Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Greetings from Nagoya, Japan!



Hello! I'm Irene, a rising senior at the Elliott School pursuing a degree in International Affairs with a double-minor in Peace Studies and Japanese. Thanks to the Sigur Center's Summer Language Grant, I'm currently participating in an intensive Japanese language program at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan and am thoroughly enjoying every minute!

Although the classes go at a much faster pace than I'm used to, studying the language while actually in the country is much more enriching in my opinion because learning isn't confined to the classroom.  I've found that my conversational Japanese has improved immensely as I've caught myself thinking in Japanese rather than thinking in English and then struggling to verbalize a coherent translation.

Downtown Nagoya

Once of the reasons I chose to pursue a language program in Nagoya rather than Tokyo is because I wanted to place myself in a strictly Japanese-speaking environment. Tokyo, being the nation's capital city and most popular tourist destination, has plenty of bilingual Japanese citizens and English-speaking tourists. Alternatively, Nagoya is a mid-sized city with more opportunities to practice my language skills by virtue of fewer English-speakers. There's a lot to learn just from everyday interactions.

Although smaller than Tokyo, Nagoya has its own tourist attractions, too. One of its famous spots is "Osu", its shopping district. Among the various shops and brand name stores are also small shrines and places of worship. I found this mix of tradition and modernity particularly interesting and think it quite unique to Japan. Even more, a couple of weeks ago was Nagoya's own Atsuta Festival (熱田祭り). Each entrance to the Atsuta Jingu Shrine was marked by a giant float containing lanterns. Inside, the walkways were lined with street vendors making popular Japanese dishes to the tune of traditional Japanese music. Live performances varied from dancing and drumming to archery. The night ended on a bang with a spectacular fireworks display. 

In a couple weeks, I plan to go visit Kyoto, the historical capital of Japan. Can't wait to see what's in store and can't wait to share it with you guys!

Until then!

(Above) Osu Shopping District

(Above) Atsuta Festival

Irene Mutwiri
George Washington University - Elliott School of International Affairs
B.A. International Affairs
Sigur Center 2017 Asian Language Fellow
Nanzan University - Summer Japanese Program, Japan

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