the temperature to drop to around 0 to 5 degrees Celsius, and the weather is getting cold day by day. Some deciduous trees still have red and yellow autumn leaves, but they will be leafless soon. In the Netherlands, restaurants and cafes have been closed for more than a month due to the new coronavirus countermeasure, so few people are on the streets despite Christmas illuminations and markets. The downtown area is crowded with shoppers on Saturdays, but with restaurants and cafes closed, it is not as lively as the usual holiday season. As delivery and selling food and drinks in front of shops are allowed, many people walk around eating french fries and other fast food, but at night the town is unusually quiet with restaurants and bars closed. Drastic measures have been taken, including a ban on alcohol sales after 8 pm (a serious matter for small vendors that sell alcohol after supermarkets close at 10 o’clock), reminding us of the huge impact the virus has on our lives. The use of face masks was not strictly required outside public transportation, but from December, it was finally announced that wearing a mask would be mandatory inside buildings frequented by large numbers of people (violations will be subject to fine). It seems that from now on we have to carry a mask wherever we go. (Wearing a mask has been a recommendation, and many people already wear masks on a daily basis.)

Second year students of the Japanese Language Department at Leiden University were scheduled to study in Japan for three to four months from April next year, but this was unfortunately cancelled, as it was last year. There are a few students who stopped attending classes around the time of the cancellation announcement, but the relief is that most of the students still seem committed to learning Japanese.

This month, a Japanese conversation club for graduate students was held online as before. I attended two meetings held every other Tuesday. The topic for the first meeting was Hanamachi, and we talked about the past and future of geisha while looking up some facts. The word geisha seems to be famous overseas, and all the Dutch graduate students who participated in the event seem to have known the word so long that they don’t even remember when they first heard it. In the past, geisha was seen as women selling their bodies, but as some students pointed out, in more recent years, geisha have become more tourist-oriented and more people see geisha as performance artists. When asked if they would like to see the performance art of geisha in Japan, some answered that it would depend on whether they had the money, and others were not so keen to actively incorporate it into their sightseeing schedule.

 二回目はLGBTが話題でした。日本の足立区の某議員によるLGBTへの差別発言と、オランダの初中等教育とメディアの大臣(Minister for Primary and Secondary Education and Media)がプロテスタント系の学校は「反ホモの誓約書」(antihomoverklaring)を生徒の親に出させる自由があると議会で述べたという時事問題が取り上げられ、LGBTについての日蘭の諸問題が議論されました。オランダのこの件は、オランダ憲法の23条では「教育の自由」が保証されており、このことは一見よいことに思われるが、ホモを禁止する教育の自由まで認められるのか、憲法第1条ではあらゆる差別は禁止であると明記されている、という矛盾が根底にあり、オランダ国内で様々な議論があるようです。
The topic for the second meeting was LGBT. Current events concerning the LGBT rights in Japan and the Netherlands were discussed, including discriminatory remarks against LGBT by members of Adachi District, Japan, and a statement by the Dutch Minister for Primary and Secondary Education and Media in parliament that Protestant schools have the freedom to request their students’ parents to submit “antihomoverklaring (anti-gay statement)”. At first glance, this does not seem to be against the constitution, as Article 23 of the Dutch Constitution guarantees “freedom of education.” However, can the freedom of education be extended to prohibit homosexuality? Article 1 of the Constitution clearly states that all forms of discrimination are prohibited. This contradiction is at the center of the debate, and there seems to be various discussions in the Netherlands.

As for the difference in social acceptance of homosexuality between Japan and the Netherlands, the latter has legalized same-sex marriage since 2001, and compared to Japan where there is a partnership system at the local government level, the understanding of homosexuality seems to be already far ahead. However, there is a strong religious opposition to homosexuality in the Netherlands. And such religious groups’ movements to provide children with education that excludes homosexuals in primary and secondary education and the government’s response to it can make headlines.

What was interesting was that although same-sex marriage is allowed and LGBT rights are respected in the Netherlands, there is a slang to call someone “gay” among students up to high school age according to Dutch students. It is apparently meant to be sometimes an insult and sometimes the opposite. I think this is exactly the same as Japanese students. A Japanese researcher at Leiden University who organizes the Conversation Club Tuesday asked why there is a gap between Japan and the Netherlands regarding the rights of homosexuals in society, even though up until high school students seem to be in environments that share similar values. But of course it is not an easy question to answer. Anyway, it was an interesting meeting with lots of new discoveries.

A statue of Erasmus in Gouda. I took this picture when I visited Gouda in November. Although the city is strongly associated with cheese in Japan, it is also the place where Erasmus spent his youth (His father was a Catholic priest in Gouda. It seems his birthplace is either Goda or Rotterdam, but it is not known for sure yet). Erasmus, who believed in Christianity, was opposed to Luther, who persisted in humanism, affirmed the meaning of human free will, and insisted that only faith would save men.

2020年10月 活動日誌 / October 2020 Activities Report

2020年10月31日 / October 31, 2020
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / TAKEMORI Banri

 気付けば10月も終わりです。大学の授業は先月始まったかと思うと、もう今月は中間試験の週があり、後半戦に入ります。中間試験の週は日本語の授業はなかったのですが、学生のプロジェクトの採点やレッスンテストの採点などに追われました。ライデン大学の国際学(International Studies)があるハーグキャンパスでは一年生は前期は語学の授業がなく、後期から自分の希望する言語と地域を選ぶのですが、そのためにエリアフェア(Area Fair)というのが毎年開催されます。そこでは模擬授業があったり、各言語がブースを立てて二年生や先生が一年生の質問に答えたりするのですが、今年は授業がすべてオンラインだったので、これもオンラインで行われました。
October has just flown by. Classes at the University of Leiden  started last month, and now we are in  the midterm exam week, and are entering the second half of the semester. There were no Japanese classes during the week of the midterm exam, but I was busy grading the students’ projects and lesson tests. At the Hague campus of the University of Leiden’s International Studies course, there are no language classes for first-year students in the first semester, and from the second semester, students choose which language and region to study. For this reason, the university holds an event called Area Fair every year. There are mock classes and booths for each language, where sophomores and teachers answer questions from freshmen. This year, the fair was held online as all other classes.

Last year, it took half a day for us to answer questions individually to the people who came to each booth. But at this year’s online Area Fair, Q&A sessions for the language courses were limited to two sessions (30 minutes each), which turned out to be more efficient. I was a little flustered because about 60 students came to the first session, but the second session had much fewer students – about a dozen. Not everyone who came to the Japanese sessions will take the course, but with so many students having come to the session, we have high expectations. The sophomores were very helpful, enthusiastically answering the questions asked by prospective students. No matter how much the teacher explains, the students’ voices are what makes the biggest impact.

 今月も二回院生の会話クラブに参加しました。テーマは先月と変らずオランダの教育制度についてでした。学校で親がどれだけ関わるか、行事、旅行や遠足、学校へ持って行く持ち物、校則、市民教育(citizenship education)など数多くのトピックについて話しました。小学校の時に、親の何人かが学校に来てシラミチェックをするとか、小学校では卒業する学年がミュージカルをするのがどこでも伝統であるとか、学校へおやつを持ってきてよいとか、教科書を基本的に学校に所属するので、小学校では置き勉が当たり前で、中学校からでは授業が厳しくなるため持って帰るようになるが、汚さないためにカバーをつけるとか、日本と異なる点が多々あり興味深かったです。今は飲酒・喫煙が18歳からOKですが、少し前までは16歳だったので、学校で煙草を吸う人も普通にいたり(今でも18ならいい)、喫煙所で先生も一緒になって吸っていたりしたそうで、個人の自由を尊重する国だということを再認識させられました。また、オランダに日本で最近問題化してきているブラックな校則はあるかという質問に対しては予想通りと言うべきか、ない、というのが答えでした。校則というものを意識する機会がそもそもほぼないそうです。
I took part in two sessions of conversation club of graduate students this month. The theme remained the same as last month, about the Dutch educational system. We talked about a number of topics, including how much parents are involved in school, school events, trips, excursions, things to bring to school, school rules, and citizenship education. It was interesting to learn about so many differences from Japan: such as that some parents come to school to check for lice in elementary schools; the tradition that elementary school graduates perform musicals; that it was allowed to bring snacks to school; that it was common to leave textbooks at elementary school because they basically belong to the school; and that junior high school students would take them home because the classes would be tougher, but students would put a cover on them to prevent them from getting dirty. Currently, alcohol and smoking are permitted from the age of 18, but until a while ago, it was from the age of 16; so some people smoked at school, sometimes with teachers at the smoking area (now students over 18 year old are allowed to do the same). This reminded me that the Netherlands is a country that respects individual freedom. In Japan, overly restrictive school rules commonly dubbed “black kōsoku” have lately stirred debate. So, a student asked if there were such school rules in the Netherlands. The answer was, as expected, no. They say that there would be hardly any situation in which students need to be conscious of the school rules.

This is my second year in the Netherlands and I have gotten used to the life here, but when I talk to students like this, I feel that there are still many things I don’t know. This kind of comparison between Japan and the Netherlands is very informative, so I am looking forward to next month’s sessions.

The view of autumn leaves in the town of Zwolle. It’s beautifully coloured.

2020年9月 活動日誌 / September 2020 Activities Report

2020年9月30日 / September 30, 2020
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / TAKEMORI Banri

The weather was unstable in September. There were hot days as though it were summer and stormy days like autumn. Towards the end of September, it becomes more rainy, and before we know it the Dutch winter will arrive. Some people take vitamin supplements in the coming season when there is little sunshine. A Dutch acquaintance of mine, who is about 50 years old, complained that he feels depressed every autumn, even on a sunny day because he can tell the leaves are turning red. Despite the dozens of years spent in the country, he can’t seem to get used to Dutch fall and winter.

September is the beginning of the new school year. There was a prediction that the number of new students would decrease due to COVID-19, but it turns out that there are about 130 new freshmen enrolled in the Japanese Language Department of Leiden University, which is about the same number as usual. I’m not in charge of first-year classes, but I can’t imagine what it feels like to enter a university with many hopes and to have all the classes online from the very beginning.

That’s right. Classes continue to be delivered online this semester, as they have been since the second half of the previous semester. Once you get used to it, it’s nice not to have to commute to work even though there are constant internet connection problems. Students’ names are always on the screen, so I don’t have to ask for their names, which makes it easy to appoint students and remember their names. And I feel more relaxed when I teach the class from home. Some students appreciate the increased interaction with teachers as we move back and forth between small breakout rooms while the students do pair work. Anyway, everyone seems to have gotten used to this style of education.

I joined the graduate students’ conversation club twice this month. The theme was the Dutch educational system for both times. Student O, a Japanese doctoral student in Dutch historical and political science at Leiden University, is the usual organizer and moderator of this meeting. He had a separate meeting with Japanese students to discuss the Dutch educational system, and so we discussed in the conversation club topics that were not covered during his previous meeting.

The topics were many and varied, such as: how to decide on which junior high school to go to, transferring between educational institutions such as VWO, HAVO, and VMBO (the Dutch education is similar to that of Germany, and from the age of 12, there are different types of schools such as academic schools preparing students for higher education and vocational training schools), liberal arts/science, graduation examinations, whether there are PTAs in the Netherland, interpersonal relationships (bullying problems), how teachers deal with students whose grades fluctuate, what students should do if they don’t get along well with their homeroom teachers, and education for children with disabilities.

It was very interesting to learn things that would be hard to come by if I hadn’t had the opportunity to talk directly with Dutch students. For example, even if you fail the graduation exam, you still have a second chance to get a diploma, and there are people like Japan’s so-called Monster Parents in the Netherlands too. I also learned that there exists an organization similar to the PTO in Japan.

The topic that surprised the participants the most was about the nurse’s office. Since there were people working at Leiden University Hospital and many Japanese people among the participants, they asked whether there was a nurse’s office in Dutch schools. It turns out they don’t have them. There is a caretaker’s office; the role there seems to overlap a bit with the role of the health center in Japan. It was interesting to listen to the inside stories of the Dutch educational system.

At a cafe in Leiden under the autumn-like rainy sky.

2020年8月 活動日誌 / August 2020 Activities Report

2020年8月31日 / July 31, 2020
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / TAKEMORI Banri

As the end of August draws near, the weather made a sudden turn towards fall. It’s easy to forget how hot it has been until just a few days ago. In the second week of August, the temperature in the Netherlands rose as high as over 30 degrees Celsius for 8 days in a row, a new record in written history. It was so hot that I couldn’t sleep at night, and the humidity was especially unbearable, reminding me of summer in Japan. I was in Cologne when the heatwave first hit Europe. The weather there was also blazing hot and ice cream was selling like hot cakes, but the humidity was low and the nights were still comfortable. Normally it is not so humid in the Netherlands either, but sometimes we get strong humidity like the rainy season in Japan, perhaps because the country faces the sea.

 八月の院生の会話クラブには二回参加しました。相変わらずオンラインでの開催です。I participated in the graduate students’ conversation club twice in August. They were still held online.

The first one was about the education system in Japan and the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, there are different types of junior high schools such as VWO, HAVO, and VMBO, and the curriculum is different for the elite who go to universities and those who go to vocational schools; whereas in Japan, the schools vary in terms of deviation scores, but they all follow the same basic curriculum. The discussion was centered around the comparison of the systems in the two countries. One of the main differences compared to Japan is that if you have a VWO diploma, you can basically go on to any university in the Netherlands. Each city in the Netherlands has its own unique charm that makes me want to live there, so this difference is very intriguing to me.

