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Student News: Japan Track
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- Makoto Seto (Cheng Chen), exchange student from Keio University, Japan, Sept 2015 ~ June 2016
An exchange student from Keio University, I launched myself into Dartmouth’s challenging, fast-paced culture last fall. From the moment I got off the Dartmouth Coach at Hanover, I have taken advantage of the countless opportunities offered here at the beautiful “Big Green.” The most memorable experiences range from performing lab experiments in Wilder and group project with classmates at Thayer, sharing intercultural conversations with my floor-mates at Cutter-Shabazz (the African & African-American LLC), skiing at Dartmouth’s beautiful ski-way, kayaking on the river as well as taking a 1500 mile road trip during spring break. At first, I worried if I would be able to make friends and adapt to Dartmouth’s culture; however, it turned out my anxiety was unnecessary because the community here is open and inclusive. Everyone I reached out to was willing to be part of my life. I am grateful to all the professors who have guided my academic growth, and to the lifelong friends that I will surely keep in touch with. Dartmouth has been an incredible experience of learning . . . and an utterly enjoyable one, too.
- Yuriko Mizogami (exchange student from Waseda University, Japan), Sept 2015 ~ June 2016
My yearlong exchange program at Dartmouth was definitely the best thing that has happened in my life. It still feels like yesterday that I went on the DOC trip right after I arrived in Hanover. When I woke up in the middle of night due to jet lag, I was on top of a mountain! After spending two terms at Dartmouth, I received a letter that I wrote to myself during that DOC trip. In the letter I wrote, "I guess now you are feeling like one year is not enough, but I hope you enjoyed every single moment you spend at Dartmouth." I can clearly say that the answer for this question is a big yes. Academics at Dartmouth were definitely challenging for me, but it was worthwhile struggling. Even my gloomy days on the first floor of Berry Library, studying for finals until 2am is a good memory now. I would like to thank all the wonderful people I met at Dartmouth for letting me have a place that I can call home.
- “Inter-generational” Japan Affinity House Dinner, 23 May 2016
On this Monday night the current residents of the house invited residents past and future for a home-cooked meal. The idea was for students of Japan and Japanese to meet those from other “generations” and share stories and ideas. It was also a way to introduce the current community and space to students who will live in the house in the coming fall. The menu included: Japanese style hamburger, spinach boiled with bonito flakes and soy sauce, egg plant, and . . . rice! Many thanks to the organizers and chefs: Jennifer, Emily, and Ashley. It was great fun.
- Mari Mizutani (exchange student from Waseda University, Japan), Sept 2015 ~ June 2016
I came to Dartmouth expecting to have new experiences, and when I look back at my diary I can confirm that the ten months I spent here have been a very special time. I got to do so many things that I never dreamed of back in Japan. I went on a hike for five days without a shower! I went ice climbing for the first time in my life. I took outdoor skating classes on the frozen pond. I learned how to ski. Still, the most special memories are the day-to-day ones of time spent with friends. My diary is filled with entries about chats with my friends during a meal, late nights trying to finish our never-ending assignments, and walks we took together as study breaks. I take them for granted, but these experiences with my friends are what made my experience at Dartmouth so special. I am grateful to my friends who made my time—yes, even those nights of struggling to finish my assignments—so fun and rewarding. I will remember it for the rest of my life.
- Alyssa Mahatme (Dartmouth ’17; Majoring in Sociology), Spring 2016
Hello from Chiba, Japan! I cannot believe that I have been in Japan for almost two months. Between cooking dinner every night with my dorm mates, struggling to memorize kanji with my peers in KAEDE lounge, learning how to play volleyball with the club members, and exploring various cultural and historical sites all over Japan, my time here has been a whirlwind of incredible experiences. Kanda University of International Studies is a special place to study Japanese because of the vast amount of cultural interaction that takes place at the school on a daily basis. I’ve made friends with students from Taiwan, New Zealand, Indonesia, Spain, Thailand, and of course Japan, and thus have had many opportunities to learn about their home cultures. Despite the fact that our native languages are different, we have bonded not only over our interest in Japan and Japanese, but also over our desire to learn more about one another’s worlds. As a sociology major with a keen interest in Japanese language and culture, every day presents an exciting opportunity to learn about societies very different from ours in America, and I could not be more grateful to be here. (Photo: Alyssa at Himeji Castle.)
