ZiFu Xu: Volunteering At The Kyoto Manga Museum

I spent my CIP hours volunteering at the Kyoto Manga Museum, where in many ways, it feels more like a non-take-home-able library than a formal “museum.” Sure, it had a number of displays (like you see in the photo), but there were walls upon walls of manga that guests were welcomed and encouraged to take off the shelves, sit down, and read. This brought about the quiet atmosphere of this museum where instead of chatting and remarking about museum displays, I found there to be much more comfortable silence as guests immersed themselves into the worlds within manga. I spent most of my time organizing and dusting shelves because given the museum’s quiet nature, there wasn’t much of “guides” needed in the first place. I was also allowed go and clean areas (such as their “research room”) that were typically off-limits to regular guests and in those places, I’ve found many interesting books on the academic study of anime/manga that isn’t placed outside because of their non-fiction nature; those were very interesting to me. I would say that this is definitely a cool CIP to participate in if you are introverted and would prefer to be in a local, work-like environment without having to constantly interact with customers or guests. Of course, I would also recommend that you have some interest in anime/manga or else you may be quite bored when that (often) becomes the only subject in the room.

Mira Gordon: Town Revitalization in the Kyoto Countryside

For my CIP, I participated in two different groups that work on 町おこし, or town revitalization, in the countryside outside of Kyoto. One of the groups was the Nantan Regional-Revitalization Cooperative, where I shadowed their young farming representative, Yoshida-san. The other group was the Kyoto Seika University Takarasagashikai, a student circle that works revitalizing the town of Utsu, in the northern countryside of Kyoto, under the supervision of Humanities Professor Tamura sensei. As I was participating in two different groups, I alternated visiting one group per week, sometimes visiting both in the same week. Combining my CIP with my independent research on Japanese town revitalization, I used it as an opportunity to conduct ethnographic fieldwork by meeting and talking with a variety of people involved in such efforts.

Because of the multi-faceted nature of my CIP, every day was different. On the days that I participated in the Nantan Regional-Revitalization Cooperative, I would take the JR train about half an hour outside of Kyoto to Sonobe, Nantan. There, Yoshida-san would pick me up and tell me the day’s activities. Yoshida-san’s farming specialty is sweet potatoes, so one day I helped him bury last year’s leftover sweet potatoes, in order to form new sprouts for this year’s crop. He also took me to meet one of his neighbors, a farmer who has kindly welcomed Yoshida-san into the Nantan community and given him a lot of practical farming advice. One day Yoshida-san took me to an 朝市, or morning market, which functions both as a farmer’s market and community gathering space. There I had the incredible opportunity to chat with and interview several community leaders, and witness 炭焼き, traditional charcoal-making, in action. For the Seika University Takarasagashikai, I attended two club meetings, and also visited Utsu’s morning market once. One thing I really enjoyed about the Takarasagashikai was having the opportunity to interact with students my age. The club had a casual and fun atmosphere, and there was a lot of joking and chatting as we put together an informational pamphlet about their club and planned activities and games to play with the kids of Utsu at an upcoming retreat.

Overall, I was blown away by the warmth and welcome I received from everybody I met. Though neither group had ever had an exchange student participant before, both Yoshida-san and Tamura sensei worked to accommodate me and kindly found me many opportunities to talk to different people. Thus, through my CIP I had the chance to use Japanese in a variety of settings with people of all different ages, some of whom had strong regional dialects. It was incredibly special to be able to get different local people’s perspectives on the declining countryside population, and hear what they think can be done about it. Another thing I valued about my CIP was that it enabled me to get out of the city and enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful mountains and forests of the surrounding countryside. 

Even for those who aren’t researching town revitalization, I would highly recommend the Nantan Regional-Revitalization Cooperative to anybody who wants the opportunity to experience the Japanese countryside, and I would recommend the Takarasagashikai to anybody who wants to interact with a very fun group of college students. Though it was cut short, my CIP was hands down the best part of my study abroad in Kyoto.

Maya Taliaferro: Microbiology Research at Kyoto University

For my CIP I worked in a microbiology lab at Kyoto University under the supervision of Dr. Hosokawa. As a STEM major at my home institution (neuroscience to be more specific) I was really inspired to pursue this as my CIP as it aligned perfectly with my interest in scientific research. I had some previous experience working in research labs in the United States, so I was really interested to see how the Japanese lab environment compared. 

