Sean Kwon: Volunteering at Muromachi Children’s Center

With the help and counseling from Maeguchi sensei and Nakata sensei, I could join Muromachi jidoukan (children’s center) as a volunteer teacher helping students’ homework and playing with them for my CIP this spring.

Although I was not confident with my Japanese language when I first joined the children’s center, I was warmly greeted by the children and staff at Muromachi jidoukan. They were curious about where I was from, which language I spoke, and customs I was used to. I was surprised how much children were interested to know more about where I was from, languages I spoke, and how old I was–like anywhere else, children were full of questions that were innocent and straightforward.

I was also surprised by how children were playing あやとり (thread game) and 五目並べ (gomoku) that I played in Korea in childhood. I could see how I could overcome barriers in language and customs through such games, as if we spoke the same language. For other traditional Japanese games, children were more than willing to explain the rules over the weeks I was there with patience, so that I became able to play such games with them.

As I came to talk with children over games and their homework, I could pick up some kansaiben that they spoke–virtually all the time. The way children spoke to me was not only fast, but also filled with kansaiben words and accents. After a while, however, I became used to the way they talk and started to mimic them–as if I started to learn a new language. As I came to share the lexicon of children over time, I felt that I became part of the community that I love a lot.

My volunteering experience was a rewarding one where I could be part of the Japanese culture as a teacher and a friend of children who offered me more than I could. To anyone who loves children and would like to be part of the community in Kyoto, I strongly recommend volunteering at Muromachi jidoukan.

Heather Heimbach: Kurama Fine Arts Circle

Doshisha Kurama Fine Arts Circle is exactly how it sounds — the fine arts circle of Doshisha University. Many of the members seem to be studying art at Doshisha, either as an art history major or fine arts. There is a regular meeting once a week, where members gather and practice a type of fine art together. Usually, it is drawing or painting, and the theme is set. In spring semester, I believe that they did more still life drawings. This semester, however, they are preparing for EVE, Doshisha’s cultural festival, during which they plan to sell caricatures and portraits. In preparation for selling caricatures and portraits, all of the weekly meetings I have been to have been dedicated to drawing face portraits.

There are also meetings outside of the regular meetings in preparation for the cultural festival. I went to help only once, and after that it hasn’t fit into my schedule well. One observation about the Doshisha circles is that they are much more active than clubs at my home University. By active, I mean people seem to have a lot more free time to spend at the circle, so they hang out in the clubroom or help prepare for events outside of “regular meeting” times. Some people seem to spend nearly everyday preparing for the festival–which is something that is difficult for KCJS students due to the level of homework, and in turn made me feel guilty for not being able to help out more. From what I’ve heard from Japanese students, the level of work is not that much in college, and so hanging around a circle for a long time is feasible for many of them. 

However, hearing other members talk about the festival preparations, as well having participating in the preparation, has been an interesting experience. As American universities don’t commonly have big college-wide festivals as they do in Japan, I did not realize how much work every circle puts into preparing for the festival. Furthermore, senpai-kouhai relationships become very clear during the preparation, because even if kouhai are taking on a management position, the senpai oversees the kouhai, and always has the final word. The senpai in Kurama often took on roles that no one else wanted to do, and his wallet was used for a lot of the shopping for the event (though the funds used are club funds). Many of the members called him not by his name, but simply “senpai.” Although of course there are multiple upperclassmen in the club, that particularly senpai was referred to as “senpai.”  He was also good about reaching out and welcoming all the members, including teaching me how to play tetris on their game station.

I’m not really a fan of senpai-kouhai relationships, but it was interesting to see the hierarchy in the club. Also, almost all of the members, except for the fourth-years, used desu-masu form when talking. However, no one used the special keigo phrases, like shiteirasshaimasu, as that would most likely be considered laughable.

The good thing is that the regular meetings are fairly easy to get the gist of if you have done art class before. However, many of the members are pretty quiet, though a few are talkative, and many people don’t talk that much while drawing. My advice is that you probably shouldn’t join this circle unless you love art, because otherwise, it could be difficult to enjoy the circle time.

Antonio Mckinney: Koto Lessons

This past semester, for my CIP project, I had the opportunity to take koto lessons at Greenwich House. Learning how to play the koto has been a long time desire of mine so I was excited to start classes, to say the least. Through one of the Japanese teachers who also takes classes at Greenwich House I was put in contact with Iwasaki Sensei and soon after had my first class.

