As part of the Japan Foundation’s Primary Japanese Campaign to support and encourage primary schools teaching Japanese language, we took 19 headteachers to Japan from October 25th to November 1st 2014 to give them the chance to learn more about Japan and the Japanese education system.
The programme included a whole range of Japanese cultural experiences to help deepen the headteachers’ understanding of Japan. They saw Japan’s modern side with a visit to the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (known as Miraikan), spent some time near the giant robot-like gundam in Diver City, Tokyo and rode on Japan’s fastest train, the shinkansen. In Kyoto, they were able to experience Japan’s more traditional side, as they explored the areas around Kiyomizudera temple and Yasaka shrine on the East side of Kyoto.
The headteachers also spoke to the Deputy Assistant Vice-Minister, Mr Ken Okaniwa, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They also visited the British Council in Tokyo. Lastly, they enjoyed inspiring seminars from Lori Henderson MBE, Executive Director of British Chamber of Commerce who spoke about business in Japan, as well as Professor Mark Langager of the International Christian University, who spoke about the Japanese education system.
The highlights of the programme were the visits to two Japanese schools, Fujimi Elementary School in Tokyo and Ooyake Elementary School in Kyoto. The UK headteachers had the chance to observe the Japanese education system first-hand, as they took part in English classes, observed a whole range of lessons, and spoke to the Japanese teachers. One headteacher said the following; “the two school visits were inspirational and it was delightful to meet such lovely staff. I now am keen to develop the project further to have a link school in Japan that we can work with.”
So far we have had fantastic feedback from the schools involved in this programme. One participant told us “I had some experiences which I will never forget and will talk about for years to come!” While another mentioned that was an “amazing experience, thank you!”
The Japan Foundation would like to thank all the headteachers for joining us, as well as ANA (All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd) and Mitsubishi Corporation International (Europe) Plc for their generous support for this Programme. If you would like to see some further photos from this trip, they are available on the Japan Foundation’s facebook page here.