Omoide-zukuri: Making Memories and Real-Time Nostalgia

Omoide-zukuri: Making Memories and Real-Time Nostalgia

Screenshot from an ad by Google: “your memories on the top page”  From time to time, we all think back to days of yore. So far, the time I spent as a cog in the machine has yet to warp my memory to a point where I reflect upon my university years as an alcohol-fueled stroll through the Garden of Eden. Still, I cannot help but drift away on a cloud of nostalgia every so often. For this Ikiji, I want to talk about omoide-zukuri (思い出づくり, literally: ‘making memories’) and the role it plays in the life of many Japanese university students. I will draw on my own experiences participating in several student clubs when I was living in Nagasaki and Kyoto. During this time I noticed that students were not using memories solely as fodder for light-hearted conversation, but also appeared to be actively engaged in making them. University clubs are run by students and are dedicated to a certain activity, ranging from the tea ceremony to music, football or Japanese chess. Because many students join a club in their first year and stick with it until they graduate four years later, the club environment provides the ideal breeding ground for bonding experiences and the creation of unforgettable memories. But why exactly would anyone be actively engaged in making memories, and what does this process entail? First, we need to take a look at the Japanese education system. From the moment a child sets foot in elementary school, the path to adult society’s warm embrace is mostly set in stone. In earlier decades, getting a job after graduating high...