Two members of the Institute of Islamic Studies family joined the JENESYS 2018 Peace Building Exchange Program hosted by Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The program featured multi-city visits (Osaka, Kyoto, Nagasaki, Isahaya), cultural trips and a homestay program that ran from November 26-December 3, 2018. Faculty member Asst. Prof. Nefertari A. Arsad and MA student Asmin P. Abdullah were two of the five (5) Philippine delegates, joining other delegates from the ASEAN countries of Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. Read the daily journal of Asmin P. Abdullah…
JENESYS 2018 is a people-to-people exchange program between Japan and the Asia-Pacific region launched by the Japanese Government. JENESYS 2018 consists of an INBOUND Program from Asia-Pacific region and OUTBOUND program to Asia-Pacific region.
The program aims at promoting mutual trust and understanding among the peoples of Japan and the Asia-Pacific region and building a basis for future friendship and cooperation by these INBOUND and OUTBOUND programs. It also encourages an understanding and dissemination of Japan’s economics, society, history, diverse culture, politics and diplomatic relations.
This year’s Peace Building Exchange was participated by 18 students and 7 supervisors from five ASEAN countries: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore. There were five Filipino delegates coming from Zamboanga (2), Basilan (1) and Metro Manila (2). The delegates experienced Japan through visiting different places: Osaka, Kyoto, Nagasaki and Isahaya where Japan’s economy, history, people and society were showcased and experienced.
We visited the Osaka Prefecture Government Observatory Building also known as the Cosmo Tower where we experienced the breath taking 360 degree panoramic view of Osaka from the 55th floor. In the afternoon, the welcoming of all the delegates, discussion of program objectives and general orientation took place. Two representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta talked about ASEAN peace building initiatives. After the orientation, we visited Asia Pacific Trade Center, a shopping and amusement facility in Osaka located within the Cosmo Square where we took almost two hours wandering around the shopping facilities. In the evening, the coordinators brought us to Tempozan Market where we took our dinner in a Turkish restaurant.
On the second day, the coordinators took us to Osaka castle, a castle built in 1583 that was intended to become the center of a new and unified Japan under the Toyotomi rule. It was observed that the castle tower was now modernized inside, complete with an elevator for visitors’ easier accessibility. We were able to tour the castle despite the limited time given. We saw artifacts and records of the Sengoku Era and read information about the castle’s history and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. After the tour in Osaka castle, we went to Toyonaka Senior High School, a co-ed school for advanced education providing general education and courses of literatures and sciences. We were given an opportunity to observe a social science class and converse with Japanese High school students over lunch. Muslim students from Osaka University were also invited to lunch and we were able to discuss their respective situations in Japan. Despite challenges, the Muslim university students reiterated that Japan was ultimately a safe and Muslim friendly country. Thereafter, we visited Kenninji Temple. It is the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto established in 1202 by Yosai, a Buddhist monk who introduced both Zen Buddhism and tea cultivation in Japan. During our visit, we met a monk who explained the basic teachings of Zen Buddhism emphasizing the importance of oneness of mind and body to raise awareness and mindfulness and fully grasp the wholeness of things that surround us. Team Philippines actively participated during the lecture especially during the question and answer forum.
Our coordinators took us to Osaka Museum of Housing and Living where we initially experienced Osaka during the Edo to Showa periods. We experienced the Edo period walking through the life sized recreation of Edo streets and entering Edo houses with general household items and goods. Living spaces and lifestyles of Osaka during Meiji, Taisho, and Showa period were also witnessed through model and picture presentations. We also enjoyed paintings exhibited in the museum. We then went to Expo city, a large shopping and entertainment facility in Osaka. It was a very Muslim friendly shopping mall as it had a prayer room for Muslim shoppers. After performing prayer, we spent our time wandering and of course buying pasalubong. We then proceeded to the Itami airport to travel to Nagasaki.
