Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Memory of the Language Institute of Japan, Odawara, Kanagawa Perfecture, Japan

Dear All,

Not long ago, I learnt about the permanent closure of the Language Institute of Japan in Odawara, Kanagawa Perfecture, Japan.

It was really a very sad news to me as I was there for about 6 days and I presented two papers on ELT, put up a cultural exhibition and did a song for the international cultural night. That was in August 2002.

I've made many friends; both the lecturers and the Japanese teachers who were at the Annual LIOJ Summer Workshop for High School teachers in 2002.

I've collected some photos of the Institute from the Internet and put them up here as a tribute to its invaluable contribution to the teaching and learning of English in Japan from thr 60s till the 90s.

Farewell LIOJ!

Rodney Tan
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16 comments:

  1. Rodney,
    What a great discovery. I am one of the several teachers on staff during Summer 1970, regular sessions of Fall 1970 through end of Summer sessions 1971. Following LIOJ I taught additional years elsewhere through Kanagawa Pref schools and then in Tokyo until 1977 when I returned to San Francisco. It was the great highlight of my career and years abroad. While I was preparing to teach high school in the U.S. the opportunity came from Roland Harker, Principal then, to go to Odawara. The great adventure started me on the road to learning Japanese when I wasn't helping students with their English (only English in the lessons and in school). The tenure of the school necessarily changed over the years, but the dream and goal was always to give solid foundation in the language and culture to the attendees, children to business men and women. Yes, we must offer moments of reflection and appreciation for that fine institution and the people who made it work so well. Many of my past students gather when I visit Japan and come to California when there is an opportunity. Some live here in the U.S. and we spend time together reminiscing and planning another visit. The problem is the building (LIOJ) has been demolished as of 2007 (earthquake danger) and will be replace by a city park overlooking the Bay, a place for everyone to come and enjoy the ambience over the Shinkansen tunnel, in the cool breezes in the hot Summer days with the ciccadas screeching in the background. Obentomochi will be a regular scene in this picture. Hope you can visit there again. I took some pictures, while hiking around Odawara, of the chain across the road entrance a few years ago just off Shiroyama 4 Chome though it looks like any other chain barring a driveway approach. Your photos are so much better. Thanks for them and I'm sure your students enjoy your lesson plans when you include them. Best regards,
    David Orr - San Francisco

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  2. Thanks a lot for the photos - they bring back so many memories...As I was teaching there for a year about 8 years ago. It was one of my best teaching experience - not to mention the cultural experience of living and working in Japan for a year...Thanks again -it is a real loss, that LIOJ has been closed down :(.
    Gabriella Cseh (Budapest, Hungary)

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  3. What a sad story! I just know that. Thank you so much for pictures of memory. I was a scholar from Thailand. I joined the workshop in 1999. It was one of my greatest experience.I have become a big fan of Japan since then. I still remembered the first day I arrived in Japan and traveled to LIOJ. I have got a lot of warm welcome from Japanese friends. All good memories are still living in my mind.

    Thank you so much.
    Manthana Pandee ,Bangkok ,Thailand
    (1999,Scholar form Thailand)

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    1. Dear Manthana, thank you very much for your reply on the closure of LIOJ. Glad to know that you were very much inspired by your experience there & had changed you in a positive way. I was just as inspired as well. The experience at LIOJ led me to successfully apply & present at various ELT conferences & seminars in Bangkok and the UK. I was also the first Malaysian participant at the Honeywell Educators@SpaceCamp in the USA. Do read about my experiences at SpaceCamp in 4-parts in this blog. Do contact me if you are presenting in Malaysia particularly when you are in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur or Melaka!

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  4. Well, how sad. I taught there the summer of 1984 and was just looking it up again to pass on info to a friend's daughter interested in teaching in Japan and. . .I came to your blog. Thanks for the informative post. Liz Salak

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  5. Thank you for the information about LIOJ. I was a teacher in Odawara and later at the school in Tokyo Minami-Azabu in the early 1970s. After many years back in Canada, I returned to Japan and went to my old haunts in Odawara and Minami-Azabu. It is very sad that it has gone. I was actually one of the teachers with David Orr and share his respect for Roland Harker.It would be nice to meet some of the former students and teachers to see how the experience of LIOJ affected their lives. Regards to former students, teachers, and administrators. Thank you for all you taught me in just two years.

