USF welcomes students from Japan


Over the summer, USF students spent 10 days exploring Japan, from the feudal castles of Kyoto to the neon lights of Tokyo.  

Today, Japanese students will visit the university, from the white sands of Castor Beach to the bronze bulls of the Marshall Student Center (MSC).

Along with a number of speakers, the students will be welcomed at 12:45 p.m. in the MSC Ballroom.  

The event is part of the Kakehashi Project — its name derives from the Japanese word for bridge, lending to its slogan “bridge for tomorrow.”

Promoted by the U.S. and Japan, the program was developed in response to the 2011 earthquake that devastated Japan’s tourist industry. The program is a cultural exchange between American and Japanese students.

The Kakehashi Project hopes to increase U.S. interest in Japan by enhancing international understanding through youth exposure to Japanese values and culture.

In fostering a mutual understanding, it promotes networking between the youth who will become the future leaders of their countries.

The event will open with a video, followed by welcome remarks from university officials and the Consulate-General of Japan in Miami.

Kyoto Sangyo University students will then talk about Kyoto, landscape conservation, Japanese national character and business culture. 

The other half of the presentation will include USF students who will share their experiences exploring Japan over summer.

One such student, Cody Buchanon, said the project changed his understanding of the world. 

Along with singing karaoke and eating local cuisine in the humming cities, students also explored the Shinto shrines and towering bamboo trees of the mountainous countryside. 

Buchanon said the highlight of his trip was visiting Kyoto Sangyo University and seeing how students live. 

Before visiting, Buchanon said he knew a lot about the culture from studying Japan, but was still awed by the trip. 

“It was amazing how clean everything was,” he said. “I felt I could eat off a sidewalk in a majorly crowded city.”

Upon his return home, Buchanon said he wasn’t prepared for the culture shock of adjusting back into American culture. 

“I immediately noticed how really overly sweet the drinks were,” he said. “In Japan, they drink a lot of tea and drinks without a lot of sugar in them. It took a while before I could stomach (American) food.”

Buchanon said social media is a large part of the program’s success in piquing the interest of young Americans.

“They wanted us to share our experience as much as possible so our friends and colleagues would see the experiences we were having,” he said. “Hopefully, inspiring them to go to Japan and do the same thing.” 

Though only 23 USF students participated, the event is open to anyone.

“Really it’s for anyone who is interested in Japan,” Buchanon said. “Whether its culture or anything else it has to offer.”