What a wonderful day we spent at Waseda today. You could really tell how much time and effort the Waseda students and faculty went into preparing everything for us. It was nothing short of a truly educational and friendship building experience.

We arrived to several Waseda students at the station who then brought us through the University campus up to a class room where we were introduced to the other students and where Doctor Yusaku Takano gave a us a lecture and outline of the days event. We were introduced to your groups, which mine included Sean, Karen and two Japanese Students Genki and Shohei. They were so warm and eager to work with us. We exchanged our favorite places in Tokyo.  Shohei liked Harajuku because of all the people and the shopping and Genki liked Shibuya because of all the young culture.

Their professor Yoh Sasaki- sensei, who heads the Department of Civil and Environmental engineering gave us a lecture on the 5 topics we would be focusing on for the community development workshop they had planned for us that day.  We would be inspecting the town scape and  the daily lives of the residents in ordinary downtown Tokyo.  The students we were working with from Waseda mainly focus on landscape planning as regional management and analysis of street patterns in their program so our investigating would fall into these categories as well.

They set us out on a scavenger hunt with cameras to take photographs of positive, negative and curious things that we discovered in the town scape.

 The question presented to us: ”How do we recognize and describe characteristics of ordinary towns?”

Five groups combined of both Japanese and American students went out into the town and started collecting their data. The Japanese students had already collected their photos and findings earlier. 

Shohei mentioned to me that he thought the Waseda buildings were very old when he heard me commenting on how big and nice they were. I told him that our building at Pratt, Higgins Hall, was over 100 years old and used to be a factory. This seemed to shock him and he told me that many of the students referred to the buildings as factories.

On the walk I was surprised to find historical markers for the “Slope”. These markers gave the historical name for the slops and then where it’s name came from and how it was used. This one was called Shiinozaka, Shiino is a type of tree that used to populate the area and  Zaka means way or view.

Another thing  that I personally  found fascinating was a business that was recycling Tatami mats.

Waseda was very appealing and our group took about 200 photos of the area and then went back to Waseda to go over our pictures and enjoy the great lunch they had prepared for us.

After lunch we got to see print outs of our photos and think about how we saw the images either negative, positive or curious then we make linkages between them. It was interesting to watch a pattern unfold. After we discussed and presented our finding we had to go back and find solutions for some of the things we discovered.

During this process we really got to develop our perspective.  We then made a finally presentation about our findings and it was interesting to hear how each group approached some of the things they discovered. Our group had some great ideas like creating less waste from the vending machines and a tour of the all the historical slopes in Tokyo/ Waseda or even creating a public composting program. 

At the end of the presentations Doctor Yoh Sasaki gave us a lecture on research approaches to landscape, Keikan. Where she discussed architecture, urban design and civil engineering, and other aspects of planning and how these things are key concepts in the relationship of viewpoints and objects. She then discussed a case study in Kamakura that had a view scape threatened.  It was very thought-provoking to learn about how view scape protections are approached in Japan.

 The Japanese and American students then got to compare their photographs and hear feedback from Lecturer Yuko Sase and Jonathan-san. It was very remarkable to not only see the images side by side but also to hear the different perspectives of the professors. It was a great and valuable experience that we got to have.

At the end of day the Waseda students and faculty took us out for an amazing meal of Korean Barbeque and then even dragged us to Karaoke. It was one of the best days in Japan as well as enlightening. Friends were made and I can not thank the Waseda students and faculty enough for their hospitality and generosity

Signing out. Victoria Hagman

07/10/2012 5:14am

Excellent! I admire all the helpful data you've shared in your articles. I'm looking forward for more helpful articles from you. :)

Joseph Aidan

07/11/2012 9:24pm

love it! very interesting topics, I hope the incoming comments and suggestion are equally positive. Thanks for sharing information that is actually helpful.

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    17 Pratt Institute students of City & Regional Planning along with their professors travel overseas to study in Japan.  

    During our 17 days we will hear from 17 different voices about their experiences in Japan.

    1.  Isabel
    2.  Iwona
    3.  Karen
    4.  William
    5.  Sara
    6.  Graham
    7.  Johane
    8.  Sean
    9.  Ana
    10.  Roxanne
    11.  Alexa
    12.  Alix
    13.  Victoria
    14.  Christopher
    15.  Joseph
    16.  Lacey
    17.  Natalie
    18.  Jia