Looking at Park City from the east
Japanese students are visiting Park City to bloom in Keiko Moffett’s Global Garden.
Her summer program focuses on diversity and global awareness. Each week the students learn about a new country and how to say hello in a foreign language. So far they have covered French, Spanish and Mongolian.
With several students visiting from Japan, they have been getting a grand tour of the area.
"We’ve been going to places in Park City, Kamas, Salt Lake and Heber," said Liz Reiss from Trailside Elementary School.
Day trips have included river rafting, catching brine shrimp in The Great Salt Lake, visiting the Natural History Museum, horseback riding, bowling, going to Mirror Lake and participating in the Fourth of July parade held on Main Street last week.
Many of the young visitors from Tokyo have been impressed with the open spaces and friendly community.
"When you come to Park City, even though there is a TV, I don’t want to watch TV." Yuki Sato said. "It’s different from Japan. The air is clean and it is very green."
Saki Fujita observed that store clerks in Park City are chatty and often inquire about how a customer’s day has been.
"I like the people here because they’re friendly. In Tokyo they don’t really talk to each other in shops," Fujita said.
The open space is also a novelty because their playground at school in Japan often fills up quickly due to so many students.
"We all need to play there, so sometimes it gets crowded," Evelyn Kiyota said.
Moffett pointed out that wilderness activities are often a luxury some people can’t afford in Japan.
"If you want to get to a mountain it takes a lot of money to get there because you have to take a train or drive," she said.
In addition to a number of outdoor activities, Moffett has taken her students shopping.
"The thing I like best is making friends, and also I like shopping because there are lots of things you can’t buy in Tokyo that are here," Anju Watanabe said.
She added that more Japanese restaurants should be in town so locals have more opportunity to try their food. Sato noted that veryone should become more familiar with green tea.
"Lunch is a very good way of introducing other cultures, it’s a way of building tolerance," Moffett said.
Reiss has sampled some of her Japanese peers food.
"I’ve tried sushi, but it’s not really my favorite," she said.
Sato had some advice for her and other novice sushi eaters.
"For beginners tuna is the only sushi you can eat," he said.
But there are American foods the Japanese children are not fond of.
"One thing the (Japanese) kids don’t like is peanut butter. That’s because their tongue isn’t used to it," Moffett said.
She noted that in only a few generations the bodies of Japanese students have changed with the introduction of new foods into their diet, such as more dairy products.
"Some kids don’t like fish anymore," Moffett said, but the majority of her visiting Japanese students said they still enjoyed it.
The changing menus in Japan include hamburgers and pizza, but many meals still include a large helping of vegetables.
"My mom and grandma said most Japanese people like vegetables but the people in America who are really big don’t like vegetables and eat French fries," Watanabe said.
In addition to food, the students observed other cultural differences.
Watanabe noticed that in Japan you open a book from left to right, in America you open a book from right to left. Sato guessed this was because the Japanese write from top to bottom while American’s write "sideways."
Watanabe also observed that classes are quite different in Japan, where teachers read aloud from books and call on specific students for answers without asking for volunteers.
"In America when a teacher comes into the classroom, people say ‘hello’ and ‘how are you’ but in Japan there is a greeting," Watanabe said.
Moffett explained that the greeting requires everyone to stand up and bow at the same time.
She noted that in America the schools emphasize independent thought, this environment encourages people to invent things. The emphasis on collaborative work in Japan allows them to work together and improve things once they have been created. She used the example of the telephone. While it was invented by Alexander Graham Bell, who lived in Boston during his time as an inventor, the cell phone industry is dominated by Japan.
After she explained this, the Japanese students were eager to share some of the features their cellular phones have.
A world ahead in technology
Many cellular phones in Japan can be used as credit cards in shops, and they pay for the purchase as part of their phone bill.
In addition to being waterproof their cell phones can be used to download things from the Internet, check e-mails and watch TV.
Global Positioning Systems in cellular phones allow parents to keep track of their children.
With a cell phone you can speak to 10 people at a time.
The cell phone cameras can allow a user to show images of their surroundings to the people they are talking to.
Forget using a PIN at the ATM, in Japan a palm scan has replaced the need for one.
Moffett also said that many of these advancements in technology have been made out of necessity because the population is so large.
"Manhattan would be one town in Tokyo," Moffett said. "All the inhabitable land is taken and that’s why we have to grow upwards."
Several of the Japanese students will be in Park City for a few more weeks enjoying the outdoors before returning home to the east after visiting the west.
Keiko Moffett’s Global Garden Summer Camp runs through Aug.4. For more information call: (435) 513-0489.
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The Park City Ice Arena is expected to temporarily close later in 2021 to allow crews to replace the ice surface and perform other maintenance work, one of a series of projects City Hall plans to outline at an upcoming open house. It will be an in-person event.