The second conversation club was about the death penalty in Japan and the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, capital punishment was abolished in 1861 by the Penal Code but not under the Military Code. And a relatively large number were executed during World War II, with the last (firing squad) taken place in 1952. The Constitution was amended in 1883 to abolish the death penalty altogether.  The abolition of the death penalty is an EU initiative, so it wouldn’t be easy to bring it back even if the Netherlands wanted to do so.

 参加した四名のオランダ人学生はみな基本的に、処刑してしまうと後戻りが出来ないといった理由で死刑制度反対の立場でした。議論を活発にするために、刑罰制度は何のためにあるのか、といった点まで論点を拡げて議論が行われました。オランダは死刑がない国とはいえ、2008年の調査では国民の四割が死刑復活に賛成という結果が出ているそうです。また、学生の一人は、死刑制度には反対だが、ノルウェーの連続テロ事件の犯人アンネシュ・ベーリング・ブレイビク(Anders Behring Breivik)のような例をみると、心情的にそのような凶悪犯が生きながらえているというのはすっきりしない気持ちになると話していました。テロが増えれば死刑復活の世論も大きくなる可能性があると彼らは感じているようです。
All four Dutch students who participated in the conversation were basically against capital punishment due to the irreversibility. In order to further deepen the discussion, we also talked about the purpose of the system. Although the Netherlands does not have the death penalty, 40% of its citizens are in favor of reinstating it according to a 2008 survey. One of the students also said that although he is opposed to the death penalty, he found it unsettling to see a criminal as vicious as the Norwegian serial terrorist Anders Behring Breivik alive and well. The students seem to feel that if the cases of terrorism increase, the public opinion for the revival of the death penalty could grow.

The summer holidays have now come to an end. Time flew by, and I can feel the remnants of summer fading as the sun sets more than an hour earlier.

The landscape of a summer ranch (unrelated to the report)

2020年7月 活動日誌 / July 2020 Activities Report

2020年7月31日 / July 31, 2020
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / TAKEMORI Banri

Summer has already come to the Netherlands in full swing. We have many sunny days, long and warm until around ten o’clock in the evening, which is a nice change from the winter when it was still dark at eight in the morning. The weather is pleasant, with highs of 30 degrees Celsius and the occasional hot and humid day, but it’s often still cold enough to wear a long-sleeved shirt.

As the travel ban has been lifted in Europe, hearing foreign languages on the streets is once again of daily occurrence. The other day, I cycled to a coastal resort called Noordwijk, about 12 km northwest of Leiden. The place was bustling with tourists and I could hear people speaking in German. There are large hotels with flags of various countries, and Dutch tourism seems to be getting back to near-normal activity.

I also visited Maastricht, a popular town in the southeast of the Netherlands and famous for the Maastricht Treaty, often recommended by long-term residents in the Netherlands. The town was crowded with tourists and, frankly, social distancing rules were not being followed.

A notice in a park that cautions people to keep a 1.5-meter distance from others. In Maastricht.

Different countries have different approaches to controlling COVID-19. After visiting Maastricht, I also visited Aachen, Germany, which is an hour’s train ride from Maastricht. Here, people were required to wear a face mask in the shops (in the Netherlands, they are not except on public transportation). I was impressed by the sight of customers entering the shop and quickly pulling face masks out of their pockets to cover their mouths. However, I didn’t get the impression that the policy for COVID-19 control in Germany was much stricter than in the Netherlands. For example, in a restaurant, it was required to wear masks when talking with the staff, but nobody was warned even if they had forgotten to put them on. Also, the famous Aachen Cathedral has a limit on the number of people that can enter at a time, so there were long lines. However, once inside, there was no one checking if social distancing was ensured.

The above was a report on the current situation in the Netherlands (and Germany).

On July 9th, we had another online Japanese conversation club with Dutch graduate students majoring in Japanese, the theme of which was drug usage. We talked about the recent increase in the use of party drugs such as MDMA among young people in the Netherlands, and then we moved to the Dutch drug policy in general. It seemed that even the Dutch don’t know for sure if cannabis is legal in the Netherlands or not, or how it is treated from a legal point of view. Attitudes towards drug use also came up, so I asked the members what they would do if their friends were using illegal drugs. The answer was that it was up to the friend to decide whether to use drugs or not, but they didn’t want the friend to use them while in their company. Rather than stopping friends from using illegal drugs, the answer was to respect the freedom of others, which I felt was a very typical response of the Dutch.

2020年6月 活動日誌 / June 2020 Activities Report

2020年6月30日 / June 30, 2020
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / TAKEMORI Banri

  I heard that the weather is bad in Japan due to the rainy season. In June, the weather here is also less sunny and more unstable: typical weather in the Netherlands. Whenever there is a sunny day, the streets are filled with people sitting at café terraces.

  The COVID-19 situation in the Netherlands has calmed down quite a bit. It is true that masks are still a must on public transportation, non-essential travel is not encouraged, and people are still required to work from home. However, most stores are open, and the city view is not much different than before the virus. On weekends, we often see apparent tourists on the streets.

  As for myself, when I got on a train in early June, it was almost empty, but about two weeks later, when I got on again, the number of passengers seemed to have increased.

  This semester ended in June without any major problems. The final exams finished in May, but make-up exams were scheduled for this month. We had make-up examinations in my Japanese classes for freshmen and sophomores at the Hague Campus. One freshman took the oral exam, and five took the written exam. None of the sophomores took the oral make-up exam, but three took the written exam. Two first-year students were supposed to take the oral make-up exam, but one of them couldn’t connect to the Internet: a problem typical to online exams. It was a relief that this student had already passed the exam and had decided to take a make-up exam in order to aim for a better score, so it did not affect whether he passed or failed. 

  The most active online Japanese language conversation club activity is the one for graduate students. In this conversation club, graduate students of Japanese studies take turns giving short presentations on current topics or their fields of study and then move on to discussions. In the  meeting I participated in, the theme was school education in the era of COVID-19. What was interesting was that at  Netherlands’ elementary schools that reopened in June, children were not required to maintain 1.5 meters of interpersonal distance and were allowed to play freely. I heard that it has become a problem in Japan that children can’t play freely even during break time and first-year students are finding it difficult to make friends. Even before schools reopened, children in the Netherlands were allowed to play freely outside, which I believe comes from the country’s respect for freedom. During the discussion, a participant pointed out that some research suggests that children play a small role in the spread of the virus, but before this was known, it was difficult for reopening schools to determine the appropriate measures. Therefore, they concluded that the Netherlands’ elementary school policy that prioritizes children being able to have fun without imposing thorough infection prevention is currently supported, but the decision at the time was a gamble.

 オランダの学校の状況について、人種によって通う学校がわかれているという問題(witte school【ヴィッテ・スホール、「白い学校」と訳される】とzwarte school【ズヴァルテ・スホール、「黒い学校」】という言い方がある)、やキリスト教系の学校にもムスリムの学生はいるかといった話題も出て、実際に教育の受ける側としての経験者の意見が聞け、大変興味深い会でした。
  During the discussion, students also discussed the situation of schools in the Netherlands, such as the issue of racial segregation in schools (there are even expressions like witte school, which means “white school” and zwarte school, which means “black school”), and whether there are Muslim students in Christian schools as well. It was very interesting to hear the opinions of those who have actually received education under the Netherland education system.

Leiden 2006

6月1日に営業再開したカフェ。多くの人で賑わった。/  A cafe that reopened on June 1. It was crowded with many customers.

2020年5月 活動日誌 / May 2020 Activities Report

2020年5月31日 / May 31, 2020
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / TAKEMORI Banri

5月は期末試験で幕開けでした。私が担当しているライデン大学の国際学の日本語の授業では二年生の口頭試験がまず5月の1日にあり、それから一週間後の8日に筆記試験。一年生は口頭試験が6日にあり、8日に筆記試験という日程でした。ライデン大学のオンライン授業はKaltura live roomというソフトウェアを使って行われています。口頭試験もそこで行われました。二年生の方は大きなトラブルもありませんでしたが、一年生の方はスケジュールが押して、一時次に来る学生が待機する部屋に何組も待っているという状態になったりしましたが、これはインターネットの接続によっても左右されるオンラインでの試験のことですので予想内でした。とはいえ、学生は無駄な緊張をそれで感じたりしたかもしれませんので、オンラインでの試験はやはり難しいと思いました。
May began with the final exams. In the Japanese courses of international studies at Leiden University that I am in charge of, oral examinations for sophomores took place on May 1; and written examinations a week later on the 8th. First-year students had oral examinations on the 6th and written examinations on the 8th. Online classes at Leiden University are conducted using a software called Kaltura Live Room. The oral exams were also held via this application. There were no major issues for the sophomores’ exams, but the freshmen’s exams ran behind schedule. The “waiting room”, which was intended for the student next in line for their test, was at one point crowed with several students waiting at the same time. However, this was no surprise considering online testing can be easily affected by Internet connection. That being said, the students might have felt unnecessarily nervous, and I re-evaluated the difficulty of conducting exams online.

The first concern when holding  exams online is most likely cheating. There was no way to prevent it completely. In the oral exam, all the second-year students were asked to keep their cameras on, but it’s impossible to tell via screen what students are looking at. One student even asked me if they could put notes on their screen. There are online proctoring applications, but we didn’t introduce any due to the potential complications and privacy issues, as students had to show their rooms on camera. I didn’t even make it mandatory for the first-year students to keep their videos on during the exam: some students had problems with their webcams or felt shy to show their faces on screen. However, in oral exams, students must speak out the answers themselves. The content of the exam this semester was self-introduction and role-play, and so at least during role-play, students had to continue a conversation on the spot by responding to their partners. Thus cheating didn’t seem to be a major problem. When I looked at the results, I got the impression that they were commensurate with the students’ abilities and efforts they put into studying for the test.

In the oral examination, the questions were presented on the morning of the day (9 a.m. for first-years and 8 a.m. for second-years), and the answers were submitted by the deadline in the evening (5 p.m. for first-years and 6 p.m. for second-years). While allowing students to refer to any material, I graded students’ performance more severely than usual so that the passing score would be 70 points. (I usually convert the results into a zero-to-ten scale when I submit the grades but this time I used a formula that converts 70 points to 5.5 points.) The resulting scores were not much different from previous years.

We have make-up exams in June and then summer vacation starts. The Japanese Conversation Club is ongoing, with Japanese exchange students who have returned to Japan participating online.  Club activities will continue until June. Some of the students here are planning to study in Japan from September, but nobody can tell what will happen. It all depends on each country’s decisions on the extent of quarantine against COVID-19, and much uncertainty remains.

そのコロナのオランダでの状況ですが、ロックダウンは徐々に緩和されて来ています。すでに美容院や床屋は5月11日から営業を再開しており、6月からカフェやレストラン、美術館などが開きます。鉄道のダイヤは6月2日には通常に戻ります。もっとも公共交通機関ではマスクの着用が義務付けられ、カフェなどでも1.5メートルの対人距離(オランダ語ではanderhalve meter afstandと言います。オランダ語が得意でなくても、暮らしていると固有名詞みたいに覚えてしまいました)を取らなければいけません。
Regarding the COVID-19 situation in the Netherlands, lockdown is gradually easing. Beauty salons and barbers have already reopened from May 11; and cafes, restaurants, and museums will reopen in June. The train schedule will return to normal on June 2. However, people are required to wear masks on public transportation. In cafes, it is required to maintain personal distance of 1.5 meters (It is called anderhalve meter afstand in Dutch. Even though I am not good at Dutch, I have come to remember this word as if it were a proper noun).

However, looking at the city, people seem to be peacefully enjoying the early summer weather. The weather is clear day after day, and I see people sunbathing bare-chested in front of their houses or on boats on the canals. Irises have bloomed along the water, and Horse-chestnuts have already fallen. White water lily flowers are beginning to bloom on the canals.


住んでいるアパートの中庭にある聖ロクス像。リンゴが腕に乗っかっていて間抜けですが、ペストなど伝染病に対する守護聖人として有名らしく、コロナに対しても効くのではと思いながら。住んでいるアパートの建物は昔聖なんちゃら病院だったらしくこんな石像が残っているのです。The statue of Saint Roch in the courtyard of my apartment. The apple on his arm makes him look a touch goofy, but he’s famous as a patron saint of plagues and other infectious diseases. I am hoping he will protect us from the new virus too . The apartment where I live seems to have been a hospital named after a Saint and this stone statue is a reminder of those days.

2020年4月 活動日誌 / April 2020 Activities Report

2020年4月30日 / April 30, 2020
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / TAKEMORI Banri

It’s already the end of April. From March to April, people’s lives changed dramatically. At the University of Leiden, when we first started teaching online, we thought we’d be back to in-classroom teaching soon, and we’d be back to our normal lives before the exams. However, now we’re preparing for online exams, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we continue teaching online next semester.

