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Top>HAKUMON Chuo [2015 Winter Issue]>【Global People】Faculty of Law Hirooka Seminar visits China: Exchange with Huaqiao University students

Hakumon CHUOIndex

Global People

Faculty of Law Hirooka Seminar visits China:

Exchange with Huaqiao University students

The motto of Moriho Hirooka’s seminar of Chuo University Faculty of Law is “to look at society from a local perspective”. We visited Quanzhou in the southern area of Fujian Province, China on September 18. The Manchurian Incident happened on this very day in 1931. Over 84 years since then, there have been tensions rising between Japan and China regarding disputes on territory, historical awareness, and constructing artificial islands in the South China Sea. Nine students shared their impressions of the trip with mixed feelings and excitement.

Interview and composition: Kaori Yabashi (3 year student of the Faculty of Law)

Photo after performance (front row from left: Yabashi, Mrs. Hirooka, Professor Hirooka, Ito; second row: Kajiwara, Kitahara, Ogata, Furuta; third row: Koike, Niino, Ando)

Successful Performance

The professor and students of the Japanese College in Huaqiao University, which has a campus in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, came to see us. One of the goals of the trip was to have a cultural exchange. They performed the traditional Okinawan dance, Eisa, along with an ancient dance and traditional musical performance of China.

We performed a play for them about a romantic comedy at a summer festival depicting the daily lives of friends. They were actually in love with one another, but the two university students could not take the next step to transcend their friendship.

During the play, we danced and sang to one of the songs of the Japanese pop band, “Arashi”, who were also popular in China, and incorporated impersonations of characters from Japanese animations.

Our aim was to depict the current youth culture in Japan and embody Japanese culture. We decided to wear a yukata. Professor Liancheng Hu of Huaqiao University made a cameo appearance as the old owner of a street stall. After the performance, we gave our yukata as a present to one of the students from the Japanese College in Huaqiao University.

The dialogue was all in Japanese, so we weren’t sure if the Chinese students understood everything. Afterwards, I asked one of them and they said they could understand all of it without a single problem. They burst out laughing many times throughout the play. As they majored in Japanese, they even understood the opening joke.

We practiced the play during summer vacation and were able to show our results in China.

9 Students participating in the trip (3rd year students)
Kokoro Ando 3 Year
Yuka Ito 3 Year
Momona Okada 3 Year
Risa Kajiwara 3 Year
Risa Kitahara 3 Year
Haruka Koike 3 Year
Kohei Niino 3 Year
Naoya Furuta 3 Year
Kaori Yabashi 3 Year
Moriho Hirooka (Professor in the Faculty of Law); Mrs. Hirooka
Day 1
(Sep. 18)
Depart from Narita International Airport and arrive in Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport
Travel to Huaqiao University by bus
Tour the campus; climb the mountain on campus; have grilled meat
Stay at the dormitory on campus.
Day 2
(Sep 19.)
Lectures by Professor Hirooka, Professor Yajie Zheng and Liancheng Hu
Eisa and musical performance by students of Huaqiao
Play by Chuo’s Hirooka seminar class
Debate session between Japanese and Chinese students.
Day 3
(Sep 20)
Sightseeing in Quanzhou City
Visit Guandi Temple, Qingjing Temple, Kaiyuan Temple, Tin Hau Temple in Quanzhou and the remains of Li Zhi’s home in the morning
Visit Quanzhou Maritime Museum, Quanzhou History Museum of Overseas Chinese in the afternoon
Dinner at the students district
Final Day Depart university; travel to Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport
Depart Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport
Arrive at Narita International Airport

Debate about Finding Employment

The theme of the student debate was “finding employment.” We learned that there were differences between Japan and China during our exchange of opinions. Most students in Japan start job hunting in their junior or senior year of university. In China, students devote their time to their studies while at university and start job hunting after graduation.

“Should I prioritize work or marriage and child-rearing?” I thought this was an eternal theme, and that it was difficult to achieve both. However, the Chinese students say that achieving both is possible in China. It appears there is no problem for women to get married and raise children while doing a job.

