|The reception at city hall to welcome us to Yamato.|
|The Fulbright Memorial Program Yamato Group with Yamato government officials. I'm hidden in the back on the left.|
|Walking to school in organized groups|
|These elementary students performed for us and then taught us a traditional dance.|
I had always heard about Japan being a homogeneous culture with little diversity and strong pressure for everyone to conform. I was surprised at the individuality I saw in Tokyo.
|A mother and a child in traditional dress|
|Goth with neon wigs!|
The Fulbright Program was founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946. Following World War II Japanese students had the opportunity to study in the US as Fulbright scholars. Today those Fulbrighters are leaders in Japan in business and government. The Fulbright Program helped Japan recover from World War II. Numerous Japanese Fulbright scholars attended various receptions held for us during our stay in Japan.
In Yamato we attended an elegant dinner that included the director of the Japan-United States Educational Commission, numerous former Fulbright Scholars and our Yamato host families. One member of our group played the violin and as a tribute to our hosts, he played the Japanese national anthem. It was one of those moments that is seared in my memory. We all stood for the anthem. I looked around the room and noticed the tears in the eyes of the elderly men as they silently mouthed the words. Later I learned that the national anthem is not played frequently in Japan. It is also unusual to see the flag displayed. In fact, following World War II the Japanese were not permitted to display the flag. It is considered by many as a symbol of the extreme nationalism that contributed to World War II. I was surprised that World War II continues to have such a strong influence in Japan.
We reached out to help the Japanese recover from World War II. It is reassuring to see the world respond to the crisis in Japan now.