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25 posts categorized "Resident Director"


and the winners are...

At last month's End of Semester Celebration, CIEE students, host families and other party attendees were invited to submit votes for our fall semester photo contest. While it was difficult to decide among many excellent photos, the following entries were declared winners (in addition to Issei Kashima's photo included in my last post). Enjoy!

-Shannon Quinn, Student Services Manager


      迷子 Lost Child by Landon YoshimotoYoshimoto_3


      ふくろ祭り Fukuro Festival by Rhonda Ma


      高台寺 Kodaiji by Rhonda MaMa_2


      富士山 Fuji-san by Russell Ottalini


      雪猿 (ニホンザル) Snow Monkeys by Cynthia LiangLiang_3


another semester comes to a close

Classes are over, final papers have been submitted, and the CIEE fall semester program is drawing to a close. Some students will head back to the US at the end of this week, while others will remain in Japan a bit longer to decompress, explore the countryside, and sneak in a few last things on their Tokyo to-do lists. For many students, final trips to kaitenzushi, shabu shabu, and all-you-can-eat sweets buffets are a high priority!

The first month of 2012 was a particularly busy month for CIEE students in Tokyo. After a two-week winter recess, classes reconvened on January 5. Shortly after, students had a three-day weekend to celebrate seijin no hi or Coming of Age day. Several CIEE students dressed up in suits and long-sleeved furisode kimono to attend local ceremonies near their dormitories and homestays.

On January 11, we had a CIEE excursion to Ryogoku for the sumo tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan. We sat through several lower-ranking sumo matches before getting to watch the highest rank of wrestlers, yokozuna, later in the day. We also had the opportunity to try chankonabe, a hot pot dish traditionally consumed by sumo wrestlers.

Despite their busy schedules, several CIEE students volunteered to give tours of the Sophia University campus and share their experiences with a large group of visitors (including the new CEO) from CIEE’s headquarters in Portland, Maine.

On January 18, we held our End of Semester Ceremony and Reception at Arucadia Ichigaya. Students received program completion certificates, performed entertaining skits, and submitted votes for our fall semester photo contest. At the reception, students had a chance to mingle with the host families, thank program volunteers and staff, and enjoy a delicious buffet of everything from sushi to cake!

While we will have to say goodbye to our fall semester students at the end of this week, our Academic Year Program (AYP) students will be back in early April for spring semester at Sophia University. We will update our blog occasionally during the break, so check back soon for more on the adventures of CIEE students in Tokyo.


Shannon Quinn, Student Services Manager

I'm including Issei Kashima's winning photo, 柄杓 Water Ladles from our fall semester photo contest. Other winning entries will be posted soon.



Late Autumn in Tokyo

Autumn in Tokyo is typically mild, but this year has felt even warmer than usual. It was only late November's rain and colder temperatures that finally silenced the cicadas and brought scarves, gloves, and heavy coats to the Sophia University campus. While the school’s Christmas lights went on several weeks ago, the Japanese maples in front of Kulturheim Chapel are still holding on to their green leaves, stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the season.
It's been a very busy semester at CIEE. In October, students participated in a taiko drum workshop, went on a walking tour from Yotsuya to the Imperial Palace, cheered for the Tokyo Giants at a Japanese baseball game, and joined an international exchange event with host families at Ueno Zoo.
Students were busy preparing for midterms in November, but still managed to make time for several J-Talk Japanese conversation sessions at the CIEE Study Center and a 3-day excursion to Hiroshima and Miyajima. For most students, the trip was not only their first journey by shinkansen, but also their first opportunity to hear a lecture by a hibakusha, or atomic bomb survivor.
December has been an active month so far, with a trip to the Ghibli Museum last Saturday, an elementary school visit on Sunday, and a soba-making activity mid-week. The CIEE Study Center will close during Sophia University's winter break, from December 23-January 4. During this period, students will take trips to different parts of Japan, or spend the New Year’s holiday with their host families.
We'll be back in January with more activities—including a trip to a sumo wrestling tournament in Ryogoku!

Happy Holidays!

Shannon Quinn

Student Services Manager

Boy band? Nope. Just a bunch of CIEE fall semester students hanging out in Miyajima!


Fall Semester Program Begins

The CIEE Study Center in Tokyo is excited to welcome 29 students from 19 US colleges and universities to our 2011 fall semester program at Sophia University. Our comprehensive orientation program began with arrival support at Narita Airport on September 13, and continues until classes begin on September 30. 
During the first week of the program, all CIEE students attended orientation sessions, explored temples in Narita and Asakusa, and visited Odaiba for a welcome lunch. Homestay students attended a CIEE-led homestay orientation, and were introduced to their host families in the following "taimenshiki." Dorm students were escorted by CIEE staff to their accommodations for the semester.
The following week, students returned to campus to join CIEE's session on cultural adaptation and goal setting, attend Sophia University's orientation, and take the Japanese placement exam. Students were also given an opportunity to get out and explore the city through participation in a scavenger hunt. 
Orientation workshop 
Fall semester students playing Barnga during an orientation workshop


Spring Semester Ceremony and Reception

To celebrate the end of the semester, CIEE Academic Year Program (AYP) and spring semester students, staff, host families, program supporters, and the Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Sophia University gathered for a ceremony and reception at Arcadia Ichigaya. AYP students delivered bilingual speeches on topics including the shinsengumi of the Bakufu period, Akihabara, and volunteer work on a farm in Tokunoshima. Spring semester students contributed by presenting on their involvement with student circles and clubs at Sophia University, and volunteer experiences in an earthquake and tsunami-devastated area of Tohoku, Japan.

