The JICA-DSP Local Program "Tour in Hiroshima, the Setting of the 49th G7 Summit" -Organized by JICA Chugoku (September 2023)


About the tour

On September 6, 2023, we conducted a tour in Hiroshima, which also hosted the 49th G7 summit. On this day, Hiroshima was blessed with cloudless blue skies, contrary to the weather forecast prediction a few days ago. The event marked our second tour in Japan for JICA participants from all over the country, the first having been held last year. The day began with long-term JICA participants and JDS students meeting at the Hiroshima Station. 21 of these students came from Hiroshima and 18 came from other parts of Japan. Overjoyed to meet each other again, many of the students embraced. Then, they boarded the coach full of vigor, to head to their first destination—the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

Remembering the tragedy of war and the importance of peace

In the park, the students attended a guided tour of the park’s monuments. At the Cenotaph for the Victims of the Atomic Bomb, they learned that the cenotaph includes names of overseas students from Southeast Asia. Upon finding this out, some students from the Philippines (who were studying at the International University of Japan) nodded solemnly. When informed that this was the spot where G7 leaders had laid wreaths, students who had watched the wreath laying on television brimmed with excitement, exclaiming, “Yes! This was the spot.” Although some students at Hiroshima University had visited the park many times before, it was difficult to tell them apart, since they all listened to the guide intently.
After touring the park, the students visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and attended a lecture about the construction of Hiroshima City. After listening to the lecture in silence, the students did not hold back from asking questions once it was over. They wanted to know, among other things, what the greatest challenge was in the reconstruction planning, how planners should engage with residents and solicit their opinions, and whether current radiation levels in Hiroshima are safe. The speaker addressed each question thoroughly, and the students appeared satisfied with the answers.


Attendees gather in front of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)


Houssein (from Djibouti, studying at the Kobe Institute of Computing) asks a question following the lecture

Enjoying cooking Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki

Next on the itinerary was a culinary experience. It was after 1 pm, and the guide announced that the group would now experience cooking some Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. When asked whether they were hungry, the students answered with a resounding yes. After arriving at the cooking experience venue, the attendees learned about the history of the dish—how its origin was closely related to the history of food shortage in Hiroshima in the aftermath of Japan’s surrender and the post-war reconstruction efforts.
The students then donned hair nets and aprons, and the cooking experience started. The first step was to spread a thin, round layer of batter consisting of flour and water onto the hot plate. This task proved tricky. In one case after another, a hole would appear in the middle, or the texture would become too thick. However, one student accomplished the task with ease: Chyndyk from Kyrgyzstan, studying at Hiroshima University. Chyndyk’s dexterous skills drew gasps of admiration from the others. Some remarked that Chyndyk could open an okonomiyaki restaurant back in Kyrgyzstan, which Chyndyk seemed to take in good humor. Chyndyk also managed to pass the greatest hurdle—flipping the pancake over—with aplomb, ending up with the perfect okonomiyaki.
The topping sauce provided by Sunfoods, was vegan-friendly, and thus suitable for the students, most of whom were Muslim or vegetarian. On sampling their creations, the students exclaimed that they were delectable with a resounding “oishii desu!” With stomachs filled, the students continued on to their next destination, the Mazda Museum.


Students enjoying the okonomiyaki cooking experience

A succession of exciting encounters: The Mazda Museum

As soon as the attendees entered the Mazda Museum’s ground-floor exhibition area, they let out an amazed gasp. They had encountered a collection of sleek motorcars, and what’s more, they were allowed to click pictures and sit inside these vehicles. The students got engrossed in taking snaps in a variety of poses.
During the museum tour, the students learned about Mazda’s history and its initiatives. They also visited the car factory to observe the assembly of cars on the production line. Mazda’s tour guide provided detailed explanations but still received a flurry of questions from the students, several of whom were motor enthusiasts. The group was shown a special model that displayed a serial number that is allotted to only three thousand units. On seeing this, Rustamjon (from Tajikistan, studying at Hiroshima University) asked the guide whether the first unit had been bought by a Japanese buyer. The guide’s inability to answer that question drew amused laughter.


Khan (from Pakistan, studying at Hiroshima University) poses like a model

The day flew by, and it was now time to bid farewell to the students from outside the Hiroshima Prefecture. These students’ get-together could only have been possible because of the tour. One hopes that they will treasure not only what they learned and experienced on this day, but also the friendships they forged. Thanks to everyone for participating and making it a day to fondly remember.

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