Photo Essay: CET Japan

Photos by Thuy Nguyen, (Soka University of America) Student Correspondent CET Japan, Spring 2018


One of the most famous foods in Osaka is Okonomiyaki, a savory pancake made of flour and shredded cabbage, with seafood and meat added for more complex flavors. To finish it off, mayonnaise and a type of brown tangy sweet sauce are brushed on top. Some bonito flakes and scallions are also sprinkled on top of the pancake as well. “Okonomi” in Japanese means “as you like it” and “yaki” means grilled, implying that you can modify the dish according to your liking.



Takoyaki is another well known, delicious and super cheap street treat that was invented in Osaka back in 1935. “Tako” means octopus and “yaki” means grilled. Basically, Takoyaki are bite-sized balls made from flour, egg, octopus, some ginger and scallions. Mayonnaise, bonito flakes and Takoyaki sauce are the final toppings of the dish. During the cold weather of January, the piping hot Takoyaki is truly heart warming!


CET students got a chance to stroll through Shinsekai, a famous tourist spot surrounded with many shops and delicious restaurants. We got a chance to try the famous Osaka street food Takoyaki, which was absolutely delicious!


Shitennoji Temple

CET has many field trips for students to explore Osaka, and the first one was to visit the Shitennoji Temple. One of the oldest temples in Japan, Shitennoji Temple was built approximately 1,400 years ago by the state government. The temple is well-known for its symmetrical design and cultural values. Nowadays, many people still go to Shitennoji Temple to worship and feel the serene atmosphere the temple offers. We had a great time walking around and exploring the temple!



In this picture is Tsuutenkaku, the iconic tower with an observation deck. The tower is located in the Shinsekai district of Naniwku, Osaka. The tower is 103 m tall, with the main observation deck at a height of 91 m. It was first built in 1912 as a reminder of the Eiffel Tower. The tower has become so famous that it is now one of Osaka’s symbol.


 chouzuya pavilion

At Shitennoji Temple, there is chouzuya, a small pavilion used for cleaning hands and rinsing mouth before worshippers can go inside the temples to pray and pay respect to the gods. Many other shrines and temples in Japan also have a small chouzuya for worshippers to purify themselves before proceeding to the main areas. CET students were able to practice the tradition, imitating the local’s way.


Welcome dinner

After the first week, CET organized a welcome dinner for all students and CET staff at a local shabu shabu (hot pot) restaurant. We had fun trying the delicious Japanese hot pot and getting to know each other better!


Safety Lesson

CET students were taken to Abeno Life Safety Learning Center to learn about disaster information (especially earthquake) in Japan. We also had a chance to engage in different activities demonstrating what should be done in an emergency situation. The trip was extremely helpful as we not only received the information but also experienced different emergency situations. In the picture, students were learning how to use a fire extinguisher correctly in a mock fire kitchen scenario.


Emergency Photo Cutouts

At the Abeno Life Safety Center, there are many cute emergency facilities that visitors can try out.


Okonomiyaki street snack

Throughout CET program, each class has multiple field trips, so that students can practice using the language skills they learn in class in real life situations. After exploring Suita City, the Intermediate – Advanced Japanese class enjoyed lunch together at a local restaurant serving Okonomiyaki, one of the most famous street food snack in Osaka.


Old Nakanishi Residence

We took this picture in front of the Old Nakanishi Residence, a traditional Japanese house dated back to the Edo period. Besides the main building, there are multiple gardens and tea house within the residence. The architecture and furniture inside the housing give us a glimpse into the minimal yet elegant lifestyle of Japan.


Glico sign

A group of CET students went to the well-known Doutonbori shopping and dining district of Osaka. The giant Glico sign in the back showing a man running is extremely popular with both tourists and locals.


Making mochi

CET students learned how to make mochi, a Japanese rice cake made of short-grain glutinous rice, with the local. The rice is pounded into paste and molded into a round shape.


Osaka Castle

For the weekend, a group of CET students decided to explore Osaka Castle, one of Osaka must-go-to tourist attraction which was built in 1583. Osaka Castle played a key role in unifying Japan during the sixteenth century, thus holding important historical values that were showcased in the museum within the castle. The entire Osaka Castle Park includes sports facilities, green space, a shrine and a multi-purpose arena. Many people go to the park for working out, picnic or to witness the grandeur of the castle.