Through the Kakehashi TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program, I had the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of Japan, and the significance of the role that the scholars and I play in building a kakehashi between the US and Japan.
While visiting the Japanese Overseas Migration Museum, I learned about the hardships that Japanese immigrants faced when leaving their home country to begin a new life in another one. Immigrants were criticized for leaving Japan, and when WWII began, Japanese Americans were alienated by Americans and were put into internment camps across the nation. The kakehashi that currently exists between the US and Japan is possible because of the Japanese people who migrated to the US and created a community. Due to the efforts of the Japanese immigrants along with their descendants, current Japanese immigrants like my mother, are able to live in the US in peace.
Because Japanese people migrated to countries all over the world, we have a fusion of cultures. Today, we have are able to enjoy and appreciate the various cultures in our daily lives, through aspects such as food. For example, spam musubi is a popular dish that is eaten in Hawaii. It is a combination of spam, canned meat introduced by the US, and omusubi, a traditional food from Japan.
At the Yaskawa Innovation Center, I was impressed by “robots making robots,” and the thoughts that were incorporated into each technological creation. I was fascinated with the ReWalk, a robotic exoskeleton created to assist paraplegic individuals. Parts of the ReWalk are already distributed across the world and the Yaskawa Electric Corporation has been distributing ReWalks throughout Japan under a deal with the ReWalk Robotics. The technological creations by the Yaskawa Electric Corporation reflected the importance of improving the environment and human life.
Meeting with Kyushu University students was an important aspect of this trip. After visiting the campus and giving presentations about Senator Daniel Inouye and Hawaii, we visited the Tenjin area and had the chance to eat ramen at a yatai, or a food cart. Talking with the students and learning about their lives as Japanese university students were interesting. I also noticed some differences in university life between Japanese and American students. By the end of the day, we became friends and even exchanged contact information. Through experiences such as these, the kakehashi between Japan and the US strengthens and expands.
Because I am a Japanese American, I appreciate both Japanese and American values and practice the customs of both countries. Through the experiences such as the visit to the Japanese Overseas Migration Museum, Yaskawa Innovation Center, and the exchange with the Kyushu University students, I learned about the values that Japan cherishes and that the connections that people make are what creates a kakehashi between two countries. Country leaders alone cannot sustain the bridge between Japan and the US. People who appreciate the culture and history of Japan and the values that Japan cherishes play a significant role in building and strengthening the bond between Japan and the US. This trip was a life-changing one for me and I will incorporate my experiences into my future career as an attorney.
お互いのために – “with and for each other”
Building a kakehashi is not only important to me but for each and every one of us. It can only be done if both sides contribute “with and for each other.”
I would like to thank everybody who has supported me throughout the trip and those who have made this trip possible!