Eleven Japanese-language students from France, the United States, Singapore, and Hong Kong participated in the Summer Intensive Japanese Course held at Tenrikyo Language Institute (TLI) from August 7 to 20. Originally, this course was sponsored by Tenri France-Japan Cultural Association to give its own language students the opportunity to study Japanese in the Home of the Parent during summer vacation. Five years ago, however, the Overseas Department expanded the scope of the course by admitting students who were attending Japanese language classes at New York’s Tenri Cultural Institute, and four years ago it began admitting students taking Japanese at the Tenrikyo centers in Singapore and Hong Kong.
This 14-day course was designed to enable the students to learn Japanese as it is idiomatically spoken today. To help them familiarize themselves with “real-life” Japanese, not only were the classes conducted almost entirely in Japanese but also the students were assigned to interview passersby in Tenri’s shopping mall. After learning the basics of writing letters in Japanese, the students composed greeting cards to the instructors at their language schools back home.
In addition to studying the language, the students were given the opportunity to experience some aspects of Japanese culture by taking lessons in calligraphy, flower arrangement, and so forth. During a lesson on Japanese etiquette, the students first learned how to dress themselves in yukata, an informal cotton kimono worn in summer, whereafter they received pointers on how to use chopsticks, how to greet people when visiting them in their homes, and how to be properly seated on the cushion known as zabuton.