SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

Guk CHO ”SGRA Work-shop No.4 ’Creation of Intellectual Space’ ”

SGRA Work-shop No.4 was held in Tateshina, Nagano Prefecture, for three days starting from July 3. I participated in this trip feeling uneasiness whether it is just a trip to Tateshina or a so-called “Work-shop” (which has a very serious meaning). This is my report of my personal impression on this “work-shop”.


July 3 (Fri.)

It rained heavily since this morning. We were supposed to leave Shinjuku at 9:00am, but due to heavy rain and unexpected circumstances, we left Shinjuku one hour later. Luckily, there was no traffic jam on the way, and it stopped raining by the time we arrived at Suwa.


We had lunch at a restaurant looking at the lake of Suwa, in “Garasu-no-Sato” (town of Suwa Glasses), It seems a standard practice that we visit the museum and shops of Garasu-no-Sato after lunch. I was impressed by a lacquered box with gold foil work which was expressed in glass. It is exactly the same with hexagonal lacquered box, but actually it was foiled by gold on the surface of the glass. I could not understand why it was made of glass. (There was a cabbage also which was made of glass!)

Anyway, it was so beautiful.


Next destination was the Suwa Grand Shrine. It was raining on and off and the old shrine seems to me very mysterious being enveloped in a fog and rain. I tried to pass through a thatched circle which is a Shinto purification ceremony of to ensure a peaceful summer. I could not pray for anything since my attention was on how to pass through the circle. I should have prayed for everybody who are in the same class of the Raccoon as me to complete their doctoral thesis.


We arrived a little late at our final destination “Certo (Italian) no Mori (Forest)” in Tateshina Heights. We had an ice-breaking time after dinner. We discussed in small group that “my strong point is ~” or “my weak point is~”which are seldom discussed even among close friends. At first, I did not understand that such talking is good for ice-braking, but our discussion got really lively. I am also interested in watching some people around me discussing seriously and positively or staying absent minded or feeling easy. At the get-together meeting after this, enjoyable conversation, even listening only, continued.


July 4 (Sat.)

On the second day, a real workshop started. In the morning, we had talk shows by Dr. Liu Jie and Dr. Jun-ichi Chaya. Starting from a definition of the concept of ‘intellect’ and ‘space’, we could hear from both doctors their thinking in depth, for example, the relations between intellect and politics. Both speakers pointed out clearly that, between intellect and political power, there are delicate and tense relations. Dr. Chaya referred to American think tanks and political policies. Dr. Liu referred to Japanese studies (or scholars) in China.


Tateshina Workshop, as being called Tateshina Trip, was planned originally for scholarship students, who are tired from preparation of their doctoral thesis, to give them a refreshing time. It is a consideration of AISF and has a meaning of enjoying with ease. But, it is serious activity and a theme this time with heavy meaning. Due to this, everybody seems to be serious and earnestly accepted the theme.. At the questions and answers part after the lectures, we had vigorous discussions from various aspects and viewpoints. For example, possibilities of East Asian community in an “intellectual space”, relations between ‘intellect’ and ‘power’, establishment of relations of ‘specialty’ and ‘intellect’, connection of academic ‘intellect’ and regional ‘intellect’ etc.


I am living in such a very narrow field as Japanese history, especially modern and present history, but it was certainly an exciting and enjoyable time for me in itself. On the other hand, pressure for sectional meeting of the workshop and presentation of the next day increased. But, it was utterly groundless. I could enjoy light-heartedly a sectional meeting, as per original plan, which started in the afternoon. At the five sectional meetings, each team had a time for freely discussing their topic, while enjoying fully the nature of Tateshina about color and shape which can image ‘intellectual space” like a treasure hunting, and finding themes necessary for, or prohibited in intellectual space.


After this sectional meeting, each team began to work on their presentation next day on the basis of today’s discussion. We, in our team, decided to combine various images which symbolize ‘intellectual space’. We started our work at first, not knowing what shape our result would be. But, our work took shape gradually by finding out proper image giving our idea little by little. As a result of our good team work, we could finish our preparation work for the presentation next day before dinner. We could forget about our presentation for the time being and enjoyed our dinner, after which we continued our meeting, though it started rain again outside.


July 5 (Sun)

This is the third and the last day of the workshop. The time has come for the presentations. Each team is getting ready for the presentations. Every presentation had their individualities and they were interesting in contents and style. Our ‘collage’ expressed a shape of human beings based on an order of the universe. Other teams expressed their works in various ways. One expressed intellectual space and its birth, using egg shaped lighting effects; another expressed intellectual space, like baking a chocolate cake as shown in cooking programs on TV; and some seriously explained connections and diffusions of intellectual space using paper handicrafts. The last team expressed links among people in intellectual space letting all the participants hold each other’s hands which demonstration was calculated accurately up to the last minute. I thought the last presentation was the most suitable one for the theme of the workshop. I thank all the organizers of the workshop for not letting only new scholarship students but also OB/OG students, staff members concerned and lecturers participate through discussions, as well as in conducting the presentations. This participation was rendered enthusiastically.


There was an award ceremony which satisfied everybody . We left for Tokyo by bus after lunch. I think everybody had spent valuable time enjoying a nature (we could see deer twice); and becoming more intimate with each other.


(Photos of Tateshina Workshop)



Doctoral Course (History), Waseda University



Translated by Kazuo Kawamura

English checked by Mac Maquito


SGRA NEWS on July 30 in Japanese (original)