Ja­pan trip eye-opener

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Amonth-long im­mer­sion in Ja­pa­nese cul­ture and her­itage proved to be an eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for Tau­ranga res­i­dent Eleanor Stur­rock.

Eleanor, an ar­chae­ol­o­gist who works in the Her­itage New Zealand Tau­ranga of­fice, re­cently re­turned from a group train­ing course for young pro­fes­sion­als on cul­tural her­itage pro­tec­tion in the Asi­aPa­cific Re­gion.

The course in­volved her­itage pro­fes­sion­als from 16 dif­fer­ent coun­tries who took part in the pro­gramme which had the theme ‘in­ves­ti­ga­tion, preser­va­tion and man­age­ment of ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites’ at its cen­tre.

“The Tau­ranga area is rich in ar­chae­o­log­i­cal fea­tures, as is the wider Bay of Plenty re­gion, so the course was very rel­e­vant to the work that I do,” she says. “One of the course ob­jec­tives was to fur­ther de­velop our tech­ni­cal skill sets and knowl­edge to help achieve bet­ter pro­tec­tion and preser­va­tion of cul­tural her­itage. I now have a bet­ter idea of how her­itage is per­ceived on a global scale, and more aware of the chal­lenges faced in other coun­tries, as well as steps that are be­ing taken to mit­i­gate or over­come these.”

Or­gan­ised by the Agency for Cul­tural Af­fairs Ja­pan, Asi­aPa­cific Cul­tural Cen­tre for UN­ESCO, In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for the Study of the Preser­va­tion and Restora­tion of Cul­tural Prop­erty and the Na­tional Re­search In­sti­tu­tion for Cul­tural Prop­er­ties, the course in­cluded lec­tures from ex­perts, tours of mu­se­ums, field trips to ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ex­ca­va­tions and vis­its to a num­ber of World Her­itage sites.

The or­gan­is­ers cov­ered the cost of ac­com­mo­da­tion and a daily al­lowance, while Her­itage New Zealand paid for Eleanor’s air­fares.

“Be­sides vis­it­ing places of cul­tural im­por­tance in Nara, Osaka and Ky­oto, one of the high­lights of the trip was spend­ing time­with young pro­fes­sion­als from across the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, and learn­ing about their coun­tries and share ex­pe­ri­ences. This re­ally made the course unique,” she says.

“I par­tic­u­larly en­joyed lis­ten­ing to the coun­try re­port pre­sen­ta­tions by each par­tic­i­pant, which high­lighted some sim­i­lar­i­ties in the is­sues we all face in our re­spec­tive coun­tries, and also the op­por­tu­nity to un­der­stand cul­tural her­itage in other set­tings. It was a great way to in­tro­duce our­selves— and our work— to the group.

“It was also good to at­tend the lec­tures by ex­perts in dif­fer­ent fields, and fur­ther de­velop tech­ni­cal skills like draw­ing arte­facts and pho­tog­ra­phy.”

Once Eleanor got used to the hu­mid­ity of a late Ja­pa­nese sum­mer— as well as the bikes, cars, trains, sub­ways and buses as­so­ci­at­ed­with a pop­u­la­tion of 127mil­lion— she fully en­joyed the ex­pe­ri­ence, which was her first over­seas trip trav­el­ling by her­self.

Photo / Sup­plied

Eleanor Stur­rock out­side 10th Cen­tury Bud­dhist Byo¯do¯-in Tem­ple near Ky­oto.

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