Scottish Teenagers Visit Sumiyoshi Buraku Community

In the middle of October 2002, a Scottish delegation comprising of ten secondary school students and two teachers of Rosshal Academy in Glasgow visited Osaka. One day in their stay, they went to Sumiyoshi Buraku Community, touched a life there and saw how the condition of the community has been improved. The followings are contribution of Pam Mother, teacher of Rosshal Academy and Yuki Tanaka, secondary school student living in Sumiyoshi.

The trip was organized and managed in Japan by The British Council, Tokyo and Osaka International House Foundation. It was funded by the Sasakawa Foundation in London and flights were donated by Japanese Airlines.

Our school, Rosshall Academy was approached initially by Mr. Ian Davidson, our local Member of Parliament. He had the good fortune to meet Mr. Mike Barrett, the director of The Sasakawa Foundation at a function in London one evening. Mr. Barrett spoke about a new project that the Foundation were working on called the "Sasakawa Japan Experience 2002". This would involve some young people from the UK in an exchange visit to Japan, but an exchange visit with a difference. Mr. Davidson suggested that a Scottish school might want to be involved in this challenge and that one from Glasgow, the second city of Scotland, would be even more appropriate. In this way Rosshall Academy became involved.

The main thrust of the visit would be to introduce the young people to as many aspects of modern day life in Japan as possible. They would stay with Japanese families, travel on Japanese trains and subways, and eat Japanese food. They would see Japanese people at work in the Fish Market and Police Headquarters in Osaka. They would visit a Japanese High School, a Silver Home and the Buraku area of Sumiyoshi where they could meet and observe a wide cross section of Japanese society. They would travel to the Japanese Alps, to Kobe, and to Hiroshima. They would meet young sumo wrestlers at Kinki University and take part in a Japanese religious festival. There seemed to be little of Japan they would not be exposed to.

Rosshall Academy is a typical Comprehensive Secondary school in the city of Glasgow, Scotland. When Mr. Davidson arrived at our school with the invitation we could not believe our good fortune. This was to be the trip of a lifetime for the ten students and two staff who would be fortunate enough to go. It would be a challenging one too. It was designed to make students 'think'. I have no doubt it has done just that. Students have returned with a greater awareness of the cultural differences between the UK and Japan but more importantly they now understand the wider humanitarian reasons for developing and maintaining such international links worldwide.

(Pam Mother)

World Peace

by Yuki TANAKA

On the 15th of October we had an exchange meeting with high school students from Scotland that we had been looking forward to for quite some time. I didn't talk much with them at the beginning, but when we went to the supermarket to do some shopping, I was able to start talking a little bit. I am not used to speaking English, but we somehow managed to make conversation, although I am not sure whether or not I was able to get across what I wanted to... From that point onwards, however, I gained confidence and we started conversing more naturally.

That night we had a BBQ!!!...Well, that was the plan, but unfortunately there was a storm with thunder and strong rain. Without any other options for dinner we ended up having teppan-yaki in the cafeteria!! Scottish and Japanese all mixed together to cut up the vegetables and clean the tables. It was international exchange in action. Junior high school students in our community were all nervous, but they also really enjoyed the chance to interact with the Scottish students. During dinner we talked enthusiastically about rugby and we had international exchange at every table!! After we finished, we showed each other some dancing from each of our cultures and enjoyed spending time together.

In the evening, 2 boys and 3 girls agreed to accept the challenge of visiting a public bathhouse. Unexpectedly, the boys enjoyed the public bathhouse more than the girls and they spent long time there. Finally, an hour and a half later they emerged with "that felt good" expressions on their faces. After that we talked some more.

I was interested in whether or not issues such as the terrorist attacks in America and the abduction of Japanese people by North Korea were well known internationally. Somebody said, "The terrorist attacks in America were really shocking. I normally close my eyes for only one minute [praying], but I closed my eyes for 2 minutes when that happened". I realized that that incident had many terrible effects on many countries. They said that they hadn't really heard very much about the abductions by North Korea in the news. We talked some more after that.

We learned that racial discrimination is a big problem in Scotland as well. Through international exchange we learned that every country in the world experiences problems of discrimination and prejudice and that there are people who are suffering all over our planet. There is discrimination against Buraku people, handicapped people and Korean people in Japan, racial discrimination in Scotland, cast discrimination in India, discrimination against black people in America etc. I think that there must be a lot of prejudice that I do not yet know about.

I also wonder about the word "peace". Peace isn't only about ridding this world of war, but it is also about making sure that the human rights of every person are protected. There are people who say that, "Japan is a peaceful country". I wonder if that is true? I think that, looking at any of the world's people and any of the countries in the world, we cannot say that a peaceful country exists. I wonder when we will finally be able to use the words, "world peace"?

*For more information about Sumiyoshi Buraku Community, please visit (in Japanese language)