Sharing Light in the Land of the Rising Sun
STORY BY KRISTIN MANKER (US’13, C’17)
PHOTOS BY PLL TRAVELERS
IN THE BUSTLING DISTRICTS OF TOKYO, ONE WORD CAN BE HEARD EMANATING FROM RESTAURANTS, SHOPS, AND VIDEOGAME PARLORS: IRASSHAIMASE!—WELCOME!
Japan welcomed 55 Principia Lifelong Learning (PLL) travelers this past April on a 10-night cruise that began and ended in Tokyo. The island country brought out her best for the Principians and their friends. Cherry blossoms framed the scene, and even Mount Fuji emerged from cloud cover to give the travelers a clear view of her summit. The passengers explored the country, docking at well-known cities and forging their way forward. There was plenty to do!
In Kyoto, the original capital, travelers drank in Japan’s history, visiting gardens, castles, and temples. Kochi offered a Japanese paper-making experience in a village tucked away in the mountains, and our explorers left with washi paper souvenirs. Hiroshima and Nagasaki allowed the group a moment of reflection at the Peace Memorial parks and the Genbaku Dome—the only building left standing after the devastating atomic blast of 1945. And when excursions into town brought more questions than answers, trip scholar Dr. Marie Jureit-Beamish (HON’14) helped fill in the gaps.
To prepare the scholars to take advantage of such an incredible trip, Dr. Jureit-Beamish gave several lectures detailing Japan’s history and culture, transforming these travelers from passive observers to active adventurers.
“The PLL trip provides on-site, tangible learning that cannot be accomplished just by reading a book or going to a movie. The benefit of having somebody helping guide that learning turns it into more than just a tourist trip,” says Dr. Jureit-Beamish. “I feel the benefit of having people together with a shared interest in learning more, rather than just going on a trip, is very important.”
Iitoko-dori is a concept deeply entrenched in the cultural identity of Japan, which can be translated as “picking the best parts.” It references the adoption of elements from foreign cultures into the Japanese lifestyle and psyche. This cultural exchange is a lesson not easily taught in the classroom, and something our adventurers embraced. While forging relationships on the sea and in the cities, and experiencing everything the island-country has to offer, our PLL travelers reminded us that we are all strengthened by sharing our experiences.