There are about 170,000 Japanese language learners in the United States, making it the eighth largest in the world and one of the most promising markets for educational travel to Japan. The JNTO Los Angeles Office has been providing information about educational travel to Japan for parties connected with Japanese-language education in the United States by setting up Visit Japan (VJ) exhibition booths with suppliers from the Japan side at the Annual Convention and World Languages Expo held by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). However, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic meant changes to the event content, so the Online Seminar/Consultation for Educational Travel to Japan was held, as outlined below, to provide the latest information and opportunities for networking for parties connected with Japanese-language education in the United States.
- Project name: FY2021 Seminar/Individual Consultation for Educational Travel to Japan
- Organizer: JNTO Los Angeles Office
- Date/Time: 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Thursday, December 9, 2021 (local time)
- Format: Webinar/Breakout Room-format consultation using Zoom (web conferencing system)
- US attendees : 41 educators or people connected with Japanese-language education in the United States
- Participating groups: Fukushima Prefecture Tourism and Local Products Association, Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau, Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau, Hyogo International Association, Wakayama Prefectural Government Tourism Exchange Division, Kyoto Prefectural Government Tourism Office, Nara Prefectural Government Tourism Bureau, Nagano Tourism Organization, Hiroshima Tourism Association, Osaka University, IACE TRAVEL, Nippon Travel Agency America, Inc. (12 groups)
For the Los Angeles Office, this was the second online seminar themed around educational travel to Japan, following on from 2020. A number of new initiatives were added as a result of the questionnaire from last year. First, due to the requests to hear from teachers who have actual experiences with visiting Japan, the first part of the seminar featured a presentation on actual experiences by Mr. Shingo Satsutani, who works at the College of DuPage and is Vice-President of the American Association of Teachers of Japanese, who talked about practical matters such as itineraries for educational travel to Japan, how to make arrangements, and other areas. In the second part, the individual consultations, as a new initiative, private rooms were created using the Breakout Room function of Zoom. These were used to hold business talk-format sessions (9 sessions of 10 minutes each) to allow participants from Japan and the United States to exchange information in small groups and interactively. In the individual discussions, participating groups from Japan provided detailed introductions to a range of support systems and initiatives for educational travel to Japan, followed by passionate exchanges of information and lively question-and-answer sessions.
The number of people who responded that they were “Satisfied” in the questionnaire was 95%, and the number of those who responded that they wanted to participate in the next one was 100%. Participants provided a number of useful comments, including “The Zoom Breakout Room format was good,” “I’m very happy that I could get a range of information from that many participating groups in such a short time,” “This was the first time that it was so easy to ask questions in Zoom,” and “I’d like to make more specific inquiries next.”
One of the reasons for these high assessments is believed that the Japan-based participating groups were informed what people wanted to know beforehand, to ensure they could grasp the needs of the teachers and make this an effective discussion. And also, the data such as presentations, videos, and contact information were collected from the Japan-based groups and stored on Google Drive to share with participants so that they could download and use them in future.
Reference: Results of Preliminary Questionnaire
By educational institution
What you want to ask in this seminar/ consultation (multiple answers possible)
Also, in regards to the question “In future, what is important for you to select Japan as a destination for educational travel? (multiple answers possible),” 19 people said “Cost,” followed by 18 with “Hosting system by Japanese schools,” 13 with “Information about infections in Japan,” and 9 with “Information about measures to prevent infections in Japan,” showing the importance of providing detailed information about hosting systems and safety.
Images from the consultation session
As a lot of the participants in this event expressed wishes for direct communication, we intend to consider a venue where useful information can be exchanged among people involved in educational travel both in Japan and the United States.