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    1. Thanks for dropping a note in this blog page about LIOJ. I haven't had a chance to go back to Odawara but I heard that the building is no more standing on the hill. Still remembered the crickets and cherry blossoms. Can anyone post or point us to the latest photo of the former site of LIOJ?

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  6. Thank you for your information on LIOJ. I taught there in 1971/72 and have many happy memories of the staff and of my students. My roommate, Larry Ebner, and I have kept in touch over the years. One of my favourite memories is of Mr. Harker sneaking into the room on Christmas Day dressed in a Santa suit! He and Mr. Shibusawa interviewed me at the Vancouver Airport and started me on one of the most fascinating years of my life!

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    1. Brian, thanks for sharing your personal memories about the early years at LIOJ. This institution was unique during its time. Its just too bad that the role of LIOJ had been overtaken by the changing times.

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  7. I taught 40 years ago during the Summer of 1974. I came over to help develop a business English curriculum, and to aid my business school professor, Kjell Arne Ringback in conducting research on Japanese long-term planning. The students were a mix of executives brushing up on their English prior to being assigned to the US, Australia or England. We also had many college students, many of them in the arts who wanted to improve their accents in hopes of being rock stars or actors. My fellow teachers were a mix of seekers--who wound up in Asia as part of a journey of self discovery--and academics. Each had their individual reasons--a flight attendant from Great Britain who wanted more sustained and meaningful foreign experience. A Spanish girl whose parents wanted her to have international options should Spain fall back into civil war. A hippy girl from Cambridge who had trekked across Africa. A couple from Wisconsin who were adding to their Asian study majors. A couple from UCLA working on PhD's. I was an MBA student at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business. I vividly remember watching Richard Nixon resign on TV with simultaneous Japanese translation of his speech. LIOJ was a great experience for me and that Summer in Japan is one of the most vivid experiences of my life.
    Dick Gregerson

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    1. Thanks Greg for filling in the details of past teachers who had taught in LIOJ. The experience at LIOJ is indeed a meaningful one for many.

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  9. Like some of you, I looked up LIOJ for my daughter who is thinking about traveling to Japan for work. I did administrative work and some teaching at LIOJ from June-November, 1973, when Roland Harker hired me out of the goodness of his heart while my husband was on a submarine deployment. Would love to hear from others who were there are that time.
    Cappy Nunlist

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    1. Hi Cappy, Thanks for filling in another brief chapter of your experience at LIOJ. Roland Harker was one of 3 who was instrumental in the beginnings of LIOJ.

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  10. Hello Rodney
    I was at LIOJ from 1979-1981. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I'm still in touch with Bill Gatton who is still in Japan and John Battaglia who is retired in Montana.
    Japan changed my life, and LIOJ was a great contributor.
    The incredibly warm welcome by Nobu, Masumi, Yoshika and other members of the staff. The wonderful students, and teachers I met during the summer workshops and at Jalt conferences. The rich exchanges with students and fellow teachers. Mr Shibasawa's reading of his book on the history of the first Japanese contacts with foreigners through stories told by his grandmother. Thanksgiving dinner and so many other wonderful memories.

    I live in France now, in Auvers sur Oise. I welcome any former LIOJer to come by and have a cup of tea if they are in my town!!! 48, rue du Général de Gaulle, just next to Van Gogh's last abode.

    Thanks for the trip!
    All the best

    Harold (Haru) Surguine

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    1. Hi Harold, thanks for dropping by my blog and telling us about the incredible life-changing experience at LIOJ. Yes, the teachers at LIOJ were a creative and hard-working lot. Mr Shibusawa speaks excellent, clear English which is not common among the Japanese. Thanks for you invitation. Hope former LIOJ teachers and participants can meet up to reminisce about LIOJ!

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