School of Political Science and Economics
Ready and packed to go and dig up some bamboo roots, I got up early in the morning – a little tired from the night before, but excited to know what the day would bring. The weather was beautiful, so at least we would not have to dig up the roots in the rain. On site, a sympathetic employee of Waseda, dressed in an all-Waseda uniform (including Waseda cap) informed us what was going to happen and what we had to do. We were divided into small groups, were assigned to a teacher and started looking for shoots, who had barely touched the light of day as only the tip was showing above ground.
As we successfully fulfilled the first assignment and even found two roots next to each other, the hardest part of the task was about to commence. We had to dig a ring around the root. However, as you can guess, a root is connected to other roots underground, and I can tell you, some of the bamboo roots underground were almost as thick as the actually bamboo plant above ground! So, as I thought we would have to dig with normal spades, we received a pickaxe kind of tool instead. Luckily we had a very skilled teacher, whom without we would probably be digging half of the day to get through the roots. All the huffing and puffing aside, the experience was worth it. We were able to dig out the two roots, which felt very good after the physical labour!
Afterwards we received a freshly prepared meal at the cafeteria at Tokorozawa campus, including – of course – bamboo. Later, I proudly presented to my host family a bamboo root of 20 cm long! (Which as you can guess, was the smallest of the two roots we dug up) Me and the members of my digging group met again the following week to eat lunch together and, especially, our dug up bamboo root, prepared by one of my team members. It was a very nice experience and the ICC had organized it perfectly. Furthermore, it was a nice opportunity to meet some new people and share an experience. After all, pain and gain creates good relationships as you experience the same hardship!
At the end of the event, the ICC had a nice surprise during a walk around the campus. As we approached a beautiful old Japanese style house, in one of the open doors a well-known gigantic Totoro appears. He is not as fluffy as the one in the movie appears to be, but he is definitely cuddly. The house was the actual inspiration for the house in the movie as well and has now been harbored by a funds (The Totoro Fund) whose mission is to preserve the nature in the area. So, for students who are still considering signing up, you can be sure it is worth it. The experience is highly recommended.