Songwha Choi

I was standing in front of the cherry blossom tree with holding the sake cup, when I noticed that the petals hang from tree branches was falling down.

Spring blue sky—

Cherry blossom petals hang from tree branches

Falling down in the sake cup


This class gave me special emotional moments. Especially the Hanami celebration was wonderful time for me. This event reminded me of what we have learned and explored in our class. When I watched the cherry blossoms, I felt I could commune with nature. The Japanese music, cherry blossom viewing, warm sake, and beautiful weather made a perfect harmony. It was such a wonderful experience in my life. I could feel the Japanese culture deeply. Learning different cultures are always interesting to me. Since I have a plan to work for Japan, this class was worthy of learning for my future. In this class, I have learned valuable lesson that everything is constantly changing, so nothing lasts. Furthermore, some moments are precious, and sadness is beautiful. “Evanescence and form” brought me a poetic sentiment. This class changed my way of thinking. I was able to fulfill myself through this experience. When I posted my haiku and picture in the class blog, I could interact with our classmates. I could learn the different and interesting views from them. This works were a priceless time. I appreciate that this class gave me these great opportunities during the semester.

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Sarah Marakos


We were all sitting under the cherry blossom tree in the middle of the afternoon.


The tree shades the ground

From the afternoon sun-

As its blossoms flutter to the ground.


This class taught me a lot of important things about Japanese culture that I did not know before, but more importantly it taught me valuable things about life. I learned that failure is inevitable, but then, so is success. It is best to just be at the zero level- of nothing- than to be either up or down because then you are always going to face the other extreme next. I also learned to appreciate lyrical moments. Instead of rushing around worrying where I have to be next, I now appreciate the things along the way- images, sounds, and smells of the world around me. Most importantly, this class was focused on evanescence. Knowing that everything is constantly changing gives me some comfort because now I’m ready for it. I won’t face change with sadness and despair, but with positivity for what is to come in the future. Maybe my happiness won’t last, but neither will sadness. And besides, there is beauty in sadness. After taking this class, I try to make sure I live every day like it could be my last, appreciating every moment for what it is worth.

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Ending the Year

As I was walking around campus a single cherry blossom fell and caught the sun’s light as it headed towards the ground.

There from your high height,
You fall and catch the sun’s light.
Graceful, in your plight.


When I first entered this course, I was just looking to deepen my understanding of Japanese culture.  I had planned to study abroad in Japan and wanted more of a reason than my enjoyment of anime. I learned about hedonism, animism, and a new way to value space amongst many other lessons.  Nothing has become everything and a person’s belief in a deity can be all encompassing of others.  I’ve been amazed by the samurai’s code of honor and intrigued by the respectability of being a geisha.  The idea of evanescence has giving me a way to describe aspects of life I had begun to notice.  Also, the idea of evanescence has been one of my favorite topics I’ve learned this semester.  Taking this course was the best decision I’ve made in choosing classes my entire freshman year.  By the end of this course I realized that my enjoyment of Japan goes beyond anime.  Now, as a raising sophomore, I am thinking of becoming a Japanese major so that I can pursue my interest to even greater extent.

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I was walking outside the rain garden by Lewis at night when I looked up and a breeze blew through the cherry trees.

A cool night breeze

Sways dark branches

Petals flutter all around

Photo on 2013-05-16 at 21.01 #2

This class was far from what I expected to be in a very good way. I came into this class expecting to learn more about the day-to-day life of the Japanese people, but came away with a much deeper understanding of why Japan is the way it is. I really appreciated the philosophical approach this class took to the understanding of Japanese culture. Because of this class, I’ve learned to appreciate life’s evanescence and the beauty that comes with not taking everything for granted. I look at things more carefully now and appreciate the beauty that doesn’t last (I appreciate “lyrical” moments much more than I used to).This class has taught me the importance of living in the moment and taking things as they come. I also realized just how Western my view of the world is, if that makes sense. I’ve been looking at things through such an American/Western lens my whole life and this class really helped open my eyes and helped me start thinking about things in a new way. The class was engaging, the work was interesting and thought provoking and so was the material. I feel like I learned a lot and will take this new knowledge with me a long way (even if it sounds cheesy).


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Celebrate the Semester

During Kenny’s Kendo demonstration, I looked up at the cherry blossoms.

The Kendo Shinai’s

clack echoes -

A cherry petal falls.


Cherry Blossom








The Hanami celebration was a time for me to truly feel at one with this class.  Never mind the delicious food, sake, music, and absolutely PERFECT weather, for me, this few hours of celebration allowed me to solidify relationships with my peers and feel as though we had all accomplished something together.  What we accomplished was a 14-week introduction to our understanding of Japanese culture.  Although I believe we all have a long way to go if we want to truly understand evanescence and form, I think we can all come out of this class saying that we’ve learned an awful lot about them.  Having such an outspoken class was essential to this process; during our debates and discussions in class, I was often enlightened by one of my classmates’ thoughts, which occasionally swayed my opinion on the subject at hand as well.  These thoughts often marinated in my mind for a while outside of class, and I now see the world from a different perspective.  I feel lucky that I took this course at such a pivotal stage in my life, and have learned so much about how I want to spend my last year in college and the years beyond.

