This semester for my CIP I participated in Doshisha’s Historical Sightseeing Circle. In this circle we learn about Kyoto’s many historical site and then visit in person as a group. Typically, after the planned visit to a historical site, everyone will go out to eat together. Also, because Kyoto is filled with sightseeing spots, we will often stop by shines and temples on our way to and from our main destination. Overall, this circle is a good opportunity to get to know a little more about Kyoto.
Besides the learning experience, I also feel that this circle taught me more about group dynamics in Japan. The biggest thing I realized was how the circle was divided by gender and age. In this particular circle, most of the first years were girls, so it was difficult to tell which factor was stronger; however it seemed like within the circle students tended to speak more with those who were the same age and gender. I wasn’t too surprised at this, because I’ve learned that age is important in Japanese society, but in comparison to America, where students normally group around major or common interests, I found it interesting. I myself, didn’t feel like a part of any of the gender or age groups, and normally switched around between them. As in a lot of cases, being a foreigner trumps other social classifications. However, I never really made an effort to stay with the others in my age group or gender, so things might have been different if I had.
The Historical Sightseeing Circle was a good experience, and I recommend it a CIP for those interested in Kyoto’s history. My advice for CIPs as a whole is to find something you enjoy doing!