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Report on 10th Seminar in the Bhutan Seminar Series 2021


At the tenth and the final event in the Bhutan Seminar Series for 2021, held on March 26, 2022, we watched “NHK Correspondent's Report” ‘Coronation of Unexplored Bhutan’ (1974) and “NHK Overseas Reporting Program” ‘Small Countries Vol. 5: Unexplored Bhutan in the Himalayas’ (1967).

Images from the films

In the first half of the seminar, participants watched these two films and learned about the coronation of the former king of Bhutan (the fourth king), the parliament, farms, and schools of the time, as well as the construction of the airport and the renovation of a building called Tashichho Dzong.

I was particularly interested in the Thimphu Public School, where all tuition fees were paid by the government. Based on the idea that education is the first step toward national development, the Bhutanese government also covered all expenses for students studying abroad at that time.

Mr. Keiji Nishioka, an agricultural expert dispatched from Japan to Bhutan under the Colombo Plan, is featured in both films, and I was reminded of his strong presence. When Bhutan was still highly dependent on foreign aid without any means to earn foreign currency, Mr. Nishioka believed that the quickest way to economic development was to grow vegetables and export them to India, and he contributed greatly to Bhutan’s development by introducing intensive agriculture and improving rice varieties. His name has been mentioned many times in past seminars, but this time it was refreshing to see his agricultural project at that time as well as his interaction with the third Queen of Bhutan.

Commentary by Mr. Hirayama

In the second half of the seminar, Mr. Takehiro Hirayama explained the excellence of the narration and some worrying expressions in the films, and the differences in content between the official recorded film by Indian government and the Japanese film regarding the coronation ceremony in 1974. I believe that the participants were able to clear up any concerns they had during this explanation. So many topics were raised that we ran out of time.

During the Q&A session, we shared questions and impressions. We received insights not only from Mr. Hirayama but also from participants, and it seemed to be an interactive exchange session.

In the post-seminar questionnaire, some participants mentioned “The explanations were easy to understand for beginners”, “The history as well as the current situation was vivid”, and “The explanations and explanations were easy to understand because they were based on the film images”.

This seminar was the last in the Bhutan Seminar Series for 2021, I feel that we were able to make many small improvements and create a good seminar thanks to the feedback from the participants, including their responses to questionnaire. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone who has been involved in the seminar over the past year. The Bhutan Seminar Series will be held again next year, and we look forward to your continued support.

(Rinka Yamashima, first-year student, Department of Psychology,
Faculty of Human Life and Environmental Sciences)

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