Dan Klimkowski Visits Japan with Summer Language Program
Sept. 7, 2010
During their four years at the Air Force Academy, cadets are able to spend their summers traveling to destinations all over the world. For gymnast Dan Klimkowski, the summer before his senior year was no exception. Klimkowski spent several weeks in Kanazawa, Japan, as a part of the Cadet Summer Language Program (CSLIP). Klimkowski shared a portion of his class project with GoAirForceFalcons.com.
My CSLIP to Japan gave me a much wider understanding of the Orient. Prior to the Academy I was completely unaware of Asian culture, let alone Japan in specific, and held no interest in learning. However, a whimsical decision to switch my language to Japanese provided me with the opportunity to learn so much about this very unique and interesting way of life.
In this photo journal I am going to cover various foods, modes of transportation, family life, and cultural activities that I experienced in Japan. Not only did these all help me understand the basics of the culture, they helped me understand how Japanese people think. Whether my life takes me to Japan in the Air Force, or there on civilian business after my career, I feel confident in my conversational abilities and knowledge of the culture to survive!
I found the Japanese to be excessively fond of their rice also. I will admit that it is higher quality than what is found in America, but their pride reflected more than the crisp delicious taste. Rice has represented Asia through millennia, defining their major dishes, communities, and agriculture. Even now it is illegal to export Japanese rice. I was lucky enough to be housed with a family that ate the same rice the emperor was served, and it was a fact they told me every meal!
The bus system was very convenient, and could take me almost anywhere I wanted to go. Although I knew very little kanji for the various stops in the city, it was simple enough to figure out with some native peoples' help.
One of the sons I saw almost every day. He was married and his wife had a child on the way. My host mother was always busy teaching her important cultural activities such as the tea ceremony and different dishes to cook while my host brother was always teaching me important cultural activities such as how to "kampai"! Even though my host brother was in his thirties he acted more like the 21 year old I am, making a connection relatively easy. However, he, like the rest of my family, spoke no English, forcing me to truly learn the language! The picture is of my host brother (in the bandana) and I, along with many other friends.
Next, karaoke! I enjoyed this activity a couple of times, and it is definitely a staple in Japanese entertainment. Unlike the karaoke that is popularly found in America, the more shy Japanese prefer private rooms. The list of songs seems endless, with a great selection from American hits (including very current songs) to Japanese classics.
My host family also took me on a tour of the entire Ishukawa prefecture. Here, I explored the beach road, a fishing village, museums of cultural parades, and a famous rice patty that dates back to feudal Japan! The picture is of me "helping manage the patty".
Other activities included chopstick making, kendo lessons, taiko drum lessons, sushi making, pachinko, and much more! The culture is deep enough in Japan that it would take decades to discover it all! Japan was truly and amazing experience that I will remember for the rest of my life and use during my Air Force career!