In early August I accompanied two year 12 students, Daffa and Mint, to Tohoku University in Sendai for their Future Global Leaders summer school. While there, we experienced the famous Japanese hospitality as we visited the University campus, facilities and student accommodation, and attended lectures and presentations about the Future Global Leaders science and engineering courses.
Sendai City, situated in central Miyagi Prefecture, is the largest city in the Tohoku region. Sendai is known as the “City of Trees.” The main avenues, Aoba-dori and Jozenji-dori, are lined with rows of beautiful zelkova trees. Trees can even be found in the covered shopping area, Ichibancho Arcade. The impressive university campus is equally green, and is laid out on the hillside above the town.
For me, the highlight of the trip had to be our visit to a Japanese Buddhist temple and gardens. After an enthralling Buddhist prayer ceremony, we entered the main garden where stepping stone pathways and bridges circle central ponds filled with colourful Japanese Koi carp. Partially obscured in the distance is a three storied pagoda. A tea house, Buddhist cemetery, and tombs of relatives of the Date clan are also at the temple. We enjoyed a stroll through the gardens, stopping for plenty of photographs.
Something else which made the trip particularly memorable was the overwhelming noise of cicada insects everywhere. Tanna japonensis, also called the evening cicada is a species of cicada, a family of insects distributed throughout East Asia, and is most common in Japan. Its shrill call can be heard most often in the morning and evening. The incredible volume and range of sound emanating from these insects has to be heard to be believed.
We were fortunate to be present for the Tanabata Festival, held every summer in Sendai. This Buddhist festival is one of the three greatest festivals in the Tohoku region, attracting crowds of over 2 million every year. Gorgeous decorations made with bamboo and Japanese paper, are put up in the shopping arcades in front of Sendai Station and in the shopping malls.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our all-too-brief visit to Japan. The Future Global Leaders summer school is an annual event, so hopefully I will go back next year with more Regent’s students.
By Mr. Shane Anderson, Key Stage 3 Teacher