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Hiroshima, Kyoto, Tokyo, Japan

Program Description

Immerse yourself in the rich, complex, artistic and cultural heritage of Japan.

This program will start with class meetings at JMU's campus in the Spring of 2020 to consider and discuss the art history of Japan. During this period you will get to know your fellow students and the instructor as you gain a thorough grounding in both Japan's socio-political history and art history within a global perspective. Class time will include lectures, readings, and small-group activities. You will understand how the transition of Japan from a feudal, agricultural empire to an industrialized world power impacted both society and art, and how art acted as a context through which Japanese artists could explore personal identity, conflict, and visions for the future of the nation.

During your four weeks in Japan in May 2020, you will spend time in Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Tokyo. You will engage in site visits to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, encounter arts, crafts, and buildings designated as National Treasures, and explore the cutting-edge technology and pop culture of one of the safest developed countries of the world. Group excursions include Zen meditation in a Buddhist temple, a trip to the sacred island of Miyajima, and through the bustling streets of Harajuku.

Through partnerships with Ritsumeikan University and Kansai University, you will both experience Japanese student life and have the opportunity to interact with students and faculty at two leading universities in Japan. Accommodations will include facilities on or near campus, offering access to both the resources and student life of the universities. The excellent public transportation systems in each city also offer easy access to nearby restaurants, shopping areas, and entertainment.

You do not need to speak Japanese to participate in this study abroad session, as all instruction is in English. While Japanese is the native language, English is widely used on signs, menus, and major tourist sites. Students enrolled in any major at any university are welcome to participate and apply JMU course credit hours toward one's degree program. The courses may be taken at an Honors level.

Info Session for The Art and Culture of Japan program:

Date: Thursday, September 26th | 5pm-6pm

Place: Festival Conference Room 4

Location Description

The ancient capital of the country, Kyoto has long been a center for artistic and cultural development, and today is a mecca for both traditional artisans and contemporary artists. As one of the few cities spared from destruction during World War II, Kyoto’s countless temples, shrines, and historic structures offer visitors a glimpse into Japan’s past. At the same time, it is also one of the country’s largest cities, known for both emerging pop culture and live music. Highly walkable, the city is surrounded by pristine natural beauty.

The city of Hiroshima is best remembered as the first city targeted by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces dropped an atomic bomb on the city on August 6, 1945. Most of the city was destroyed, and by the end of the year 90,000–166,000 had died as a result of the blast and its effects. From the ashes of this devastating event, the people of Hiroshima have rebuilt their city into a modern metropolis of over one million inhabitants. Today it is a city dedicated to educating future generations on the devastating toll of nuclear warfare, and advocating for worldwide peace.

The capital of Japan since 1869, Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area in the country and the most populous metropolitan area in the world. A major urban and artistic center since the seventeenth century, Tokyo has long been a showcase for avant-garde art, architecture, and technology. Housing everything from the youth-centric culture of Harajuku to the cutting-edge Mori Digital Art Museum, the city will be the dazzling backdrop to our final days in Japan.


Virginia Soenksen | | Madison Art Collection


Accommodations will be provided for students through hotels or furnished dorm rooms on the campus of our university partners. Rooms will have internet access, kitchen and laundry facilities. Most rooms will be single occupancy.

Students will be allocated a meal stipend to cover the cost of daily meals, which will be distributed every 3-5 days. We will have two group meals (welcome and farewell dinners).

Additional Items to Consider

No vaccines are required for entry to Japan. The United States Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that travelers should be up to date on routine vaccines including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and the flu shot.

All students should be tested for a buckwheat allergy unless they have previously and knowingly consumed it with no ill effects.

With a valid passport and an onward/return ticket, students can stay on a tourist/business "visa free" stay of up to 90 days.

The easier and cheapest way for students to use cell phone data and make voice calls while in Japan is to buy an international plan through their US cell phone provider. A portable wifi router is highly recommended for each student, and rental discount are available through CGE.

Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs that are readily available in the US are prohibited to bring into Japan. Prohibited drugs include those containing stimulants (including pseudoephedrine, found in Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers), or codeine. Some US prescription medications cannot be imported into Japan, even when accompanied by a customs declaration and a copy of the prescription. Students are highly recommended to contact the Japan Customs office via email ( to confirm that their prescriptions will be permitted.

US prescriptions are not honored in Japan, so travelers with ongoing prescription medicine needs should arrive with a sufficient supply to see them through until they are able to see a local care provider. Students who take regular OTC medications should be aware that the same medication may not be readily available in Japan, and should plan to bring a sufficient supply with them.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

No language requirement

Applications from both Honors students and non-Honors students will be accepted.

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 ($25 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • 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. 

WAITLIST applications only.

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


ARTH 206: Survey of World Art II: Renaissance to Modern (3 credits) *Honors Optional

HUM 252: Cross-Cultural Perspectives: Japanese Humanities (3 credits) *Honors Optional

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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