On our fourth day, we went to Nagasaki Peace Park and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. We were accompanied by JICE coordinators and tour guides who thoroughly explained places, monuments, images, artifacts, and remains related to the bombing. Throughout our tour, we saw the realities and damage of the atomic bomb which serves to remind us to strengthen our peace advocacies. Our tour in the Museum was concluded with a lecture from Mr. Michiaki Ikeda, atomic bomb survivor who shared his painful but inspiring story to the JENESYS delegates. We then proceeded to Tarami community library where we experienced wearing Kimono, making Origami and also the Japanese tea ceremony. In the evening, we were introduced to our host family, Yaeko Tanigawa and Yoshinobu Tanigawa for our homestay.
We spent two nights and two days with our host family, indeed one of the best experiences during the program. We received none but kindness and hospitality. They made sure we felt comfortable in their home and truly showed us the beauty of Japanese people and culture. We spent some of our time discussing Japanese history and of course, learning Niponggo from them. On our first night, Yoshinobu-san taught us how to calculate using Soroban (Japanese ancient calculator). The morning after, we walked in the quiet surroundings of Isahaya while enjoying the serenity of the community and the sea. We also experienced shopping in community markets. Yaeko-san brought us to her friend’s home to observe her practicing for a Japanese tea ceremony. On our last day, our host family took us to Isahaya park and library.
Yaeko Tanigawa took us to Tarami Community Hall where a Farewell party for the homestay program took place. The party commenced with a message from the chairperson of the Tarami community association that co-organized the homestay program. Representatives of selected host families were asked to share their experiences in hosting Muslim delegates for the first time. It was shared that since delegates had a different faith; they somehow felt worried as they didn’t have any idea on how to approach their homestay visitors. Some also shared that they only knew Muslims based on what they watched on television; but within two days of being together in the same house, they felt comfortable and all their worries and misconceptions were gone. Selected delegates also delivered messages for their host families. They emphasized how thankful they were for the kindness and hospitality shown them. After lunch, the delegates performed for the host families. Team Philippines sang Freddie Aguilar’s famous song “Anak” in Filipino and Niponggo and Heal the World by Michael Jackson since the song conveyed the message of peace, care and love which anchored the “Peace-Building” theme of the program.
After the farewell party, the delegates were asked to answer a questionnaire about their experiences in Japan. Afterwards, each team was asked to brainstorm and share inputs towards an action plan to share their JENESYS 2018 experiences in their respective countries after the program.
We traveled back to Osaka from Nagasaki. After arrival, we were asked to prepare for our Action Plan presentations. The presentation was attended by Vice Consul Shirley O. Nuevo from the Philippine Consulate in Osaka and Mr. Nakamura, the Director of Japan International Cooperation Center. Team Philippines presentation had three parts: first, our knowledge before coming to Japan: Japanese people were high-tech, hardworking and had a deep sense of honor; Japan was a clean and progressive country that strictly implemented policies. We also knew about Japanese Food, the Japanese Occupation in the Philippines and the treasure maps they left, anime and manga. The second part scoped our learnings about Japan throughout the program. We found that Japanese People were loving, kind, very disciplined, respectful, hospitable and very mindful of others; the environment was very clean and quiet. Japan had high-tech facilities yet its culture was maintained and preserved; Japan is a Muslim-friendly country and that Muslims were safe and secure there. Team Philippines also learned about the efforts of Japan towards peace and elimination of weapons of mass destruction. Team Philippines four plans included the following: publish an article about our experiences on the UP-IIS Official Website; publish a travelogue; do a clean-up drive in a community school; and Share and Fly Japan!
Departure: Since our flight back to the Philippines was in the afternoon, we visited Sakai Plaza of Rikyu and Akiko, a museum that houses Akiko’s work on poetry and commentaries on contemporary social issues. We were also able to explore the life of Sen no Rikyu and the art of Chanoyu tea ceremony from historical and cultural perspectives. For the last time, we experienced a tea ceremony again, this time in Sakai Plaza. We then proceeded to a nearby restaurant for our lunch. Afterwards, the coordinators brought us to Kansai Airport where we boarded our flight back home to Manila via Taipei.
Note: You may also click the following link to listen to Ms. Asmin P. Abdullah’s interview in Salam Radyo, DZUP 1602 (University of the Philippines-Diliman Official AM Radio) regarding JENESYS 2018.