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Talking Contemporary Japan: Cross Cultural Communication

Japanese speakers from all walks of life enjoyed learning how to better understand and communicate with one another on both a cultural and individual level during November’s Talking Contemporary Japan, the Japan Foundation’s seminar series for advanced Japanese learners.

Spanning four weeks from October 31st – November 22nd, participants used their Japanese skills to explore the communication barriers that arise due to cultural difference, and how to overcome them. Hiroko Tanaka, Japanese Language Advisor at the Japan Foundation, lead the course and guided participants using role-play, quizzes and 頭を柔らかくする (“Mind-broadening”) puzzles. Naturally, the course focused largely on Japanese culture, giving participants to deepen their understanding of Japanese customs and ways of thinking in comparison to other world cultures.

On the final session, participants listened to a brief talk in Japanese by Mr. Satoshi Ueda, a photographer whose hometown Rikuzen-takata was devastated by the earthquake of March 11th. As well has hearing Mr Ueda’s very  personal and moving account of the tragedy and viewing his photos taken of the destruction and subsequent restoration of his hometown, participants also had the opportunity to use their Japanese and ask questions to Mr. Ueda regarding his work.

The course received very positive feedback. Tim Bentham, a first-time Talking Contemporary Japan participant, commented, “I’m not confident with spoken Japanese, but these lessons were relaxed and well-paced so I didn’t feel stressed.”  

For more information about Talking Contemporary Japan, please click here.