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Japanese-Language Program for Specialists in Cultural and Academic Fields 6-month course

Japanese-Language Program for Specialists in Cultural and Academic Fields (6-month course)

Period: October 5th 2016- April 5th 2017

'Academic community' at the Kansai Kokusai Center

Robert HornUK

 Sadly it will soon be time for us to leave the Kansai Kokusai Center, and as I write this I am reminded of a great many happy memories of our time here over the past few months. Perhaps the biggest emotion is one ca1.jpgof gratitude to the patient and kind teachers, librarians and staff here.
 I know that I am not alone in having thoroughly enjoyed this experience because whenever I meet a researcher from my course in the library or in the cafeteria, they would remark how sad they are to leave, and how they wish they could study here for longer.
 This course does not just aim to teach Japanese, it specifically aims to teach you Japanese language and skills that are relevant and suitable for your research, and as a researcher in Japan. For example, there are opportunities to present your research in Japanese as well as writing a research proposal in Japanese. The teachers were particularly patient and kind in explaining to us our mistakes in our written compositions. Of course there are also small-group courses that focus on grammar and kanji as well as conversational language skills. In addition to language learning, there is also time set-aside for you to do your own research and to gather whatever research materials you need in two weeklong research periods.
 I brought with me a lot of books that were useful for my research from my country to Japan. However, one especially good facility that the Kansai Kokusai Center has is its library. It is a great resource for Japanese ca2.jpglanguage study with many books in many different languages. In addition to this the library is a very comfortable place to study - there are many dissertations and books that are likely to be relevant to your research here. If there is a book that is not stocked here, the helpful and friendly librarians are able to request it from any university library in Japan, at no cost to you, through the inter-library loan service.
 Obviously the main purpose to come to the Kansai Kokusai Center is to pursue your research and to improve your Japanese level. I can confidently say that the environment here is very conducive to those purposes. However, as the Kansai Kokusai Center has many courses and groups of people from around the world constantly coming and going, the atmosphere is generally very good and there are lots of interesting people to meet.
 Thanks to the Kansai Kokusai Center course and the diligent and kind teachers and library staff, we were able to improve our Japanese language level and pursue our research in a positive and supportive environment. Because we were living and studying with other researchers it really felt like there was and 'academic community' here at the Kansai Kokusai Center. As well as developing friendships with other researchers and course participants, we were able to learn from their research and deepen our knowledge and further our interest in Japan and Japanese culture. This really was a rich and valuable experience.

'Specialized Reading' class...

LEE, Hee Won (Korea)

 Those who participate in this program will basically have their research subjects deeply connected to Japan and the Japanese language. I participated in this program with the aim of reading the works of "Kim ca3.pngSa-ryang", who was a Chosun-born literary man working in Japan during the period of Japanese imperialism. Since I have never studied Japanese properly before this program, I was worried about whether my goal could be implemented properly or not. I was also worried that it would be possible to read Japanese texts from the 1930s~1940s, not modern Japanese.
 However, reading the original Japanese language works of Kim Sa-ryang was the thing I wanted to do the most during my stay here. For this reason, I started reading Kim's works with my teacher after around a month spent here. The first piece I have read was Kim's representative work titled "光の中に". I did not have abundant knowledge of Japanese Kanji, and I was not used to the grammar, so I had to carry out the translation by looking up the dictionary continuously to find the meaning of each letter on a line of the work. It took a lot of time, and there were many difficulties in understanding the contents. Nonetheless, now I can read "光の中に", and I was also able to read "天馬", which is actually my favorite work of his.
 Now in Korea, most of the major works of Kim have been translated and distributed. Nevertheless, it is inevitable that researchers may not be satisfied with reading only the translation and to proceed with their research. As I expected, when I read the original, I could see the contextual meaning of the literary works that only the original can convey, and the points of artistic imagination that the artist wanted to reveal. In particular, the process of reading the work by grasping the meaning of every character, I feel like that I am myself the writer, and nuances of the meaning are more clear. It was a very interesting and precious experience.ca4.jpg
 I am still thinking that this might not have been possible if I had to do this alone. Nonetheless, this was made possible thanks to that I was able to read together with the 'specialized reading' teacher once a week. My teacher read the works with me according to my reading speed, helped me understand the social atmosphere and grammatical characteristics which the work based on. This led me to continue this work to the very end.
 I was able to learn many things that helped me to understand Japan, and study Japanese during this training. But in the end, I cannot hesitate to say that the most precious and meaningful time was this 'specialized reading' class. I hope that the researchers who participate in this program will add depth of research through this experience.
 Thank you.