 東京外国語大学でもすでにZoomでの授業が始まったと聞きました。こちらではzoomではなくKalturaというサービスを使っています。細かいことを言えば不満がないわけではありませんが(例えばPPTのアニメーション機能が使えないなど)、Kaltura全体のサービスはよく知りませんが、少なくとも現在大学で使っているものは教育用に特化しており、使い勝手は悪くありません。Breakout roomという機能を用いて、学生にペアワークをさせることも簡単です。ただやはりネットの回線環境や時間帯によって接続が不安定な時があるのは問題です。学生によっては声が聞こえない、何度繋ごうとしても繋げないという状況が発生しています。接続の問題などによって授業に参加できなかった学生が後で勉強できるように一部の授業ではビデオを録画していますが、語学の授業ではその場で自分で参加し練習することが大切なので、やはりオンラインは従来の授業に取って代わることは難しいと感じています。
I heard that the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies already started offering classes via Zoom. At the University of Leiden, we use a service called Kaltura instead of Zoom. I can’t say that I am happy with every aspect of the tool; (for example, you can’t use the animations in PPT,) but, generally speaking, it’s not bad. I don’t know much about all of Kaltura’s services, but at least the one I use at the university right now is specialized for educational use. Using a feature called Breakout room, it’s easy to have students pair up. However, the problem is that the connection can be unstable depending on the network environment and time zone. Some students say they cannot hear voices or connect no matter how many times they try. In some classes, they record the lectures so that students who were unable to attend classes due to connection problems or other reasons can study later. But in language classes, it is important to participate and practice on the spot, so I feel that it is difficult to replace traditional classes online.

 試験のことももちろん問題です。オンラインで試験をすることはすでに四月の始めくらいまでには決定していましたが、初めての事態なので学校全体で確固とした方法の指導があるわけではなく、実際のやり方は各先生に委ねられているという現状です。僕の担当している授業では口頭試験はオンラインで従来のやり方とあまり変わらずにやることになりました。問題は学生が単語や語句などを見ながらやっていたり、その場で辞書で調べたりしてもこちらからは分からないということですが、それを管理することは不可能であるというのが結論です。ProctorUという試験監督のウェブサービスを利用することも検討されましたが、プライバシーの問題もあり、また最終的に完全に防ぐことはそれを使っても無理なので、使わないことになりました。筆記試験も同様でそういった試験監督のウェブサービスを使うことはせず、take-home examという形を取ることになりました。Take-homeは四月の間に一度小テストで試していました。何を参照してもよいが、普段より少し難しくし、時間制限は学生が他の授業などがあることを考慮してもその日の朝から夕方までという形になります。また、これは大学側から指導があり、自分の力で解いたということを宣言する誓約書に学生にサインしてもらう予定です。こうした誓約書は心理学的に効果があることが証明されているそうです。
Of course, exams are also a problem. By the beginning of April, the University decided to have exams online. Since this is unprecedented, there are no existing guidelines on how to proceed with it, and the university left the actual method up to each individual teacher. In my classes, the oral exam will be conducted online, but not too differently from the traditional way. The problem is that even if students look up words and phrases in a dictionary during an exam, there is no way for teachers to know this. But we decided that it is impossible to control them. We considered using a web service called ProctorU, an online proctoring service but decided against it due to privacy concerns and the fact that it is still impossible to prevent cheating completely. We took a similar approach with written exams; we decided not to use online exam supervising services, but to have what we call “take-home exams.” We already tried a take-home quiz in April. In take-home exams, students can refer to any materials, but the questions will be a little more difficult than usual exams with the time limit from morning to evening of the day, regardless if the students have other classes. We will also have the students sign a written pledge to state that they solved the problems on their own as instructed by the university. These pledges have proven psychologically effective.

The weather was beautiful from March to April, with  clear skies every day. There were news reports on a forest fire, but the rain and clouds have come back for the past week. As Holland is well known for tulips, I’ve been looking forward to this season; however, the tulip appreciation event planned by my acquaintance in Keukenhof Park had to be canceled. I could see tulips in the flower beds in my neighborhood, but they are not as striking when they are scattered about here and there. But I will end this entry with a picture of the tulips I saw near my house.


2020年3月 活動日誌 / March 2020 Activities Report

2020年3月31日 / March 31, 2020
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / TAKEMORI Banri

March is the season when the cold has eased off and should be the best time for outings. But fears for the globally spreading novel coronavirus have dampened the joyous mood of spring.
I do not think it likely that European countries, including the Netherlands, regarded the coronavirus as a threat until January. News on the rapidly increasing number of patients in Italy sounded like somebody else’s problem. At that time, we were following Japan’s situation and worried that our three-month study abroad program in Japan might be canceled (most of the second-year students in the Japanese Studies department of Leiden University were supposed to go on this short-term study abroad program), but we thought it was safe to stay where we were. Since the first case of infection in the Netherlands was reported on February 27, we have quickly surpassed Japan in both the infection rate of the population and in the actual number of infections.

The Japanese Speech Contest was scheduled for the second Saturday of March by the Japanese Embassy. We had our last practice session on the previous Friday. Six people were supposed to enter the speech contest, but only two appeared that day. A few days before that, the university decided to cancel the study abroad program in Japan for second-year students. The notice of the cancellation was announced via email during a class. During a break after the class, some students who saw the email got upset and started crying, and the classroom was in a state of turmoil. It was no wonder that there were only two students who came to the practice session; I assumed that the second-year students were too upset to join the practice. So when J, the only sophomore participating in the session said, “There aren’t many people today,” I wasn’t particularly worried. However, J continued, “Have you heard? The speech contest has been postponed.” It was a bolt out of the blue for me. On that day, the embassy informed the participants of the postponement. In retrospect, it seems obvious that this would happen, but at the time I was surprised because I didn’t fully realize the gravity of the coronavirus outbreak.

After discussing the matter among teachers the next week, we decided to hold a “trial performance” on  Thursday that week (instead of the rehearsal that was initially planned) considering the possibility of the cancellation of the speech contest. On the day of the trial performance, three students delivered powerful speeches before the audience. The teachers and the Japanese audience had prepared gifts beforehand for the participants such as books, stationery, and some sweets. They ranked the three speakers and gave them prizes accordingly. The Japanese audience consisted of visiting students, teachers, and people from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all of whom wrote careful and thoughtful notes on the feedback sheets for each presenter. They also asked precise questions and made comments on each speech, making the event warm and friendly.

 会が終わり、解散となった時に一人の学生が明日授業がなくなったようだと突然言いました。僕たちは耳を疑いました。慌てて大学のホームページを見ると、確かにその通りの決定がなされたと書かれてありました。僕たちは不安の中で週末を過ごしました。日曜日にhoreca(ホテル・レストラン・カフェ)をこれから少なくとも四月の初めまで閉めるという政令をオランダ政府が出しました。月曜日に大学はこれから授業を事態が鎮静化するまでオンラインでやるという決定をしました。その日の晩、オランダの首相Mark Rutteが全国民に語り掛けるスピーチを行いました。国のトップが国民に直接宛てたスピーチをするのは1973年の石油危機以来のことだったそうです。そのつい数日前まで人々はのんびりと普通の日々を送っていると思っていました。それがまったく違っており、気付いた時には事態はもう深刻な域に達していました。
After the event, a student abruptly said that there would be no classes the next day. We couldn’t believe our ears. I hurried to the university’s website and saw the cancellation of classes had been announced. We spent the weekend worrying. On Sunday the Dutch government issued a decree that “horeca” (hotels, restaurants, cafes, etc.) will be closed until at least the beginning of April. On Monday, the university decided to hold classes online until things calm down. That evening, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte gave a speech to the whole nation. It was the first time since the oil crisis in 1973 that the head of the country made a speech directly to the people. Until just a few days ago, I thought people were living a normal, carefree life, but I was mistaken. By the time I realized it, things had become very serious.

But the good thing about being in the Netherlands is that we don’t have a stay-at-home order like France and Italy. In the last two weeks of March, the usual rainy weather in the Netherlands was cleared up as if by magic, and we had a string of sunny days. With the sunshine luring them out, no one can stop the Dutch, who have a habit of relaxing on cafe terraces in the sun, from going out. Even though cafes and restaurants are closed, I often see people basking in the sun with tables and chairs in the courtyards and sidewalks of their homes, drinking with friends and family.

However, supermarkets and other stores that took moderate measures have now placed plastic boards in front of the cashiers to distance staff from customers. Some stores require shoppers to push large shopping carts to practice the 1.5-meter social distancing rule. Nobody can predict how serious the situation will get from now on.

It is the height of Spring outside, and the yellow forsythia and magnolias are in full bloom. The cherry trees have already bloomed in front of St. Pieterskerk Church near the university. I’ll end this entry with some pictures of them.

2020年2月 活動日誌 / February 2020 Activities Report

2020年2月29日 / February 29, 2020
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / TAKEMORI Banri

 オランダの二月は気温は依然として十度以下の日が続きますが、日が長くなり、あちこちに花が咲き始めて、一月と比べて一気に春らしくなります。一月までは花と言えば、laurustinusの小さな白い花やオウバイ(winter jasmine)の黄色い花ぐらいしか見かけませんでしたが、二月も終わりごろになると運河沿いの緑地や公園に鮮やかな黄色いラッパズイセン(daffodil)や紫や白のクロッカス(crocus)が一斉に咲き、街に彩を添えます。
In February, the temperature in the Netherlands is still below 10 degrees Celsius, but the days get longer and flowers start to bloom here and there, making it all spring-like in the blink of an eye compared to January. Until January, all the flowers you could see were either the small white flowers of laurustinus and the yellow flowers of winter jasmine. But by the end of February, bright yellow daffodils and purple and white crocuses were blooming all at once in the green areas and parks along the canal, adding colors to the city. Due to the warm air on sunny days, the terrace seats at bars and cafes are gradually attracting people and regaining liveliness reminiscent of last summer.

February is also the month when winter vacation ends and the second semester begins. From the end of January, teachers have meeting after meeting to prepare for the new semester. With classes, preparation for classes, and more classes, February passed by like an arrow. At the Hague Campus of the University of Leiden where I teach, first year students begin their language classes in the second semester. At first, they were full of energy and enthusiasm, but by the end of February, they began to show signs of fatigue from their struggles with the Japanese language, which is structurally far from European languages and has different writing systems. The Japanese classes don’t have any exams or classes during the week of the mid-term exams in March, so the students and us teachers will be able to have a break.

There were two activities at the GJO this February. The first was to prepare for the Japanese speech contest held by the Japanese Embassy in the Netherlands in March. Every year, students from Leiden University win prizes in this competition. At first, there were no applicants even after the due date, so we extended the deadline, and in the end, six students applied. Following this, I called for Japanese exchange students who could help me, and we had a meeting with all of them to decide on practice policies, the deadline for the first draft, and the date and time for the practice sessions. After that, we held practice sessions on February 21 and 28, where we polished the speech drafts and practiced delivering the speeches. Some of the speeches covered unique topics, such as the students’ experiences playing in heavy metal bands while studying in Japan, or participating in the Yosakoi Soran Festival, a Japanese dance festival with a long history. It was fun listening to the speeches.

 二つ目は2月25日にFujiyama 55というライデンの日本料理店が日本語会話クラブと協力して手巻き寿司のワークショップを開いたことです。当日はライデン大学のオランダ人学生七名が参加し、楽しく手巻き寿司の作り方を教わったそうです。「そうです」というのは、実は私は当日時間の関係でそこに行けなかったからです。日本人留学生で会話クラブを運営している二名がそこに行き、会の様子をあとで報告してくれました。プロの方から手巻き寿司の作り方を教わる機会は貴重な経験で、みな熱心に参加していたそうです。
The second activity was a workshop on hand-rolled sushi on February 25, hosted by a Japanese restaurant in Leiden called Fujiyama 55 in cooperation with the Japanese conversation club. Seven Dutch students from Leiden University participated and enjoyed learning how to make Temaki-zushi. I couldn’t go there because of my schedule, but two Japanese exchange students who run the conversation club attended the workshop and reported about it later. The opportunity to learn how to make hand-rolled sushi from a professional was a valuable experience, and everyone enthusiastically participated. Next month we have the speech contest. The Japanese Conversation Club will also host a workshop on music.


2020年1月 活動日誌 / January 2020 Activities Report

2020年1月31日 / January 31, 2020
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / Banri Takemori

Fireworks light up the Netherlands throughout the New Year season. People freely set off fireworks along canals or in parks, as skyrockets are easily available. It seems that fireworks are forbidden before sunset, but you can hear the sound of fireworks and firecrackers in the middle of the day regardless. On New Year’s Eve, there was a roaring sound as if a war had erupted, and people were standing in front of bars and houses, wine glasses in hand, looking up at fireworks. On the side of the canal, I could see groups of people setting off fireworks, and on the road there were bonfires every ten or so meters. People were burning used fireworks.

As soon as this somewhat crazy season was over, we returned to our daily lives. But university hadn’t started yet. Around the middle of January, preparations for the new school term gradually began. Some people had make-up exams, others attended meetings, and before I knew it, it was already February.
Therefore, you could say that January is the time to plan for the future rather than the season for activities. This month, the GJO originally planned to prepare for the speech contest sponsored by the embassy, but we were a little behind schedule. It was only at the beginning of February that we finally received all applications. From now on I’m going to have practice sessions and rehearsals with exchange students.
The conversation club will hold a sushi workshop at the end of February at a Japanese restaurant in Leiden. Please wait until next month for the report.

2019年12月 活動日誌 / December 2019 Activities Report

2019年12月31日 / December 31, 2019
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / Banri Takemori

 十二月に入ると、すぐにテストが始まります。僕が受け持っているクラスでいうと、ハーグキャンパス(Campus The Hague)では十二月の第一週に、ライデンでは第二週にテストがありました。九月から始まって、授業があるのが実質三か月なので、かなり早く学期が終わるスケジュールだと言えるでしょう。
The exam period here starts as soon as December arrives. In my class, we had exams in The Hague  during the first week of December, and at Leiden in the second week. The semester starts in September and there are actually three months of classes, so it can be said that the semester ends quite early.

