Tama exposed under a lovely spiritual awakening with university students
Our second city of the tour in Tama offered us front row tickets to experience modern suburban life of Japan. Tama is located just southwest of central Tokyo and is known for its green and safe environment. Although it is only a thirty minute train ride into Tokyo, Tama is completely different from the busy metropolis. We could easily sense a nice relaxed vibe from the entire community. Many of our host parents actually commute to Tokyo for work but this quaint suburb is their home.
On our first day in Tama, we got a chance to learn about the city’s history and culture. After a lecture, we split into two groups and went on a city tour. Local Japanese university students guided us and shared their knowledge about the city. My group went to a tranquil temple area near the center of the city. There were about five temples, each of them has a unique architecture and most of them were surrounded by a wonderful park with calm and peaceful atmosphere and beautiful flowers. An elderly woman was there painting a wonderful picture of the enlightened one by using soft colors to make an ideal work of art influenced by romanticism.
After the spiritual excursion, the students took us to their university to have lunch. The four-storied building caught us completely by surprise. The structure, you see, was full of restaurants only serving the student body! There was even a vending with a great variety of ice-creams and popsicles. And since we are in Japan the machine can even pick a random one for you if the choice seems impossible or you just like surprises! A great variety of food and a hip atmosphere spoke volumes about the lively university life. The university is a huge part of city. Although a large portion of the citizens are over fifty, the university students also make up a healthy part of the population.
The walking tour gave us a great opportunity to learn about two different communities of Tama. The visit to the temples was representative of the calm nature of the society as a whole but especially the elder population. The lunch at the university offered a quick glance at the younger segment of Tama.
(Ilkka Peltola, Finland)