When I arrived on the first day, I was warmly greeted by two of Iwasaki Sensei’s experienced students who began to show me the rendition of Sakura and a number of other folk songs that I would be practicing for the next semester. It’s a little embarrassing to admit but when I arrived that day, because I was expecting the students to be my age or younger, I mistook one of the women to be Iwasaki Sensei. It wasn’t until half an hour into the class that I finally realized that the person sitting next to me was actually a student and that Iwasaki Sensei wasn’t even there yet. However, it became very clear who Iwasaki Sensei was once she did arrive because immediately after, to my delight and horror, we played through the entire number as a full ensemble. Rather, I should say, the rest of the class played the entire number as an ensemble. I just plucked some random strings in the background. Despite my complete lack of ability as a beginner, because I had tried to engage as much as possible the rest of the class kindly accepted me and I was able to enjoy my first attempt at playing the koto.

As I continued to return to Greenwich House for weekly classes it soon became apparent to me that the classroom Iwasaki Sensei had cultivated was warm, friendly and because of the communal closeness the lines between Sensei and teacher were casual and unassuming. Before class, arriving students are always enthusiastically greeted, no one gets mad when we have to stop playing to help someone understand a portion of music and on Mondays Iwasaki Sensei and any interested students go out for dinner. There was even an occasion when one of the Obasans, on the first day she met me, invited me over to her house to continue practicing folk songs while we waited for the rest of the class to finish playing an enka piece.

With the students being so friendly and easygoing starting up a conversation is never difficult and I often found myself chit-chatting with other students before the teacher arrived. These casual conversations have been a lot of fun and great Japanese practice as I will often have to put my listening skills to the test to understand a few of the student’s Kansai-ben. However, even if there are times when I mishear something or struggle to convey an idea clearly any of the discomfort that might arise as a result soon fades away once we begin to play.

Actually learning how to play the koto has exceeded all my expectations and getting to learn from Iwasaki Sensei and the other students at Greenwich House has been a truly special experience. For those of you want to learn how to play the Koto or simply want a supportive community to practice your Japanese in I would definitely suggest you stop by Greenwich house. I am confident that if you are excited to engage with Iwasaki Sensei and the other students everyone at Greenwich house will welcome you with open arms.

Kanoa Mendenhall: Jazz Bass

Although I initially wanted to explore and try a new activity, I continued playing jazz bass (my line of work back in America) for my CIP here in Kyoto and Osaka. It has been a wonderful experience being able to participate in the Kansai jazz scene while at KCJS this spring semester.

As all jazz musicians do to get introduced to the local scene, I started off by going to a jam session in the area in order to meet local musicians. This was one of the main objectives of my CIP – to continue going to a regular session that had other members consistently participating.

The first session I attended was a weekly jam hosted by Kyoto University’s student-run jazz circle. The sessions were how typical jazz jam sessions go; a newly fused band collectively chose standards from the Great American Songbook and improvised on these tunes. Students from KyoDai as well as students from additional neighboring universities were involved in these sessions. Getting to know these students from various areas eventually led to participation in other jam sessions at other universities and venues.

As the semester progressed, not only did I get to know fellow musicians my age, but also people from a wide age range who shared a similar passion for jazz. Meeting people from different backgrounds and generations allowed me to practice my keigo and respectful expressions a fair bit. In addition, I had to do quite a lot of writing/messaging to people who I had just met at each session, which was good practice.

One aspect that varied a bit from gatherings in America was the formality, such as saying よろしくお願いします to all of the other members on the bandstand without fail before playing each tune (at jam sessions). This surprised me quite a bit at first, and was a shock compared to the cold, cutthroat atmosphere of New York jam sessions. Also, it has been confusing to decipher the distance between musicians and when to use honorifics. The jazz scene in Japan is unique in the case where numerous musicians have studied or lived in America, therefore demonstrating the vibe and casual approach of American jazz musicians (slang, handshakes, affirmative shouts during performance, etc.), yet there are still limits to how close you can get to a person, especially if there is a rank/age difference. I once called a club owner (who lived in New York for multiple years, knows jazz culture well) that I thought I had established a firm connection with (after multiple casual interactions) by their first name, and they reacted quite hostilely. It took some time getting used to, but overall I found that musicians in the Kansai area are friendlier and supportive of each other, which I wish there was more of in New York City.