The atmosphere of the Christmas holidays was already in the city during the exam period. In Leiden, a skating rink was first set up on the canal in front of City Hall. The speed at which facilities for festivals are set up in here is remarkable. I think it was early December when I passed by the site to get to The Hague campus and saw them starting to build scaffolding on the canal. The skating rink was completed by that evening and opened the next day. Following this, a Christmas market was also built on the canal next to it. The Christmas market and skating rink are connected by small bridges, and these facilities were the highlights of festivities in Leiden. The home of the Christmas markets is Germany. Unfortunately, Leiden’s Christmas market is not that large, and some of the shops were selling items like bamboo fiber pillows, 3D mascaras, accessories, massage cushions, and other things which I had no idea as to what they have to do with Christmas.

クリスマスマーケット / Christmas market
スケートリンク / Skating rink

This month, students went on vacation as soon as the exams were over, so there wasn’t much activity at the GJO. With the exception of workshops where everyone gathers together, the Japanese Language Conversation Club divided into small groups to meet. At one of the workshops, students played Karuta (a Japanese traditional card game), which I also wanted to participate in, but unfortunately I had to supervise exams at The Hague that day.

Next month, preparation will begin for a speech contest sponsored by the Japanese Embassy in March.

2019年11月 活動日誌 / November 2019 Activities Report

2019年11月30日 / November 30, 2019
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / Banri Takemori

In November, a mysterious figure called “Sinterklaas” lands in the Netherlands. Sinterklaas is similar but different from Santa Claus and is said to be the origin of the latter. This year, he landed in the Netherlands on November 17 and traveled around. This grizzled, long-beard man from Spain, with his red mitre, usually comes by steamboat, but this year news surfaced that he had entered the Netherlands by steam locomotive.
When I ask students about Sinterklaas, they all tell me that they believed in him during childhood. While Sinterklaas is in the country, Sinterklaas Houses are set up all over the country, and every year in Leyden, they are set up in a cafe called Waag, where you can meet Sinterklaas during the season. I have never been inside, but if you walk past the café, you’ll see little kids with paper mitre on their heads who seem to have just enjoyed contact with Sinterklaas.
Well, this month, the long-awaited first meeting of the Japanese conversation club was held on Friday the 1st. Because of the large number of participants, they were divided into two groups, beginner and intermediate/advanced, and enjoyed playing “fruit basket” and gesture games. After this meeting, the conversation club will be divided into small groups of about 10 people each, and they will gather at their own pace to enjoy Japanese conversation and games. At this first meeting, all the members got together, and my colleague, who was looking at them play “fruit basket” in an upbeat atmosphere, said that he could look at the students forever.

There was another event this month. It was a workshop on Saturday, November 30. About 30 people participated in this workshop. First, they were divided into small groups and had a discussion about the differences in Christmas celebrations and the weather between Holland and Japan. The results of the discussion were written on posters, and then the participants were asked to make brief presentations while looking at the posters. After that, they were divided into two groups and participated in workshops on calligraphy and tea ceremony in turns using two classrooms. I mainly watched the tea ceremony, and one of the visiting students, who had been learning tea since high school, dressed in a traditional kimono and introduced us to tea ceremony using PowerPoint slides, and demonstrated the ceremony. During the demonstration, she told the Dutch students to come closer if they wanted to see the tea, and many of them snuck up close and watched her making tea with great interest. For Japanese, while drinking matcha is not a daily experience, it is not such a rare sight to stare and marvel at. I felt that I was shown the attraction and lure different cultures hold for people.

In the calligraphy workshop, there were examples of calligraphy. But in the end, all the students wrote whichever characters they pleased by holding a smartphone displaying the kanji in their open hand. Some students drew maps of Japan and others wrote their names in kanji.

学生が書いた字 / Calligraphy by the students

When November ends, the exam period begins followed by the Christmas season. In the city, Christmas decorations have already been put on the walls of houses (one humorous one is a Santa doll displayed upside down on the wall of a house, as if he had failed to climb the wall), and Christmas trees have begun to line up in front of supermarkets and florists.

2019年10月 活動日誌 / October 2019 Activities Report

2019年10月31日 / October 31, 2019
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / Banri Takemori

 十月の幕開けは十月二日の夜から三日ほど続いた「十月三日祭 3 October Festival」でした。ライデン市がかつて八年戦争の間に包囲して来たスペイン軍を撃退したことを記念したこのお祭りの間は、町は普段と完全に様相を異にします。駅前を中心に屋台が立ち、風車博物館の前の広場などには即席で遊園地が作られ、運河の上ははしけが組み立てられてクラブと化します。ライデン中の人口が外に繰り出し、日本でいえば花火会場のように身動きがとれないほどの人出で、場所によっては馬に乗った警官が渋い顔で交通を規制していました。
The beginning of October was “3 October Festival” which lasted for about three days from the night of October 2nd. The town is completely different from usual during the festival, which commemorates Leiden’s defeat of the Spanish army, who sieged the city during the eight-year war. Stalls are set up in front of the station, an amusement park is set up in the square in front of Kaasmuseum, and a barge nightclub is built on top of the canal. The population of Leiden went out, and there were so many people that they could hardly move around, just like firework festivals in Japan. In some places, police officers on horseback controlled the traffic with bitter faces.

図 1 即席で出来た遊園地 / Figure 1. An Instant Amusement Park

There were other events this month that made me feel the power of the people. Farmers protested against the government’s policy to control nitrogen emissions as a measure against environmental problems. Hundreds of tractors, rhythmically honking their horns, trooped into the city like tanks and marched, appealing to the masses that agriculture is the linchpin of the nation. There were also people cheering with their fists in the crowd along the route, and the atmosphere was filled with heat, despite the sky being cloudy and drizzling. Smoke rose from the exhaust pipe on the upper part of the tractors, and I keenly felt that Europe, which has an image of being advanced in environmental issues, is not monolithic. The protest took place over several days, and some students were unable to attend classes because the roads were occupied by tractors.

図 2 トラクターの行進 / Figure 2. Tractor March

Let’s move on to a peaceful topic. The Japanese conversation club started this month. The first meeting was held on October 8 in a classroom at Lipsius (a modern building, which is rare amongst Leiden campus’s many old buildings) on the Leiden campus. Japanese students volunteered to prepare powerpoints, and we asked the Dutch students what they would like to do at this conversation club.
Most of the participants were first-year students, but there were also many opinions from the few second-year students. The second year students will be studying in Japan for a short period of time in a few months, so it was impressive to hear that they wanted to know about some of the cultural differences in daily life between Holland and Japan. Some of the whimsical opinions were that they wanted to form a band with people who could play instruments.
The basic idea of this term’s conversation club is to group by level and, if each group can do it every week, hold a workshop once a month or so. The Japanese students playing central roles in planning the activities of the club did share with me how they thought it would be better if there were weekly activities for Dutch students, but the total number of students may be too large.
A fellow teacher who works for the conversation club says that the Japanese students are enthusiastic and that this year the Dutch students are lucky there are so many of them.
今月のその他の活動としては、10月18日にハーグキャンパスでInternational Studiesの学生が二学期から専攻の言語を選ぶために(この学生たちは一学期は基礎科目だけで、二学期から専攻を選びます)Language Marketというイベントが開かれました。このイベントは各言語や地域で小さなブースを持ち、訪れる一年生に、どんなことが学べるのか説明するという趣旨のものです。私と同僚のM先生は日本のお菓子などを用意し参加しました。一年生は必ずしもこの地域をやりたいと固い決意を決めている人が多いわけでもなく、二つの言語の間で迷っているといった人も多いようです。他の言語のブースも、魅力的な食べ物や飲み物を用意したり、大きな国旗を掲げたりと賑やかな会場でした。
Another activity this month was the Language Market on October 18 at the Hague campus, which is held to help International Studies students (who take a basic course first semester, and choose their majors in the second) choose their major language heading into their second semester. The purpose of the event is to run small booths showcasing each language and region to explain what the students can learn. My colleague and I prepared Japanese sweets and participated. There are a few freshmen who have a firm determination to be a part of the community, and many of them seem to be torn between two languages. The other language booths were also lively, with enticing food and drink, and large flags.

図 3 (Figure 3) Language Market

2019年9月 活動日誌 / September 2019 Activities Report

2019年9月30日 / September 30, 2019
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
竹森帆理 / Banri Takemori

From the end of August to September, the weather in the Netherlands is unstable. Depending on the days, people on the streets just wear T-shirts, but on chilly days, a down jacket is a good way to avoid catching a cold. Typical autumn weather in the Netherlands is characterized by storms and showers, one of my Dutch colleagues told me that Japan’s autumn weather is placid and doesn’t have strong characteristics like the Netherlands.
On September 28, I was in Rotterdam with my colleague M Sensei. We wanted to take seats on the terrace of a café in front of a river, but a waiter told us that it would be unwise to sit there because soon it would rain. The sky was blue at that moment, but Dutch people are always well aware that a shower is likely to come in autumn even if the sun is shining at the moment.
ロッテルダムへ行ったのはカメラジャパンフェスティバルというすでに十年以上の歴史を持つ日本映画祭を訪問するためでした。ハーグキャンパスで国際関係学を専攻し日本語を学んでいる二年生の学生と日本人留学生に呼びかけて、このお祭りを訪れる企画を立てていたのです。当日は日本人留学生二名と国際関係学の学生九名が参加しました。映画祭でしたが、私たちの訪問の主な目的は村上春樹の翻訳者であり、博論では大江健三郎を研究した日本文学研究者でもあり、作家であり、映画会社でも働いていたという多才な経歴の持ち主であるLuk van Haute氏という方の忠臣蔵についての講演を聞くためでした。私たちはロッテルダムの地下鉄Wilhelminaplein駅から会場に向かい、まず同僚の日本人S先生がお茶を売っている屋台を訪問しました(S先生はお茶の先生でもあるのです)。会場は殷賑(いんしん)としており、特に屋台の周りは客が絡繹(らくえき)として絶えず、私たちの学生もたい焼きや日本酒などを買い求めていました。
We were in Rotterdam because there was a festival called Camera Japan Festival being held. We invited second-year students majoring in international studies that are also learning the Japanese language at the Den Haag campus, and Japanese students to visit this festival. Two Japanese students and nine students from Den Haag came on that day. Although the festival’s main attraction was movies, we attended a lecture by Luk van Haute, a versatile writer also known as a translator of Haruki Murakami, who studied Kenzaburo Oe when he was a Ph.D. student and has a career in the film industry. We headed to the venue from the Wilehelminaplein station of the metro. First, we visited a tea stall run by our colleague S Sensei, who is also a tea master. The venue was crowded and lively, especially around the stalls where our students bought Taiyaki and cups of Japanese sake, etc.

In the lecture, Mr. van Haute talked about his encounter and relationships with Chushingura. As the title “From Chushingura to AKB48” suggests, he starts with an explanation of the story Chushingura, then moved into modern show business, emphasizing the notion of “Chu (loyalty)”, an influential word in Japanese psychohistory even after the modernization of Japan, giving examples of actors “Chu” to agencies or their fans. He also showed lots of videos (from early films created by Kabuki producers to recent Hollywood films starring Keanu Reeves), which included references to not only Chushingura but also other to stories, such as “Yukoku” by Yukio Mishima, which was introduced with regards to his favorite book Hagakure, a guide to Bushido which criticized that the 47 Ronin were not sufficiently loyal to their master because they took too much time before they avenged him. He even discussed the famous Regain energy drink commercial “Can You Fight for 24 Hours?”
Lastly, on September 6, we had the first meeting with Japanese students at our Japanese conversation club. We had a lively exchange of opinions on what to do in that club. Some students said it would be no fun at all to just sit around tables and talk. They, instead, argued that it would be great if we could go to the market for example (every Wednesday and Saturday there is a market in the center of Leiden, in front of the town hall). We are planning to start our Japanese conversation club in October. Some volunteer Japanese students made a questionnaire to ask students who learn Japanese what they wanted to do in the club. After collecting the answers, we will make more concrete plans. At first, the club was not aimed at students at Den Haag, but as they told me they also wanted to do this, we had to think of a new plan.

2019年6月 活動日誌 / June 2019 Activity Report

2019年6月30日 / June 30, 2019
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

The sunlight in the Netherlands this June was strong, and sunglasses and sunscreen were essential when going out. The other day, I went out wearing heels without putting on sunscreen, and my feet tanned in the most ridiculous way. At the end of June, the hot days just kept on coming, and some days even reached over 30 degrees.

On June 9, the 12th “Japan Markt” (Japan Festival) was held in front of Siebold Huis in Leiden. During this festival, stalls selling Japanese food and goods were set up in the street alongside the Rapenburg canal, which was bustling with people to the point where you couldn’t move. I saw some people wearing yukata or doing cosplay, and everyone seemed to be enjoying Japanese culture.
The takoyaki and sushi stands were very popular, and had long lines in front of them. At the sushi stand, the workers made the sushi on the spot, so many people were taking photos.

There were also many stalls selling Japanese goods including Japanese character goods, woodblock paintings, tableware, towels, bonsai and dyed goods. In terms of rare goods, one stall was selling heated toilet seats. There was also a stall selling secondhand randoseru (Japanese elementary school backpacks), which, according to the staff there, are a popular fashion item amongst fans of anime and manga. Come to think of it, I remember one student in the Japanese department used to come to class wearing a randoseru.
As a person who grew up in Japan, it was surprising to see some of the unexpected things that are popular as “Japanese culture” in the Netherlands. It was very interesting to learn about what Dutch people consider to be “Japanese culture”.


