Asuka Sango
Asuka Sango, Associate Professor of Religion

Asuka Sango, Associate Professor of Religion

Carly Born, Academic Technologist

Professor Asuka Sango’s project added community-based learning to an existing religion course, Religion 282: “Samurai: Ethics of Loyalty and Death,” a class that has been revised as an Academic Civic Engagement (ACE) course. Students studied the history of samurai and their martial arts since its inception in ancient Japan. At the same time, students learned the practice of modern kyudo (Japanese longbow archery) from community partner and Carleton Academic Technologist, Carly Born. See below for photos of the students learning the practice of modern kyudo.

Professor Sango hoped to build the reciprocal circle of learning where students will be empowered to immerse themselves in the local community and learn to honor diverse forms of knowledge. With the support of Public Works, she completed this circle of reciprocity by inviting guest speaker, Ogasawara Kiyomoto, a renowned archery instructor from Japan, to share his insight on the topic. After his presentation there was an open community dinner.

Carly Born
Carly Born, Kyudo Instructor and Community Partner

Deeply rooted in samurai culture, kyudo emphasizes high forms of etiquette, personal responsibility and the pursuit of the harmony of body and mind/spirit – values inherent in the larger samurai culture. Samurai culture has been the subject of Orientalist fascination and has had a tremendous impact on American popular culture. In this view, a samurai is either a mysterious and all-knowing Zen master or a fanatic killing machine. With the experiential learning component, Professor Sango and Instructor Born hoped to challenge such a polarized and simplistic view of samurai, and encourage students to question their own cultural assumptions that contribute to this particular “othering” of samurai culture.

Kyudo Instructor Carly Born was the first non-Japanese US-born female to receive the renowned rank of renshi — the first rank in the kyudo teaching certification system. As a pioneer of kyudo in North America, she leads the MN Kyudo Renmei and teaches kyudo for her kyudo students in Northfield and St. Louis Park and in Iowa. She is also well connected with the kyudo community in Japan.