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Enjoying the sake and sushi under the cherry blossom trees, outside Bendetson.

Clear sky-

Wind blows

Blossoms scatter


This class may be titled “Introduction to Japanese Culture”, but it really teaches about life, and how to live. The Hanami party really did embody the evanescence that we discussed in class throughout the semester: the sky was clear and the sun was shining, and under the protection of the cherry blossoms it was possible to witness a petal or two fluttering down from the tree. A tree that, throughout most of the year, seems lifeless. Its branches are normally bare, yet in a space of weeks it blossomed into a beautiful being. Sitting under that tree and watching the blossoms fall made me aware that the moment of beauty the tree enjoys is fleeting, yet it makes the most of it. Death gave way to life, which in turn gave turn to death, with the fluttering down of the petals into our sake cups.

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I was sitting on the Bendetson Patio during our Hanami celebration and looked into my sake cup to find the reflection of the cherry blossom tree, which disappeared as a gust of hit the liquid in my cup.

Reflections of the sakura

in a warm sake cup

fade away as the wind blows


This was probably the most unique class I’ve ever taken at Tufts. As a Physics major, my coursework has focused on mathematical proof and logical reasoning. What we learned about evanescence and form throughout the semester forced me to accept the fact that I can’t necessarily grasp everything in life. I did however learn how to appreciate things in the moment. The weekly exercises we did every week strengthened my appreciation of nature, and the world in general by noticing the beauty in almost euphoric moments of strong emotion. I think the most important thing I learned from this class is about balance. I think more so than grasping and appreciating the material, I began to appreciate that in life there is a difference between aiming to be truly happy or successful, or experiencing extreme sadness or depression, and just being “O.K.” There is a lot to be said about the pluses and minuses we face everyday, but I think from now on I’ll try to keep everything at “0.”


Krishna S.

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Cherry Blossoms

During our festival, I talked to my peers, some for the first time.

Sitting under the cherry blossom tree,

Joking with classmates

who once were strangers.


I took this class on the recommendation of a past student after hearing the homework consists of writing a poem and drawing a picture. I thought to myself, “this sounds like something I could do pretty easily.” Man was I wrong. Writing these little three line poems turned out to be as hard as writing any three page paper. Having to be so selective with our words made the process more difficult than I ever could have imagined. But it also made it more rewarding. This class opened my eyes to things that in my Western mindset I overlook. While it sounds cliche, getting a better understanding of Japanese culture also gave me a better understanding of myself (not that I’m Japanese). As we talked in class, I realized that many of our subjects, like lyrical moments or Do (the Way), I have experienced before. However, without a means to properly appreciate them, I dismissed them. This class has allowed me to appreciate these things in a light untouched by Western philosophy. I take particular comfort in the fact that while we are doomed to fail at some point, we will also succeed at other points. Every low has a comparable high. I really enjoyed this course and it has been one of the coolest I have taken at Tufts.

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Final Post

Cherry blossoms fall

Gracefully twirling

Life ends



This class has been different from almost every other class I have taken in my life.  I have never been much of an in class talker, and am still not, however I think this class has helped to change that some.  I believe that the thing I took most from this class was to appreciate what was immediately around me.  The class coincided perfectly with the coming of spring, and thanks to it I catch myself looking at the nature around me all the time.  I would like to thank all of you students as well as Professor Inouye for all of your varying insights on the topics we covered and I wish you all the best going forward.

Thanks, Shawn



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Petals tickled by wind

Part with the tree

- A last farewell


ben tre


Well we’ve reached the end. I don’t really know what to say. I can say I loved the class– sitting quietly absorbing and reflecting on the awesome discussions being had. I can say something about how the class changed me– how going into it, I had close to no idea what to expect. A freshmen engineering student, the abstract artsy world of this new Japanese culture class really intimidated me. And how by the end, I found myself walking quietly on Saturday mornings, taking in the sights and sounds of a near-deserted campus. I honestly don’t know quite how I would have dealt with the stress and workload of finals period without the lessons learned of quiet thinking and reflection–almost meditation. Looking back now, I can’t ever remember the point or goal of a week ever being this new ability to meditate, but it is absolutely a great consequence of taking the course.

I think in the end though, I am just thankful I chose to take the class! I knew there were some connections between my personal ideologies and personality and the general Japanese vibe– I felt it in Japan when I visited, when reading any number of Japanese authors, and even watching Miyazaki films! This class largely just put these undefinable connections into words; I’d almost say into categories. I guess it still isn’t really something I can describe at length! Anyways, I loved taking the class and am thrilled to have met everyone.


Ben deButts

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