On May 12, the International Center at Shimane University held Mukashibanashi Cafe with Monash University in Australia. During this online cafe, Japanese students and students overseas have the chance to interact with each other through traditional Japanese folktales. Each cafe presents a different story, and this time the tale was “Sumiyaki Chōja,” or “The Charcoal Maker.” A total of ten students participated, five from Monash University, and five from Shimane University.
During Mukashibanashi Cafe, the first part of the story is read aloud, and then the Japanese language learners are put into groups with Japanese native speakers to talk about how they think the story will end.
In “Sumiyaki Chōja,” there is a poor charcoal maker who throws an oval gold coin at a duck to try and catch it. The coin misses the duck, and the man returns home empty-handed to his wife, who becomes angry with her husband. At this point, the students were separated into groups to think about the ending of the story. The participants has many unique ideas. One group said that the man received another gold coin from his wife, which he threw at the ducks to try and catch one again. Another opinion was that a duck came out of the lake and returned the gold coin to the charcoal maker. The last group thought that the ducks and humans started a war over the gold coin being thrown.
This was the first time Mukashibanashi Cafe was held with Monash University in Australia. Many first year students from Shimane University participated as well, resulting in a new environment for exchange at the start of the Japanese academic year. Students who participated had comments, such as, “The ideas everyone thought of were interesting,” and “While it was my first time participating in the cafe, I had a fun and fulfilling time.”
Shimane University will continue to actively engage in online international exchange.