Nine Japanese-language students from France, Singapore, and Hong Kong participated in the 10th Summer Intensive Japanese Course held at Tenrikyo Language Institute (TLI) from August 7 to 19. 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. Four years ago, however, the Overseas Department expanded the scope of the course by admitting students who were attending Japanese language classes at Tenrikyo centers in Singapore, Hong Kong, and New York, as well as at the center in Europe.
This 13-day course was designed to enable the students to learn Japanese as it is idiomatically spoken today. To familiarize them 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.
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.
A 28-year-old participant from France said: “Since this was the first time I had ever worn a kimono, I was quite thrilled. Japanese etiquette is complicated and difficult for a foreigner, but I didn’t have any problems sitting on my legs in the formal seiza position.” Another participant from France, a 48-year-old magazine reporter, said: “I have been practicing karate as a pastime for the past 20 years, and I have a keen interest in Japanese culture. I was delighted, therefore, to be able to deepen my understanding of Japanese culture in addition to studying the language.” A 43-year-old participant from Hong Kong, who was in the course for the second time, said: “Everyone in Tenri is so friendly! And there is so much I want to learn before going home.”