Castles, Colleges and Conducting

Today I ate what may have been one of the top ten meals I have ever eaten, after which I spent time in the spa at my hotel and had a 30 minute massage.  If Jeanne and the boys were here it could rate as one of the best days of my life.

I began my day with a short walk to Kumamoto Castle for a bit of sightseeing.  Of course I needed to stop along the way for a cup of coffee.  Sidenote:  My high school friend, Marcia Patrick Mueller is a 5th grade teacher in Halstead, Kansas and has a stuffed bear named “Ted” that her students follow on his travels.  When Marcia has a friend that travels to a new place that friend takes Ted with them and tracks the trip with pictures. So, this morning Ted had a cup of coffee and a cream cheese donut at Starbucks in downtown Kumamoto:


Next, Ted (and I) visited Kumamoto Castle.  It was rainy so you can’t really see the castle in this picture:


This past Monday, only a week ago, a major typhoon (hurricane) hit Kumamoto, so there was damage to many trees and buildings:


Downed trees in the park


A door at Kyushu Lutheran College.

The initial reason I planned to come to Japan was because I was invited to present at The International Symposium on Performance Science in Kyoto.  That was only going to be a 4-5 day trip.  One of the main reasons this trip became 12 days instead of the 4-5 days was so I could meet with officials at the two Lutheran colleges in Japan, Japan Lutheran College (JLC) in Tokyo and Kyushu Lutheran College (KLC) in Kumamoto.

Today I met with administration from KLC to talk about a potential relationship in which they would send students to Bethany College for a Cross Cultural Practicum, a 3-4 week experience on our campus in which they would be able to practice their written and spoken english and experience a different culture.

It was a wonderful meeting with President Dr. Naohiro Kiyoshige, Professor Michiaki Matsumoto (Head of the Global Committee), and Associate Professor of English, Kevin Axton, a Bethany graduate (and an R.A. in Deere Hall when I was a freshman living there!).  We had wonderful conversation that I believe could lead to an important relationship between our two schools.


Professor Matsumoto


Kevin Axton

Kevin showed me around the campus and I was surprised and excited to find out that they have a very active choir AND handbell ensemble.  Evidently there are some organists as well. So, Dr. Steed, Tyler Breneman, etc. . . you will be happy to know we may have the opportunity for some type of exchange with KLC!


KLC does not offer a music major, but any student who will teach elementary school is required by national law to have basic piano skills.  So, this is their piano lab:


The next stop on the tour was the chapel:


Kyushu Lutheran College is a college of approximately 600-700 student and is affiliated with the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church.

KLC shares a campus with a high school. . .


Members of this high school are visiting the US in the spring and, pending some planning, may spend time in Lindsborg for Easter!

Here is a picture of the chapel at the high school:


Only a couple of weeks ago they received a new organ. . .


My time at KLC and the high school was wonderful.  I then had a few hours to relax before Dr. Kiyoshige, Prof. Matsumoto and Prof. Axton took me out to eat at one of the nicest places in town.  Kumamoto has 700,000 residents and this restaurant was on the top floor of the hotel just next to Kumamoto Castle.

Boy did they treat me well!  An eight course meal of traditional Japanese cuisine.


On one hand I wish I had pictures of each course to show you and on the other it’s okay that I don’t because I simply enjoyed an outstanding meal with friends.  On the menu was true sashimi (what we think of as sushi), fried crab, and other seafood which was simply outstanding.  I am a picky eater but I had decided I would eat what was put in front of me no matter what it was.  I never thought twice with this meal and really enjoyed every bite. However, there was no raw horsemeat, so I guess I lucked out there.

The restaurant had a beautiful view of the castle:


After supper I gave some gifts to Kiyoshige-sensei and Matsumoto-sensei (I had given Kevin gifts earlier) and we took some pictures out on the patio with the castle in the background.

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Nights like this are the reason for trips like the one I am on right now.  It was so nice to make new friends with intelligent and kind people from another culture.  And to think that we may someday work together for the betterment of our colleges is exciting!

To end my day I “taught” my Intro to Conducting class via FaceTime.  I don’t want to give them big heads, but they’re a pretty cool group of young men and women.  They conducted for me and I gave them tips, then we discussed a reading they did for today.  It was pretty cool.  I am looking forward to seeing them and my other students when I return!

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If you have read this far, would you be so kind as to leave a comment?  Anything will do, but I would like to get an idea of how many people actually read this stuff.

Tomorrow I go to Hiroshima.

16 thoughts on “Castles, Colleges and Conducting”

  1. Mark, you are doing a wonderful job of chronicling your trip! I’m blown away by your attention to detail. I can’t imagine doing the same when I visited Japan – but I also didn’t have a smartphone. 🙂 Keep enjoying Japan. I look forward to reading more of your adventures.

  2. Sounds like you are having a wonderful trip. I know you are representing Bethany and Lindsborg well. And fun that you could meet back up with Kevin.

  3. Mark, I am really enjoying your adventures and experiences in Japan. It is so great you get to do this. I’m impressed you tried all the food.

  4. Mark: Love the blog! Keep up the great work! Bethany is very lucky to have people like you, Kevin and others representing her in the world! Safe travels!

  5. What a wonderful opportunity for you and the potential learning opportunities for both the future Japanese students and also those from Bethany. It does not surprise me that you will eventually know friends around the world. I am simply enjoying your travels as a friend, but as someone who used to work for a college, you are definitely a fine representative for any organization, but when it is your alma mater, the pride is very personal. Great job!

  6. Absolutely amazing my friend! I am so happy for you and for Bethany. You are a gifted and superb representative of our community and college and we are lucky to have you. (Don’t let it go to your head.) 😉

  7. It’s too bad that you didn’t have any raw horse meat. I suppose you could find it in other cities, but, of course, Kumamoto’s is the best! In Hiroshima, you should have fried oysters (“kaki furai”). I wish I could have seen your dinner with Dr. Kiyoshige. He’s a great man. During Global Mission Event in Lindsborg in 1993, he charmed everyone. I hope he’ll come back to Lindsborg soon. Besides strengthening college connections, you’ve also strengthened church connections. You’ve reminded people in the States that there’s a strong Japanese Lutheran Church with a very rich heritage.

  8. Love reading about your adventure! You’re doing awesome things for Bethany, and I’m glad that it looks like you’re having a blast doing them. 🙂

  9. I’m enjoying your blog everyday. Between you in Japan, Dean Apel in Swedan, and Aaron Silco in Slovakia, I feel like a word traveler. Thanks for the great ride.

  10. What a fabulous experience you are having. I can seeds of future possibilities for Bethany. Our global possibilities seem endless. Keep experiencing and dreaming of the possibilities. Thanks for sharing it all.

  11. Love hearing your recount of daily activities! I’m travelling vicariously with you, as you represent Bethany. Exciting to dream of future possibilities!

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