I was extremely nervous going to visit Dr. Hosokawa at first because, while I have experience in microbiology, it’s not my primary focus at school. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had a lot of experience with the methodological aspects of the work being done in her lab. With this in mind, a lot of the work I helped with in the lab was technical; I set up and helped collect data from Western Blot, gel electrophoresis, and protein transduction analyses. However, the primary focus of her work revolved around the observation of cellular organelles via confocal microscopy. This technique is something that is used quite frequently in neuroscientific research and was, therefore, something I felt extremely confident using. This experience allowed for a seamless transition from being shown how to work with the microscope, to being supervised while using the microscope to finally being able to run slides on my own while Dr. Hosokawa worked on other things. That was one of the best things about working with Dr. Hosokawa — she treated me as an assistant to her research rather than just a student and this was reflected in the type of work she trusted me to do on my own. 

Overall I learned a lot about the research process in general, about the Japanese research environment specifically, and about Japanese language and culture from Dr. Hosokawa herself. In terms of the universal research experience, I learned a great deal about the amount of time and effort that goes into getting a research manuscript published. She had been working on the research we were conducting for 2 years and still hadn’t been able to get her manuscript published, something I learned was quite normal in the world of research. In terms of the Japanese research environment specifically, it seemed to me that compared to the United States, Japanese research is far more independent.While there were other researchers in Hosokwa’s lab working on the same project they tended to work on their own and only came together to compare and assess findings. From my experience, the United States has a much more collaborative approach to research work where almost nothing is done without discussion amongst team members. I also found the gender divide in the lab to be interesting. Like in the US, it seems that research is a predominantly male dominated occupation in Japan. While Dr. Hosokawa is female, every one of her 6 research graduate students were male. In addition, all other research professors that I interacted with from other labs were also male. This, while slowly changing in the US, seems to be a trend in the STEM field across the world. Finally, in terms of Japanese language and culture I was able to learn quite a bit from Dr. Hosokawa. Since research of this nature is very hands-on, I was able to follow much of the instructions given to me in Japanese by observing while listening. At first this felt very difficult as I didn’t want to mess anything up, but over time it began to get easier as I became more familiar with the Japanese terms. I think this allowed me to pick up a lot of Japanese in a more natural way — by listening to the words and seeing in real-time what they meant. Also, since the type of tests run in microbiology often take a long time, there were many times when Dr. Hosokawa and I were left with free time together to just chat about anything. These were amazing times to learn about the Japanese perspective on many different topics as well as an opportunity to utilize Japanese I had learned in a conversational way. It was a great time to increase my cultural awareness as well as my Japanese skillset. 

My advice for future students when considering their CIP is to choose something they are really interested in and to view it as more than just a time to practice Japanese, but a chance to form close bonds with those you meet. Even in a CIP such as mine where I didn’t really interact with peers my age, I was still able to form a great bond with Dr. Hosokawa. This included exchanging cookies on Valentine’s day and even taking a trip together to a nearby shrine for the Setsubun Festival. The CIP can be an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience, but sometimes that requires you get out of your comfort zone.

Elise Cooper Nishi Honganji

When I was first deciding on my CIP (community involvement project), I originally jumped between a variety of ideas, but I mostly wanted to get involved with something related to my major, anthropology, such as potentially becoming a participant in a Japanese anthropology class. This led me down some really interesting paths and some interesting opportunities, but since the class I started to take wasn’t always in Japanese, it was decided that I couldn’t use it as my CIP. However, around the same time I was struggling to find something new to do, we happened to go to a Jodo Shinshuu (Pure Land Buddhist) temple called Nishi Honganji during a religious class, and I ended up becoming really interested in the services they held there. They had them three times a day for an hour each, so it was really easy to find time each week to go to the “dharma talks,” as they were called, which involved reading and discussing the dharma and then listening to a lecture from a priest there.

The people at the temple were always really kind to me, and I had the opportunity to really get out of the study abroad bubble and meet a great deal of different people. Particularly, talking to the Buddhist priests and getting to know them more personally was interesting because I had the stereotype that they would be very difficult to approach and highly reserved in all situations, but in actuality they often joked around and would talk freely at length about various topics. Perhaps the most surprising, indeed, was learning that not only does the Jodo Shinshuu school allows its monks to get married, but that the monks openly talk about their children and daily things like watching TV in services, which I assumed would be much more formal and ritualized than they actually were.

