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27 Nov 2015
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10th Homecoming Day (7 November 2015)

This year's Kyoto University Homecoming Day, the tenth since the founding of the Kyoto University Alumni Network, was held on 7 November under the theme, "Kokoro" (human psyche). Around 2,400 visitors attended, including KU alumni -- those who had completed an undergraduate or graduate program, or had once worked, at the University -- as well as current students, faculty, and staff.

The program featured a lecture event, which drew a capacity audience to the Clock Tower Centennial Hall.

Professor Shigeru Takami of the Graduate School of Education (a KU Alumni Secretary) acted as master of ceremonies, with President Juichi Yamagiwa (KU Alumni Chairman) delivering the opening address. His speech centered on the WINDOW concept, which sets out principles for guiding reform at Kyoto University, and which describes his view that the University should ideally serve as a "window" through which talented students and promising researchers pass on their way to success in their respective fields of endeavor. He concluded by reaffirming his commitment to this vision.

Next, a student Noh club, Kanze-kai, came on stage to perform the work "Funa Benkei", whose climax consists of Lady Shizuka dancing her farewell to her boyfriend, Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

A special lecture, the centerpiece of the program, was delivered by Professor Emeritus Donald Lawrence Keene of Columbia University. Under the title, "People I Met at Kyoto University", Dr Keen shared his memories of the time he had spent as a KU graduate student, reflecting on the unique researchers he had gotten to know and the pleasure of living in Kyoto, with an occasional touch of humor that kept the full-house audience engaged and laughing.

After his talk, Dr Keene was joined by President Yamagiwa in a ryurei-shiki (chair-style) tea ceremony hosted by members of the Faculty of Medicine student tea club. Throughout the proceedings, Mr Sokaku Kurakazu, Deputy Tea Master of the Urasenke School, provided commentary to help the audience connect with the essence of tea.

The ceremony was followed by a tea party, in which maiko (apprentice geisha) from the Ponto-cho district entertained the guests by dancing "Momiji no Hashi (Maple Bridge)" and posing for photographs. This part of the program wrapped up in a festive atmosphere with KU cheerleaders delivering powerful performance.

Meanwhile, in the University Lounge (Kyodai Salon) down the hall from the Centennial Hall, members of the student tea club Shinchakai served powdered green tea to visitors in the nodate (open-air ceremony) style.

Outdoors, food stalls surrounding the camphor tree (kusunoki) in front of the Clock Tower Centennial Hall building formed a Kusunoki Food Stand Village, including fresh vegetables procured by the Graduate School of Agriculture. People also flocked to an event stage, such as to see an interview with Ms Erika Matsuo, a violinist and TV personality (Faculty of Economics 2007).

Another highlight of the day was a concert by the Kyoto University Symphony Orchestra, which, in the Clock Tower Centennial Hall, performed selections from "The Master-Singers of Nuremberg", "Carmen", "Radetzky March", and "Hungarian Dance No 5".

In addition, a great number of visitors took advantage of the opportunity to tour the University Library and the Sonjo-Do hall, the latter of which is a Registered Tangible Cultural Property of Japan, as well as the special exhibition being hosted by the Kyoto University Museum -- "Designs for Communicating Science: Giving Form to the Thoughts of Researchers".

Other activities included a networking event focused on KU students' career development. Dr Nobuo Sayama (Faculty of Engineering 1976), Partner and Representative Director, Integral Corporation, delivered a lecture, while Mr Takashi Mitachi (Faculty of Letters 1979), Co-Chairman, Japan, Boston Consulting Group, moderated a panel discussion in which five KU alumni representing different sectors participated. After the lecture and discussion, the speaker and panelists joined the students and alumni in a social gathering held at a separate venue, exchanging information with each other.

President Yamagiwa greeting the audience

Professor Takami acting as master of ceremonies

Kanze-kai performing on stage

Professor Emeritus Keene delivering his lecture

Mr Kurakazu, Deputy Tea Master of the Urasenke School, commenting on the tea ceremony

Students from the Faculty of Medicine making tea for President Yamagiwa and Dr Keene

Maiko dancing for the tea party guests

Kusunoki Street Food Village

KU alumni taking part in a panel discussion

The Kyoto University Symphony Orchestra in performance