Feature Japan

CorSec’s Note: This Spring my predecessor Al Chambers tipped me off that Dave and Cindy Hummel, and Dan Koenigsberg, would be Class of ’62 reps on the AYA “Alumni Leadership Exchange” mission to Japan that took place the first two weeks of July.  I subsequently learned that Dave and Cindy were veteran globetrotters, having visited some 100 countries, and that Cindy was a top level photographer as well. So, in May at the Class Council meeting I asked Dave for a report on this trip and some photos, little suspecting that in August I would receive by email from Cindy not just a one-pager and a few shots of Tokyo, but some 10,000 words of  daily journals and about 100 expert photos, with Cindy’s (somewhat risky) permission to edit it as I saw fit for our discerning audience.  So I have attempted that editing job in this feature but really you should click on further to read all the journals and see the photos in their entirety. You may find yourself, as I did, wishing you were along for this journey.

Dave’s overview of the trip:

Dave Hummel and Dan Koenigsberg

Dave Hummel and Dan Koenigsberg

“Cindy and I as well as Dan Koenigsberg participated in the second Yale GALE foreign trip June 27-July 12. The first trip last year went to Australia. In this trip to Japan we met with eight universities. There were 50 Yale alumni, spouses, partners, and children in our delegation. Our objective was to teach the Japanese alumni representatives about our successful programs in such areas as reunions, club activities, alumni schools committees, AYA assemblies and alumni fund. Our meetings took place over five days in both Tokyo and Kyoto. The Japanese were gracious hosts, entertaining us royally wherever we went. We enjoyed 10-course dinners and access to sites not normally available to tourists. Our travels took us to Shikoku Island and the remote Iya Valley where we visited Alex Kerr’s Chiiori, a 300 year-old farmhouse. Alex has a Yale degree, has lived in Japan for many years and is the author of the book, Lost Japan. At the end of the trip 19 of us went to far western end of Japan, less than 100 miles from Korea, and visited the islands of Hirado, Nozaki and Ojika where we had a home stay.”

As Dave says, the group covered a lot of territory,  not just the familiar tourist venues, as you can see from this map of their itinerary:

From Yale’s perspective the trip was a great success, as indicated in this unofficial AYA post-game wrap-up:

“The trip to Japan was extremely successful on many levels. Many Japanese universities participated in the alumni exchange so we were able to share our expertise in alumni relations with many institutions simultaneously. The alumni of the University of Tokyo have already prepared a recommendation paper for the university based on what they discussed with the Yale delegates. The program itself also provided an opportunity for Yale alumni to take leadership roles in presentations and workshops as well as to establish friendships with alumni of the Japanese universities. We hope to have continuing shared alumni programs with many of the institutions that participated in the program. And, not to be undervalued, the experience was a wonderful introduction to the culture of Japan for the Yale group as well as an opportunity to work together and to establish strong friendships within our group.  The program was quite different from Australia  (first GALE mission in 2008) in a number of ways reflecting the different university cultures in the two countries as well as the fact that in Australia we worked exclusively with [one university] ANU.”

Back to  2009 Japan, the format for the five days of meetings was for the Yale alumni and AYA personnel to attend, while spouses, partners and children enjoyed guided tours of historical and other  sights.  Therefore,  Cindy saw  more of  Japan than Dave and Dan, but that’s why they got the big bucks and we have the benefit of her terrific photos!. In any case, you will see when you read her journals that Cindy,Dave, and Dan   had a  fascinating if strenuous time in Japan, following a dawn to dusk travel program from one end of Japan to the other.

Some of the main themes you will see in  Cindy’s journals and  photographs are:

Urban street scenes and life, from gleaming skyscrapers, to tiny shops and urban  homes, to un-buried electric wires everywhere:

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Ladies’ fashion, especially the black and white layered look currently in vogue.

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Historic Japan, from ancient [1200ad] Buddhist  and Shinto temples to less ancient but still old – country homes

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The food industry, fish markets, restaurants, and artistry of presentation

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The beauty of rural areas, mountains, harbors, rice paddies

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Advanced technology, from 155mph bullet trains, to park benches you can sit on but not sleep on,  to multifunctional toilets.

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Outstanding hospitality of the Japanese

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Especially enjoyable for the Hummels was a reunion with Ari, who was an exchange student in Cindy’s high school and staying in a typical Japanese urban home with a host family at the trip’s end.

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Cindy’s full journal is here.
Cindy’s full set of photos is here (don’t miss her captions at the bottom of each photo!)

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  • Al Chambers October 2, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Nice job Cindy and Dave. Your continuing travels and Cindy’s great photos reminded me of our Mini-Reunion in Hong Kong, which amazingly was now already four years ago. One question concerning the AYA outreach strategy, which I understand is part of Yale’s international aspirations — do you think that AYA should be trying to balance its volunteer energy with more U.S, programs?

    Al