Indeed, in the West, particularly in terms of Christian monks, there is an expectation that if one is living at a monastery for religious purposes then they will be celibate and highly serious in their religious practices, but while it is likely that the monks at Nishi Honganji took their religious practices very seriously, celibacy in people living in temples in both Jodo Shinshuu and supposedly other sects as well was generally not practiced. One of the funniest, and most surprising experiences I had while attending the service, actually, was related to this idea because while most of the lectures and discussions had been focused around rather standard religious fare- treat others well, try to live your life as best as possible-, one of the recent lecturers repeatingly bemoaned his lack of wife as he was turning 45, something that, from my expectations of Christian monks, or even pastors, who would rarely discussed romantic relationships if they had them, I found fairly interesting, as well as funny as it was intended to be.

Therefore, though when people hear of my CIP they tend to think that it sounds daunting and that engaging with any aspect of Buddhist practices would be too difficult because of its formality and rigid practices, Nishi Honganji is not really like that at all. People there are very willing to engage with anyone who comes, and if one knows Japanese fairly well, the discussions themselves can be really interesting and funny, and can really serve to dismantle stereotypes about both Buddhism and about the monks themselves. If you have any interest in Buddhism, or even about Japanese religion in general, I would highly recommend Nishi Honganji services; I think that compared to some of the sects, Jodo Shinshuu is easier to get into without having much prior knowledge about the religion, and the people there are really nice and helpful.

Sophie Matsumoto: Bible Study

When I came to Japan, I wanted to get involved in Japanese life in a way that felt natural for me. I am involved in a Christian organization on the Cornell campus, and I was hoping to get involved in one on the Doshisha campus. I found out about KGK イエス会through a teacher and some friends, and I decided to attend their Monday afternoon Bible study. Since majority of the members are Japanese students, we read and discuss the Bible in Japanese. We have been reading through the book of Revelation each week. As one of the more complicated books in the Bible, it has been difficult to understand in a language that is not my mother tongue. However, I have been able to learn a lot from reading both the English translation and the Japanese translation. It has been a great experience for me in terms of improving my Japanese vocabulary knowledge, learning about Japanese culture, and learning more about the Bible.

When it came to the discussions, I noticed how they differed from ones I was used to in America. In America, I was accustomed to loud discussions where people are quick to speak their opinion. While it is important to express one’s opinion, I really appreciated how all of the Japanese students would take the time to try to understand everyone’s opinions before expressing their own. It is a style of discussion that I would like to take home to America with me because it makes people unafraid to share their feelings and opinions.

After living in Japan for a while, I have come to realize how Christian community looks different in Japan compared to what it looks like in America. Since Japan has such a small population of Christians, I found it to be a little more difficult to find a Christian community here. America has many places for people to find community, so people sometimes switch from group to group or place to place. In Japan, however, there are not too many places to find the community they want, but since it is difficult to find, people treasure it when they do find it. They create a small support system for the people in their community and act as an open space for anyone to join. Since everyone knows each other for the most part, they are able to get to know each other better and offer support easily. I really appreciated feeling a part of their community immediately by getting to have conversations with each person individually. The students in the Bible study have all been extremely welcoming to everyone.

It has been interesting to learn about what Christianity in Japan and America looks like from the other students’ perspectives. We have been able to discuss differences in culture and the way Christianity can be framed within them. For example, although people in Japan and America identify as Christian, values differ from person to person in both countries. Another example is the culture surrounding religion and the perception of American mega churches from Japanese people. Although many of our discussions revolved around serious topics, we have had a lot of fun just getting together and reading the Bible. Besides weekly Bible studies, they hold occasional events, such as takoyaki parties, where everyone just spends time together to get to know one another. Being a part of this group has obviously been a great way for me to learn more about Japan and the Bible, but it has also been a great way for me to make friends. It has allowed me to get more involved on the Doshisha campus and feel more at home in Japan.

Angel Yi Fei Ding : Shamisen

My first time encountering the shamisen was at a taiko performance by a student group named Yamatai on Cornell’s campus. I remember sitting in the massive concert hall and awing at the explosive, yet pure beats accompanied by two Japanese pluck instruments. During the performance, one string on one instrument snapped, but the performer remained calm and continued the notes with the remaining strings.

