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【Message from the Director of IC】Welcome to AGU!
Welcome to Aoyama Gakuin University! I am extremely glad to meet you all. We have waited two and half a year for this day to come.
I am Yasuhiko Komatsu, Director of AGU International Centre, and Professor of the College of Literature. My main subject is Japanese literature, and I specialise in classic and modern Japanese poetry.
How do you feel about Japan? I am pretty sure that you are astonished at this awful humidity in Japan. But, you know what? I’d say you actually touch the essence of Japanese culture! In fact, this humidity is an integral part of Japanese culture and has a huge impact on Japanese literature. Fog and mist, the phenomena only seen in highly humid areas, have inspired many poets. Also, Kenko, a renowned essayist in the fourteenth century, famously said ‘We should build houses suitable for summer.’ Apparently, Kenko thought humidity and heat in summer was more intolerable than the coldness of winter. Even today, Japanese houses are fitting for summer, but not for winter. So be careful not to catch a cold in the coming winter!
There are three things that I’d like you to keep in mind.
Firstly, please take diverse modules. AGU offers a wide range of classes to international students. (Isn’t it great?) So please don’t hesitate to take classes that you find interesting. Rest assured, all the professors welcome you warmly. And of course, you are more than welcome to my class, too!
Secondly, enjoy Tokyo! Aoyama campus of AGU is located in Shibuya, the heart of Tokyo where contemporary Japanese culture is being born and thriving. Exploring Shibuya gives you a good insight into modern Japanese culture and values. I hope you discover different aspects of Tokyo with your own eyes!
Thirdly, if you have a chance to travel in Japan, I recommend Nara and Asuka as well as Kyoto. Kyoto is famous, but Nara and Asuka are very important places in Japanese history. The first capital of Japan was Asuka, a basin surrounded by the hills. I can’t forget how amazing it was! It’s been many years since I visited Asuka, but I still remember the beauty of the blue hills in the morning mist. And obviously, people in the ancient past felt the same. Here is an ancient poem.
Yamato wa kuni no mahoroba. Tatanazuku aokaki yamagomoreru.
Yamato shi uruwashi.
(Yamato *Yamato is an old name of the Nara basin, is the most outstanding place in Japan. It is surrounded by rolling hills resembling blue hedges. How splendid Yamato is!)
If you would like to visit Kyoto, Nara, and Asuka, please get in touch with me. As a specialist of Japanese literature, I can recommend some wonderful hidden gems there!
I’ve talked about fun things so far, but here is a warning for you. The Japanese government prohibits having weed/marijuana/cannabis. If you have weed, you are certainly arrested. It doesn’t matter whether you ‘smoke’ weed or not. If you have a pinch of it in your pocket or bag, you’ll be taken into custody and may not be able to continue your studies in Japan. The regulation of drugs including weed is very strict here so be careful.
Lastly, if you have concerns about your mental health, even if you think it is not serious ‘enough’, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the staff of AGU International Centre. Studying abroad can be physically and mentally demanding. I totally understand it as I did research in London for half a year, all alone. I was lonely on every single Sunday. Only a neighbour’s fluffy little dog gave me comfort. His name is Ted. Well, what I’m trying to say is ‘we are your Ted!’ We make every effort to support you, so please feel free to contact us if you have any problems.
I hope all of you will have fruitful days in Japan!
Komatsu Yasuhiko, Ph.D.
Director of International Center & Professor of the College of Literature