Kyoto Artisans: Exploring 1200 Years of Cultural History of Kyoto through Modern Craftsmanship Winter 2019

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Class Details

Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan has 1200 years of history. It is called Japan’s cultural treasure house. The purpose of this travel course is to explore the cultural history of Kyoto and how traditional craftsmanship is perpetuated and transformed in a modern era as the city of Kyoto developed. Students will visit Kyoto artisans at their studio and through a discourse with thriving artists, they will arrive at their own conclusion about what it means to sustain tradition while pursuing modernization and innovation. The first week of the course is conducted on campus. Students will intensively study the cultural history of Kyoto with readings, films and discussion. Also in pairs, they will conduct research on one selected area of Kyoto craftsmanship to acquire in-depth knowledge. Each pair will be responsible to educate the entire group for the onsite visit in Kyoto. Then, for the second and third week, the class will travel to Kyoto. We will first visit historic sites to learn the context of how craftsmanship developed from courtly culture in the Heian period, samurai tradition in the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, religious ceremonies and Noh Theater and tea ceremonies. After and during these excursions, we will visit four artisan studios. They are a sacred mirror maker who could be the last of his kind, a textile weaver, a Noh mask maker, a sculptor of Buddhist statues. Some of these artisans are perpetuating hundreds of years of family tradition. Some started out as an apprentice and established his/her own studio. Students will also have hands on experiences at some studios. Students are expected to participate in all the scheduled activities, post a daily journal on the course website and share daily reflections. At the end of the Kyoto visit, students will summarize their reflections and present their views on Japanese traditional and modern craftsmanship to the local community and the Kyoto artisans at a public forum.
The Class: Format: travel
Limit: 8
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: final project; post daily blog to the course website and a public PowerPoint presentation in Kyoto
Prerequisites: at least one course in ASST or JAPN; not open to first-year students
Enrollment Preferences: personal statement
Materials/Lab Fee: $3,635
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses
TRVL Winter Study Travel Course

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