iEXPerience Program: iCLA Students Tour Local Temples and Join a Haiku Workshop

As part of the iEXPerience Program, on May 25th, iCLA students visited local Buddhist temples Tokoji Temple and Kai Zenkoji Temple to learn about history in Kofu and engage in a Haiku Workshop with Professor William Reed. Both Tokoji Temple and Kai Zenkoji Temple are a 25-minute walk from the Yamanashi Gakuin University campus.

iCLA’s iEXPerience Program is designed with hands-on educational experiences in mind, so students can learn through experiencing Japanese or Yamanashi culture at historically or culturally significant locations in the prefecture. The Program is organized in cooperation with iCLA faculty members who provide their expertise in the subject area.

The first stop was Tokoji Temple, one of the Five Great Zen Temples of Kofu as designated by Sengoku-era warlord and historical icon of Yamanashi Prefecture, Takeda Shingen. After Takeda Shingen’s death, Oda Nobunaga set fire to Tokoji Temple, but the Buddha Hall, which is believed to have been built during the Muromachi Era, miraculously escaped Oda Nobunaga’s destruction. Today, it is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.

At Tokoji Temple, students joined a Haiku workshop with Professor William Reed. The activity involved Haiku centered on the theme of summer and Haiga, an illustration which accompanies the haiku. Professor Reed instructed students to look at and sketch the haiga upside down, a technique that encourages accuracy by drawing based on observing shapes. The summer-themed Haiku also inspired students to reflect upon the beauty of the season. After the activity, students perused the Tokoji Temple premises, appreciating the nature of the tranquil Japanese gardens and history of the temple.

iCLA students visit local Kofu temple Kai Zenkoji Temple as part of the iEXPerience Program

Following Tokoji Temple, students visited Kai Zenkoji Temple, the final stop in the May 25th iEXPerience Program. Kai Zenkoji is a temple which was established by Takeda Shingen in the 16th century. Its main hall is said to be the largest wooden architecture in Eastern Japan. Under the guidance of Professor Reed, students browsed the temple’s ancient treasures and walked through the Okaidan Meguri, a pitch-black underground passage way shaped in the kanji character心 kokoro, meaning heart/mind in Japanese.

In this iEXPerience event, students gained insight into haiga, haiku, Kofu history, and historical temples close to campus.

Students can look forward to more exciting iEXPerience Programs happening in Spring Semester 2024.

“[My favorite part of the field trip was] the haiku! I learnt about the history of the temples and honed my skills in haiku.”

Violet, iCLA Exchange Student


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