Why Japan? Currently one of America’s strongest allies in the world, the friendship between Japan and the United States is remarkable. The history of this relationship is a great lesson for teens as these countries overcame differences after World War II to work together and create a more peaceful world. American teens are especially interested in Japan’s anime and manga as well as Japan’s well-developed technology such as video games, robots and bullet trains. Finally, the Eastern culture of Japan, its balance of ancient tradition and modernity, its collectivist culture as opposed to an individualistic one, represent a fascinating contrast to the Western culture of the United States.
About Japan: Japan is a stunning nation, home to 22 World Heritage Sites as of July 2018. An impressive 66% of Japan is forest, resulting in the majority of Japanese people living in densely-populated urban centers. Japan is a very culturally, ethnically, and linguistically homogeneous country, with 98.5% of its population identifying as ethnically Japanese. Its geographic location as an island, combined with its closed-country policy from the mid 17th century until the mid 19th century, are both major factors of this homogeneity. Japan is a country known for its scientific and technological advances, efficiency, cleanliness, and is a must-see destination!
Examples of pre-trip workshops include Japanese language lessons, mochi making, Japanese calligraphy, sushi making, an MFA Boston field trip, anime and manga, tea ceremonies, learning about Japanese festivals, etiquette and taboos, origami, Japanese food and using chopsticks.
Examples of trip activities include riding a bullet train, meditation with a Buddhist monk, a homestay with a Japanese family, ginger and shiitake mushroom farming, a Shittoi Grass Weaving workshop, a visit to onsen thermal hot springs, karaoke, a soba buckwheat noodle workshop and meeting with Japanese high school students.
Examples of site visits and locations include the Nijo-jo Castle, Golden Temple, International Manga Museum, Kyoto Disaster Prevention Center, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Hiroshima Peace Musuem, the great Torii of Miyajima, Kumano Magaibutsu, Osaka, Tokyo, Fukuoka and Kunisaki Peninsula.
Important dates: This program begins in May and meets weekly until the 2-week trip in mid-April. The program concludes with 3 final meetings upon return from the trip.