Jenesys 2.0 Batch 8, Urban Engineering and City Planning (2014)

Good evening everyone! I know this post is soooo three years ago, but i just remember that i have not done my homework on writing about this program review. I should have written it three years ago, but i was not really into blogs–or anything about socmed so all i did was spreading the photos in my own facebook page.

So, almost three years ago, i was selected to be one of the delegations going to Japan as an exchanged students under the collaboration of Ministry of Higher Education in my country and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

It is called JENESYS 2.0 (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths). You can get the whole of ideas behind the program in these websites –> JICE and MOFA they both will provide you about the program details and how to join.

If you ask me to sum up, Jenesys 2.0 is about a fully supported (*cough*free*cough*) exchange program where you will be exposed to the beauty of Japan and will get a chance to experience living as one of the family in Japan. Each of batch has different theme, as an example there was a theme of J-Pop culture, Japanese Language, Football, Recycling and as for my batch it was Urban Engineering and City Planning.

Group C upon arriving at Narita International Airport, Japan, April 2014

There were around 97 students from all across Indonesia gathered for this batch, then we were separated into 4 groups–A to D. Each group then will be accompanied by supervisors from both Indonesia and Japan sides. Then we were taken to the opening ceremonial, where we were greeted by the government themselves, they wished us to have an enjoyable stay in Japan while it lasted.

We flew to Japan on April 2014 (i forget the date, i guess it’s around 22nd to 29th? because the Sakura was fully blooming by the time we got there). We got to experience the Tokyo life first–eating delicious foods, going to Tokyo Sky Tree, going to Asakusa Temple, and a traditional-turned-into-museum-house. Since the theme was Urban Engineering and City Planning, we learnt about their technologies in developing their countries through buildings and city planning but still rooting to their belief.

For example, they designed the high-tech Tokyo Sky Tree with the concept of samurai blade, and whilst their reputation to being a high-tech country, Japan still keeps their traditional houses and temples here and there as their valuable treasure to pass down the knowledge to the next generations.

Group C in front of Asakusa Temple, Japan 2014.

The schedule was really packed, you do not get much time to go here and there. I remember we got into a slight trouble when some students wanted to go shopping in Tokyo and got home late. We were allowed to go to near areas such as Shibuya or Harajuku under the supervision and accompanied by the supervisors, we went by the subway and it was exciting because for some (almost all) of us it was our first time going to this Land of Rising Sun. But then some of us came late and all of the supervisors from Japan’s sides were terribly worried they almost got police to search on us (i get it though, since we were foreigner and still kids, without supervisors it would be dangerous to wander around at nights in a foreign country).

Anyway, the problem asides, we then went to Sendai as our next stop. As a privilege, we were taken to the northern part of Japan by Shinkansen–the fast train that everyone has talked about. It was fast indeed, i don’t even remember how we spent our time in the train and suddenly we already arrived at the Sendai Station.

Upon arriving, Sendai was more in the northern part than Tokyo, which means the Sakura was fully blooming rather than the ones in Tokyo–Japan stretched over South to North so the flower blooms from bottom to top according to the weather. That was the first time i saw Sakura, and it was really beautiful. So beautiful that you’d be afraid to touch it lol.

Group C Sakura viewing, Sendai, Japan 2014.

That was also the first time i know that Sakura has many types according to their colours and how the tree is hanging. There were the white popcorn-liked ones and pinkish ones. There were the fully-packed-with-flower tree and also the hanging ones–called shidare-zakura. We were walking in the middle of blooming Sakura even the photo turned out pinkish lol.

After that we went to Tohoku University–one of Japan’s reputable university located in Sendai, Japan. We toured their laboratories, such as the tsunami-detecting laboratory, architecture studios–where they stored the models and student’s panels, and also attend some seminars about how they develop technologies on decreasing the effect of earthquakes on their buildings and cities–they also showed us the real thing while doing the tour but i forget where i put the photos, sorry…

Now to the more personal part, we got a chance to try living in the local family house. We went to Kitakata–where there was a fuss about the nuclear reaction due to its closeness to the affected area when a huge earthquake hit the country–and met our home-stay okaa-san and otou-san (mom and dad, respectively). I remember i slipped and called my okaa-san as obaa-san (granny) as i was really nervous when we met the first time HAHA! I’m so sorry okaa-san! 

Anyway! This experience is actually our get-away from the busy schedule Jenesys 2.0 has for the students! The family was really warm and welcoming! My family’s name is Yamauchi, there were otou-san, okaa-san, onii-san (brother–their child), onee-san (sister–the child’s wife)and Haruto-kun (their grandson). I was the only one who could speak little bits of Japanese back then, so it was hard for me at first because i had to keep translating back and forth. However, as the time passed, we were all able to understand better even without language barrier.

