Day three in Tokyo: meet, greet and stay safe

Texas State University students walk into Rikkyo University in Tokyo.
Texas State University students walk into Rikkyo University in Tokyo.
SJMC students walk into Rikkyo University in Tokyo.

Day three left SJMC Japan team full of smiles, food and safety tips for the days to come in Japan. The team met with Rikkyo University students, took a tour of the campus, and had a very unique and pleasurable dining experience with some of those students. Then they received disaster safety training geared for Japanese residents before exploring Akihabara in the evening.

Rikkyo University experience

Rikkyo University was founded in 1874 at Tsukiji, Tokyo, by Anglican Bishop C.M. Williams. The campus is beautiful on the inside and out. The Ikebukuro campus sits in the heart of Tokyo and is very modern and sleek, with another campus in Niiza. Rikkyo students said that it typically takes them 10 minutes to get from one class to another across campus.

Of the university’s 20,000 students, about 1,000 of them come from 70 different countries. Rikkyo University has 11 academic departments and 15 graduate schools, and was selected as one of the most historical buildings in Tokyo. The college offers a variety of classes in Japanese and English, with a complimentary Japanese language program provided by the Center for Japanese Language Education. The university provides over 100 intercultural exchange events per year as well.

As the SJMC team walked into the meeting center, they were pleasantly welcomed with introductions to the students. Dr. Seongbin Hwang, professor in the school’s Department of Communication and Media Studies, played his guitar and sung a song that had a deep cultural meaning in Korea and Japan. Afterward, the students interviewed each other with light and fun interview questions. Some of the questions were: What do you do during your free time? Who are your role models? Where do you want to travel? What is your favorite movie? The SJMC team learned that Harry Potter is a favorite amongst that group of Rikkyo University students, and some used the movies as way to learn English.

Ikebukuro Restaurant near Rikkyo University
SJMC students enjoying a restaurant in Ikebukuro

The next activity the students did was a journalism edition of “two truths and a lie” – from wild and funny to mind-provoking hypothetical scenarios, which made for a bonding experience.

Groups of Rikkyo students led the SJMC team on tours around campus, which features contemporary and creative architecture within each building. It was extraordinarily different from the Texas State campus.

After students from both universities were done with the on-campus meetup, they took to the streets to find lunch. A Rikkyo student suggested a restaurant and off they went. The meals consisted of yakisoba with pork and monjayaki as the main dish.

The food was nothing like American fare. The main course consisted of lettuce and cabbage but was not a salad in the slightest. It was then combined with cheese, thin strips of pork and a broth reduced to a sauce.

“It looks so gross, like puke, but is one of the best meals you’ll have in Tokyo,” Manaka said.

The SJMC Japan team seemed to agree with that statement whole-heartedly, judging by the reactions to the first bite. Eating, laughing and making memories were the cherry on top of the group’s experience at Rikkyo University.

Safety, safety, safety

After having a fun time and eating as much as possible, it was time to head to the next stop. The group headed to the Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center, which educates Japanese residents to effectively respond to natural disasters and common mishaps in the home. The knowledgeable staff included Patrick Grainger, a Texas State alum and employee with the Disaster Prevention Business Division in the Tokyo Disaster Prevention and Emergency Medical Service Association. He provided translation as the center’s staff covered three main topics: tsunamis, fire and earthquakes.

First was a presentation of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred March 11, 2011. It is the fourth-largest earthquake in the world since 1900. It lasted about six minutes and caused a severe tsunami, which flooded and destroyed the Tohoku streets, overtopping seawalls and debilitating three nuclear reactors within days. Seven deaths occurred in the metropolitan area, 3,603 homes were damaged, and soil liquefaction and forest fires devastated the country. That’s right: wildfires breaking out during a tsunami, which is all water, may sound odd, but it is common. This is because trees splinter and break, and act as fuel for fires to erupt when everything is clashing. Plus, leaked combustible gasoline becomes ignited.

Putting out a virtual fire at the Life Safety Learning Center
Putting out a virtual fire with real fire extinguishers

Fires can, of course, occur at any time, and not just during a tsunami, so Patrick and the center’s staff explained how to use a fire extinguisher. The presentation was well-executed on all accounts, as both the Japanese presenter and translator had great energy, passion and jokes. The students got to practice extinguishing a fire projected on a wall. “Pin, hose, squeeze!” exclaimed the instructor many times.

After the students learned how to effectively fight fires, they headed to the earthquake simulator. The ground platform recreated the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and gave the students a real feel of an earthquake.

Time to explore to Tokyo

After the safety presentation, the group headed back to the Toyoko Inn to rest for a bit before heading in separate directions. Everyone went to Akihabara where they enjoyed delicious bites. Some of the group had hoped to end the night at a karaoke bar near the hotel, but their hopes — and off-key singing — were (un)fortunately dashed.

Keep an eye on this class website and the SJMC Japan team on Instagram for the group’s Sunday outing to Kamakura.

4 thoughts on “Day three in Tokyo: meet, greet and stay safe

  1. Wow, makes me miss Japan! Thanks for the reminder of the amazing culture there. Enjoy Kamakura!

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