These jam sessions ultimately lead to a few performances in formal settings, called by members I met at jam sessions such as the one at Kyoto University. The performances typically involved rehearsals and preparation beforehand, and involved some energy and time. Nevertheless, they were highly rewarding, and I’m especially grateful to the teachers and friends from KCJS who came to my gigs. Continuing music while in Kyoto was one of the highlights of my study abroad experience, and has provided much joy and language practice as well as career connections that are sure to be useful in the future. There were some language barriers at times, but music, especially jazz, is a language and mode of communication itself.

Sara Hirade: Calligraphy Lessons

Every Monday, two other KCJS students and I take calligraphy classes near Shimogamo-jinja, which is only a ten-minute bike ride away from Doshisha.

At first, I had some difficulty choosing a CIP. I knew I wanted to participate in something traditionally Japanese and artistic where I could bring home some of my work, but I was not sure on what to do. After talking with my host mother about my concerns, she suggested that I try calligraphy classes. Her friend is the teacher, and KCJS students have enjoyed her classes in the past. My host mom then introduced me and the other KCJS students who wanted to participate to sensei. We arrived at her house, armed with omiyage and got started right away. Sensei provids us with all the materials necessary to participate, as well as tea and snacks at the end of the lesson. Each week we practice one or two kanji, while sensei advises us and corrects our work. Once we are familiar with the kanji we have been practicing, we write a final version on beautiful, high-end paper, which sensei is kind enough to let us use.

I was a little nervous when I began the calligraphy classes. My handwriting is not very neat and I have very little experience with painting. I had done some calligraphy in the past, but would not consider myself to be any good at it. However, these concerns quickly evaporated as soon as I met sensei and began the lessons. She taught us all the terms for the materials, explained the proper technique for holding the brushes, and demonstrated the best posture and how our bodies should feel when we do calligraphy. However, I learned more than just what calligraphy is or how I can make my kanji look better. Sensei gave me another perspective on the importance of paying attention to details in Japanese society. For example, when writing sideways lines in a kanji, the line should rise slightly up as it goes from the left-hand side of the page to the right. This allows for space to open up within the character itself and provides a better balance on the page. Once I started writing my kanji with this in mind, they started to look cleaner and nicer. On my own, I never would have paid attention to such a small detail. I soon began to notice a similar focus on detail in other parts of Japanese culture, that I had overlooked before these calligraphy classes. For instance, in many crowded areas, there are signs that clearly mark which side of the street visitors should walk on so that there is no confusion. A detail that the architects and designers could have easily overlooked, but didn’t, allows for a natural and easy flow that you do not always see in the busy areas of other countries.

I highly recommend sensei’s calligraphy classes to anyone who is interested in traditional Japanese arts. The only regret I have is that we only got to meet for 10 weeks. Sensei is incredibly knowledgeable in different calligraphy styles as well as other traditional Japanese arts (she is a ceramicist and made the plates and cups that she serves our post-lesson tea in) and is always so excited to share this knowledge with study abroad students. She also always checks in with us to make sure that we are understanding everything that she says and does her best to translate Kansai-ben into hyoujun-go when we have questions about it. Her prices for KCJS are very generous, unlike some traditional art classes in Kyoto. She also has great recommendations for where to go see sakura trees around Kyoto!

Sonia Steinmann: Bazaar Cafe

Volunteering as Bazaar Cafe was a rewarding experience that allowed me to practice my Japanese, meet people, and get a glimpse of a Japanese working environment. As an attempt to integrate into a corner of Japanese society, it proved to be both fulfilling and challenging.

Bazaar Cafe is a small cafe situated in the back of a house, only a short walk from campus. The visitor passes through the side of the house into the backyard, where the cafe opens out into a garden. Becoming a volunteer was as simple as showing up one day with a friend who had already been volunteering. The work I have been doing during my weekly visits hasn’t been very rigorous, involving, essentially, translating the menu, washing dishes, and putting things in their proper place.

What I would soon find was that the atmosphere of Bazaar Cafe was extremely relaxed and casual. I only arrived at this opportunity after trying and failing to get another, at a non-profit. Whereas applying to a Japanese company had required communications in keigo and a resume in accordance with regulations, Bazaar Cafe has allowed me to experience a very different kind of Japanese-language environment. I quickly found that my use of polite (desu-masu) form was excessively formal. Having absorbed strict rules of politeness and discretion through Japanese language class, I now had to learn how to communicate in this casual environment.

