Akihabara excursion

The Tokyo Tech International Student Association (TISA) held an Akihabara walking tour + Karaoke event on May 14, 2017. In collaboration with the SOS-dan anime and cosplay circle of Tokyo Tech which is mainly composed of Japanese students, the aim of this event was to promote cultural exchange and social interaction between Japanese and International students.

According to the attendees, this event was a successful opportunity to make friends between people with interest in diverse areas of Japanese pop-culture without the stress of cultural or language barrier.

Comments from organizers

Naveed Afzal (TISA, Pakistan)

Many International students who arrive in Japan share the same level of passion, if not more, towards japanese pop culture as a lot of local Japanese students. However, there aren’t many chances for them to interact due to the language barrier and lack of social opportunities. In addition, most circles in Japanese universities are still not yet used to having international students as full-time members.

TISA is one of the few student organizations in Tokyo Tech where Japanese and International members work together on equal ground on our projects. One of our core activities is to organize events where international students can participate in activities of Japanese student circles and get a chance to interact with their members.

We planned this outing with SOS circle for students who are interested in aspects of japanese pop culture such as anime, manga, idols, cosplay, etc. The number of students interested in joining the activity was much more than I expected. Some of our bilingual members from TISA accompanied the participants to facilitate communication, but that did not seem too necessary as the participants were more than willing to use their own English/Japanese skills to communicate.

The feedback from both Japanese International members was largely positive I hope that we can organize more such activities in the future.

Miika Piiroinen (SOS団, Finland)
There are definitely not too many opportunities for exchange students to meet and get to known to the locals. And the same goes the other way around as well, many Japanese seem to be interested meeting foreigners and practicing their English skills but are rather hesitant to directly talk to them. This Akihabara outing event was an opportunity to meet and discuss with both, the foreign and Japanese students sharing the same interests.
During the outing, we first went around Akihabara in groups interested in, for example, video games or anime. Afterwards we gathered together for some karaoke and people were really getting into it, wearing costumes and all. Everyone seemed to have a blast, and even though the communication might've come with some difficulties from time to time, it did not slow us down the least bit. And of course, thanks to the people with proficient language skills for helping us overcoming the language barrier.
I personally had not heard about the international student association TISA before. There were also people who seemed to be interested in the activities of the anime/cosplay club SOS団 as well. A great chance for both to recruit some new members. Hope we'll see more of events like this in the future too!