University of Tokyo: Online activities of the Athletic Foundation, and other “UTokyo with Corona” topics

In 2020, due to the pandemic, activities at UTokyo drastically changed in ways we had never expected. In this issue of Tansei, we record various efforts made at UTokyo over the past six months to offer a chance to think about the University’s activities in the COVID-19 era.
Online activities of the Athletic Foundation, and other “UTokyo with Corona” topics

UTokyo with Corona 8
Athletic Foundation demonstrates how to hold club activities during the pandemic

While student club activities have been greatly restricted amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Athletic Foundation of the University of Tokyo has been conducting activities that can be done online. Using the hashtag, #最高の自宅待機をしよう (Saiko no jitakutaiki wo shiyo; “Let’s stay home and make the best of it”), its member clubs sent out messages via Twitter from late March 2020, and held a joint welcome party for new students on April 4 and 5. For a month from April 13, five athletic clubs released a video series demonstrating training programs that can be done at home. From push-up burpee jumps by the Rugby Football Club and Bulgarian split squats by the Rowing Club to giant swings (for improving one’s endurance) by the Cheer Squad, it was a good series, making the best use of each club’s specialty. From May 2, they started the “BIG LOVE ♡” project, where the Cheer Squad members made a shape of a heart with their arms together with members from other athletic clubs. On May 14, they launched an interview series with their members titled Shingata Corona Uirusu to Daigaku Spotsu (“The novel coronavirus and university sports”). The Athletic Foundation also released a video titled Ichiko to Issho ni (“Together with Ichiko”), with an aim to offer relaxation by featuring its official mascot, Ichiko. Stay tuned for when the Athletic Foundation resumes offline activities, as they are sure to unleash their energy accumulated during the stay-home period.



On April 17, 2020, the Institute of Industrial Science (IIS) launched a website called “ONG STEAM STREAM,” offering online educational materials for children who are spending an increasing amount of time at home. The teaching materials it offers help children feel the connection between the standard subjects they learn at school such as science, mathematics and history, and “science technology and society,” which describes the meaning and roles that such subjects take on in society. On June 2, the IIS released virtual background images that can be used in online meetings via Zoom or other platforms. The images feature the scenery and logo of the IIS. A total of 19 patterns are available, including seven types of photos with the IIS logo, and six different background color images with Japanese or English IIS logos.

On April 28, 2020, a group of volunteer former UTokyo international students donated 1,000 N95 surgical masks to the University of Tokyo Hospital. The Todai Beijing Friendship Association’s Fumiaki Sano handed a box of the masks to Shizuo Iwase, the director of administration at the hospital, with a line from the First Higher School’s dormitory song, “Ah-gyokuhai ni hana ukete” [“Oh, receiving flowers in a jade cup”], printed on the box. The line, which is about sailing through rough seas, symbolizes their hope for UTokyo to mobilize its power to defeat the “monster” that is COVID-19. Since donating the masks, the former international students have continued their support, such as by providing face shields and giving to the UTokyo Foundation.


The Peer Support Room logo, designed to reflect the Peer Support Room’s policies, and a picture showing the peer supporters’ activities. The survey on UTokyo students’ stress can be viewed here: https://ut-psr.net/2020/07/07/stress02/ (Japanese)
The Peer Support Room, which provides support for students by students, conducted a survey from May 12-18, 2020, asking UTokyo students about the stress they experienced during the pandemic. Of the 260 respondents, 66 percent said that they felt stress. Many of the respondents answered that exercise or walking were ways they relieved their stress. To a question asking about things they started during the pandemic, exercise ranked at the top, followed by studying and then cooking. The peer supporters have been expanding their online interactions, such as with “Yomoyama Katarai Zemi” (“Seminar to talk about various subjects”) where students discuss about the theme of their choice, and “Atsumare Komaba no Heya” (“Come together in the Komaba room”) in which people bring games to play over Zoom.

On May 14, 2020, the Institute of Gerontology released a booklet titled “O-uchie,” a coined word combining the Japanese word “o-uchi” (home) and “chie” (wisdom). The booklet contains pearls of wisdom for senior citizens, aiming to protect their health during the pandemic. From a way to check if they are losing muscle strength using their hands; a recommendation to “deposit” muscle just like saving money in a bank; a walk inside their house; a mouth exercise called “patakara”; and home mini-renovation, to preparing a quarantine room; eating outside on their balconies; writing a family history; getting takeout food to support local restaurants; and writing a diary about good things that happened to them, the 48-page booklet is packed with ideas that are also interesting for younger generations. It can be printed out by the page or in its entirety from its website.


Musician Gen Hoshino’s video of his song, “Uchi de Odorou” (“Dancing on the Inside”) became a social media trend, with many jumping on the bandwagon to make collaborative music videos. Among them were UTokyo members. The Rowing Club combined Hoshino’s video with footage of its members training in their homes. The orchestra group University of Tokyo Feuererk Philharmoniker accomplished a remarkable feat by gathering and bundling together 100 videos of its members playing the cello along to the song. Hayato Sumino, who was the winner of the 2019 President’s Grand Award and is active as a pianist, “co-starred” with Hoshino with his light arrangement of the song. Sumino’s video was chosen from a number of collaboration works to receive the honor of being featured on Hoshino’s television program.

On May 11, 2020, the Student Counseling Center at the Center for Research on Counseling and Support Services held an online zazen, a seated meditation session, for UTokyo students. Jodo Sasaki, UTokyo College of Arts and Sciences alumnus and abbot of Tenshoji Temple in Osaka, taught the class via Zoom. A total of 95 people took part in the online zazen session from their respective locations.

The Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST) is running a virtual open house (virtualopenhouse.rcast.u-tokyo.ac.jp), where you can virtually stroll through RCAST and view exhibits by logging into a virtual reality platform called “cluster.”

On May 1, the Office for Gender Equality launched a special project called “Stay Home, but our Heart is on Campus!” The project gathers and disseminates the voices of UTokyo students, such as advice for junior high and high school students who are struggling amid the pandemic, and how to communicate with friends and family during this difficult time.

The Graduate School of Engineering solicited proposals for the future post-coronavirus society from its members. Based on the 77 ideas it received, the graduate school held an online symposium on June 27. The discussion was divided into three areas: medicine, daily life and education. It is hoped that this discussion will lead to the creation of new research areas that have never been explored before.

The Graduate School of Information Science and Technology released “Post Corona no Arata na Johoshakai e Mukete no Teigen” (“Proposals for a new information society in the post-coronavirus era”) on June 25. A symposium was held online on July 4 which discussed the 10 proposals, including the determination to not return to the pre-COVID-19 social system.


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