While I am usually working in the back of the cafe, a recent evening of performance art brought me into contact with the customers, as I collected used cups and answered questions about the night’s performances. As most volunteers were not in attendance, it was only me, the owner, and two other employees. At the end of the performances, the organizer took a moment to thank the cafe for releasing the space, and I naturally bowed with the rest of the employees and spoke a few words about how interesting it had been. It was during this evening that I felt most integrated into the Bazaar workplace environment, and like a member of Bazaar Cafe.

I would therefore encourage students to look for a CIP not only based on the type of work, but also the environment. Although the non-profit I had initially applied to aligned more closely with my interests, the loose environment of Bazaar Cafe was ultimately a better fit and more fulfilling, even if washing dishes sounds less than exciting. Applying to the non-profit, while ultimately not successful, was also a highly instructive experience in communicating with potential employers in Japanese, and I would encourage others not to be discouraged by the idea of reaching out for opportunities in Japanese. Overall, Bazaar Cafe has been an unforgettable part of my study abroad experience.

Trevor Menders: Kyoto National Museum

I had the opportunity this semester work Kyoto National Museum to fulfill my CIP requirement. As my focus within my East Asian Languages and Cultures program is art history, this was  a dream come true. I would get to work not only with the objects I had spent countless hours looking at in books and behind plexiglass cases, but at the same time I would get to use my Japanese in a professional environment. This kind of opportunity, though, naturally came with a lot of pressure: as I hope to enter museum work eventually as a professional, my coworkers and bosses weren’t just people I would be working with for the semester, but people I’d be in contact with for the rest of my career.

The CIP isn’t just an opportunity to apply Japanese in real life, but also to engage in real-time cultural learning. For me, this started right away. My entry into the museum in the capacity of volunteer research assistant and translator was a bit unprecedented—all kinds of people volunteer at the Museum, and many art history graduate students help with research and curatorial initiatives, but as an undergraduate in a non-Japanese degree program, I was not the most obvious candidate to help out the curatorial board. A lot of negotiating had to be done to get me in, and so on my arrival, my acquaintance at the Museum then helped me do the jikoshoukai and thank to the appropriate people—except that the appropriate people meant everyone who worked in the curatorial office. This surprised me; the idea of the jikoshoukai certainly doesn’t have an exact counterpart in English-language cultures, but the formality of the self-introduction aside, you would certainly never introduce yourself to so many people at the same time in an American office. I nervously moushimasu’d and yoroshiku onegaiitashimasu’d so many times on the first day that by the end I could hardly say the words correctly any more. This was my first indication that in the Japanese office environment, no matter how compartmentalized individual tasks may be, the whole office has significant input and participation in pretty much every aspect of operations, and because of that everyone is expected to be able to interact with everyone else from the get-go.

I hit the ground running: there was much to be translated. I was allowed to work on a variety of projects, starting with object labels from the Museum’s permanent collection which were out on frequent rotation, progressing through the special Hinamatsuri exhibition, instructional and didactic sheets for upcoming family workshops, and ultimately editing the audioguide script and translating articles for the monthly KNM newsletter and labels for the special Kaiho Yusho exhibition. I also learned the layout of the museum, and got to assist in a special showing of the Yamai no Soushi for visiting scholars. Such diverse projects exposed me to so many different aspects of the office culture. Of course, as a museum is a bit of a unique shokuba, I can’t imagine that this sort of office culture is applicable everywhere, but it felt great to begin to get a handle on what it feels like to be a member of Japanese working society.

The most interesting thing about the experience, in terms of cultural learning, was the snacks. At various jobs and internships I’ve held in the US, there’s usually a kitchen somewhere, with a pot of stale coffee on the counter and someone’s leftovers in the refrigerator. However, this was not the case here whatsoever. My desk, part of the education department’s section, sat right across from the designated snack table. Edible meibutsu are a big part of Japanese omiyage and otherwise gift-giving culture; whenever somebody would come from outside the museum for any sort of business meeting or special viewing, some sort of fancily wrapped okashi would undoubtedly accompany them, regardless of their relation to the museum. After being humbly accepted, the snacks would then be passed around to the people who had the most direct relation to the meeting or showing, then be set out on the snack table for anyone to enjoy. Museum staff who went on vacation or business trips would similarly bring back snacks for the office, distributed in a similar fashion.

