Have you ever wished you could fly?
Sophomore Makoto Yoshihara does. He thinks birds are some of the coolest creatures God created. He wishes that God had given humans wings, in order for us to have pleasures that birds do, like going wherever we want, or just hanging out in the sky.
Yoshihara is a youth ministry major with a minor in psychology. He loves music, both playing instruments and listening to them.
He is originally from Japan but has lived in Korea for a total of 10 years. He had been taught the English language in his classes and had spoken it in his education in Korea before he first arrived in the United States, just two short years ago.
Yoshihara says that studying in English has been difficult, but the experience of studying from a different perspective than his own has been valuable to him.
“It was tough to be only Japanese and surrounded by totally different people. It’s still tough, but it’s been better and a good experience,” Yoshihara said.
The experiences he has gained here differ greatly from the ones he has gained in both Japan and Korea.
The beautiful landscape of Japan holds over 100 million people, and the technological country of South Korea holds a little over 50 million. Yoshihara himself is from the city of Nagoya, Japan, which holds over two million people itself, and then attended some of his schooling in Seoul, South Korea, which holds nine million people.
That made coming to a college that resides in a town made up of a little over 6,000 people, within an entire state holding only three million people, a little bit of a culture shock to Yoshihara.
Some of the biggest differences he states between here and his home are that there are fewer people and there is much less traffic. However, he says that being around people so different than him has proven to be a good experience.
Yoshihara comes from a culture rich with its own important historical and religious holidays. While one of the most widely celebrated holidays here in the United States is Independence Day on July 4, one of the most important holidays in Japan is their New Year celebration, which can be called either shogatsu or oshogatsu.
Most of the businesses in Japan shut down from Jan. 1 until Jan. 3, making it so families are able to spend that holiday time together.
Another important holiday in Japan is Obon. It is an annual Buddhist holiday meant for commemorating one’s ancestors.
“It is believed that each year during Obon, the ancestors’ spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives,” Yoshihara said. This important event usually takes place during the middle of the month of August.
During both holidays, people eat traditional foods and celebrate the roots of their culture.
It is emphasized that people come together, away from other things that make them busy, and make time to spend with their families during that time.
Someday, Yoshihara wishes to go back to Japan and become a pastor. He plans to go to seminary after he finishes his undergraduate degree here at Northwestern.
He is the oldest of his siblings, with two sisters and a brother. His favorite color is ocean blue, and his favorite animal is the king of the jungle, the mighty lion.