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Tokyo, Japan

Program Description

Experience the city of Tokyo through the art and architecture of this 400-year-old metropolis. Originally named Edo, the city became home to the Tokugawa shogunate in 1603 and the center of politics and culture in Japan. Today it is the capital of the country and home to almost 14 million people. From the cutting-edge gaming center of Akihabara to the narrow streets of Edo in Yanaka, it is a city rich in history, resilience, and innovation.

Much of the program will involve visits to historic sites such as Sensōji and world-class institutions such as the Yayoi Kusama Museum and the Mori Digital Art Museum. These visits will allow you to experience Japanese visual and performing arts first-hand. There will be opportunities to deeply engage in Japanese culture through the tea ceremony, New Year’s traditions, and more.

Coursework focuses on developing a critical and historical knowledge of the development of Japanese art, understand the role and function of Japanese art within its religious, sociopolitical, and economic contexts, and achieve visual literacy of Japanese art. They will also explore how Japanese modern and contemporary artists navigated the trauma of WWII and became critical players in the international art scene.

Japanese language experience is not required, and all courses will be taught in English. Students will have access to reliable public transportation systems, allowing them to explore one of the safest cities in the world.

Location Description

The site of Tokyo has been inhabited since ancient times. Originally a small fishing village, Edo’s development into a city did not occur until the Tokugawa shogunate made the city its capital and triggered a boom of construction and arts patronage. With the Meiji Restoration of 1868, which ended the shogunate, the capital was moved to Edo. The city was renamed Tokyo, meaning “eastern capital.” Edo had been Japan’s largest city since the 17th century. Tokyo’s population exceeded one million in the late 19th century, and as Japan’s political, economic, and cultural center it became one of the world’s most populous cities in the 20th century.

Today home to almost 14 million people, it is a multifaceted, diverse city that has been home to some of the most important historic events in Japan. World-class museums, restaurants, and a reliable transportation system make it a traveler's dream, and it is one of the safest cities in the developed world. 


Virginia Soenksen | | Madison Art Collection


Students will stay in centrally-located hotels in shared accommodation with internet access as well as kitchen and laundry facilities. The program director will stay on-site to better act as a resource for students.

Students will be allocated a weekly meal stipend that will cover all meals, which is included in the overall program cost. Stipends will be distributed 1x per week. Students will organize their own dining to allow for food preferences and dietary restrictions, save for a group welcome meal.

Additional Items to Consider

COVID vaccines may be required for entry into Japan.

COVID-19 Location Information:

Each country has different requirements upon entry with regard to COVID-19. Please check this website for the most up-to-date information on what is required for the country (or countries) that are part of this program. Please note that this changes often, so we encourage you to check back frequently.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

No language requirement

No program prerequisites

Open to all majors

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($40 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Academic references
  • Interview with Program Director
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


ARTH 425: Advanced Topics in Non-Western Art - Early Modern to Contemporary Japanese Art History (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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