As music has been a part of my life in many different ways and forms over the past 15 years, I decided to keep it in my life even during my times abroad. Learning a traditional Japanese instrument became a natural option and drawing from my memory regarding that taiko performance I saw over a year ago, that accompanying instrument came to mind. I decided to learn the shamisen. With the recommendations of KCJS teachers, I, along with another KCJS student who wanted to learn the koto, contacted Iwasaki Sensei. My CIP became one of the best highlights of my time in Kyoto.

It is fair to say that Chloe and I walked into the unknown. With the help of our teacher, we called Iwasaki sensei in somewhat broken Japanese and arranged to meet that exact afternoon. I thought we were simply meeting to introduce ourselves, but we jumped into practice, and Tuesdays became our lesson time. In the first two weeks or so, Iwasaki sensei taught me shamisen basics like reading traditional Japanese music notation and learning the basic positions. Coming from over 15 years of violin practice, I was able to catch the basic, basic, fundamentals, and we moved onto pieces.

Iwasaki sensei’s classroom is conducted in a fairly unique style with students of all sorts of backgrounds. Our usual Tuesday group ranges from a 6-year-old pre-elementary girl to 60-year-old grandmas, and we always have so much fun. Since I don’t have other activities planned on Tuesdays, I tend to spend around 3 hours at the studio. We play different pieces, varying in difficulty, and I often have flashbacks of my time back in orchestra when we have multiple shakuhachis 「尺八」( bamboo flute), kotos 「琴」(Japanese harp), and shamisens 「三味線」play all together.

This classroom was also the perfect place to observe Kansai’s hospitality and customs. The students spoke with kansaiben「関西弁」 and used kansai-keigo「関西敬語」 ( which is the best invention) and interacted with each other in a fun way. Sometimes different students would bring omiyage「お土産」 or ogashi「お菓子」, and we would teatime in between the lesson and chat freely.

It has been an amazing time, and I really look forward to our Christmas performance on December 14th. I will cherish the few weeks we have left with the small studio and make the best out of it.

Charles Stater: Zazen (Second Semester)

Reality can be overwhelming. Increasingly I feel both my own life and society at large is being consumed with 用件; there always seems to be more business to attend to, more things to do. That is why I’m intensely grateful for my experience with Zazen this year. When I’m sitting with my monk, laughing about nothing in particular, my watch and phone sit and buzz in another room, disarmed. When I’m meditating, the real world can try it’s absolute hardest to ruin my peace, but my serenity is a fortress. Zazen has provided me with an escape to the society we are all bound to- and I can even practice my Japanese while I’m at it.

I learned a great many things in my time at Zazen this semester, but one stands out to me as the most salient- contradictions. How can I live a peaceful, unattached life when society rewards only the most extreme attachment? How can I live in this prison of human suffering, longing to escape to detachedness but simultaneously loathe to let go? Contradictions exist in every philosophy, to be sure, but having the chance to actually converse with a member of Rinzai Zen about contradictions within his ideology (and indeed within his own practices) has been a rare opportunity to sail beyond my mental horizons into unchartered waters. The most interesting of these contradictions is my priest’s marriage; the antithesis of Zen is to bind yourself to someone so closely. He still has yet to provide me with an answer, only telling me “it’s difficult” repeatedly and changing the subject as quickly as he can.

I feel like I’ve learned actually a great deal about general Japanese philosophy and identity from my time at Zazen, which has been incredibly interesting to someone like me with clearly a vastly different upbringing. There are so many unspoken rules, so many tiny rivulets of Buddhist influence coalescing to form the rushing stream of Japanese consciousness. Most difficult for me to understand is the emphasis on the group versus the individual- I still struggle to understand it, but my Zazen discussions have given me a special perspective on Japanese ideology and cultural history I would sorely miss had I done a different CIP.

I have learned kanji history, Buddhist history, the Buddhist perspective on the modern world, and far too much about the relative worth of escalators vs. bowls (hint; escalators are not the more useful of the two) in my Zazen CIP. I have been able to practice my Japanese and disconnect from a reality that seems only ever bent on sapping me of whatever happiness I can make for myself. I have found peace. I may not have the answers to any of life’s questions, or ever understand the willing subjugation of the self to the society, but at least I have learned there are ways to find peace still left out there.