2019年5月 活動日誌 / May 2019 Activity Report

2019年5月31日 / May 31, 2019
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

It is now May in the Netherlands, and the sun has started to stay out longer. It’s still light out after 9pm, so even at nighttime I’m not very sleepy. However, despite the sun being up longer and the days being brighter, the temperatures are still low. Mornings don’t usually go over 10 degrees, and I often found myself dressing too lightly and having to go back inside to grab a jacket before heading out.

This month, classes ended for the current academic year, and I also finished teaching my last class at Leiden University. Since it’s the end of the semester, the first-year students wrote essays based on what they had learnt in one semester, and the second-year students wrote essays using what they had learnt throughout the course as a whole. I corrected the drafts of the students’ essays, but sometimes I had trouble deciding on how to fix certain parts of them. In particular, the first-year students tended to directly translate what they wanted to say from English or Dutch into Japanese. One first-year student wrote the following sentence.

(As there are many interesting places) “Amusuterudamu wa taikutsu suru koto ga dekimasen.

上の文は、日本語母語話者にとって不自然に感じられる文だと思います。英語の“I cannot get bored.”という表現をそのまま日本語に訳したような文ですが、学生に聞くとやはりGoogle Translateを用いて日本語に訳したのだそうです。しかし、これは日本語では意味が通らないため別の表現に直さなければいけません。私はこの箇所について、「アムステルダムは楽しい街です」とか「飽きることがありません」という文に書き換えることを提案しました。
The above sentence means “I cannot get bored in Amsterdam”, and is an unnatural phrase to native Japanese speakers. I thought that perhaps the student directly translated the English phrase “I cannot get bored”, and upon asking found that they had indeed used Google Translate. However, this phrase doesn’t work in Japanese, so I had to correct it to a different one. I suggested they change the sentence to “Amusuterudamu wa tanoshii machi desu” (Amsterdam is a fun city), or “akiru koto ga arimasen” (you won’t get sick of it).

Sentences translated directly from other languages like the one above often appear in my students’ essays. Sometimes they work, but most of the time they don’t make sense in Japanese. Whenever I come across sentences like this in my students’ work, I have a hard time figuring out what the original phrase was, versus what they actually wanted to say in Japanese.
Through this semester’s final exams, I realized that, in order to teach Japanese, knowledge of a learner’s first language is necessary after all. It seems the students struggled writing such long essays, but I think it was a worthwhile task, and a good learning experience for everyone involved.

Next month will be my last month in Leiden. I will give it my all and work hard until the end.

2019年4月 活動日誌 / April 2019 Activity Report

2019年4月30日 / April 30, 2019
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

April in the Netherlands is still cold, and people in the streets are still wearing winter clothing. I too wore my wool coat throughout the entire month.

This month there was a festival for Koningsdag on the 27th. Koningsdag is a national holiday commemorating the birth of the King of the Netherlands, which people celebrate while wearing orange (the national color of the Netherlands) clothing and accessories. While it seemed like it was going to rain, many live music stages and beer stands were set up for the occasion, and the streets of Leiden were lively with people until the early hours of the morning.
On the day of, I went to Amsterdam for the Koningsdag Festival. In Amsterdam, music was playing throughout the city, and many people were singing and dancing in the streets, beer-in-hand. There were way too many people, and sometimes you couldn’t even move around, but it was a good experience seeing a different side of Amsterdam than usual.

▲Koningsdag当日のアムステルダム / Amsterdam during Koningsdag

April’s Japanese Conversation Club was visited by the third-year students who had just returned from their study abroad in Japan. The first and second-year students asked them many questions about Japan. In particular, it seems the second-year students, many of whom will soon go on exchange to Japan, are anxious about living in Japan.
One of the third-year students talked about eating habits in Japan. This student is vegetarian, and said social gatherings with her circle were hard as there was never anything she could eat. She also said there were not many options she could eat at restaurants or the school cafeteria, and so she made most of her meals at home during her exchange.

According to news website Nu.nl’s 2018 survey of 20,000 Dutch citizens, more than 30% of respondents answered that they eat meat less frequently than they did in the past, so it seems that more and more people in the Netherlands are cutting meat out of their diets. Because of this, restaurants offering “vegetarian options” and “vegan options” are becoming more commonplace. There is even a vegan menu at the Leiden University cafeteria.
I think that the number of vegan and vegetarian exchange students in Japanese universities is also increasing. It would be good if university cafeterias, which serve to feed both students from various food cultures and university staff, could start offering vegetarian and/or vegan menus.

There are only a few things left to do for the spring semester. I aim to do my best until the very end.

2019年3月 活動日誌 / March 2019 Activity Report

2019年3月31日 / March 31, 2019
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

The sunlight hours are longer in March, and the spring tulips are starting to bloom all around the city. You can hear birds cheerfully chirping outside the windows of the classrooms, and one of my students exclaimed “ah! Spring is here!” in the middle of class. This wonderful expression warmed my heart.

On the 23rd, a Japanese Speech Competition was held by the Embassy of Japan in the Netherlands in The Hague, and eight students participated from Leiden University. In preparation for this, the GJO formed a Speech Club and, with the assistance of five Japanese exchange students, helped the students practice for the competition.
Students could choose any topic to talk about, so they all thought of topics they were interested in. Their topics were very interesting and ranged from “Japanese Food Culture”, “The Films of Miyazaki Hayao”, and “The Takarazuka Revue” to “Japan’s Garbage Problems” and “Japan’s Gender Gap”.
Everyone received results worthy of their efforts, and four students from Leiden won awards including the “Special Award”, the “Award of Excellence” and the “Kochi Yosakoi Award”. Everyone seemed satisfied after the competition, and some students even said they want to participate again next year.
Students studying Japanese at The Hague Campus also came to cheer on their upperclassmen. Many of these students watched the speeches and commented on how they wanted to become as good at Japanese as their “Japanese senpai”, so I think it was a good incentive for them.
It takes courage to stand in front of an audience and give a speech in another language such as Japanese. Regardless of whether they won awards or not, the students did great.

▲ 大会後の記念撮影の様子 / After the Competition

2019年2月 活動日誌 / February 2019 Activity Report

2019年2月28日 / February 28, 2019
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

2月のライデンは例年よりも暖かく、気温が18度まで昇る日もありました。 冬のオランダはたいてい寒くてうす暗い日が続くのですが、今月は眩しいくらいに晴れてポカポカした陽気の日が何日もあり、半袖のTシャツを着て外を歩いている人の姿も見られました。
February in Leiden was warmer than usual, with some days reaching 18 degrees. Dutch winters are usually cold and gloomy, but this month there were many pleasantly warm days with dazzling sunlight, and I saw many people walking around outside in t-shirts.

This month, the new semester finally began at Leiden University. I am always incredibly nervous for the first class of the semester. As always, I headed to my classes wondering what kind of students I would have this time.
The first-year students this year are very enthusiastic, and cheerfully progressed from the very first class. Many students memorized hiragana and katakana before the semester began, and many students also studied Japanese on their own through watching anime and dramas, so there were many questions about Japanese not found in the textbook. I heard some students speaking in Japanese amongst themselves during their break time, and some students even came to talk to me in Japanese, so I could really feel their enthusiasm.

I also resumed Conversation Club activities this month. Both first-year and second-year students participated this month, so I had them introduce themselves and ask each other why they chose to study Japanese. Answers included statements such as “I liked anime as a kid, so I’m interested in Japan” and “I like ramen and sushi, and I want to go to eat them in Japan, so I am studying Japanese”. One student even said they want to start a company in the future and do business with Japan.

The students are so motivated, which in turn makes me motivated. I hope to keep this motivation alive this semester.

2019年1月 活動日誌 / January 2019 Activities Report

2019年1月31日 / January 31, 2019
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

Happy New Year everyone. In Leiden, fireworks are set off as soon as it becomes the new year, so 2019 began rather festively. In The Netherlands, fireworks are often associated with the New Year. Leading up to New Year’s Eve, many people and their families buy fireworks, and set them off simultaneously around the city when the New Year arrives.

You may think that the fireworks people set off at home are smaller ones, but actually they are usually big ones, much like those set off at summer firework festivals in Japan. People continued to do fireworks for two hours after the New Year began, so it was an interesting sight that you definitely wouldn’t see in Tokyo.

This month I was busy preparing for the spring semester that starts next month with the teachers of my course. The absolute beginner’s course will begin this spring. The absolute beginner’s course is for students who haven’t studied Japanese before, and they will start by studying hiragana and katana. I have been brainstorming ideas with the other teachers to figure out what materials we need to prepare, what order we should teach things in, and how we can make the students’ introduction to Japanese a smooth one.

Even with hiragana, there are many differing opinions on the order it should be taught in, including the traditional syllabary order, and starting from easier characters such as し (shi) and つ (tsu). We will work hard this semester to figure out the best way to teach this course, with a touch of trial and error.

Please look forward to my reports for the upcoming year.

2018年12月 活動日誌 / December 2018 Activity Report

2018年12月31日 / December 31, 2018
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

In December, the Christmas Markets began in Leiden. Choirs and bands have been performing on special stages, and the streets have been lively enough to blow away the gloomy and cold winter weather. I also redecorated the GJO sign to get in the Christmas spirit. The skies outside are still cloudy and grey, but I think the decoration made the inside of the office brighter.

▲ GJOの看板 / GJO sign
▲ ライデンの街をバイクで走るサンタクロース / Santa Claus rides his motorbike around Leiden

Final exams were held this month, and the students seemed stressed in the last stretch of the semester. Many students came to ask me questions during the intervals between their classes, so I felt they were just as enthusiastic as ever about Japanese.
At this month’s Conversation Club at The Hague Campus, we talked about our plans for the winter break and what we would do for Christmas. Christmas in Europe is usually spent with family, so most of the students will go home for the holidays. One student even brought their suitcase to the club meeting, saying they were heading home afterwards. Apparently they planned it like this on purpose because they enjoy the club so much, which made me really happy to hear.

Some students who completed the Japanese course last year also visited the club. It seems some of the students heard their upperclassmen speak Japanese and set a new goal to be able to speak like them by the end of their course next year. From what the students have told me, it seems the students in the Japanese course at The Hague Campus don’t have many connections with the students from previous years. Up until now I have been splitting time at the Conversation Club to cater to different levels, but maybe it would be good to make time for the levels to mix as well. Thank to the many people who supported me in 2018, I was able to end the year successfully. Thanking you all in advance for the next year.

2018年11月 活動日誌 / November 2018 Activity Report

2018年11月30日 / November 30, 2018
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

Leiden in November is very cold and the days are increasingly gloomy. However, the glistening Christmas trees and Santa Claus decorations being put up around the city beg to differ.

This month, many of my students had good news to announce, namely along the lines of “I got accepted for study abroad in Japan!”. While their exchanges are set to start next year (from summer to fall), they are already looking forward to being in Japan, and have been talking about all the museums they want to go to and food they want to eat. I feel even more motivated to teach them Japanese so they can fully enjoy their time in Japan.

At this month’s Conversation Club, we talked about “katakana words”. One student said they found katakana words difficult and had trouble understanding them. One of the Japanese exchange students said they thought katakana words would be easy to understand, as they mostly come from English, but the students said the pronunciation is too different for them to recognize them as English words.
Even at the Conversation Club, native Japanese speakers, myself included, have a tendency to think that katakana words are easier to understand. For example, we might say “last night I ate torinikuchikin”, with chikin being the katakana word for chicken. While most Japanese people think of katakana words as being English words, the Dutch students can only hear them as being Japanese.

Currently in Japan, many Japanese words are being replaced by katakana words. If you go to a department store, the signs read “reidiisu furoa” (ladies floor), “menzu furoa” (men’s floor), “kizzu furoa” (kid’s floor); restaurant menu’s read “biifu” (beef), “raisu” (rice) and “ranchi” (lunch). In this case, even if students know the Japanese word for beef, “gyuuniku”, they might not be able to understand if a menu simply says “biifu”.

Even commonly-used katakana words often don’t make it into Japanese textbooks, so there is a gap between the Japanese used inside and outside of the classroom. I am trying to teach my students as much as I can so that katakana words don’t join the list of common complaints alongside crowded trains and cellphone contracts.

2018年10月 活動日誌 / October 2018 Activity Report

2018年10月31日 / October 31, 2018
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

It is now October here in Leiden, and temperatures have dropped since last month. The mornings are particularly cold, and it has been 4-5 degrees every day during my commute to the campus. People in the city are wearing more winter-worthy clothing, and most people I see are wearing down jackets and boots. On the other hand, I do sometimes see people wearing t-shirts and tank tops, which is a strange site to see and makes me feel like it’s both summer and winter at the same time.

This semester’s Japanese Conversation Club began meeting this month. The Japanese exchange students are also participating in club activities, so there’s always around 6-8 people, and everyone excitedly speaks Japanese. The Leiden students who participated were all elementary level, and have only finished half of the elementary textbook, so they started with self-introductions, then talked about their countries, cities and interests.