It was possible to re-assess ourselves by understanding difference. This debate proved to be a valuable experience.

Chinese Hospitality

I felt that China was a friendly place when I arrived at the Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport on our first day in the country. Professor Liancheng Hu and a number of students from Huaqiao University came out to meet us. When we got on the bus from Huaqiao University, the Chinese students carried our carry cases for us and let us sit down first. They gave us a very warm welcome. (Seminar student; same below; Ito)

We were invited to dinner on the night before the last day of our stay in China. The Chinese students taught us about the situation in China. They were very friendly. The boiled dumplings and beer were delicious. Next day, we had to bid them farewell. Their sad face will always remain in my heart.

Learning about Chinese History and Culture

The second day was for lectures. Lectures were given by Professor Hirooka on Gender Equality and Politics in Romance Stories, as well as by Professor Yajie Zheng and Professor Liancheng Hu from the Faculty of Letters in Huaqiao University on Chinese Cultural Problems and History with a Focus on the Donghak Peasant Revolution and the Sino-Japanese War, respectively.

I learned for the first time in the lecture by Professor Hirooka that there was a dramatic transformation in the Japanese philosophy of love before and after the First World War, and that newspaper stories were a testament to this transformation.

Love between single man and woman was a taboo subject prior to the war. When a man and a woman would fall in love, the woman would end up as an unhappy heroine in novels at that time. I learned about a philosophy of love that is unthinkable nowadays from history.

The lecture by Professor Yajie Zheng was on the identity of Chinese people. China is a Confucian country. Chinese people respect their parents, teachers and elders, and cherish their families. Families gather together at New Year and the Chinese New Year. Everyone crowds around tables lined with celebratory food.

Meanwhile, there are those who meet their friends and go to countdown concerts among the younger generation in Japan. I think we are a little more separated from our families in Japan. (Same; Ogata)

Professor Hu’s lecture was on the history of war between Japan and China. I learned a number of things for the first time from his slides. I felt that I should know more about the history and wars of my own country. Professor Hu said that he walked at the actual spots of history.

Play (From the left: Koike, Ogata, Kitahara, Kajiwara, Niino, Ito, Ando, Professor Hu and Yabashi)

Ando (left) and Professor Hirooka wearing a mask of a member of the pop band Arashi 

Impression of China Changed

Debate between Japanese and Chinese students

Until I took part in this trip I thought that I would get ill if I ate Chinese food, that my room would be full of insects, and that the Chinese people would be rude. The China I actually saw with my own eyes was nothing like that; I once again recognized that seeing is believing. Professor Yajie Zheng said that Chinese people are open. I realized that is very true through my contact with the Chinese students. They have attractions that cannot be found in Japanese people. (Same; Ogata)

Staying in a University Dormitory

The campuses of universities in China are many times more spacious than those in Japan. They are like towns. You can find everything from a supermarket to a hospital on campuses in Chinese universities. There are also houses for the faculty staff members and university dormitories. There are even elementary/junior high schools attached to the universities for the children of the faculty staff members to attend.

Places to work are like castles surrounded by invisible walls in China and these also become places of living. This is something that cannot be easily understood by foreigners.

There was a change in our lodging by the third day. We stayed in a student dormitory on the first day. We then stayed in a boarding house from the second day. The dormitory had a card key system. There were large televisions and beds in our rooms. There were even towels and slippers provided. The bath and toilet may not have been the best, however. The boarding house was extremely clean. It was like a hotel. However, again, the toilet water did not flush, so things were a little difficult. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but think that they really needed to repair the plumbing facilities urgently.

Visit to Quanzhou Guandi Temple on the third day

Quanzhou History Museum of Overseas Chinese

Hiking course is in the university: Path of approximately 10,000 steps

Lecture by Professor Hirooka

Sightseeing in the City

We went around Quanzhou City to look at the sightseeing spots. We visited Guandi Temple, Qingjing Mosque (Islamic temple), Tin Hau Temple, the remains of Li Zhi’s home, Kaiyuan Monastery, Quanzhou Maritime Museum and Quanzhou History Museum of Overseas Chinese.

