Japanese students’ Study Tour in Holland

1.Youth journeys from Japan

On August, 2017, 8 elementary and middle school students from Higashi Sonogi in Nagasaki visited Leiden in The Netherlands. Higashi Sonogi is an area in Nagasaki prefecture which prospered along Nagasaki Street in the Edo era. Siebold, who is a German and visited Japan at that time as a surgeon of the East India Company had an in-house painter, called Keiga Kawahara. He is the one who painted the scenery of Higashi Sonogi. The locals of Nagasaki have been telling their younger generations this area’s story of paintings and prosperity.

This trip is organized with the purpose of learning the history of Higashi Sonogi. Therefore, the participants will have international perspective through the experiences of interactions with Dutch people and culture which has been interacted since around 300 years ago. We, at JCE supported the tour making to build a bridge between Higashi Sonogi, which we started to get to know from MONO JAPAN, and Leiden, which is the center of interaction of Dutch and Japanese culture.

The students visited the University of Leiden, which is the oldest university in Europe and has a Japanese language department, had lunch with the students in Leiden, and visited the museum of Siebold, called the Siebold House. Afterwards, the group moved on to the main purpose of the tour: the National Museum of Ethnology (Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde). They went there to see the works of Keiga Kawahara, who is the in-house painter of Siebold, whom I have mentioned before. Also, they saw the Cool Japan exhibition, which was in the same museum. They seemed to have fun.


2.Get-together with the University of Leiden’s Japanese language department

The Japanese students had a casual meeting with the students of Leiden University, where the people literally see each other in person. The Students of The Japanese Language department in University of Leiden knew a lot about Nagasaki because they already visited Nagasaki during their study abroad in Japan. Also, while Dutch students gave a presentation about Dutch culture, Japanese students showed them a traditional dance from Higashi Sonogi. The Japanese and Dutch students had fun dancing together.


3.Having lunch together in dining space, where Japanese students treated them Sinogi tea

During the lunch break, both the Japanese and Dutch students moved to a cafeteria to have a meal together. At that time, Japanese students served Sonogi tea they brought from Japan. Everyone looked satisfied with the tea and had a good time. After the meal, the young Japanese students took a short look around the school building. They would imagine their own university life in the near future.


4.Field trip in Siebold house

Afternoon, saying bye to University, the students visited the Old Siebold house. This place used to be Siebold’s house after he returned from Japan. Actually, this house was renovated into a museum which holds a lot of exhibitions and works. Siebold received presents from the Japanese people as a reward for his medical examinations. He collected a bunch of Japanese ethnic items such as commodities, ukiyo paintings, crafts, biological specimens, paintings, etc. The students learned detailed information about the exhibitions by seeing and reading the explanations and then they got deep knowledge about Siebold.

Link      http://www.sieboldhuis.org/


5.The Netherlands Folk Museum (Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde)

The students from Higashi Sonogi moved to the National Museum of Ethnology, where they took a look at a lot of books, paintings, crafts, and so on. These were brought back from Japan by Dutch East India Company workers who were dispatched to Deshima, Japan. Since Keiga Kawahara was a painter of Deshima, many of his works ended up in Holland. This means few people in Japan ever get to see his original paintings.


Seeing the original works of Keiga Kawahara was the main purpose of this trip. A Dutch curator working at the museum guided the students very well with fluent Japanese. Also, There were also dutch paintings inspired by Keiga’s etchings on exhibition in the museum. These works were made to be used as illustrations in the books written by Siebold. The Japanese studetns enjoyed seeing them too.


6.Cool Japan exhibition

Afterwords, the students went to see a Cool Japan exhibition corner, where they could see how Japanese pop culture is seen in another country. These days, Japanese poplar culture is very prevalent and paid attention to. The students saw the representatives of Japanese pop culture such as Manga and Anime. Also, they could see the source of the modern popular culture through the exhibitions in this historical museum. The young students learned the connection between the past and the present. Since they were born in 21st century, they saw some 80’ and the latest games set up and actually played them having fun with them.

Link: https://volkenkunde.nl/nl/tentoonstelling-cool-japan



At last

After the one day tour in Leiden, being on the way back to Schipol airport, what they find inmpressive was after all having conversation with the local students in Univeristy of Leiden.

Meeting new people leave you a lot of impression. We hope this students’ trip will be the clue for the participants to someday broad thier perspective and to open their mind more. Also, we hope Higashi Sonigi which leaves beautiful and unique traditions will have the opportunity to draw a new picture for the future vision.