Exploring Kyoto Culture: How 1200 years of cultural history continues throughout today Winter 2023

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Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan has 1200 years of history. It is referred to as Japan’s cultural treasure house and thrives on its ancient heritage in architecture, gardens, religion, performing and culinary arts and craftsmanship. Yet Kyoto’s appearances can be deceiving. You will find a monumental temple designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site under the shadow of ultramodern high-rising buildings. There is an enigmatic quality to the city with this juxtaposition of old and new. This unresolved tension between modernization and tradition is Kyoto’s fascination. The purpose of this travel course is to explore the cultural history of Kyoto and how it is perpetuated and transformed in a modern era. Students will visit various sites and artists/artisans in Kyoto. Through these experiences, 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 will be conducted on campus. Students conduct research in pairs to acquire additional in-depth knowledge on one selected area of Kyoto’s art/craftmanship. For the second and third week, the class will travel to Kyoto. We will first explore the city of Kyoto to develop an idea of how its cultural history progressed from courtly culture in the Heian period, to samurai tradition in the Medieval periods, and aspects of religious ceremonies, Noh Theater and tea ceremonies. We will also visit four to five artisan/artist studios, including hands on experiences at some studios. Students are expected to participate in all the scheduled activities, keep a daily journal, and participate in daily reflections. At the end of the Kyoto visit, students will summarize their reflections and present their views on Japanese traditional and modern art/craft/performance to the local community and to the Kyoto artists/artisans at a public forum. The class will return to campus towards the end of the third week.
The Class: Format: travel
Limit: 8
Expected: 8
Class#: 1023
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: post daily blog to the course website and a public PowerPoint presentation in Kyoto
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: personal statements and completion of course(s) related to Japan
Materials/Lab Fee: $3,700
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses
TRVL Winter Study Travel Course

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