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Virtual Kyoto Tour and Student Meetup Online Event Held for Students Unable to Enter Japan

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Kwansei Gakuin University held a virtual Kyoto tour and student meetup online event on February 27 (Sun) to support its international students amidst the current situation, as they remain unable to enter Japan due to COVID-19 border controls. Approximately 50 students from China, Korea, Indonesia and Australia joined the event. After introducing tourist spots around Kyoto, a maiko gave an online performance from Kyoto, and the students had fun with a maiko-themed quiz and other activities. This was followed by a campus tour and student exchange event, organized by the GS Network (Global Student Network). After the students toured Uji Byodoin Temple, Toji Temple, and other representative Kyoto spots, the tour for the Saga Scenic Railway (Torokko trolley) and Fushimi Inari Shrine used 2D videos for some sections, while other sections were introduced with a device that allowed the students to see the exhibit in three dimensions with VR goggles. The maiko, who appeared live online from Kyoto, performed a dance and then ran a quiz which posed questions about maiko, such as: "Why do maiko paint their faces white?" "How long do they train to become a maiko?" "Is there an age limit?" "How much do the kimono and obi weigh?" and "What is the motif of the kanzashi hair ornaments?" The international students and Japanese students formed teams to think about their answers. Afterward, the team members spoke to each other about their student lives.

At the end of February, roughly 230 international students were unable to enter Japan. For privately financed international students, who make up more than 90 percent of international students at the university, there are those who have given up on being an international student and withdrawn from school, as well as students who have taken leaves of absence, and there are also students struggling with mental health.  

This event was planned to cheer up these international students, and  a video containing messages from students and faculty members was sent out along with the event. Participating students commented that the event "increased my awareness of being a Kwansei Gakuin student," "it was good to have an opportunity to interact with other students outside of class," and "being exposed to Japanese culture made me want to work a little harder before coming to Japan.” Prior to the event, staff members at the Organization for Worldwide Collaboration, who are responsible for international students who are unable to enter Japan, provided support by making phone calls to each of the international students. In response to the Japanese government's easing of border controls, the University is currently working on procedures for new arrivals of international students. As of March 14, about 160 students are making preparations to enter Japan. 

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