Cameron Trayner (UK)
School of International Liberal Studies (SILS)
The day began for most people by meeting the ICC staff outside Takadanobaba station on the Saturday morning. It was early enough that they were still clearing up the square from the revelries of the night before, but the weather was so lovely that no one seemed to mind. We then rode a few trains to Kotesashi station which took no more than an hour and none of them were too busy so we always managed to get seats. We arrived at Kotesashi just in time to catch the Waseda bus to Tokorozawa campus. I had been outside of Tokyo before but this was still a fresh feeling as everything was so much more spacious and every house seemed to have a lot more greenery. After arriving at Tokorozawa campus it was clear that it was going to be a very sunny day and also that the trip had been timed perfectly to see the autumn leaves in all their glory. We also found out that we were going to be accompanied by a camera crew who were not always inconspicuous but they never got in the way of us having fun and maybe it even made us feel a bit special. While waiting for anyone that did not meet us at Takadanobaba to arrive, we all put on nametags and started to introduce ourselves to each other. It was a nice diverse mix of Japanese and international students, and was definitely a good way to meet people you might not have otherwise.
From here we were then shown around the campus and surrounding area by Mr. Takeuchi who works at the Natural Environmental Research Laboratory at Tokorozawa campus, and was therefore a very knowledgeable guide. After showing us some very pretty trees lining the entrance path to the campus, and explaining that they not only looked nice but also help to provide shade in summer, we took a short walk to Kurosuke’s (Soot Sprite) house which is named after those creatures seen in the movie “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Spirited Away”. It was a very nice old fashioned Japanese house and it had a large Totoro inside too so we stayed in the area for a little while and got to look around. Continuing the tour, Mr Takeuchi showed us a bamboo forest, some streams, and tea fields – all while providing interesting information about them.
After the tour we were treated to a free lunch in the Tokorozawa cafeteria which included2019/11/16 some very nice fruits and cakes. There was also the added benefit that some people were not able to make it and so we could have seconds, as well as take some leftovers home for dinner if we wanted. Finally we had the last activity of the day which was in the sports hall. We played volleyball and dodgeball, both of which were very fun and everyone got involved without anyone getting too serious. Figuring out how to put up the volleyball net was as much of the experience as anything. We had access to the hall for about 90 minutes, after which the event concluded and we all returned home.
Overall it was a very fun day and I would recommend it to anyone whether they want to see autumn leaves and learn more about nature, meet new people, play some sports, or simply see Tokorozawa campus and get a free lunch. I am very much looking forward to partaking in future ICC events.