This semester CIEE organized a photo contest, and winners were selected at the end-of-semester ceremony by members of the audience. All students received CIEE program completion certificates and then had a chance to socialize and enjoy the oishii food at the reception.

This is our final blog post for the spring semester program, but we will be back to share our adventures this fall when the program begins on September 13. In the meantime, please visit to hear from students who area spending a month in Tokyo participating in the CIEE summer program.

Mata ne!

Shannon Quinn, Student Services Manager

CIEE Spring 2011 Students at the End of Semester Ceremony

CIEE Students and Guests at the End of Semester Reception


和太鼓 Taiko Drum Workshop

Taiko Workshop 002 

Last Wednesday, CIEE students spent the afternoon learning how to play taiko drums at Taiko Lab Aoyama in Gaienmae.

The instructor began the session with a brief introduction to the history of the taiko drum, mentioning that the taiko drum (which can be heard as far as 4 kilometers away) often defined the size of the Japanese village, as drums were used to call villagers together for important meetings and events.

Next, students moved on to a brief group stretching activity before tackling the drums. After spending an hour teaching students several traditional rhythms, the instructors dimmed the lights and performed two pieces, including a well-known song from Miyakejima, an island 180 kilometers south of Tokyo.

Taiko Workshop 020 

Taiko Workshop 041plus 


江戸風鈴 handblown glass wind chimes

Last Saturday afternoon, CIEE students traveled to Shinohara Maruyoshi Furin to learn how to make Edo Furin, or handblown glass wind chimes. Glass furin are a traditional craft of Edo (Edo is the old name of Tokyo), and Shinohara Maruyoshi Furin is one of two places in Tokyo that are carrying on this centuries-old tradition.

After watching a glass-blowing demonstration by Shinohara-san, students had a chance to create their own glass windchimes and paint them. 

Furin Making 043













Furin Making 016








Furin Making 040


Spring Semester Begins

The CIEE Study Center in Tokyo would like to begin the spring semester blog by extending our most sincere sympathy to all who have suffered from the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Sophia University began the spring semester on schedule, and CIEE students from 22 US colleges and universities arrived in early April to begin the program.

CIEE kicked off the semester with an orientation program that included visits to Narita-san in Chiba, a walking tour from Yotsuya to the Imperial Palace, and various lectures and workshops on topics ranging from academics to health and safety.

Blog photo 
A day after arriving in Japan, CIEE students learn to purify their hands at Narita-san Shinshoji Temple.


Yotsuya Walking Tour 044 
 Student Services Manager Shannon Quinn and CIEE spring semester students pose in front of the Imperial Palace following the Yotsuya walking tour on April 20, 2011.



end of semester

To celebrate the end of the term, CIEE students, staff, our Sophia Academic Advisor, host families, dorm managers, and other program supporters gathered for an end-of-semester party near the Sophia University campus. Students contributed in various ways: one was emcee for the event, some delivered speeches in English or Japanese, and others gave presentations including slide shows of their experiences in Tokyo. All generously shared highlights and candid shots from their time at Sophia University, and this was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. CIEE students were recognized for their fall semester academic achievements, and winning teams for the orientation week scavenger hunt (a team-building search for Tokyo landmarks) were awarded prizes.

For CYP (Calendar Year Program, a two-semester program that began in April 2010) and fall semester students, this was a chance to reflect upon their stay in Japan and celebrate with classmates and their host families. Students received program completion certificates and then had a chance to socialize and enjoy the excellent food at the reception.

For AYP (Academic Year Program, a two-semester program that began in fall 2010) students, the reception marks the halfway point of their two-semester program. Following the end of the term on February 4, AYP students have a two month break before returning for classes in early April. Some students will remain in Tokyo for volunteer work, part-time employment, and internships, while others plan to use the extended break to explore other parts of Japan and Asia, or make trips to visit family back home. Many AYP students will return to Tokyo in late March to serve as senpai assistants at CIEE’s spring semester orientation.


Students at party 


coming of age day

Monday, January 10 was seijin no hi, or Coming of Age Day, in Japan. On the second Monday of January, young Japanese people who have turned 20 during the past year celebrate becoming adult members of society. The day is a national holiday, and ward and city offices around the country hold official ceremonies for young people. Young women dress up in long-sleeved kimono called furisode, and usually have their hair and makeup done. Because most young women don’t know how to put on a kimono, beauty salons offer special packages for Coming of Age Day that include assistance with dressing. Men traditionally wore dark kimono and formal divided skirts called hakama, but in recent years, Western suits have become more common.

Following the official ceremony, participants often go out to celebrate and take photos with family and friends. Many CIEE students reported encountering groups of kimono-clad 20-year olds in the large entertainment districts of Shibuya and Shinjuku on January 10.


Several CIEE students joined their Japanese peers in celebrating Coming of Age Day by dressing up in traditional clothes and taking purikura photos at a photo booth in Shibuya.  (Photo courtesy of Jane Qiu)