This quote and this picture (first above, left), taken at Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, tell the story of a trip taken out of curiosity, and fueled by adventure. Over spring break, I visited Japan as 1 of 23 students chosen to represent Rutgers Business School as part of the Kakehashi Project, a program designed to promote friendship ties between Japan and citizens of North American countries.
Though it has already been a month, I remember my experiences in Tokyo (Harajuku, Asakusa, and Akihabara) and Tochigi Prefecture (Utsunomiya and Otawara City) like they were yesterday. I had the opportunity to learn more about the economic relationship between Japan and the United States, tour some of the country’s top gear and medical device manufacturing facilities, and even meet the Special Advisor to the Cabinet of Japan’s Prime Minister.
Aside from finally mastering chopsticks, I was introduced to Japan’s cuisine by way of various street foods, ramen, fresh strawberries, and of course, sashimi. I experienced other aspects of Japan’s vibrant culture through my homestay experience (my host family pictured above), learning to make sushi, visiting breathtaking shrines and temples, and even writing Japanese calligraphy.
While a few paragraphs can hardly describe the impact of the Kakehashi Project, I left feeling incredibly grateful to have seen the beauty of the Japanese countryside and cities, received the finest hospitality from the Japanese people, and learned about the country’s rich history and culture. My experiences in Japan reminded me of the importance of sustained curiosity, the pursuit of knowledge, and the power of purpose.