A group of 10 students and faculty led by Dr. John Paine (English and Foreign Languages) and Dr. Jonathan Thorndike (Honors Program) recently spent three weeks in Japan as part of the university’s second annual study abroad trip there. The Belmont group, which also included Dr. Cindy Bisson (History) and Dr. Marieta Velikova (Business Administration), was based in the central Kansai Region near Kyoto, the home of traditional Japanese culture.
The theme for the academic portion taught by Dr. Paine was “Kyoto: Heart of Japanese Culture,” while Dr. Thorndike was responsible for field trip visits to various shrines, temples, museums and historical sites. The Belmont travel-study program to Japan was occasioned by the 1,000-year anniversary of the composition of The Tale of Genji, generally considered the greatest work of Japanese literature. The Belmont group received a special invitation to see original manuscripts of Genji regarded as “national cultural treasures” at the Tenri University library.
One unique feature of the travel-study program was the combination of regular class time with visits to a variety of sites representing ancient and modern Japan. The Belmont group toured famous Buddhist temples in Kyoto and Nara as well as famous Shinto shrines and Torii gates in Kyoto and Otsu. The group spent time in reflection at the International Peace Park and Museum in Hiroshima and also visited the extensive collections in National Museums in Kyoto and Nara.
This fall, Belmont will be offering two levels of Japanese language as a regular academic course of study. Belmont students will also offer a convocation about their experiences in Japan in September. A third study abroad trip to Japan is being planned for May 13-June 2, 2009.