I had a discussion with one of the curators about this snacking culture. I expressed the genuine surprise I had felt when I received my first wagashi, a manju from Tokyo given by a visiting scholar, after helping with an object showing. She laughed and asked if this sort of gift giving was not standard in America—my response couldn’t have been a vehement enough “no.” If this happened to anyone in a professional environment in the US (myself included) I would be immediately be suspicious that the person giving the gifts wanted some sort of favor for me. As “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” implies, this sort of gift giving in Japan does presume to elicit a favor in a vague sense—that of continued good relations—but not in the way I’d infer in an English-speaking environment.

The learning experiences, both academic and cultural, afforded to me at the Museum have been invaluable, and they are memories of satisfying work and enjoyable conversation that I will cherish for a long time. To anyone considering this sort of formal work environment for their own CIP, I can only advise to not hesitate and to jump in straightaway. Initially, because of the perceived culture and language barrier, it can be a bit difficult to prove your own merit, but once you situate yourself, the dedication to work is inspiring, and it’s a great feeling to be included in such dedicated pursuits.

Kimberly Madrid: Volunteering at Kyoto International Manga Museum

For my CIP, I am volunteering at the Kyoto International Manga Museum once a week. The museum has over 300,000 items in its collection of manga volumes and magazines and guests spend hours pouring over their favorite series or finding new ones. Despite the museum feeling more like a library than like an actual museum, it does have permanent exhibitions on display and has special exhibitions and events every few months.

KCJS’s contact at the museum, Watanabe-san, is one of the sweetest people I’ve met while in Japan. She helped me feel much more comfortable about my role at the museum from my first shift. On my first day, she gave me the official tour and introduced me to most of the museum staff. Although I had mentally prepared myself to do self-introduction after self-introduction, Watanabe-san actually ended up doing my self-introduction for me, telling staff members, my name, home institution, what I was currently studying at Doshisha, and in one case, even my favorite food (our initial conversation had been very extensive). At the time, I was both kind of relieved and kind of put out. My Japanese may be shaky, but I can do at least a self-introduction, I thought. But when I mentioned this in Japanese class recently, it was pointed out that maybe that was Watanabe-san’s way of both helping calm my first-day jitters and taking responsibility for me as someone who would be working under her.

As for what I actually do at the museum, it varies from menial tasks like making plastic covers for manga volumes to writing a script for an English tour to going through the special galleries and writing my thoughts on them. Some days are more exciting than others, like when I was told to go look at all the exhibits of the Kyoto Seika University Manga Faculty Graduation Showcase and talk to the Seika students. Others are slow, spent cutting plastic and outfitting volumes in it. But I am really glad I chose to volunteer here. While it is a bit difficult to get to know the staff members as my break is at a different time than theirs, becoming a part of the Manga Museum community is definitely doable if you put in the effort. There’s usually one person on their lunch break at the same time I have my break and I’ve chatted with a couple of staff members after running into them in the hallway. Recently I started helping out at the front desk and between greeting customers, I had a fun conversation about my time in Japan and favorite manga with Tsuchida-san, one of the front desk staff.

Overall, I’ve had fun while volunteering at the Manga Museum. While I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for something more social, the museum is definitely a great place to have as a CIP.

Sinai Cruz: Nagaoka Catholic Church

This semester, my CIP experience was a little rough, so even though this was not officially my CIP, I would like to write about my experience attending mass at the local parish, Nagaoka Catholic Church. Almost every week since I moved into my host family’s house, I would attend mass in Japanese from 11 AM-12 PM, the only mass offered on Sundays. One of the nice things about being Catholic is that the general structure and content of the mass will be the same no matter what country, or what language, it is being given in. However, every culture brings its own nuances and traditions, so I was very fortunate this semester to observe several uniquely Japanese Catholic practices over the course of these past few months.

For example, there is a part of the mass where the priest lifts up the Sacramental bread. In America during this part, one usually kneels, or in the absence of kneelers, such as in this church, one stands and inclines their head. However, in Japan, we did a deep bow towards the altar for a few seconds instead. As we all know, the degree of a bow establishes hierarchy and demonstrates respect. The particular bow used in this part of the mass hovered between a 普通礼、a polite bow, and a 最敬礼、a deeply reverent bow. Outside of religious environments, a saikeirei bow is generally only used with the emperor or when being deeply apologetic, while a futsuurei is much more commonly used in every day life with superiors. I found it interesting to notice how deeply people bowed during this part, though I generally opted for the saikeirei myself.

