Learn About World Heritage Sites in Kyoto! (Daigo-ji Temple)
The content of the class
The class I joined was a PBL with Daigo-ji Temple and Ryukoku University PBL. During the first couple of meetings, the class will be held in Kyoto Campus Plaza with students from other universities in Kyoto. In the first couple of classes, you will learn about the history of Daigo-ji Temple and prepare for the actual fieldwork, including how to conduct research and interviews.
After attending the class, you will go to the site and conduct fieldwork. In the case of the Daigo-ji class, the fieldwork is conducted onsite during the summer. During the fieldwork, you will determine the issue that will be your theme. You will then propose a solution to that issue by walking around the temple and interviewing the temple staff.
Lastly, after participating for one year, you will do a presentation in front of the Daigo-ji Temple staff about your project results.
When we went to Daigo-ji, the weather felt like being inside a sauna. After we entered the first gate, however, we were amazed to see the temple with a beautiful green mountain behind it.
We were guided inside Daigo-ji, where the students listened to a lecture from the instructor.
The students were divided into two groups and instructed on what to focus on during the field work. I joined one of the groups, in which we planned to focus on disaster prevention and disability access inside the temple. After that, during the walk inside the temple, we tried to find things related to our theme. For example, slopes for disabled people, and the placement of fire hydrants. By choosing our topic of focus beforehand, we were able to re-discover things that we usually take for granted. Personally, I also learned how to conduct good fieldwork from this experience.
After finishing our walk inside the temple grounds, the students went back and returned to their original group to conduct an interview with the temple staff. With this interview, students are able to understand more about the staff’s work and their thoughts, helping students to find an issue to focus on. I also participated in the interview a little bit. My group was interviewing staff members that work in the café inside the temple. Mainly, my group asked about the operation of the café, which impressed me, because the students were really trying their best to solve an issue that they pointed out themselves
Interview with the Instructor and Daigo-ji Staff
We also had a chance to interview Professor Kasai, an instructor from Ryukoku University, and Daigo-ji Temple monk, Mr. Nakada.
I asked Professor Kasai about the main goal of this course, and he answered that this is a special course, because it can only be held in Kyoto, since the city has a lot of world heritage sites. Because of that, this course is a big privilege and opportunity for students studying in Kyoto. The main goal of this course, however, is the process of learning, from finding an issue to solving the issue itself. According to Professor Kasai, this process will be very useful in the students’ futures, whether in their continued studies or out in society.
Next, we interviewed Mr. Nakada, a staff member at Daigo-ji Temple. I asked Mr. Nakada why Daigo-ji has participated in this program for such a long time, and he replied that Daigo-ji has always been involved in education. Developing human resources is an important part of this course project. Base on the staff’s responses, it seems the temple is also willing to develop good human resources in Kyoto.
I had a wonderful time speaking with the students, instructor and of course the temple staffs during my experience participating in the Ryukoku University and Daigo-ji Temple World Heritage PBL. This course is a fun and unique way to learn in Kyoto, and based on my great experience participating in the actual course, I definitely want to join the course in the future.
In the World Heritage PBL, you can visit out-of-the-ordinary places that usually aren’t open to the public; plus, you can speak directly with the temple staff. In addition, you can experience fieldwork that usually can’t do at university, and of course meet some new friends from other universities.
Normally, you will only visit many of the World Heritage sites in Kyoto as a tourist. Since you came to study in Kyoto, why not also take the chance to study while visiting the World Heritage sites? It is an experience that you will only get in Kyoto!