Online and In-Person Hybrid Kamakura Tour

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[Online pre-tour]

Date & Time: Thursday, June 23, 10:45 a.m. – 0:25 p.m.
Place: Japanese lecture room at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech), KSGG members participate via Zoom from their home
Participants: Seven students in Japanese training courses at Tokyo Tech (one each from Ecuador, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, Malaysia, Denmark and Turkey) and three faculty and staff at Tokyo Tech
Attendants: Six KSGG members
Languages: English and Japanese

[In-person tour]

Date & Time: Wednesday, June 29, 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Spots: Kamakura Station, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Enoshima electric railway, Hase Station and Kotokuin Temple (Great Buddha)
Participants: 17 students in Japanese training course at Tokyo Tech (two each from India and Brazil, one each from Jordan, Ecuador, Liberia, Bangladesh, Haiti, Malaysia, Denmark, Turkey, Switzerland, the United States of America, the Philippines, Mongolia and Palestine) and three faculty and staff at Tokyo Tech
Attendants: Five KSGG members
Languages: English and Japanese

Report by Yasuo, KSGG

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, KSGG has been holding online tours for overseas students at Tokyo Tech in summer and winter since July 2020. KSGG resumed in-person Kamakura tours, and pre-tour was held online in advance as the first attempt.

On June 23rd, the pre-tour was held via Zoom for one hour and 40 minutes. After the greeting and the self-introductions, I told the story of Tanabata (the star festival) to the students, showed them some illustrations, and sang the Tanabata song, which is popular among children. When I thought over the lyrics carefully, I was deeply moved because I could imagine a night sky with twinkling stars. I gave a brief lecture on Kamakura, shrines and temples using PowerPoint.

After that, the participants were divided into two groups for the pre-tour. I was planning to guide Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and Kotokuin Temple in detail during the in-person tour next week, so I just explained their outline. Instead, I focused on topics such as the relationship between Japanese daily life and shrines, temples, and wide variety of Japanese deities. The students and we KSGG members also exchanged opinions. Although the contents of the talk were limited in only 30-minute pre-tour, we enjoyed interacting with the students by giving lecture and listening to their impressions.

Following the pre-tour, the Kamakura in-person tour was held on Wednesday, June 29th. The participants were divided into 5 groups, each of which was led by a KSGG member. The groups departed on schedule at different times. As the temperature went above 30 degrees Celsius in the morning, staying hydrated was needed. I bought a two-liter plastic bottle of water at a convenience store, and started explaining Wakamiyaoji Street.

Almost all the KSGG members had the real tour for the first time in two and a half years, so I was nervous at first. However, when the tour started, I could guide them smoothly. The participants, who had taken part in the online pre-tour on June 23rd, listened carefully to my explanation and answered the quiz honestly. They were also very interested in the Japanese history and asked difficult questions that I had trouble answering. We hurried through Komachidori Street in order to catch the scheduled Enoden (Enoshima electric railway) train. It was empty and arrived at Hase Station on time.

After the explanations on the Great Buddha in Kotokuin Temple, it was time to take group photos. At the end, the participants said with a smile that they had a lot of fun and their understanding about Kamakura had deepened. Hearing their impressions on the tour, I was refreshed though I was very exhausted due to the intense heat.