Kevin Terusaki: DESA (Doshisha Exchange Student Association)

After participating in a street dance circle at Kyoto University for the first couple of months, I eventually had to pick a new CIP activity due to the street dance circle’s one month break. During that time I also attended many of the events held by DESA, the Doshisha Exchange Student Association, and decided that this would be my new CIP. Many of the students in DESA are exchange students which may be discouraging to some who really want to improve their Japanese, but there are many Japanese students that are interested in meeting students from other countries as well.

DESA has hosted a variety of events including watching a Sumo wrestling tournament in Osaka, a food and video game night, going to see eerie demons at the Setsubun festival, and eating all you can eat shabu shabu at a restaurant served by ninjas. Besides the official DESA events, there were many opportunities to hang out with DESA members like random hikes, dinners, etc.

Every event was a great opportunity to practice Japanese and learn about Japanese culture that you normally wouldn’t learn in the classroom. For example, in the Kansai region it is popular to perform boke (playing dumb) and tsukkomi (pointing out mistakes), a comedic art that comes from manzai. This was a great way to learn about Japanese humor, which at times, I do not understand at all. I’ll admit that performing jokes in another language is quite difficult, but it is entertaining despite the challenge.

Compared to egoistic dancers, the street dance circle, DESA was more welcoming with a laid-back ambiance. Most likely due to the structure of egoistic dancers, it was difficult to interact with other people who danced different styles. I mainly interacted with those who practiced popping and locking. There also was definitely a senpai-kouhai relationship amongst some group members. As a new member in a group, it was hard to connect with certain people.

Overall, DESA has been a great opportunity to not only make new friends, but to experience and learn various aspects of Japanese culture. It’s unfortunate that there is only a month left to spend in Japan, but I hope I will have more opportunities to hang out with DESA members before the semester ends.



Jackson Pietsch: Taiko + Igo

Through my two CIP activities, Taiko drumming at Kitanotenmanguu Shrine and the Go club at Kyoto University, I learned several new skills. First and foremost were Taiko drumming and how to play Go, but a close second came from speaking with a good number of native Japanese people who were not as used to “dumbing down” their language for gaijin as my host parents, teachers, and other Japanese friends have been. I had to deal with speech that was much faster and more colloquial than what I was normally used to, and so had to practice both asking for clarification on specific parts of a sentence, and trying to grasp larger meanings from context. Luckily, the activities of Go and Taiko can usually be broken down and explained as one simple motion at a time, so as far as I knew there were never any terrible miscommunications.
I have not been to Go as often as Taiko, and every time I went there were different Kyodai students there, so I did not make any lasting connections through Go. However, despite the fact that I was generally unable to go to after-practice dinners or other functions, I was able to speak closely and in a friendly way with several of our other team members, and also to perform at the March 25th festival at Kitanotenmanguu. The festival alone was a great experience, and I’m glad to have been able to meet some of the people I did and participate in something I otherwise would never have the chance to.