Belmont University received eight visitors from Japan in late October. The group consisted of six members of the Fujieda International Friendship Society (FIFS) and the parents of Belmont University’s Japanese language instructor Dr. Naoko Ozaki. On the Maymester Japan Trip last year, Belmont University students and faculty visited Ozaki’s hometown, Fujieda City, Shizuoka Prefecture, and the FIFS group arranged generous hospitality for them in the city and the homes of their members. With their help, Belmont students visited Fujieda Elementary School and were welcomed by fifth graders with songs and a calligraphy demonstration. FIFS group also arranged for the Belmont group to receive a warm welcome from the vice mayor of Fujieda City. Upon her return from Japan this summer, Ozaki stayed in touch with the FIFS members and extended an invitation for them to visit Belmont. It wasn’t long before the FIFS members decided to accept this invitation and came all the way to the United States just to visit Belmont and Nashville, Tenn.
Belmont Japanese language students and the Maymester Trip students held an “FIFS Appreciation” event and sang eleven songs in Japanese, Swahili and English. The visitors sang along and also danced with the students. The event concluded with a potluck party with the help of custodial staff who brought food unique to their home countries. The group stayed with Nashville host families in the area, visited the Nashville mayor’s office and went to the Office of the Consul General of Japan and met Consul-General Kato. The students also took the visitors to restaurants such as Cheesecake Factory and Hard Rock Café where the visitors took pictures of all-American hamburgers and large portions of cheesecake slices. The delegation was hosted at a luncheon given by Belmont’s Asian Studies department and members of the Japan Studies faculty.
Dr. Tohru Ozaki and Mrs. Atsuko Ozaki, parents of Ozaki, brought a Ryūkyū Doll to Dr. Bob Fisher and the University. This doll is from the southern part of Japan known as Okinawa today. The style and the fabric of the outfit represent those of the time Okinawa was called Ryūkyū Kingdom from the 15th century, and the outfit is different from Japan’s traditional kimono.
The Ozakis live in Fujieda City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. Tohru Ozaki is one of a few elite scholars of Sumerian and cuneiform in the world. Much of his publication is studied and referenced by other Sumerian scholars. After retiring from teaching at the University of Shizuoka, he taught Sumerian, German, and French at Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China for four years. Atsuko Ozaki has spent her career working with people with autism, helping them to be participating citizens of the community. Being back in Japan now, they are looking forward to helping the students on Belmont’s Maymester 2014 Japan Trip experience the unique culture of Japan.