Japan Trip

As many of you may know, the Morningside Agriculture Department, Morningside College Choir, and alumni and friends of the college ventured to Japan for an eleven day trip from May 17-27, 2018. For many students, it was their first time outside of the United States making the experience both memorable and exciting. There were — students, –alumni and friends, and — staff and faculty that went on the trip.

While we were there we visited five different cities including Osaka, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Yamanashi, and Tokyo. Our trip began when we left from Sioux City at 2:30 a.m. Thursday May 17, 2018. We flew out of Omaha, to Denver, then to Los Angeles and finally ended up in Osaka after an 11 hour plane ride.

While we were in Osaka, we visited Kansai Gaidai University where the choir was able to perform and students from Morningside College and Kansai Gaidai University were able to mingle together. For the agriculture students, a visit to an organic farm just outside of Osaka was held. We learned about the farmer’s operation and the importance of producing organic products in his eyes. Everything that he grows and produces he sells through his restaurant on site which draws a large crowd everyday.

While in Hiroshima, we visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum. We got the opportunity to visit the monuments, walk through the museum and visit with Koko LAST NAME?, an atomic bomb survivor , who was eight months old when the bomb hit Hiroshima. We were all moved and touched by her story of perseverance and the power of forgiveness.

Our next stop was Kyoto. We visit numerous temples, a castle and tried lots of tasty food! The castle we visited was Nijo Castle. This particular castle was built in 1603 and constructed as a demonstration of the shogun’s power and prestige to signal the falling of the emperor. In 1994, it was designated as a UNESCO World Hertitage Site. We were able to tour the inside of the castle and admired the artwork that covers the walls and ceilings and experienced walking on the nightingale wood floors which made chirping noises when walked upon.

The Golden Pavilion Temple was another stop made in Kyoto. This temple and its location are known for their beauty. It was built in 1397 to serve as a retirement home for the shogun and was later converted into a Zen temple. It is three stories tall with the top two stories being covered in gold.

In-between Kyoto and Yamanashi, we stopped at St. Stephen’s School which is a private Catholic school originally made for students with disabilities and now accepts all students. This was a memorable and special stop for everyone. The choir performed, then the students of St. Stephen’s sang a song, and finally the Morningside Choir and students of St. Stephen’s sang Country Roads by John Denver together. It was very moving.

After the concert, Morningside students, staff and alumni got split into groups. We all ate lunch with the St. Stephen’s students in our group and then got to participate in an activity depending on what our group was. Some got to go down to the beach and collect sea glass, others learned how to do origami, and the final group learned Japanese calligraphy all while interacting with St. Stephen’s students.

Our time in Yamanashi was spent visiting the Mayor of Yamanashi Haruo Takagi, going to a strawberry farm, visiting Yamanashi University, touring an ice cream factory, and meeting the Lt. Governor of Yamanashi. At the strawberry farm we visited, they grew six different varieties of strawberries and used crushed coconut imported from Sri Lanka for their soil. The berries were delicious!

Our time spent at Yamanashi University was eye-opening and fun. Choir students were able to have a music based workshop while non-choir students learned and met with students on agriculture topics. We were able to discuss some differences between the agriculture in Iowa compared to Yamanashi and learned that organic production agriculture means a lot to them. Additionally, we learned about how important being eco-friendly is to them. For example, to keep cooling costs down in the hot summer months, professors at Yamanashi University were growing grape vines up along the side of the building. The wanted to see which of the six grape varieties produced the biggest leaves, grew the tallest and provided the most shade for them.

The ice cream factory tour was neat as well. We got to see the production line and taste test two of their ice cream treats which were delicious! Ice cream is a popular treat in Japan and can most commonly be bought in convenience stores and vending machines. The company we visited, Fuji Foods, even sold actual prepackaged ice cream cones, to convenience stores such as Family Mart.

The final stop was Tokyo. While in Tokyo, the agriculture students visited Tyson Headquarters and the U.S. Meat Export Federation, and everyone visited the Tsukiji Fish Market and the Meiji Shinto Shrine. At Tyson and the U.S. Meat Export Federation, agriculture students learned the importance of the United States and Japan’s relationship while also learning how American beef and pork is marketed to the Japanese. To help convey this picture better, students toured a grocery store where they saw displays for American beef and learned how the cartoon character Gochipo markets American pork.

The Tsukiji Fish Market was another popular stop with students. It is the largest wholsale fish and seafood market in the world and handles over 2,000 tons of marine products on a daily basis. It consists of both an inner and outer market. The inner market is where most of the wholesale business and the famous tuna auction takes place. The outer market consists of retail shops and stores where people are able to sample products and purchase them for themselves.

In addition to ample free time to explore the city, students made a stop to ┬áthe Meiji Shinto Shrine, one of Japan’s most popular shrines. It was dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken in 1920 but later destroyed in World War II. After being destroyed, it was rebuilt and continues to undergo improvements. During the year, traditional Shinto weddings take place at this shrine and we got the opportunity to witness one taking place while we were there.

All in all, students, staff, and alumni and friends of Morningside enjoyed the trip to Japan. From learning about the food and agriculture, and tasting plenty of new treats, to enjoying the choir perform at various venues, and visiting popular tourist attractions, everyone was able to learn and gain something from their experience.


Published in: on June 14, 2018 at 8:44 PM Comments (0)

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