また、10月19日にはJapanese Snacks Day として、会話クラブの際、学生たちに餅菓子やせんべい菓子などの日本のお菓子を食べてみてもらいました。こちらではベジタリアンやビーガンの学生が多いのですが、和菓子の多くは動物性の原材料を含まないため、美味しく食べてもらうことができました。特にあんこや抹茶の餡が入った餅のお菓子は評判がよく、初めて食べた学生からは「授業で先生が言っていたあんこってこういう味なんだ」「Mochiってこういうものだったのか」という声が聞かれました。一方で、梅のせんべいは評価が分かれました。「梅の味がちょっと苦手です」と言っていた学生もいました。
Also, on October 19, as part of Japanese Snacks Day, I gave Japanese snacks such as mochi and rice crackers to the students who attended the Conversation Club. There are many vegetarian and vegan students here, but many Japanese snacks don’t use animal products, so they were able to eat them without a problem. The students particularly liked the mocha filled with red bean paste and green tea bean paste, and students who had never had mocha before said “so this is what you were talking about in class” and “so this is what mochi is”. However, the students were divided on the ume (plum) rice crackers. Some students said they didn’t like the taste of plum.
Among the students here, it seems that many of them watch anime and are familiar with the words “ume” and “mochi”, but until now had never actually tried them. I am glad they finally had the chance to try Japanese snacks.

At the end of this month I asked students how they felt about the Conversation Club, and they said that the Japanese used at the Club and the Japanese used in class is very different, so there were many things they didn’t understand.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Japanese exchange students were using difficult words, but rather that Japanese is that kind of language. It is said that Japanese had a lower vocabulary coverage than English or French, so it takes time for learners to understand regular conversations. For example, if you take the 1000 most frequently used words of a language, you’ll find that the top 1000 in English cover about 80% of words used in day-to-day conversations, but the top 1000 in Japanese only cover about 60%. To understand 80% of the words used in regular conversations in Japanese, it is said that you must memorize about 5000 words, which is equivalent to the intermediate level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
When teaching Japanese, teachers tend to use words and grammar they know the students will understand, so some students may not feel this level of difficulty. However, when students leave the classroom and talk to Japanese people, all of a sudden they are bewildered by the amount of words they don’t understand. There are probably some students who feel they won’t ever learn enough to keep up. My students have just finished half of the elementary textbook, so now is their time to persevere.

Anywho, the students at the Japanese Conversation Club were trying their best to use vocabulary they know. After the club meeting, I saw the students exchange contact information with the Japanese exchange students. I think they will be more motivated to study Japanese if they have Japanese friends.
I will hold the Conversation Club meeting again next month. I will keep working hard to ensure my students have a fun place in which they can come in contact with and practice Japanese.

2018年9月 活動日誌 / September 2018 Activity Report

2018年9月30日 / September 30, 2018
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

September in Leiden is cool thanks to the nice autumn breeze.

The summer break ended in September, and the new academic year began at Leiden University. We welcomed some new exchange students from Japan, which was a fun way to start the new semester.

On September 11 I held a friendly meeting with the Japanese exchange students. 12 students came to this meeting, at which we casually introduced ourselves and asked questions about one another.

I think they will support and encourage each other during the many experiences they will have throughout their exchange lives, which are only just beginning. They may even make some lifelong friends that they otherwise wouldn’t had they not come to Leiden. The students come from all over Japan, so they will probably also experience culture shock amongst themselves.

As the GJO coordinator, I will continue to support these students so they can have a successful study abroad year.

そして、9月26日から30日にかけては、ロッテルダムで「CAMERA JAPAN Festival 2018」という日本の映画を上映するイベントが行われ、私も足を運んできました。会場はたくさんの人でにぎわっており、映画のほかにも屋台やお茶のワークショップなど、様々な日本文化を楽しむ人々の姿が見られました。
From September 26-30, the “CAMERA JAPAN Festival 2018”, a Japanese film festival, was held in Rotterdam, so I went to check it out. The festival was bustling with people, and aside from the films there were also other attractions such as food stalls and tea workshops, so visitors could enjoy many aspects of Japanese culture.

Before the film screening, a lecture was held to explain facets of Japanese culture and any points necessary to appreciating Japanese film. Throughout the whole event, I could feel how interested people in The Netherlands are about other cultures.

From here on out, The Netherlands is heading into winter. I will do my best next month to fight through the cold.

(映画上映前のレクチャー) / The pre-screening lecture
(ロビーに並ぶ鯛焼きや日本酒の屋台) / Stalls selling taiyaki and sake in the lobby

2018年6月 活動日誌 / June 2018 Activity Report

2018年6月30日 / June 30, 2018
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

June in Leiden is warmer, and the days have become longer. While the sun goes down in the evening almost immediately during the winter, summer nights are still light out until about 10pm. On sunny days, you can see many people around the city basking in the sun, as if to make up for the rays they missed in winter. Some people even put dining tables outside their homes to eat in the sun, which made me realize how important the sun is to Dutch people.

The Japanese Conversation Club was held four times this month. Students going on exchange in the fall turned up to practice their spoken Japanese, and some students just came so they wouldn’t forget Japanese over the summer vacation.
This month’s Conversation Club topics were quite advanced, as topics such as euthanasia and capital punishment were discussed. I also taught the students some phrases that will help them convey their opinions, which I thought would be useful for those going on exchange. These were:
“〇〇 has this opinion, but…”
“I think you should…”
At first, the students conveyed their opinions in English, and I helped them say these in Japanese, but after a while everyone started to put their opinions together bit by bit, and were able to say them in Japanese.
Also, while I was worried that these topics were too difficult, many of the students are interested in topics such as human rights and crime, so they came prepared with vocabulary related to these topics, and excitedly exchanged their opinions on them

All the final exams and supplementary exams for the spring semester ended this month, and the 2017-2018 academic year came to an end. 10 months have passed since I started teaching Japanese in Leiden University’s Japanese Studies program and International Studies program in September 2017. I struggled a little at first, as there were many differences from the Japanese education I experienced in Japan, but the students and teachers around me were warm and supportive, so I had a good year.
The summer vacation will start in July, and the next semester will start in September. I am going to use this summer to reflect on the last semester and prepare for the next one.

2018年5月 活動日誌 / May 2018 Activity Report

2018年5月31日 / May 31, 2018
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

This month, Japanese classes ended for the semester, and the final exams began. Students of the International Studies program’s Japanese class have a written exam, and also have to submit a video project as their final assignment. For the video project, I had the students make videos on topics related to the grammar structures they learnt during the semester. We watched all the submitted videos in the last class of the semester, and shared our opinions on them together.

A group of first-year students made a video introducing their favorite shops and streets in The Hague. The students were able to combine the grammar structures they learnt during the semester to describe the things around them:
“I often drink coffee at this café. The coffee here is delicious.”
“I come here often with my friends. We talk a lot.”
“I went to the beach last week. It was cold.”

From the above, it can be seen that first-year students focus more on grammar structures that can be used to describe tangible things, but second-year students learn how to talk about more abstract things. One group of second-year students filmed themselves discussing the topic of “what do you think of Dutch people?”
Another group made an interesting video, set in a restaurant, in which Dutch and Japanese people pointed out each other’s strange gestures and habits. For example, in the video, a Japanese student calls out “excuse me, I’d like to order” and beckons the waiter to come with their palm facing downwards – to which a Dutch student says “what? That gesture means ‘go away’. In Holland we use this gesture,” after which they beckon the waiter with their hand facing upwards. This video was popular among their classmates, who all watched with great interest.

In the year and a half since they began studying Japanese, the second-year students have not only learnt about the Japanese language, but also about Japanese culture and customs. The International Studies program’s Japanese class will end this spring for the second-year students, so I’m glad they could demonstrate the fruits of their efforts by putting their all into these video projects.
I hope the first-year students are able to do and say as much in Japanese next year as the second years were able to this year. I too intend to prepare myself over the summer so I can continue to teach effectively.

2018年4月 活動日誌 / Activities Report, April 2018

2018年4月30日 / 30th April 2018
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

 いよいよ期末試験まで残るところあと少し、あっという間に4月になりました。今月はじめは暖かくなり、たくさんのチューリップが道端で見られましたが、下旬は昼間でも12℃前後の肌寒い日が続いています。/ The final exams are finally drawing closer, and before I knew it, it was April. It was warm at the start of this month, and you could see many tulips growing in the streets, but the latter half of April was cold, with the temperature only reaching around 12 degrees at midday.
今月は初級日本語を受講している学生に向けて、日本語会話の会を開きました。期末試験では口頭試験も実施するため、その前に会話の練習をする機会がつくれたらと思い企画しました。/ This month I opened a Japanese Conversation Club for beginner-level students. Since there is a speaking test in the final exam, I thought it would be a good idea to give students an opportunity to practice.
実は会を企画した当初は、少し心配していました。習った文型がまだ少ないし、みんな緊張して何も話してくれなかったらどうしよう。私が学生たちに質問を投げかけて、一問一答になっちゃうかな…… どんな様子になるか分からず、ドキドキして会場のカフェテリアに向かいました。/ I was actually quite worried about the club initially. The students haven’t learnt many grammar structures yet, so I was worried about what I should do if they get nervous and don’t speak at all. I thought that maybe it would just turn into me asking them questions one by one, and I had no idea how it would turn out, but I nervously headed to the meeting place in the cafeteria anyway.
少し早めに着くと、カフェテリアではすでに学生たちが私を待ってくれていました。学生たちと私で一つのテーブルを囲み、最初に一人づつ自己紹介をして、あとは学生たちに自由に会話をしてもらいました。/ I arrived a little early, but the students were already there waiting for me. We all gathered around one table, and the students introduced themselves one by one. After this, I had them talk amongst themselves freely.
「〇〇さんはよく週末に何をしますか。」/ “What do you usually do in the weekends?”
「よく買い物をします。ときどき、友達と日本の映画を見ます。」/ “I often go shopping. Sometimes I watch Japanese movies with my friend.”
「そうですか。どんな映画が好きですか。」…… / “Really? What kind of movies do you like?”
勉強した文型や単語を使って、みんな積極的に質問しあったり会話を広げたりしていました。ときどき言いたいことを日本語でどう言えばいいか分からないときだけ私に聞いてきましたが、あとは私がいなくてもいいくらい、学生同士で楽しく話していました。/ The students used the grammar structures they have learnt to actively ask each other questions and expand their conversations. Occasionally they would ask me how to say something in Japanese, but mostly I felt that the students were having so much fun that I didn’t even need to be there.
2月にひらがなカタカナから日本語の勉強を始めた学生たちが、もうこんなに日本語でコミュニケーションができるようになっていて、本当にびっくりしました。一生懸命な様子はテストや宿題を見ていても分かっていましたが、本当に熱心に日本語に興味を持って取り組んでいるんだなあ、と改めて感じました。期末試験まであと数週間ですが、学生たちのやる気に応えられるよう、私も引き続き頑張って教えたいと思います。/ I am really surprised that these students, who started from hiragana and katakana in February, can already communicate this much in Japanese. I could tell that they were working hard just from looking at their tests and homework, but now I can really feel how interested the students are in Japanese. There are only a few weeks left until the final exam, but I want to work hard to teach to a standard that meets my students’ needs.

2018年3月 活動日誌 / Activities Report, March 2018

2018年3月31日 / 31st March 2018
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama


3月のライデンは、まさに三寒四温の毎日です。先月より暖かくなったと思ったら、急に冷たい風が吹いて寒くなり、また何日か日差しが出てきたかと思ったら、次の日は雨が降って気温が下がったり……と、春が来そうでなかなか来ません。/ March in Leiden had that springtime ‘three cold days four warm days’ pattern. Just as I thought it was getting warmer, cold winds would blow and it’d be cold again, and even when the sun came out for a few days, it would be followed by rain and cool temperatures… So spring just doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon.
さて、今月17日には在オランダ日本大使館主催の日本語弁論大会がデン・ハーグで行われ、ライデン大学日本学科からも5名の学生と1名の卒業生が参加しました。本GJOではライデン大学から弁論大会に出場する学生をサポートするため、スピーチクラブを立ち上げました。クラブには5人の日本学科の学生と、4人の日本人留学生が参加してくれました。/ On the 17th of this month, the Japanese Embassy in The Netherlands held a Japanese Speech Competition in The Hague, in which five students and one alumnus from Leiden University competed. Here at the GJO, we made a speech club to support these students. Five Leiden students and four Japanese exchange students joined the club.
スピーチクラブでは主に表現の推敲と発音の練習を行いました。ライデン大学の学生たちのスピーチを聞いて、日本人留学生たちや私から「こんな言い方をしたら、言いたいことがもっと伝わるんじゃないかな」「この言葉のアクセントはこうだよ」「ここでポーズを置くと聞きやすくなると思う」などと細かくアドバイスをしていきました。最初はつっかえつっかえ原稿を読んでいた学生もいましたが、練習を重ねるごとにスピーチが上手になっていく様子を見て、本番が待ち遠しくなりました。/ In speech club, we mostly focused on polishing the students’ expressions and practicing pronunciation. The Japanese exchange students listened and gave advice to the Leiden students such as ‘I think you’d get your point across better if you said it like this…’, ‘the intonation of this word is like this…’ and ‘I think it’d be easier to listen to if you paused here’. At first, there were students who awkwardly stuttered through their speeches while reading off of their papers, but as they practiced I could see them getting better, and I was looking forward to the actual competition.
そしていよいよ大会当日になり、スピーチクラブ全員で会場に向かいました。今回の第31回日本語弁論大会のスピーチテーマは参加者が各自自由に設定してよいということで、オランダ中から集まったたくさんの日本語学習者の方々が、様々な興味深いスピーチを発表していました。ライデン大学の学生たちは、それぞれ「日本語を勉強する理由」「日本の自然」「日本人と規律」「和食」「方言」というテーマで、自分の経験から考えたことについてスピーチしました。学生たちは、大会が始まる前は「緊張しています……」と言っていましたが、本番では皆とても落ち着いていて、練習以上に素晴らしい発表をしていました。/ Eventually, the day of the competition arrived, and the entire speech club went to the venue together. The topic of the 31st Japanese Speech Competition was free to choose for each participant, so there were many interesting topics from students studying Japanese all over the Netherlands. The students from Leiden University all thought about and chose their own topics, which were ‘the reason I study Japanese’, ‘Japanese nature’, ‘Japanese people and order’, ‘Japanese food’ and ‘dialects’. The students were saying ‘I’m so nervous…’ before the competition, but everyone calmed down when the time came, and gave beautiful speeches even better than in our practices.
すべての発表が終わり、大会最後の授賞式では、大勢の観客と参加者が見守る中、なんとライデン大学の学生二名が特別賞と最優秀賞(優勝)に選ばれました。学生の名前が呼ばれたときは会場中が拍手に包まれ、私も思わずワーっと喜びの声をあげてしまいました。熱心に練習したその努力が実って本当に良かったなと思います。また今回受賞を逃した学生も、それぞれに本当に素晴らしい発表をしていました。/ After the speeches were over, the award ceremony was held, and two students from Leiden won awards: the special award and first place! When the students’ names were called, the venue was filled with applause, and I was so happy and cheered really loudly. I’m so glad that their hard work and practices paid off. Even the students who didn’t win prizes did a really good job.
短い間でしたが、スピーチクラブとして学生たちのお手伝いをさせていただいて、私も良い経験ができました。弁論大会を通じて、勉強するための日本語ではなく、「伝えるための日本語」をもっと意識して教えたいなと改めて思いました。来月の授業も頑張りたいと思います!/ It was short-lived, but I also gained a valuable experience helping these students through speech club. It made me think that I want to stop focusing on just textbook Japanese, and instead teach ‘communicative Japanese’. I’ll start working hard on this from next month’s classes!

