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Place can be like mirrors: they show you who you are through what they let you see.

Allow me to explain. One day in a literature class I teach at the International College of Liberal Arts (iCLA)(External Link), a faculty of Yamanashi Gakuin University, a student told me that a nearby train station reminded her of movies from Studio Ghibli, one of Japan’s most well-respected anime production studios. A few days after class, I visited the station to see if it is true. It was an unmanned station, and there were only two people waiting for a train. Both of them seemed absorbed in their cell phones. The view from the platform was a great panorama of mountains including Mt. Fuji, whose mountaintop was still covered by snow. The station certainly aroused a sense of nostalgia, but it took me some time to understand my student’s comment. As I looked around and went over the Ghibli library in my mind, slowly I came to realize that maybe the feeling I was experiencing was a sense of long from my childhood. This unfamiliar station had somehow triggered it, and that is what my student found here as well and associated it with Ghibli films. She saw something in the films that related to the station but that I could not see. Then I thought, this is it. This is what we can cultivate.

This is how Yamanashi Kaleidoscope project started. It is a web project designed to enrich tourists’ experience in Yamanashi by introducing aspects of the region that have not been internationally acknowledged. As the title suggests (and as you saw in my small anecdote above), we believe that Yamanashi is like a kaleidoscope: how we see it changes what we see. For those who have lived in Yamanashi for more than 50 years, for example, the place is a home that provides a sense of belonging, comfort, and safety. On the contrary, for both international and domestic tourists, Yamanashi offers so much more because the ordinary things for local people often become extraordinary things for tourists.

In Yamanashi Kaleidoscope, you will find articles about Yamanashi written by college students—some who are Yamanashi natives, and some who are international students, coming to this place from all over the world. They are neither long-term Yamanashi residents who know the place inside out nor tourists, but precisely because of that, our contributors can introduce their own unique versions of Yamanashi that have not been discovered yet. It is our hope this website helps you find your own version of Yamanashi, and in doing so, helps you come to see yourself in a whole new light.

Project Founder

Kazutaka Sugiyama, Ph.D.
Lecturer (literature) at the International College of Liberal Arts
Yamanashi Gakuin University, Japan

Published on

  • May 25, 2022


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