We learned about the history and culture of Quanzhou that once prospered as a port town in the Maritime Museum. There were materials that publicized the words and deeds of the Japanese Army during the war in a special exhibit to commemorate 70th anniversary since the end of the war in the History Museum.

End of the Trip

There are various issues, including political challenges, between Japan and China. I exchanged messages over SNS in advance with the students of Huaqiao University. Nevertheless, I wondered whether I would be able to make friends, whether there would be riots in the streets and whether we would be stared at on campus. I was extremely worried about everything.

I felt that the people in the streets of China that I saw were very open and I did not feel any discomfort in the university. I greatly admire the students in the Japanese College in Huaqiao University. They were cheerful, always had consideration for those around them and treated us with great friendliness. I became acutely aware that we had been bound by our prejudices.

I heard that Quanzhou was not a site of bloody battle in the Sino-Japanese War and so there was little war damage there. This is a place with little anti-Japanese sentiment. Our fellow Chinese students are learning Japanese and they like Japan. This was an opportunity for Japanese and Chinese students to meet directly and tell each other about their countries, talk about the future and share their everyday lives.

I really enjoyed talking about various things. We have now entered an age when it is possible to become friendly with Chinese students like this. There was an unfortunate history between Japan and China in the past. However, I would like to further deepen my interaction with Chinese people in the future.

Learn More

Seminar Introduction: Chuo University Hirooka Seminar

This is a practical joint seminar for junior and senior students under the idea of thinking about society from the actual place. We interviewed women active in society in Hamura City in Tokyo in the spring semester of 2015 to investigate what is necessary in order to promote a gender-equal society. The report on this was published in a forum for citizens in Hamura City. We conduct a female student awareness survey in Japan, China and South Korea in the fall semester to learn about the differences and commonalities between these three countries and deepen mutual understanding. I hold a trip in summer vacation every year. Last year, we went to South Korea. This year, we went to China and interacted with local students there.

Details of Hirooka Seminar Trip

・Interact with Chinese students through cultural exchange
・Learn about the history of the relationship between Japan/China and Chinese culture/history

Huaqiao University

This is a four-year university founded in 1960. The motto is to spread Chinese culture among Chinese people living overseas.

There are campuses in Xiamen City and Quanzhou City in Fujian Province. The university offers 62 courses in 21 departments. There are 2,115 faculty staff members and 28,000 students. There are 3,600 exchange students, including overseas Chinese people. (Data from 2009)

Manchurian Incident

This was an armed conflict between the Japanese Army and Chinese Army that began in the wake of the Liutiaohu Incident in the suburbs of Mukden on September 18, 1931.

Quanzhou City

This is a port city in the south of Fujian Province in China. The city developed as a base of trade with countries in the southern sea from the Tang and Song Dynasties. Industry (e.g. food processing and pharmaceuticals) flourishes here.

Gap between Cars of 10cm on the Highway

There were many times when other cars came up right close to us even though we were on the highway. There was a never-ending sound of car horns. Other cars would approach us up to a distance of about 10cm, so I was very worried that we were going to be involved in an accident. (Same; Ando)

Cars frequently changed lane. There were bikes dashing about while carrying large luggage. No one wore helmets. (Same; Niino)

Military Training for Freshmen

We took a walk on the hiking course in the university on the first day of our trip. I was surprised to hear and see military training. Freshmen must undergo military training for two weeks after entering the university regardless of whether they are male or female.

Culture Shock with the Restrooms

I was left standing time and again when waiting in line to use a restroom in a department store. I was under the wrong impression that we should go to a free spot from the person in front. However, everyone in Chin stands in front of the spot that they think is likely to become free. (Same; Kajiwara)

Food Situation

The foods were often brown or white. Only salads and fruits are served raw. It is normal to cook vegetables over heat.

The taste was strong and a lot of oil was used. Much more oil is used than in Japan. Meals are served in large quantities as if saying please eat lots. This was clearly different to Japan where much emphasis is placed on the appearance of food. I was told that food in Quanzhou was mild, but it had a rich taste compared with Japanese cuisine.