2018年2月 活動日誌 / Activities Report, February 2018

2018年2月28日 / 28th February 2018
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

 2月のライデンは寒波に見舞われ、運河が凍るほど寒くなりました。外を歩いていると、顔の皮膚が切れるのではないかと思うくらい寒風の激しい日が続いています。それでも街には、ミニスカートに薄いストッキングで自転車に乗っている人や、半ズボンを履いて歩いている人がいるので、びっくりしてしまいます。/ February in Leiden was struck by a cold wave, and it became so cold that the canal froze over. These days the wind is so cold that when I walk outside I feel like the skin on my face might crack. Despite this, in the streets there are people riding bikes in miniskirts and thin stockings, and people walking around in shorts, so I was very surprised.
いよいよ新学期が始まり、キャンパスもまた賑やかになりました。/ Finally the new semester has begun, and the campus is lively again.
今月から1年生のゼロ初級の授業「Japanese1」がスタートしました。最初は緊張した雰囲気のあった学生たちでしたが、一ヶ月経った今ではお互いに打ち解けてきたようです。学生のほとんどが初学者ですが、中にはもうすでに自分で勉強してきた学生や、日本に留学したことのある学生もいて、クラスを引っ張っていってくれています。/ This month, the class ‘Japanese 1’, a zero-experience beginner class for first-year students, began. At first, the students were a bit nervous, but after about a month it seems the students have warmed up to each other. Most of the students are complete beginners, but there are a few students who have studied Japanese on their own, and even a few who have been on exchange to Japan, and so these students help lead and motivate the class.
2月の初級クラスでは、平仮名と片仮名の導入を終えました。平仮名は画数の少ない「し」や「つ」などから始め、段々と形の複雑な「あ」や「ね」などに進めていくのですが、1画で丸まったり折り返したりする平仮名独特の書き方に苦戦している学生も多く、なかなかバランスよい平仮名を書くのが難しそうです。また平仮名や片仮名は似た形のものが多く、「ま」「ほ」「は」や「ソ」「リ」「ン」などを見分ける練習をすると、「全部同じに見える!」という声が上がります。/ In the February beginner classes, we finished covering hiragana and katakana. I started teaching them from the single-stroke characters such as ‘shi’ and ‘tsu’, then gradually went onto harder characters like ‘a’ and ‘ne’. However, many students struggled with the rounding and curling characteristics of hiragana, and it seemed difficult for them to write well-balanced characters. Also, since there are many hiragana and katakana characters that look similar, when we practiced telling the difference between characters such as ‘ma’-‘ho’-‘ha’ and ‘so’-‘ri’-‘n’, students exclaimed that ‘they all look the same!’
そろそろ一ヶ月が経ちますが、まだまだ平仮名をスラスラ読み書きするのが難しい学生も少なくありません。私も子供の頃、「あ」と「お」の違いがわからず、いつまで経っても「あ」が書けなかったのを思い出しました。彼らにとって馴染みのない日本語の文字を一気に覚えるのは大変ですが、頑張ってほしいと思います。/ Soon it will be one month since the students began learning Japanese, and there are still many students who are having trouble writing and reading hiragana smoothly. I remember when I was a child, I didn’t understand the difference between ‘a’ and ‘o’, and I can vividly remember not being able to write ‘a’ for a long time. I know it is difficult for them to remember these unfamiliar characters all at once, but I really want them to try hard.
3月からはいよいよ漢字が始まります。少しずつ日本語に慣れていってもらえるよう、私も工夫して授業をしていきたいと思います。/ From March we will start kanji. I will try my best to get the students a little more used to Japanese.

2018年1月 活動日誌 / Activities Report, January 2018

2018年1月31日 / 31st January 2018
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama


1月のライデン大学は冬休み真最中です。授業期間中は学生で賑わうキャンパスも、人が少なくシンと静かで少し不思議な感じがします。 / In January, Leiden University is in the middle of its Winter Break. While the campus is usually bustling with people, the current silence is a little strange.
今月はライデン大学デン・ハーグキャンパスで日本語を学ぶ学生たちと茶話会を開きました。茶話会には日本人留学生の皆さんもお招きして、お茶とお菓子をいただきながら日本語で色々な話をしました。 / This month, I held a tea party for students studying Japanese at Leiden University’s campus in The Hague. I also invited Japanese exchange students to this tea party, and together the students drank tea, ate snacks, and conversed in Japanese.
今回茶話会を企画した理由は、学生たちに日本語を使って自由に表現する機会と、生きた日本語に直接触れる場を提供したいと思ったためです。オランダに暮らす学生たちは日常生活で日本語に触れるチャンスがあまりないこともあり、学生からはもっと日本語で話したい、なまの日本語を知りたいという声をよく聞きます。特に多いのが、授業内で決まったテーマについてだけ話すのではなく、もっと自分の好きなことを話したいという声です。今回はこのような学生の要望に応えて、茶話会を実施しました。 / The reason I planned this tea party is because I wanted to give students the opportunity and place to interact in Japanese freely. Students living in the Netherlands don’t have many chances to use Japanese in their everyday lives, so they often tell me that they want to speak in Japanese, and know more about natural Japanese. One particular comment I have gotten quite often is how the students want to talk about topics of their own choice, not just the topics covered in class. Because of these comments, I held this tea party.
まず会の初めに、一人ずつ簡単に自己紹介をしてもらいました。私が日本語で「自己紹介をしてください」と言うと、学生の何人かから「自己紹介は何ですか?」と返ってきました。私が「”紹介します”は何ですか?」と聞くと、ある学生から「To invite?」との答えがありましたが、それは「しょうたいする」です。どうやら冬休みの一ヶ月の間に、先学期に勉強した日本語を忘れてしまったようです。しかし「自己紹介」の意味がわかると、皆上手に「私は〇〇です。〇〇に住んでいます。趣味は……」と自分の名前や国、好きなものなどについて話をしていました。 / At the tea party, I started by having the students give simple self-introductions. However, when I said ‘jikoshokai wo shite kudasai’ (please introduce yourselves), some of the students replied with ‘what is a jikoshokai?’ I asked them ‘what is a jikoshokai?’ and one student replied ‘to invite?’ to which I corrected her by saying ‘shotai suru’. It seems that some students have forgotten what they learnt last semester over the winter break. Once I explained what a ‘jikoshokai’ is, the students began expertly using structures like ‘my name is… I live in… My hobby is…’ to discuss their names, birthplaces, and favorite things.
そして無事に全員の自己紹介が終わると、雑談が始まりました。学生たちと日本人留学生は初対面でしたので、まずはお互いに趣味や出身地について聞き合っていました。学生たちは「〜たことがありますか」「どんな〜が有名ですか」など、勉強した文型をしっかり使いこなして日本人留学生たちに質問をしていました。 / After everyone finished their self-introductions, students began chatting freely. The Leiden students and Japanese exchange students had only met for the first time, and so at first they asked each other about their hobbies and hometowns. The Leiden students used structures they had learnt in class to talk with the Japanese students, such as ‘have you … before?’ and ‘what kind of … are famous?’
また、日本文化についてどんなことを知っていますか、という質問が日本人留学生から出ると、学生たちからは「KAWAII」という答えが出ました。学生たちは日本文化に関する授業で「KAWAII」について勉強したそうです。日本人留学生たちは「授業でこんなことを勉強するんですか」と少し驚いていましたが、この話題は大変盛り上がりました。 / When one Japanese students asked the Leiden students what they knew about Japanese culture, the students replied with ‘KAWAII’ (cuteness). It seems that the students learnt about ‘KAWAII’ in class. The Japanese students were surprised that this was taught in class, and the conversation became very lively.
会話の途中、ときどき日本人留学生たちから「めっちゃ」「マジで」などの教科書に載っていない日本語が飛び出してきました。私がそれらの言葉を説明するたびに、学生たちは興味津々で覚えようとしていたのが印象的でした。やはり教科書に載っていない日本語を覚えるほうが、面白く感じるようです。 / During the conversation, the Japanese students used words such as ‘mecha’ and ‘majide’ which are not covered by the textbooks. When I explained these words to the students, they listened very carefully and tried to remember them, which I thought was very impressive. I suppose remembering Japanese that isn’t in the textbook is more interesting for them.
この茶話会を通して私が驚いたことは、日本人留学生の皆さんのスピードの速い自然な口語に、学生たちがしっかりとついていっていたことです。私は授業中に既習文法のみを使ってゆっくり話すのですが、もっと早口で話しても大丈夫そうだな、と新たな発見がありました。 / One thing I was surprised at during this tea party was how well the Leiden students could keep up with the natural conversation speed of the Japanese students. I always speak to them slowly using grammar they have already learned in class, but I thought, for the first time, that maybe it’s okay for me to speak faster with them.
今回はまだ新学期が始まっておらず、帰省先の実家からまだ戻っていない学生も多かったため、全部で10人の小さな茶話会となりました。人数は少なかったですが、その分全員が積極的にたくさん話すことができたと思います。学生たちからも、好きなことをたくさん話せてよかったと言ってもらえました。この機会に、自分たちが勉強してきた日本語でどんなことが話せるのか、どれくらい使えるのか、ということを実感してもらうことができたと思います。 / Since the new semester hasn’t started yet, many students haven’t returned from their hometowns, and so the tea party was a small one with 10 attendees. Despite this, all the participants were able to talk actively. The students also commented on how they were happy that they could talk about whatever they liked. Through this tea party, I think the students were able to realize what kind of conversations they can have from the content they have studied, and how much of this content they can actually use.
また今後もこのような会を開きたいと思います。/ I would like to hold another tea party soon.

2017年12月 活動日誌 / Activities Report, December 2017

2017年12月31日 / 31st December 2017
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

 今月はいよいよ冬学期最後の授業になりました。 / This month, winter semester classes finally ended.
筆記試験の直前の文法の授業では、既習の動詞の活用(テ形、タ形、可能形、意向形、〜たい…)を総復習しました。私が「今まで勉強した活用形の作り方を復習しましょう」とハンドアウトを配り始めると、みんな「あれ、これはどうすればいいんだったっけ〜!?」と隣同士で相談しながら熱心に取り組んでいました。中には、家でもう一度自分で復習するためにハンドアウトをもう一枚ほしい、と言ってきた学生も何人かいました。 / In the last grammar class before the written examinations, I handed out revision sheets on verb conjugation of the verbs students had already learnt, and had them revise in class. As I handed out the worksheets saying, students started working on them with the people around them, and I could hear them frantically asking ‘wait, how do I do this one again!?’ Some students even asked for another handout to work on at home.
普段の授業では、「読みて」「読められる」などの間違いが学生から出てくる度「読んで」「読める」と直してはいましたが、体系的に再確認する機会がなかなかありませんでした。学生たちも、どんどん出てくる新しい文型を勉強するだけでも大変で、活用形の一つ一つをしっかり覚える時間がとれなかったようです。 / In normal classes, I usually fix the students’ conjugation mistakes (such as yomite and yomerareru to yonde and yomeru), but I didn’t have the chance to check every little mistake. It’s hard enough for the students already, as they have so much grammar to study, so perhaps they didn’t have time to remember every conjugation.
復習中もやはり「本を読みています(読んでいます)」「本が読んだい(読みたい)」などの間違いが出てきましたが、今回の授業課題で、自分たちの理解が曖昧になっていた部分が確認できたようでした。試験前に総復習する機会ができてよかったです。 / During the revision class, some students made mistakes such as ‘hon wo *yomiteimasu’ (instead of yondeimasu) and ‘hon ga *yondai’ (instead of yomitai’), but through this revision it seems that they understood what areas they need to work on. I am glad that we had time to do this revision session before the examinations.
そして授業の最後には、クリスマスの季節にぴったりな『サンタがまちにやってくる』の曲に合わせた「テ形のうた」を紹介しました。この歌は、動詞をテ形に活用するルールを覚えるための歌です。最初は、授業で歌を歌わせたら恥ずかしがるかな?と思っていたのですが、学生たちは「こんなに暗記に役立つ歌があるなら、もっと早く知りたかった!」と言ってくれました。来学期は、もっと歌などを積極的に取り入れてみようと思います。/ To get everyone in the Christmas spirit, at the end of class I taught the students the ‘te-kei song’ to the tune of ‘Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town.’ This is a song to help students remember how to conjugate the ‘te-form’ verbs. At first I thought the students would be too embarrassed to sing in class, but to my surprise they started saying ‘I wish I knew this song earlier, it’s so helpful!’ So I think next semester I will introduce more songs like this one.
今学期はライデン大学の先生方にたくさん助けていただいて、無事に授業を終えることができました。楽しいことやうまくいかないこと、色々なことがありましたが、学びの多い4ヶ月間でした。来学期は、今学期よりももっと分かりやすい授業ができるよう、頑張りたいと思います。/ This semester, with a lot of help from the professors here at Leiden, classes went smoothly. I had many good and bad experiences, and so it was a very educational four months. I aim to make my classes next semester better than they were this semester.

