Tama City, Tokyo

The class of 2007 is back in the Kanto area after more than 2 months of being on the road in western and central Japan! Tama city, Tokyo is a bedroom suburb of the metropolis, located some 30 minutes from Shinjuku, one of the terminal stations in Tokyo.

Progressive baby boomers reside in Tama and have a long history of hosting various cultural activities with citizens’ initiatives. Also, Tama is unique in that it is led by only one of four female mayors in all of Japan.

A metropolitan Tokyo tour was organized by the Chuo university students on September 25th. Split into 5 theme groups, we visited different districts in central Tokyo such as Asakusa, Shibuya and Akihabara.

The group which visited Akihabara had a unique experience in the former electronics quarter turned into an anime / manga town. The participants explored the small shops selling anime character goods and service outlets that they would never find in their native country, while others who went to the medium-sized shopping street of Shimokitazawa found similarities to the one they’re used to seeing.

By traveling in small groups consisting of college students, members of the local organizing committee and WCI students, we could all share viewpoints of students from around the city, native Tokyo residents, and outsiders.

On September 26th, the class had the opportunity to visit 2 of the local elementary schools. One of them, Higashi Ochiai Elementary school, was established 8 years ago as a result of a merger of 2 schools. To establish closer relationships with local residents as well as visitors, schools in Tama city are surprisingly open-armed. At the school where 380 children are currently studying, the class introduced their native culture and they performed dances and songs to make a connection with the children.

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