- Japan Affinity House Dinner “Yaki-Yaki,” 15 May 2016
When midterms come crashing down all around you, and when the spring just can’t seem to get a foothold in the Upper Valley, there is nothing to do but gather with good-hearted, like-minded folks and enjoy good food and conversation (preferably in Japanese). The Dartmouth Japan Society and the Japan Affinity House gathered on this Sunday evening to make and eat yakisoba (fried noodles) and tai-yaki (fish-shaped crusts with custard or bean-paste filling). The ten or so people gathered cooked, washed, ate, and listened to an eccentric selection of Japanese pop music from the 1970s. It was an utterly delightful couple of hours. Thanks to the chefs and all who helped out.
- Kimberly Hassel ’16, Senior Honors Thesis Presentation, 13 May 2015
Kimberly has combined her major in Japanese with studies in Anthropology, and she made good use of both disciplines for her thesis. In her research Kimberly analyzes the various symbolic functions of the Japanese schoolgirl uniform. She spent a good deal of time in Japan doing her fieldwork, which included visits to the largest uniform manufacturer, shopping venues selling faux school uniforms, and even a “Return to High School” party at which college students donned their old uniforms for some nostalgia-infused fun. The thesis parses the uniform for its qualities as supernatural fetish, commodity fetish, and sexual fetish, and Kimberly brings the academic discourse on this piece of clothing to a far more nuanced level of analysis. Her advisor is Jim Dorsey.
- Tangent (Ting Cheung) Cheng ’16, Senior Honors Thesis Presentation, 13 May 2015
On this Friday afternoon Tangent joined other soon-to-graduate seniors in presenting his research to a roomful of faculty and students. Tangent’s thesis, titled “Light in the Land of the Rising Sun: The Birth of the Light Novel Genre,” explores the genesis of a new literary genre. Working with the ideas explored by Ian Watt on the emergence of the traditional novel in the West and considering, too, the scholarship of Maeda Ai and Peter Kornicki on the Japanese version of that piece of global literary history, Tangent teases out the socio-economic, cultural, and technological roots of the contemporary “light novel,” making a very compelling case for its structure (episodic non-metanarrative) and characters (kyara as opposed to three-dimensional characters) being rooted in computer game and otaku culture. His advisor is Jim Dorsey.
- Film & Food with Faculty (サン•エフ): Prof. Hori and The Great Happiness Space, 13 May 2016
Once again the Japan Living Learning Center and the Dartmouth Japan Club teamed up for this event, which was held in the large lounge of the Byrne II section of McLaughlin Hall. While enjoying curry rice (though of the Indian variety) students and faculty watched the 2006 film titled The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief, a documentary exploring the goings-on at a “host club.” Prof. Hori chose and introduced the film, providing some background on these sorts of establishments and encouraging those gathered to think open-mindedly about the issues faced by the hosts and their customers. The event was very well attended; we thank Sam Heath and Tangent Cheng for their hard work in bringing it about.
- Alex Smith ’93, Lecture titled “Game Localization: Leveraging Culture to Bring Japanese Entertainment to the West,” 12 April 2016
Alex, who resides in Kamakura, Japan, swung by the College for a lecture during his visit to the U.S. Cofounder of publisher Bento Books and the founder of the translation agency Kajiya Productions, Alex has worked as a game developer for Square-Enix’s Tokyo offices. He writes and has translated extensively for the gaming industry, including the Final Fantasy series. He also translates novels, including those by bestselling authors Keigo Higashino and Miyuki Miyabe. His most recent release, “A Midsummer's Equation,” by Keigo Higashino, is his 29th translated novel in publication. Alex drew a crowd of about fifty for this lecture, which outlined some amazingly creative solutions for seemingly insurmountable challenges in translation.
- Kevin Ryu ’18 (Japanese modified with Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies), Taisho University, Winter 2016
This winter, I was fortunate enough to be the first Dartmouth student to travel to Japan on a Goldstein Internship. I spent my off-term at Taisho University in Tokyo and interned for Professor Ito, an expert in culture and gender. My work included giving presentations (In Japanese) to Professor Ito’s students on topics concerning race and gender. I also did translation work, taught English, and maintained a blog on the university website about my experiences in Japan and thoughts on various topics. Both academically and personally, Professor Ito has been an invaluable resource to turn towards. Thanks to her, I was able to meet many extraordinary gender scholars. Also, knowing that this was my first solo trip to the country, she went above and beyond to make me feel welcomed. Overall, I’d like to thank everyone I have met for giving me many precious memories to take back home with me. Towards the end of my internship, I began to conduct a bit of my own research: Japanese last names. With the Japanese Supreme Court recently ruling that married couples must share a last name, I thought it would be interesting to study how/why couples decide whose last name to use.
(Photo: Kevin on the right. He is receiving a Japanese lesson from Togawa-sensei, a professor at Taisho University and a radio announcer)
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