Hanako Lowry – Tokyo, January 2021

A building on the Hongo campus of the University of Tokyo designed by Tadao Ando.

A building on the Hongo campus of the University of Tokyo designed by Tadao Ando.

みなさんこんにちは!私の名前はHanaです。今は東京大学で修士課程に入っています。今までずっと東京に住んで日本語を勉強したかったので、それを実現させてくれたJohn Speak Trustにはとても感謝しています。





Standing in front to the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.

Standing in front to the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.

Hello everybody! My name is Hana and I am currently enrolled at the University of Tokyo for my master’s degree and I am very thankful for the support of the John Speak Trust. I had always hoped to be able to live in Tokyo and have the opportunity to work on my language skills.

The journey to starting my long-awaited studies in Japan was not as smooth as I had hoped – I don’t think there is any need for me to explain why! – but I am very thankful that I have been able to begin my new life in Tokyo as I know many others have still not be able to begin their studies abroad this academic year.

My master’s degree at the University of Tokyo has been conducted remotely so far and this has made for quite a unique graduate school experience. It was only very recently that I visited campus and was able to meet up with a student in my cohort. However, sadly that was to be my only trip as a state of emergency has recently been declared in Tokyo. Whilst the city is not in lockdown, I would like to act with caution as cases continue to rise nation-wide.

I am glad that, just before this, I was able to make it to a very interesting exhibition of Eiko Ishioka’s work at the Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art. The design work on show – from graphic design to costume design – spanned many years and transnational collaborations. It was very inspiring to see the energy and vitality of such a designer and I felt I could really sense the breadth of her creative ambition through the variety of projects she worked on throughout the years. I was particularly struck by her advertising work in 70s Japan in which she aimed to rewrite the ideals of Japanese femininity through her advertising campaigns.

Even though there are many restrictions on all of our activities, it has still been an eventful and exciting time. Settling into a new country involves many administrative steps – with the added stress of attempting to move country during a global pandemic! – so it has felt very busy. Now I have managed to safely arrive and begin my life here, I am just hoping that my course will include in-person teaching soon and that I will (fingers-crossed!) be able to conduct an internship this summer.


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