Japanese Ashinaga Students Visit Princeton University


Thursday, February 23 – Princeton, NJ


Ashinaga believes that international experiences are important in shaping one’s character and opening one’s mind. It was this belief that prompted Ashinaga USA to officially welcome three Ashinaga students from Japan in late February.

It was the first ever trip to the U.S. for Akane, Shono, and Miho — all residents in Ashinaga’s Kokoro-Juku, a dormitory designed to accelerate college students’ academic, social, and moral education. It was not just a trip to the U.S., however; it was an opportunity to visit Princeton University and sit in on classes.

Akane, a freshman at Hosei University, is majoring in culture and representation. Her linguistic acumen and passion for art were exercised when she sat in on Contemporary Art from 1950 — 2000, a course in the Art History Department. Despite the professor’s complicated word choice and fast speech, Akane said she understood a lot of it and found the professor’s argument interesting.


Shono, a sophomore at Takushoku University, is majoring in tourism, though he is considering studying abroad and focusing on computer science. So, naturally, he sat in on COS 126, one of Princeton’s most renowned and popular computer science courses. Afterwards, he said that the class motivated him to use the internet to learn more about computer science upon his return to Japan.

Miho, a sophomore studying psychology at Otsuma Women’s University, quickly became a sought-after Japanese expert on campus: She visited an elementary Japanese class in the morning and was such a hit that the professor invited her, Akane, and Shono to an upper-level Japanese seminar later that day. All three students attended the seminar, which was exploring the complicated relationship between media and truth. Each of them indicated it was their favorite class, saying it made them think deeply about this important issue. They also noted the pedagogical differences between Japanese teaching and American teaching: In Japan, students do not engage or discuss with the professor as much as in America.


The day concluded with a laptop concert in Princeton’s art museum. Akane noticed the irony and beauty of hosting such new-age, progressive, auditory art in a room adorned with old, traditional, visual art.

Akane, Shono, and Miho were able to experience some of Princeton’s non-academic life as well. They visited the dorm room of a current student named Jensen, a former Ashinaga intern and a junior in Princeton’s Physics Department.

During their time at Princeton, Akane, Shono, and Miho were able to learn more about Princeton’s courses, American pedagogy, and the non-academic side of college life. It was a successful visit indeed.