iEXPerience Program: Students Enjoy Nature and Haiku at Shosenkyo

On November 13, 17 exchange students and short-term study abroad students visited Shosenkyo Gorge during the peak of the autumn leaves season.

iCLA international students enjoy exploring Shosenkyo Gorge with Professor William Reed.

The iEXPerience Program is a series of events open to iCLA’s exchange and short-term study abroad students to discover the unique charms of Yamanashi. Students are able to learn about Japanese history and culture outside of the classroom and experience it first-hand, such as practicing tea ceremony in a historical temple or waterfall training where Heian Era Shugendo practitioners would visit. Organized closely with iCLA’s faculty members, the iEXPerience program events are designed to offer an interdisciplinary learning experience and provide a comprehensive program of discovery, study, and enjoyment.

The events are held several times per semester, each taking place in culturally significant locations in Yamanashi.

In this iEXPerience event led by iCLA’s Study Abroad Team and Professor William Reed, students visited Shosenkyo Gorge, one of Yamanashi’s most well-known tourism areas and a popular destination for appreciating autumnal colors. Shosenkyo Gorge is part of Chichibu Tama Kai National Park.

Before embarking on the hike towards Sengataki Waterfall, Professor Reed gave a basic lesson on Nanba, the Art of Physical Finesse. “Nanba Walking” is a method of walking that was famously practiced by samurai and by the couriers of the Edo Period, who were known to have easily covered up to 40 kilometers a day using this method. Reed, who holds Special Shihan rank in Nanba, teaches a course on it every year at iCLA.

iCLA international students practice Nanba Walking with Japan Studies Professor William Reed.
iCLA international students practice Nanba Walking with Japan Studies Professor William Reed.

By preparing students with the basics of Nanba walking, students are able to become more in-tune with their body movements and decrease the fatigue that bad posture can cause. During the light hike, students were able to appreciate the fall colors and the natural beauty of the area.

iCLA international Students enjoy nature at Shosenkyo Gorge.
iCLA international Students enjoy nature at Shosenkyo Gorge.

After being immersed in nature, Professor Reed led a haiku workshop. In the haiku workshop, students practiced painting Haiga pictures and translating autumn-themed poems by Natsume Soseki, Kato Shuson, and Takarai Kikaku into English or their own languages. First, students honed their artistic senses by reproducing the Haiga artwork upside down. Students then translated the autumn-themed poems while keeping to the 5-7-5 structure of Haiku. Finally, students tried their hand at Japanese calligraphy.

iCLA international Students practice painting Haiga pictures.

On what they learned on the trip, one student responds:

“My Japanese is very limited as I didn’t know the language before coming to Japan/iCLA. I did however learn to see more past this language barrier, as I still managed to translate the poem (in my way).”

– iCLA exchange student

The next iEXPerience event will highlight Yamanashi as the wine capital of Japan. Students will explore what is “Koshu Wine” and receive a guided tour of Lumiere Winery, which has been operating for more than 130 years.

More photos from the event:


iCLA Study Abroad Program

Shosenkyo Tourism Association