Great training for researchers in the field of comparative studies

Ping-Heng Chen (Taiwan/Germany)

  "It is a pity that this year the sakura in Osaka is late," a friend wrote me in an email. One week before traveling back to Germany, I still feel a bit unreal that the six months program is coming to a close.ca6.jpg
 I am a cultural anthropologist and my interests are in visual studies and the Latin American area. Before I joined this program, I had visited Japan several times to collect material for my dissertation on Yasu Kohei (Juan José de Jesús Yas), a photographer and pioneer of Japanese migration to Central America in the 19th century. At the beginning of my doctoral research project, I planned to work mainly with Spanish language material. However, as I realized that there are many exhibitions and publications on Yasu in Japan, the comprehension of Japanese texts became important to my research.
 ca5.jpgDuring this program, the teachers offered an array of classes that were tailored to our language ability. I obtained very useful training in grammar, reading, writing, and conversation, all of which was particularly effective due to the small class sizes. In addition, we were given classes geared toward the advancement of our research, such as proposal and report writing, oral presentation, etc. What I have enjoyed most was the time we spent with tutors at the library to read and discuss our research material (research papers, essays, and archival documents). In these occasions, I have gained many insights and inspirations.
 When I went back to Fujisawa (photo), Yasu's hometown in Iwate, this February, I enjoyed so much my new ability to just talk with people and listen to their ideas on Yasu's life. All of this has greatly enriched my research.
 The sakura is not yet blooming here. However, I have so many nice images of my stay at the Center with me. There are the window view of the Osaka bay, the seagulls, the cats around the Center, calligraphy class, the temples in the mountains, library, the pastry we shared at the weekly Wednesday meetings, and senseis' talk and jokes. I will surely look back to my time in Osaka with many fond memories.

My experience searching research sources

Yang Qin (China/Australia)

 During the whole span of the six-month stay, I really enjoyed utilizing the databases and digital archives as well as borrowing sources and references through the Inter Library Loan system (a.k.a. ILL, the person who coined this name must have spades of humor!) for my research in the field of Chinese classical studies.
 It may sound strange, but Japan does have an extraordinary tradition of Chinese classical studies and preserve enormous amount of historical sources, including both classical texts and commentaries written in kanji characters by Japanese scholars. They were categorized as kanseki 漢籍 and had been preserved in various libraries, public or private, in universities or in temples.
 Well supported by the center (funding, visitscheduling and search tips), I travelled several times to Kyoto ca7.jpgand Tokyo,spoiling myself reading rare sources in some of the most prestigious bunko 文庫 libraries and university libraries. Each varies as regard to their localities, interior styles, accessibility, and copy services(of course prices, too), but for me one thing they share in common is the high level of user friendliness, thus, user satisfaction. For example, established by members from the Iwasaki family, the Seikado Bunko Library (photo) is rightfully proud of its location on top of a hill (it is like a pilgrimage to a sacred place) in a quiet suburb of Tokyo and its Western-style building designed in the Taisho period.
 100.jpgSitting in the reading room, a guest-room-looking chamber with only a dozen seats, inhaling the familiar 'old-book smell' that emits from the deep yellow thread-bounded pages, mostly prints over two or three centuries old, what an experience it was for both my senses and my mind. Well, I can go on and on talking about my tours to these wonderful places, but I will let you find out for yourself.
 Back to the Center, librarians here were efficient 'managers of reference' who kept meticulous records of my reading log and tirelessly executed my book requests. They were like nice 'fairies' that spoiled me by fulfilling my wishes to read. It was really the first time that I felt how handy it was to read books here. I am still thrilled about my journey of discovering important research sources with all the help from this splendid training program.

Enjoy your Tajiricho!

Jo, Iksang (Korea)

 Although we came to study Japanese in this program, of course it is impossible to just study every hour for the entire 6 months. Therefore, I would like to introduce some leisure activities which can be done within a 3 km radius of the Kansai Kokusai Center.
 If you walk about 3 minutes from the center, there is a beach and a walking path. The beach is called Marble Beach (photo) and its promenade is perfect for walking or jogging. Of course, it's also enjoyable to sit down and watch the ocean and to hear the sound of the waves. You can also have a barbecue party at this beach park by borrowing a grill at reception of the Center. It is the most picturesque place closest to the center. Highly recommended! Also in the immediate vicinity, "Rinku Port North" where yachts are anchored is also a tasteful place to watch the sunset. There are many cats so if you are a cat lover, take a cat's snack on your walk and you will soon be able to make friends with the local cats! Within the center there is a small gym in which it is possible to do simple exercise, but if you want a better equipped gym I can recommend the gym affiliated to "Suehiro Park", which is about 15 minutes from the center by bicycle. I haven't been there myself, but I heard that one can do various activities such as aikido, swimming, trampolining etc. for free. Every single course participant who used it during the last 6 months recommended it.
 First of all, I will introduce the restaurants of Okonomiyaki, the true specialty of Osaka! There are two Okonomiyakiya, each with a different style, close to Yoshiminosato Station, which is about 10 minutes by bicycle. "A" and "B". The former has a homely feeling, the latter has a younger and more fashionable design, and both are very delicious. The chefs know the Japan Foundation center program, and they are experts in the local Osaka dialect. I think talking to them will also be an interesting experience. Ramen is delicious in "C" very near the Center or "D" in Hagurazaki Station.
 Perhaps a regrettable thing about life in this neighborhood is there aren't too many cafes. In fact there are few unique cafés, only the chain-store cafes. However, close to the Center there are many izakaya. What I would like to recommend the most is "E", which is about 5 minutes away from Hagurazaki Station. The atmosphere and the taste is wonderful. There are also many good izakayas around Hagurazaki station, so how about enjoying it while also helping the local economy?

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