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TRAVEL COURSE to JAPAN
March 2012


Click here for a slideshow with images and information


Course Description:
In this 12-day travel course, discover Japan's intricate blend of ancient traditions and cutting-edge modernity. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts will offer a Japan study trip during the spring break from March 8 to 19, 2012. This credit-bearing course is to give students an intimate experience of Japan's history, religion, culture and society through visiting historical sites, temples and shrines, museums, and national parks. The trip will be similar but not identical to previous trips. The exquisite ancient capital of Kyoto and the bustling metropolis of Tokyo will be the main interests. Other scenery and historical cities and towns will be scheduled as well. Some of the trip highlights include:

  • Visiting palaces, temples, shrines, gardens, and castles. Many of them are on UNESCO's World Heritage list.
  • Musing in a serene temple or in the World's most famous Zen rock garden.
  • Riding the thrilling Shinkansen "bullet" train, the fastest in Asia.
  • Staying in a traditional Japanese inn.
  • Immersing yourself in Japanese folk art, merchant houses, and special-interest museums, including the Kyoto International Manga Museum.
  • Strolling through Kyoto's narrow alleys to taste a slice of the exquisite traditional culture and customs.
  • Contemplating at Hiroshima's thought-provoking Peace Memorial Park.
  • Admiring the splendid Miyajima Shinto Shrine.
  • Visiting the Mazda Museum and factory to appreciate Japan's achievement in technology.
  • (Window) shopping in Tokyo's enormous and glittering department stores to experience their unsurpassable courteous service.
  • Walking around in the mind-boggling Akihabara Electric Town in Tokyo to find all kinds of electronic devices and gadgets.
  • Dining on Japanese food to take in its variety and visual and culinary finesse.


Prior to the trip, students will participate in the mandatory meetings with Professor Kailai Huang, the faculty leader of the trip, to discuss issues relating to Japanese history, culture and society. Students will be required to finish assigned readings and submit a written assignment. Students are asked to keep a journal during the trip. After the trip, students will submit a reflective work based on their Japan experiences to their e-portfolio.

Course Cost: the estimated cost per person is $2,870 US dollars, subject to changes of airfares and dollar-yen exchange rate. It includes:

  • round trip international airfares to Japan.
  • round trip bus airport from North Adams.
  • a seven-day Japan Rail Pass that will cover most of the train travels.
  • ground transportation (bus, subway, and train) on the days with scheduled activities.
  • 10 overnight stays, mainly in western-style budget hotels or traditional Japanese inns (ryokan, sleeping on floor futon). Depending on lodging facilities, it can be two, three, or four people a room.
  • all admissions based on our itinerary.
  • three credits for enrolled MCLA students.

Not included:

  • meals in Japan. Prices of food are generally steeper in Japan than in the US. But with careful planning, you can control your expenses by eating meals in inexpensive restaurants, noodle shops, western fast-food chains, or buying packaged food. The estimated budget for food is $250 ($25 per day).
  • personal spending money for souvenirs or other purposes

Payment Schedule: all payments are due in MCLA's Bursar's Office.

October 19, 2011,     $100 deposit to reserve your seat on the trip
November 18, 2011, $1,400
January 27, 2012,      $1,370

Contact: Dr. Kailai Huang
Phone, 413-662-5426
kailai.huang@mcla.edu
Department of History
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
375 Church Street
North Adams, MA 01247