Belmont’s inaugural travel-study program to Japan recently returned to Nashville after a three-week program abroad. A group of 10 students led by Dr. Jonathan Thorndike (Honors) and Dr. John Paine (English and Foreign Languages) joined a group of five students from Michigan State University at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture. The theme for the course was “The Modern Samurai: 20th Century Japan.”
The program featured a combination of traditional class time with visits to a variety of sites representing ancient and modern Japan. The group toured the historic Asakusa market district of Tokyo as well as the high-tech enclaves of Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Akihabara and Harajuku. They also visited ancient Buddhist and Shinto sites in Kamakura, Nara, Kyoto and Otsu. Students were given the opportunity to take in a baseball game in Osaka and a sumo wrestling tournament in Tokyo. The group also spent time in reflection at the International Peace Park and Museum in Hiroshima.
The Belmont group received a special invitation to visit the Bridgestone Museum of Art in Tokyo, where they viewed an impressive collection of European artwork. They also toured the Nissan Oppama assembly plant in Kanagawa. On their last evening in Tokyo, the Belmont students met with a group of Japanese Belmont alumni so they could compare notes on experiences in Nashville.
Belmont is planning a second Japan travel-study program for May of 2008. The program will be led by Dr. Paine, Dr. Andrea Stover, and Dr. Thorndike. The focus of this program will be “Kyoto: Capital of Japanese Culture” and will be conducted during 19 days in Otsu and Kyoto, Japan. The purpose is to introduce students to “deep Japan” based on a study of selected texts and on site visits to Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Nara. In addition to the study and temple and shrine visits, students will have the opportunity to study works by Basho, the greatest of haiku poets, and Nobel Prize winner Kawabat’s novel set in Kyoto.
Dr. Stover will offer a writing course in conjunction with the program and this fall Belmont will off Japanese language as a regular academic course of study.