Chibo Takes Japan!

Daniela Arteaga, Staff Writer

Chibo, a curious feline and beloved companion of Professor William Schoen, takes us on a journey through all of Japan. Together they wander the streets of Kamakura and have marveled at the snowy top of Mount Fuji.

The photographic journal Travel My Japan is a collection of photos taken by Professor Schoen, instructor of the Japanese language course and Japanese Culture through Film at NEIU.

Schoen lived in Japan for a few years during the 1980s. He was always captivated by the Japanese culture, but it wasn’t until after high school that he became fascinated with film.  He explored Tokyo and other cities in Japan since 2000.

Just four years ago, he began teaching the Japanese Culture through Film course.

For the past 30 years, he has made it a yearly tradition to visit the island. Even as he spends his time on the other side of the world, Schoen creates unique experiences every time he returns.

The photo journal includes a brief narrative for each picture which features Chibo, Schoen’s feline companion. In the introductory chapter, there is the explanation of Chibo’s name and meaning. Schoen shares that he missed Chibo while away in Japan. Thus, he decided to create this exciting opportunity where he would feature him on his travels.

he book captures what’s most interesting about [Japan] as well as spark people’s interest in the Japanese culture,” Prof. Schoen said.

Although there are many apparent differences between the American and Japanese culture, Schoen discusses the Japanese people’s respect for others especially in crowded areas of Tokyo such as the subway.

Japan has been affected by natural disasters for many years and yet, after chaos, its people manage to come together and move on from it. Schoen also appreciates how relatively safe the country is.

“One of my favorite things to do in Tokyo is just walk around different neighborhoods,” says Schoen. He also mentions eating some of his preferred Japanese foods such as tempura udon, fish, and pork cutlets. Another memory includes a visit to a 270-year-old restaurant.

Aside from this fun project, Professor Schoen is working on another book where he explains more about the history of Japan. This work in progress will also be a photo journal that will focus on images of Tokyo. Some of the most riveting things about the Japanese culture is its architecture. Schoen plans on showcasing Japan’s traditional side as seen through old buildings and alleyways.