Konnichiwa (“Hello” in Japanese) from the bloggers on the Kakehashi Project in Japan! We’re so excited to be able to recount our journey across Japan on the Fisher platform. This will be our introductory blog post, offering some background information on the trip and a hint at what is to come.
In the fall of 2017, the Office of Global Business (OGB) sent out an email to Fisher students inviting them to apply for the Kakehashi project. There wasn’t a lot of details on what it entailed, but the teaser looked very interesting, and the bottom line was that the government of Japan would be sponsoring a trip for a group of students to visit Japan over spring break to learn about the culture, economy, and history of Japan. After a thorough application and interview process,the participants were selected; 23 students and two Resident Directors (Dr. Andrea Prud’homme and Lorraine Pennyman) would be traveling. The OGB program coordinator, Kozue Isozaki, presented two orientation sessions to the group, preparing us on the societal norms of Japan and general lessons for travel; the program even arranged a lunch for us at Akai Hana in Columbus to try out Japanese cuisine and practice our chopstick skills. Since the group is a mixture of sophomores, juniors, and seniors, these orientation sessions were a good way for us to get to know each other. In terms of travel logistics, Kozue recommended that we not check bags for the flight, and instead use smaller bags as carry-ons, since we would be moving with our luggage for a good deal of the trip. Thus, we had a lot of fun practicing packing our suits and dress shirts without wrinkling them.
On the day of our departure, we met at the Columbus airport at 5:45 a.m. U.S. eastern time for a connecting flight to Dallas. After a short layover in Dallas, we boarded our thirteen-hour flight to Tokyo.
The plane was either a 777 or 787, but the takeaway is that we were packed into the plane with an ample supply of movies to watch during the flight. Some of the blog team members were seated together on the flight, which helped pass the time. We arrived in Tokyo at about 5:00 p.m. Japanese time, which is 4:00 a.m. U.S. eastern. After going through customs, we were met by a representative from the Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) named Miho, who took us to our bus. JICE was the organization that prepared for the in-country logistics of the program. The transition over into the new culture hit us pretty quickly; as we got off the plane and went further through the airport, the signs and conversations around us started to shift from English to Japanese, and once we cleared customs, we were completely thrown into a new land with no knowledge of the language beyond konnichiwa.
The ride to our hotel took about 90 minutes, and we arrived at about 8:00 pm Japanese time, so we had effectively been awake for roughly 26 hours by this point. Upon arrival, JICE representatives gave us detailed itineraries for the trip as well as dinner, a bento box that heated up after a string was pulled out of the side.
Despite our excitation about arriving in Japan, we were all very worn out, so we went to bed immediately, thus ending our long day of travel.
Read the next post! Kakehashi Project 2: The Undergrads and The PhDs