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Delivering Good Fortune from the God of Scholarship (Jade Thiriat, Graduate School of Information Science and Technology)

Experiencing Traditional Japanese Culture

Ebessan is an event at the very start of the year to invite good luck and good fortune, and is one of the most important traditional events of the year for business people in Osaka. “For 6 hours a day over the course of 3 days, I stood wearing my hakama, bowing to the people that visited, handing them bamboo branches and ringing the bell, over and over… It was a bit embarrassing,” said Ms. Thiriat, providing us with very frank opinions on the festival. But she added, “The Ebisu Festival is a Shinto ritual, and becoming a shofuku-musume meant that I would not simply be viewing the festival from the outside, but that I would actually become a part of it. I was able to experience Japanese festivals from the inside.”

To the eyes of someone who was raised in a different culture, Japanese traditions, manners, and customs are “all surprising and new.” And that’s why she wants to know more. With the encouragement of Osaka University Visiting Professor TAKASHIMA Koji, Ms. Thiriat applied to be a shofuku-musume. “After our 3 days of work and all of the visitors had left, there was a ceremony on the shrine grounds. The ringing of the gong in that solemn atmosphere is something that will remain in my heart,” she recalled.

Adoring Japan in Her Childhood

At her university in France, Ms. Thiriat majors in computer science. However, at OU, she is studying a wide variety of subjects, such as sociology, gender theory, as well as Japanese society, traditions, and culture. She chose Japan as her first destination to study abroad because, “I loved Japanese films and manga as a child, so I held a sense of familiarity with the country. It was my dream to come Japan since I was a child.” She mentioned that seeing OU students enjoying cosplay and performances at Osaka University's Machikane Festival was the very image of Japan that she had since she was child.

Ms. Thiriat enjoys traveling to all corners of Japan with her friends, also international students. She especially likes Kyoto, mentioned that “it’s fun to experience Japanese culture, such as seeing people wearing kimonos and visiting temples.” Ms. Thiriat was able to wear a kimono herself while working as a shofuku-musume. “I’m going to buy a yukata and bring it home with me to commemorate my stay in Japan,” she added with a smile.

The Excitement of Experiencing a Different Culture

How will the year that Ms. Thiriat spent as a student at OU affect the rest of her life? “I want to be a programmer in the future, so it may not directly affect my profession. But experiencing Japanese culture and meeting all kinds of people has broadened my horizons. I think that studying abroad at OU has provided me with the foundation to think about things from a different viewpoint when I interact with culture that is different from the things I took for granted.”

About Jade Thiriat

Ms. Thiriat is currently studying as an exchange student in OUSSEP for one year, beginning her studies in September of 2015. She is from the Consortium of Universities in Grenoble, France. She was chosen as one of 20 shofuku-musume of some 420 applicants.

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