We were always greeted with lots of food! Kitakata, Japan 2014.
Okaa-san taught us how to do Ikebana, Kitakata, Japan 2014.
Also learnt to wear Yukata with Sensei, Kitakata, Japan 2014.

I was actually amazed by their lifestyle. I mean, most of the people i met there were older than my own Mom and Dad, but they were still healthy and strong. One day morning, we were told to follow Otou-san to get some vegetables. I thought we were supposed to accompany him to buy some just to realise that we were given a basket and harvest-tools. Yep, we were going to harvest our own vegetables.

Morning with Otou-san to get some Asparagus, Kitakata, Japan 2014.

Apparently, Otou-san has his own asparagus bed, wow. We were taught how to harvest the asparagus, from choosing to cutting. It was really fun! The weather was cold yet felt so nice. While walking back home, otou-san asked us to give some of our asparagus to the neighbour harvesting near us then introducing us, as a return we got another vegetable from the lady. So that was how they stayed close to their neighbours, i thought.

Coming home and okaa-san was already preparing to cook breakfast. We were told to rinse the aspara–it’s how they call asparagus–then help okaa-san in frying them. Okaa-san prepared karaage and aspara as our breakfast. I was originally hated vegetables, but forced myself to finish them since it was impolite not to. But i do come to like aspara then lol.

Next, okaa-san and otou-san took us to a castle. Since it was the time for hanami–sakura viewing–so it’s rather crowded. But it was really beautiful. The castle was surrounded by Sakura trees. There were lots of historical stories and the castle itself was turned into a museum for the visitors.

With beloved Okaa-san and Otou-san, Japan 2014.
Samurai of the Castle, Japan 2014.

By the time we were supposed to part with the Yamauchi family, one of my friends cried so hard that okaa-san was also crying. Otou-san took his time to print out some of our photos that he took of us. It was really touching. We hugged each other and promising to come back if possible and learn Japanese so that we would communicate with decent language instead of body language haha.

Then, we were back to our whole group of Batch 8.

Before our time was done, we were able to experience one more of their culture–the open Onsen. It was the hot spring facilities where people would bath together in an open (or closed, there was closed ones) area. So while we relaxing in the water, we could still looking at the great view surrounding us. It was really embarrassing at first but then when you get the feeling of it you just got along with it and enjoy it lol (AND OF COURSE it was separated between boys and girls! lol!)

Group C’s last dinner with Bang Hali (one of supervisors from Indonesia), Japan 2014.

Before going back to Tokyo and packed our things up, we were given times to prepare our presentation in groups. Yep, you have the responsibility to make a report on the things you’ve learnt throughout the program and what kind of things would you do after you go back from this program.

So on the last day, back in Tokyo, we were gathered once again in front of the representatives of MOFA to present our reports and our ideas on how we would use the knowledge in our future later. The government of course appreciated all of our hard works in the presentations, they asked us to come back and spread the news of this program (which i’m doing now despite it’s being three years ago *sobs, sorry Sir*). I did come back after two-three years though haha.

That time, aside from the technology, of course i did not really realise what was i learning (lol). I was being really captivated by the beauty of the country. However, i then realised that the beauty comes from the people. They love their country so much–they preserved their heritages and respect the nature, they put their belief even in high-tech buildings and practice them. They also strive to protect their own country and people by developing the technologies that can do them better things. They put their country and people first and still respect others.

Their kindness to stranger is also another thing. I remember one time i needed to buy a suitcase for a friend who fell sick and his suitcase was broken. I did not know what to do nor where to go. I asked a random girl and she deliberately asked me to follow her. She then took me to a near shop where i can buy a new suitcase for my friend, she accompanied me until i was done with the transaction and then we separated ways after saying goodbye.

That was really something.

Well, it was a really fun experience for me. Aside from all the new things happening in another country, i got to meet lots of new friends from my own country across Indonesia. We spent so many happy times together, laughing, learning, caring for the ones who were sick. The journey does not only give experiences but also friendship. I am really grateful towards everyone whom i met during those times. Not only the friends, but also the supervisors, the governments, the Yamauchi family, the people i met in Japan.

With that, i step on my next journeys. I sincerely thank everyone who made it possible.

Till we meet again, my friends!

Group C on the last day of Jenesys 2.0 Batch 8 with Supervisors: Bang Hali, Eric-san, Yamada-san, Japan 2014.


Here’s a video link to sum up our journey by one of my Jenesys’ friends! Enjoy and good night everyone! JENESYS 2.0 Batch 8: Urban Engineering and City Planning

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