Another interesting tradition took place around two weeks ago, since November is Shichi-Go-San month. A young mother brought her sons to the mass to be blessed; both boys looked around seven (not a traditional boy’s year). Instead of traditional kimonos, they wore collared white shirts and loose black slacks. The priest read a special prayer for them and sprinkled them with Holy Water. I was very surprised that there was also a version of 7/5/3 celebrated in Japanese Catholicism, since I had thought it to be a traditional Shinto activity. However, as anyone who has been to a shrine this month can see, it is a tradition widely celebrated in Japan. Since the purpose of 7/5/3 is to thank God for the health and safety of the child, the tradition can obviously be adapted rather easily to different religious environments.

Lastly, I would like to talk about some of the language used between parishioners. In October, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a church outing to the Kyoto Zoo. The priest offered to drive me and two older parishioners to the Zoo. While the elderly ladies always spoke to me, and between themselves, in casual form, they would switch suddenly to desu/masu form when talking to the priest, or when talking about the priest. Even though the priest was younger than them, because of his status as a priest, they spoke more politely to him. However, the priest would generally reply in regular, male, plain form, like 「知らね」. Using polite language with priests is the way it is back home as well, but usually a priest will also use polite language in reply, not casual. It was a little jarring to see how abruptly they could switch between speaking styles, so I was able to realize just how important it is to be able to distinguish between different social situations and how important it is to use desu/masu form or keigo with people of a higher social status.

Overall, as both a practicing Catholic and as a religion major, I was very fortunate to be able to find such a warm and welcoming Catholic community that allowed me to observe and participate in their Japanese Catholic traditions.

Victoria Tissot: Bazaar Cafe & English Tutoring at Kamigyō Junior High School

I never thought choosing a CIP activity would be a difficult task. From the moment I finished reading the CIP section of the KCJS website, my mind was set on teaching English. Since I have been teaching language classes as a hobby from middle school to college, I decided to continue my passion in Japan with the KCJS program and began to volunteer as an English tutor at a local middle school. When I started my CIP, just entering the school for the first time to introduce myself was an adventure in itself; from taking my shoes off and putting slippers on, to seeing children cleaning up their own school after classes were over, this experience allowed me to learn so much about Japanese culture.

To my surprise, teaching English to Japanese students was nothing like I expected it to be. First of all, I imagined myself assisting an English teacher and her students in the middle of class. Instead, I was asked to tutor students individually, a much more personal way of teaching that I was not familiar with, since I had been used to teaching a big group of students. When we first met, the students were just as nervous as I was, but after a couple of questions, and as I tried to be as friendly and carefree as possible, I was able to create a more relaxing environment and made sure the students understood that it was alright to make mistakes. Even though I had originally thought that teaching English would be an easy task for me, I was surprised at how difficult it actually was, both for me and my students. There was always some miscommunication, and the hardest part was making sure the students understood the way I translated some English words and grammar to them. The student and teacher interaction also gave me more insight on Japanese culture; I found it curious that, even though I tried to act more as a friend and student to them, all the students still treated me with a lot of respect and politeness, as if they were speaking to their middle school teachers. In the end, tutoring English was just as much of a learning experience for me as for my students. Every week, I would try to alter my teaching methods and find better ways of helping my students. For instance, instead of merely explaining certain words and grammar out loud in English, I would write them down on a paper and ask the students to read and repeat. This unique experience in Japan gave me a new perspective on teaching, especially since I am contemplating the possibility of becoming a language teacher in the future.

My tutoring classes unfortunately only lasted two weeks, and I was very sad to find out that the school would not be needing my help anymore, especially since the semester was already finishing by the time I started to volunteer. I then began a second CIP activity: volunteering at Bazaar café, a café located across the street from Doshisha University. Since I had always wanted to work at a café or restaurant back home, but never found the time or the opportunity to do so, and since I also preferred a more individual activity instead of joining a club, Bazaar café was the perfect opportunity for me. So far, my experience at Bazaar café has been phenomenal. Not only have I been learning so much about how to run a café, but I have also been practicing my Japanese as I interact with the friendly staff and make new friends.