2016 KKC Study Tour to Japan

June 27-July 6, 2016

The 2016 Fellowship began with a session about Japan’s educational system, followed by a visit to the US Embassy to learn about student exchange. During several corporate visits including Sanrio, Nissan Motor Corporation, Sony Corporation, Dentsu Inc., and Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute, the Fellows learned about a variety of industries that have driven Japan to be a leader in the global economy. In addition to Japan’s domestic economy and the challenges of population decline, the companies shared their insights on recruitment, research and development, and international strategy and marketing.

The ten North American Fellows visited five schools in Tokyo and Kyoto, both private and public. They observed the differences in teaching styles and talked with students in English classes about their lives. These meetings were an invaluable opportunity to connect with students, not only to learn about their everyday experiences, but also to pique their interest in the lives of North Americans. A teacher roundtable provided a chance for the Fellows to talk with Japanese teachers and share their challenges and insights. The session was richly rewarding for both sides.

Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, former Ambassador to the United States and current president of the America-Japan Society, shared his views of the issues affecting the governments of the two countries in a very frank and informative discussion.

The Fellows were placed in homes in the Tokyo area for one night of homestay with a Japanese family for a window onto everyday life in Japan. After returning with a wealth of experiences, the Fellows took the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital, to see UNESCO World Heritage sites like the Golden Pavilion and the famous rock garden of Ryoanji Temple. Finally, after touring Japan’s seat of government, the Diet Building, Fellows participated in a panel discussion on the “Challenges of U.S.-Japan People-to-People Exchange” and expressed their views to an audience of educators and business leaders. The Fellows left Japan bound to share their lessons with their students to keep the kizuna (bonds) between the countries strong.