Kevin Woolsey: Noh Translation

For my CIP this semester I translated scripts of Noh plays under the supervision of Professor Diego Pellecchia, who taught the Noh portion of the class on Japanese performing arts at KCJS this semester. His team is creating a website which will serve as a reliable source of information on traditional Japanese performing arts for both English and Japanese speaking audiences.

Noh is a form of classical theater which generally took shape in the late 14th century and flourished under patronage of the warrior class. There are more than 200 plays still performed today, with the scripts generally written from the 14th to 16th centuries. As a result, the Japanese found in the scripts is quite different from modern Japanese; in fact, even at the time of writing the style had already become a classical written form. On top of that, the language of the scripts becomes very poetic at points, using rhetoric techniques found in waka poetry as well as citing poems themselves.

Naturally, this presents many challenges when trying to translate Noh scripts into English. Perhaps the most notoriously difficult to translate poetic technique is the kakekotoba, which are basically puns. One example which can actually work in English is matsu, which can mean a “pine” tree or to “pine” for someone, as in to wait for a loved one’s return. However, such convenient cases are rare, leaving one with two choices: come up with something clever, or just give up trying to translate it.

The following is an example from the play 猩々 (Shōjō):

飲めども変はらぬ秋の夜の盃 / nome domo kawaranu aki no yo no sakazuki (Drinking will not change this autumn night’s sake cup reflects the moon’s)

影も傾く入江に枯れ立つ / kage mo katabuku irie ni kare tatsu (light setting upon the inlet he stands among the withering reeds,)

足元はよろよろと…… / ashi moto wa yoroyoro to (legs wobbling,)


The kakekotoba in the first line is within 盃 (sakazuki): as a whole it means a sake cup, but the last two syllables serve as a kakekotoba for 月 (tsuki), the moon. This allows two readings for the first line: 飲めども変はらぬ秋の夜の盃 (an autumn night’s sake cup which does not change upon drinking = the sake never runs out) and 月影も傾く入江 (moon setting above the inlet). In other words, there are effectively two sentences, with the end of the first and beginning of the second overlapping in the sound zuki. I tried to reflect this in the translation, stringing two sentences together into one around the word “cup”.

Another kakekotoba can be found in the third line, with ashi meaning both “reed plant” and “leg”. The end of the second and beginning of the third line can be read either 枯れ立つ芦 (withering standing reed plants) or 立つ足 (standing legs). I tried to reflect both meanings naturally with the phrase “he stands among the withering reeds”.

It is impossible to fully recreate the experience of reading the original through translation, but it is possible to convey some sense of the techniques present in the text beyond the surface meaning.

I am glad to have had this opportunity to not only practice my translation skills but also contribute to a project which will be a valuable resource when released.

Evan Scardino: Tenrikyō

This semester I have been conducting research on the Japanese new religious organization called Tenrikyō. In tandem with this research, as my CIP I have been attending services, meals, and monthly festivals hosted at the Heian Nishi Bunkyōkai in my neighborhood. I have been acquainted with the family that runs the church, the Ōshita family, since last year and they have been immensely helpful to me in my study of both their faith and Japanese culture as a whole.

Usually what this entails for me is watching the Ōshita family perform the service, eating a meal with them, and helping with tidying up the church room after the service, putting away chairs and offerings and such. The most helpful part in terms of my Japanese learning is without doubt the conversations shared over meals.

At the monthly festivals, the entire community of this church gathers, and I’ve had the chance to meet and talk with a large number of people, the overwhelming majority of whom are middle aged or elderly. This has provided me with a chance to observe dynamics of an older generation which I have less of a chance to interact with in my schooling. Their tendency towards self-deprecating humor is much stronger than that of the college students I have met, and an even greater tendency to discuss the weather at length at the start of any social interaction. They also speak Kyōto dialect, rarely heard in my generation.

The elderly exclusively use Kyōto dialect. Perhaps in their youth standard Japanese was not as widely taught or enforced. While the middle-aged people seem to be most comfortable speaking Kyōto dialect, they don’t lead with it. When I first came to the church, the middle-aged people would use standard Japanese, but as time went on, either they became more confident in my Japanese ability or I became a more recognized face in the community and they as well started using Kyōto dialect when speaking to me.