2017年11月 活動日誌 / Activities Report, November 2017

2017年11月30日 / 30th November 2017
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

ライデンでは、毎週水曜日と土曜日に運河沿いで市場が開催されます。先日その市場で果物を買ったのですが、家に帰って一口食べて驚きました。なんと、冷凍みかんになっていました。その日の気温は日中もマイナス1度と大変寒く、売られている間に凍ってしまったのでしょう。思いがけず日本の学校給食の懐かしい味にオランダで遭遇することができ、不思議な心地がしました。/In Leiden there are markets held every Wednesday and Saturday by the canal. The other day I bought fruit there, but as I got home and took a bite, I was surprised to find that it was frozen. On that day the temperature had fallen below zero, so the fruit must have frozen over while it was at the market. It was strangely nostalgic, as the taste of frozen orange reminded me of the taste of school lunches in Japan.
この11月は、学生が日本留学の申し込みを始めたり、中には早速留学が決まった学生が出てきたりと、授業中もなんとなくみんながソワソワしていたひと月でした。日本から遠く離れたオランダで日本語を勉強している学生たちにとって、日本に行って実際に日本語が使えるチャンスができるというのは、刺激的なことだろうと思います。/November was marked by a restlessness among the students in class, as many students had begun applying to study abroad in Japan, and a number of students had already received acceptances. I can only imagine how exciting it must be for the students to be able to put their knowledge of Japanese into practice in Japan, especially considering they have been studying Japanese in such a faraway land as the Netherlands.
学生に提出してもらった作文課題を読んでいると、「今度日本へ行くときまでに、もっと日本語が上手になりたいです。」「頑張って日本語を勉強して、日本で日本人とたくさん話したいです。」など、留学に向けてワクワクしている気持ちが伝わってくるような作文がたくさんありました。/Reading the essays handed in by the students, I saw that many of their essays included such statements as, “I want to improve my Japanese by the time I leave for Japan,” “I want to study Japanese hard so that I can talk a lot with people in Japan.” I could really feel how excited they were at the prospect of studying abroad.
また、授業が終わってから熱心に質問にくる学生も少なくなく、中にはまだ授業では勉強していない文法について聞きにくる学生もいます。私も学生たちの熱意に応えられるよう、精一杯授業を頑張りたいと思います。/There are quite a few students who come to me to ask questions after class, including a number who ask about grammar points which have not yet been covered in class. Hoping to match their earnestness, I am determined to do my best in the lessons.
また、11月は授業見学の機会が何度かありました。日本語学科のほかの先生方が担当されている授業に伺ったり、私の授業にほかの先生が見にいらしてアドバイスをいただいたりしました。/In November I was afforded several opportunities to observe classes. I went to classes taught by other teachers of the Japanese faculty, and I also received advice from teachers who came to observe my lessons.
私はほかの先生が担当されている初級の文法の授業と、会話の授業にそれぞれ見学に行かせていただきました。どちらの先生も、授業中にかなり早口で日本語を話していらっしゃったのに大変驚きました。学生にとってナチュラルスピードの日本語は速すぎるのではないかと私は思っていたのですが、学生たちはしっかりとついていっていました。/Both while I was observing an elementary grammar class and while I was observing a conversation class, I was surprised to find that the teachers spoke much faster during class than I would have expected. I had thought that the speed at which Japanese people normally talk would be too fast for the students to follow, but they seemed to be keeping up without a problem.
反対に、私の授業を見に来られた先生からは、私の話すスピードが遅すぎるんじゃないかとご指摘をいただきました。私は学生たちに配慮するつもりでゆっくり話していたのですが、その先生からは実際に学生が日本に行ったときに困らないよう、教師は自然なスピードで話して耳を慣らしてあげたほうが良い、と指導していただきました。/On the other hand, the teachers who came to observe my classes pointed out that I spoke too slowly. I had done so out of consideration for my students, but was told that teachers should speak at a natural speed so that students can become accustomed to it and ultimately have fewer problems when they visit Japan.
学生たちが日本に留学して日本人と話したときに、「オランダで先生の話していた日本語と全然違ってわからない!」とならないためにも、やはり自然な日本語を教えなければ意味がないな、と反省しました。/Reflecting on this advice, I came to agree that it was important to teach natural Japanese so that the students would not find that the Japanese they had learned in the Netherlands was so different from the Japanese spoken in Japan that they couldn’t understand the latter.
今学期も残りわずかとなりました。来月はいよいよ期末試験ですが、前期最後まで頑張りたいと思います。/I benefited from a lot of advice, and there are certainly a number of areas where I could improve upon. Happily I have also received many positive comments, such as that the students in my classes had laughed a lot and seemed to have been having fun. Only a small amount of time remains for this semester; next month we will have final exams. I am determined however to work hard until the very end of the semester.

2017年10月 活動日誌 / Activities Report, October 2017

2017年10月31日 / 31st October 2017
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

10月のライデンは、雨が多くなってまいりました。日中の晴れて明るい間に突然土砂降りの雨が降ってくることもあり、一日の間に何度もコロコロと変化する空模様に大変驚きます。冷たい秋風も随分強くなってきており、日本語の授業に参加している学生の中にも、体調不良での欠席がちらほら出てきました。私も体調管理に気をつけたいと思います。/October in Leiden was exceptionally rainy. Sometimes a downpour would suddenly occur in the middle of an otherwise clear day, and I was very surprised by how the weather would rapidly change multiple times in one day. The cool autumn breeze has become considerably stronger, and there are students in the Japanese classes who miss class every now and then due to their health. I am trying to take care of myself so the same thing doesn’t happen to me.
会話のクラスでは、授業の最初に余談として教科書には載っていない日本語の話をするようにしています。今月のある授業では、冬が近づいてきたこともあり、「手洗いうがい」の話をしました。学生たちにとって、このような日本の生活習慣に密着した言葉を知る機会は少ないため、皆熱心に聞いてノートをとったり質問をしたりしてくれました。/At the start of each conversation class, I am trying to teach some Japanese that doesn’t appear in the textbooks. In one class this month, as winter is drawing near, I taught students about ‘washing hands and gargling.’ For the students, there are not many chances to learn language related so closely to Japanese customs, so the students listened, took notes, and asked questions very intently.
また会話の授業では、毎回何名かの学生に1分間のスピーチをしてもらっています。スピーチの内容はオランダの地理についてだったり、オランダ人の生活習慣についてだったりと様々ですが、こういったオランダ文化の話を聞くのは私にとっても新鮮で、非常に興味深く感じます。授業中は私が日本語を教えるだけでなく、学生たちもこのように様々なことを私に教えてくれるので、とても勉強になります。/Also in conversation class, I get a few students each time to give a one minute speech. The speeches are usually about the geography and customs of the Netherlands, and this kind of information is all new to me, so I am very interested in what they have to say. The classes are very helpful, as they are not just about me teaching them, but also about them teaching me.
10月23日には、ライデン大学アーセナール棟の本オフィス前にて、本拠点の看板上掲式を行いました。ライデン大学からは、日本学科学科長のイフォ・スミッツ先生、大学院アジア研究科研究科長で、本学大学院元特別招へい教授のイーサン・マーク先生、そして日本研究科語学部門主任の吉岡慶子先生にご出席いただきました。本学からは、特命事項担当室(国際担当)の萩尾生先生、アジア・アフリカ言語文化研究所の近藤信彰先生をはじめ、多くの教職員、学生、また本学からライデン大学へ留学している学生が参加いたしました。/On the 23rd of October, in front of the Global Japan Office in Leiden University’s Arsenaal building, we held a ceremony for putting up the office sign. From Leiden University, the ceremony was attended by head of the Japanese department, Professor Ivo Smits, head of the Asian Studies (research) Master’s Program and former visiting professor at TUFS, Professor Ethan Mark, and head of the linguistic division of the Japanese Studies Master’s Program, Professor Keiko Yoshioka. From TUFS, many teachers, students, and students on exchange at Leiden University attended, including Professor Sho Hagio from the President’s Task Force (International Management Office), and Professor Nobuaki Kondo from the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa.
式ではライデン大学のイフォ・スミッツ先生と本学の萩尾生先生よりご挨拶いただきました。両先生のスピーチに、「看板の中身を充実させていきましょう。」という言葉がありました。ときどき私たちは物をつくると、それができた途端に何かが達成できたかのように安心してしまいますが、物ができたところからが本当のスタートなのだ、というメッセージです。この言葉をしっかりと受け止め、この度この看板が設置されたことを機として、ますます活発に、より積極的に両学の交流を深めていきたいと思います。/At the ceremony, speeches were given by both Leiden University’s Professor Ivo Smits, and TUFS’ Professor Sho Hagio. Both of their speeches contained the line ‘let’s make the contents of this sign a reality.’ This message means that, sometimes when we make things, we immediately relax when finished as if we have accomplished something, but in reality this is usually only the beginning of what was started. Taking these words to heart, I aim to use the establishment of the GJO as a chance to work more proactively and directly in developing relations between our two universities.

2017年9月 活動日誌 / Activities Report, September 2017

2017年9月30日 / 30th September 2017
GJOコーディネーター / GJO Coordinator
大山 祐李 / Yuri Oyama

9月、いよいよライデン大学の新学期が始まりました。オランダの秋は雨ばかりだと聞いていましたが、今年は気持ちの良い天気が続いています。オランダは自転車大国として有名ですがライデン市も例外ではなく、どこを歩いていても自転車が横をビュンビュンと通りすぎていきます。大学の建物の周りにも、たくさんの自転車が停めてあります。/In September, the new semester finally began here at Leiden University. I heard that autumn in the Netherlands is dominated by rain, but this year the good weather keeps continuing. The Netherlands is famous for being a bicycle country, and Leiden is no exception to this, with bicycles zooming past you wherever you walk. Even at the university there are many bicycles parked around the campus buildings.
また、今年は「ライデンアジアイヤー」とのことで、ライデン市の様々な場所でアジアに関するイベントや展示が催されているようです。中央駅の近くにある国立民族学博物館では「COOL JAPAN」と題した特別展が行われており、アニメから浮世絵まで、幅広く日本の文化が紹介されています。(図1)/Also, since this year is ‘Leiden Asia Year,’ there are many asia-related events and exhibitions being held around Leiden. At the National Museum of Ethnology near Leiden Centraal, a special exhibition titled ‘COOL JAPAN’ is being held, through which a wide range of Japanese culture, from ukiyo-e to anime, is being introduced. (Picture 1)

図 1 国立民族学博物館入口にある「COOL JAPAN」展ポスター/Picture 1   The ‘COOL JAPAN’ Exhibition Poster at the Entrance of the National Museum of Ethnology.

今月は、新学期が始まる前にまずライデン大学に留学している日本人留学生の皆さんでランチミーティングを開き、顔合わせと交流を行いました。本学からの学部留学生も含めて全員で12人が参加し、お互いに自己紹介をして、生活情報を交換し合ったり、今後の学校行事の予定などについて情報共有を行ったりと、良い交流の場となりました。/This month, before the start of the new semester, we held a lunch meeting with the Japanese exchange students on exchange at Leiden University. Including undergraduate students from TUFS, 12 students attended and, after introducing themselves, exchanged information on daily life and events at Leiden University, making the meeting a successful one.
また、今月から日本語の授業も始まりました。私は初級の文法の授業と会話の授業を担当させていただいています。どのクラスの学生も皆大変意欲的で、授業中は様々な質問が飛び出します。中には授業内容に関連して「こんなことを日本語で言いたい場合はどう言えばいいか」と、まだ学習していない文法を使った表現について質問されることも多々あり、学生たちの積極的に学習に取り組む姿勢に、こちらも大いに刺激を受けるばかりです。/In addition, from this month onwards, Japanese classes begin. I will be in charge of a beginner-level grammar class and a conversation class. Regardless of the class, all of the students are extremely ambitious, and ask various questions during class. I am often asked about phrases using grammatical structures students have not yet learnt, or simply ‘how do you say this in Japanese?’ It makes me very excited to see how the students are taking a proactive approach to their learning.
まだ始まったばかりですが、学生たちの熱心さに応えられるよう、これから頑張って参りたいと思います。よろしくお願い致します。/The semester has only just begun, but I aim to work hard to respond to the enthusiasm of my students.