In Japan (Week 3): Friday

Today was our last day at Wayo Women’s University, and with our host families! We said goodbye to our families and ended our session at a farewell lunch with (and some presents from) President Kishida and the faculty/staff of Wayo. It was very sad saying goodbye to everybody, and we thank everyone for all of the hard work and effort that has been put into the planning of this trip. We hope that the Wayo girls enjoy their time in Canada in October, and maybe one day we will be able to return to Japan!

Now we will go our own ways for the weekend. Anthea, Vanessa, Nan, and Stephanie will be going to Kyoto, while Kelsey, Stefania and Dr. Garcia will be staying in Tokyo.


In Japan (Week 3): Thursday

This morning we attended a nutrition education class and learned about the Fujitsu Telework-based Diet Management System. This trial program was developed to better their employee’s overall health and well-being by offering personalized guidance from a dietitian through mobile phone applications. It is amazing learning about all of the future possibilities (e.g., tele-work) for dietitians in the workplace.

In the afternoon we travelled to Tokyo to visit a public health center. We observed the happenings of the day, which was educating parents on proper nutrition and dental hygiene for their children as well as medical check-ups for the children who were three years of age. Japan appears to have a great early childcare system, as this tracks their physical as well as mental health for several years.


In Japan (Week 3): Wednesday

Professor Michael Kiestler invited us to join his English class today to discuss the differences and similarities of Japanese and Canadian cultures. We had a lot of fun talking about pop culture, dating, laws, and the general do’s and dont’s of each country. It was very interesting to learn about customs of the Japanese population, such as what age they begin dating, or what they do in their free time.

Later on we engaged in a soba making class in Tokyo with our “Soba Sensei” as well as our Wayo senseis, Reiko and Ikuko. We all had so much fun, and we learned that it is very difficult to create perfect soba noodles! It is basically an art. Afterward we tasted our soba, in the traditional cold way, except for Dr. Garcia who prefers her soba hot! It was delicious, and one of the highlights of the trip.



In Japan (Week 3): Tuesday

Today we visited the National Centre for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo, one of the largest hospitals in Japan. Here we observed the food service process for approximately 600 inpatients. The meals were cooked in a large kitchen with approximately 40 staff around the clock. Afterwards we took a look at their counseling offices, which had plenty of food models and resources for clients. We received a copy of their diabetes handout with cute illustrations and explanations.

After visiting the hospital, we all went to Tokyo Disneyland. We saw the castle as soon as we got out of the station and got really excited. After taking a hundred photos in front of the castle, we went off to find the roller coasters. Our first ride was Thunder Mountain, which was a really fun roller coaster that winded through a mountain. We caught a bit of the parade afterwards with lots of brightly lit floats. The highlight of the night was at Splash Mountain, a huge log flume ride that takes a picture at the end. We went on a lot of the other classic rides like ‘it’s a small world’ and the tea cup ride. We had such a good time that Kelsey and Stefania might go back on Sunday!


In Japan (Week 3): Monday

Happy Canada Day from across the globe! When we realized it was Canada Day we all felt a little homesick but we were all excited to embark on our last week of this amazing trip. In the morning we went to the famous Kikkoman soy sauce factory in Noda. As soon as we exited the train station I said “It smells yeasty…” and everyone nodded in unison. The factory was only a five-minute walk away with many fermentation silos spreading the smell of soy sauce. We toured the facility and learned how Kikkoman has modernized their 300-year-old soy sauce production process. Kikkoman even exclusively develops soy sauce for the Emperor of Japan; a year-long process using only domestic raw ingredients. At the café we tried some soy sauce ice cream, which was surprisingly tasty, although Dr. Garcia disagreed saying “it is too salty for ice cream!”

In the afternoon we went back to Wayo University for our final food lab in diet therapy. Half the class made a typical Japanese meal with peanut miso maki, tempura, wintermelon stew, salad and matcha pudding. The other half made a meal designed for renal patients with low sodium and low protein alternatives including agar, low protein rice, and maltose. Stefania loved learning how to make maki and we all enjoyed socializing with the Wayo students in our groups. Many of the therapeutic diet options were tasty and I actually preferred the therapeutic diet tempura because it was crunchier.


In the evening we had an ikebana class, which is the art of Japanese flower arranging. The philosophy behind ikebana is to create harmony with the flowers by balancing the yo (light) and in (shade). The process was very precise and difficult for us beginners to learn. We learned that ikebana is not only aesthetically pleasing but also represents the harmony and balance between man, earth and heaven. After all the flower arranging, we all got to try on some traditional Japanese kimonos and learned a bit of origami, the art of folding paper, for example to make a (bird) crane.