Kyōto dialect is somewhat distinct from the more widely known Kansai dialect. When I expressed interest in learning about Kyoto dialect, the brother of the head priest, Norio, was happy to oblige. He taught me the phrases “Samū oman na!” and “Atsū oman na!” used to express that today is particularly cold or hot, respectively.

I tried these phrases out on my college-age friends, and the ones who weren’t Kyōto natives didn’t understand at all. Even the ones who were from Kyōto, while they could understand, said they didn’t know how to speak much Kyōto dialect themselves. But at the next church meeting, I tried out my newfound words on some of the elderly people, and they seemed overjoyed at my efforts.

This story demonstrates a more unfortunate aspect of modern Japanese society: dialect is disappearing. In my Japanese class, we read several articles about the disappearance of dialect as standard Japanese becomes ever more, pun intended, standard.

I’m sure the people of the church were happy to have someone interested in this aspect of their culture, as only interest in the dialect will keep knowledge of it alive. One of the people whose words we read, an entertainer by the name of Ina Kappei, said that people who speak dialect need to be proud of it, and that pride, in the face of whatever derision they may face for speaking it, is the key to keeping it alive. Aside from the occasional joke about how hard it is to understand, the people of Heian Nishi seem to have pride in their unique way of speaking.

My experience with the people of Heian Nishi has been wonderful. I’ve been amazed time and time again by their kindness, and they have taught me so much. The opportunity I had to explore often overlooked aspects of Japanese society, such as dialect and new religions has been welcome, and the crossover with my classwork that dialect has provided has also been fascinating. I’m proud to say that with the support of this community I am “bocchi bocchi ni shiteiru” in my endeavors to understand Japanese culture and language.

Anne McKee: Doshisha Hiking Circle and Community Orchestra

My experience with the community immersion project (CIP) consisted of two elements – Doshisha hiking circle and a community orchestra. Although I was in Japan for just one semester, my experience in Japan was greatly enriched by the CIP program.

I came to Japan as both an outdoors enthusiast and dedicated violinist. Finding a way to engage my passions felt critical to me in a new environment. However, I quickly found that the CIP experience was not only a way for me to continue these activities but an invaluable opportunity to engage with Japanese culture. Truly feeling like I was a part of something while studying abroad – particularly in a country with a foreign language – was rewarding to the highest degree. Both the hiking circle and orchestra were extremely welcoming, enriching and rewarding.

Though as an exchange student joining a club seemed daunting, Doshisha Hiking Circle lovingly took me in. Although I did not get to share very much time with the group – the 1:30pm Saturday time was very inconvenient, often conflicting with my class field trips – every bit I spent was very rewarding. Typically, on a given Saturday, we would either run on the Kamo River or Kyoto Gosho, or go for a short hike around the mountains surrounding Kyoto. As an avid backpacker and member of my home school’s cross country team, these activities were a great fit, although I would have preferred if the sessions were a bit longer. More often than not, I wished that there were more hikes and less runs. However, these meetings provided a great opportunity to both practice my casual speech and learn what it is like to be a college student in Japan. It was especially interesting to bond with the girls in the circle; out of twenty or so students in the circle there were only three or four girls typically. Although my experience with Doshisha Hiking Circle was fun, my experience was limited by the inconvenient time slot.

The community orchestra was perhaps one of my favorite parts about being in Kyoto for the semester. As a longtime violinist and member of various music groups on my home college campus, the community orchestra gave me the opportunity to continue pursuing music. Rehearsals were just once every two weeks, Sunday from 1-5pm. The only complaint I would have is that I wish that rehearsals were every week! We played primarily Western classical music, such as Brahms and Mendelssohn. What struck me most about this group was the incredible friendliness that they had toward both me and the other KCJS student who was doing the program with me. The elderly ladies in the back of the violin section loved giving out chocolates during every break, I laughed and chatted with my stand partner, I played my heart out although I had to sight-read the music almost every time. Every member treated me with such kindness and respect even though I wouldn’t even be able to participate in the May concert. I would recommend this group to anyone with an interest in pursuing casual classical music in Kyoto.

Being able to take part in both of these endeavors has been very rewarding in their own ways. This weekend I will be racing the Mt. Fuji International Marathon (42km) with a friend! We are looking forward to learning more about the culture around running in Japan.

[Update: Marathon went really well! LOTS of kilometers, Fuji views, Japanese children yelling “fight-o,” fun going to a beautiful onsen after!]