Saturday, June 7, 2014

TAMU in Tokyo 2014

Since 2009, I have lead a study-abroad program in Japan called TAMU in Tokyo. Offering a constellation of cultural experiences in one of the most dynamic, artistically-rich cities in the world, TAMU in Tokyo is a five-week, short-term summer study abroad interdisciplinary program that focuses on the language, culture, and the traditional performance arts of Japan. Prominent guest artists and hands-on workshops enrich the classroom experience, and an extensive field trip component provides a captivating context in which students are exposed to the Japanese performing arts while naturally assimilating the language. During the fourth week of the program, all classes will be held onsite at various historical sites in Kyoto, where students will participate in a homestay program with Japanese families.

Students take two courses on site for a total of 6 credits; MUSC/THAR 328: Japanese Traditional Performing Arts and JAPN 110: Functional Japanese: History and Culture.

MUSC/THAR 328: Japanese Traditional Performing Arts

This course will be a survey of various Japanese traditional performing arts from the seventh-century to the present day. Faculty lectures, assigned course readings, and classroom discussion will be supplemented by guest lectures from prominent artists and musicians in Tokyo. Taking advantage of the cultural offerings in Tokyo, students will be required to attend performances of traditional Japanese music and theater such as bunraku, kabuki, or noh, and keep a journal of their experiences and impressions. At the end of the course, students will be able to identify various genres of traditional Japanese performance arts, articulate their various features and characteristics, come to a basic understanding of aesthetic values that are shared between these genres, recognize important individuals and events in the development of the traditional Japanese performance arts, and be able to identify the cultural and social values that are expressed in these artistic forms. The primary goal of this course is to enrich and broaden the students’ artistic horizons by being exposed first-hand to various Japanese traditional performing arts.

JAPN 110: Functional Japanese: History and Culture

In this course, students will familiarize themselves with practical and functional Japanese conversations in real life situations such as shopping, using the telephone, buying train tickets, ordering at a restaurant, etc.  The emphasis will be on oral production, not reading or writing in Japanese. While they reside in Japan, they will participate in activities with local college students to experience daily life in Japan through the host culture’s perspective and get the taste of “real” Japanese people and culture.  These activities will facilitate their intercultural understanding and communication skills that they will simultaneously be learning from assigned readings. In addition to language content, students will be introduced to Japanese history from the beginning of the Heian Period (794-1185) to the present day.  At the end of the course, students will be able to identify historical periods and the salient events of these periods, identify important individuals in politics and the arts, identify important works of art and art forms, associate these with the appropriate time periods, and be able to identify the cultural and social values that underlie the language functions introduced in the class.  While they travel in Japan, students will be challenged to use the introduced conversations in a real life context while comparing and synthesizing their understanding of traditional Japanese history with modern day Japan.

Language immersion, cross-cultural immersion, internationalization are the target goals for JAPN 110. Through class readings and discussions, students learn rudiments of the Japanese language, are exposed to issues in cross-cultural communication, and use these new skills first-hand through program activities and their daily life in Japan. Though taught mainly in English, MUSC/THAR 328 combines readings and discussions about traditional Japanese performing arts supplemented by visiting guest artists who will give performance demonstrations on various Japanese traditional instruments. Field trips to various performances of Japanese music and theater are a crucial part of this course and faculty members ensure that these offerings are both pertinent to the readings and enrich the international experience. We anticipate that their study-abroad experiences will be life changing, both from the standpoint of experiencing a foreign environment—many for the first time—and from field observations and daily practice in the dynamic, global environment of Tokyo.

The Japanese have a saying: “百聞きは一見しかず,” a proverb that transmits the idea that people learn things by means of viewing or experiencing something just once, not by hearing about it 100 times. This represents the concept by which we envisioned hosting this program in Japan. Students will not only be naturally able to implement their language skills within the context of their daily lives, but we also foster intercultural relationships through activities with Japanese college students from universities in the Tokyo region and local secondary schools. The world has become smaller and smaller as we enter the twentieth-first century, and understanding of different cultural values and lifestyles has never been so important.  Real life interactions with students of the same age from different cultural background will leave a deep impression on TAMU students and impart a better understanding of Japanese people and their culture through this program. This personal connection to the Japanese people will be further enhanced through a one-week homestay program in week 4 when we reside in Kyoto.

The MUSC/THAR 328 component of this program will give TAMU students first-hand exposure to various genres of the Japanese performing arts. Videos, recordings, and readings can be used as effective course materials anywhere, but what is unique about MUSC/THAR 328 is the field trip component. Tokyo is one of the most dynamic, artistically-rich cities in the world, offering a constellation of resources and cultural experiences that are available nowhere else. Students will be required to attend cultural events and performances several times per week, reflecting upon their experiences in a daily journal. This course will profit from being located in Tokyo in another distinctive way; AURA-J (, a contemporary music ensemble composed of traditional Japanese instrumentalists, will be the “host” ensemble for the class, and members of the ensemble will be invited to meet with the students to conduct extensive hands-on workshops on their respective instruments. The Masahiro Folk Music Ensemble will be our guests for a day and teach us Japanese folk singing and dancing, and we will take a trip to the mountain valley of Chichibu to take a festival drumming workshop. During the fourth week of the program we will take a choreographed group field trip to Kyoto, which was the political and cultural center of Japan from 794 to 1185. In Kyoto we will visit various temples, gardens, castles, historical sites, and monuments referenced in our course readings and discussions in an attempt to place the course material into a more personal context. This year, the program looks something like this:

TAMU in Tokyo 2014 Schedule Week 1 (May 19-23)

May 19 (M)
8:50AM: Weekly schedule/announcements meeting
9:05-10:20: JPN110 
10:35-11:50: MUSC/THAR 328: A Brief History of Traditional Japanese Music and Musical Instruments 
(READ: The Past and Present of Japanese Music in course reader)
2:40:Meet in lobby, bldg. D and depart for National Theater 
4:00-8:00:Bunraku (puppet theater) performance

May 20 (T)
8:30-9:35JPN110 (A) 
9:40-10:45JPN110 (B)
10:50-11:55: MUSC/THAR 328:  Guest lecturer–Tetsuya Nozawa & Ai Asano (shamisen) 
12:00PM: Optional lunch w/ Tetsuya Nozawa & Ai Asano
Afternoon & evening: FREE

May 21 (W)
8:30AM-9:00:The Japanese Mind discussion forum (Topic: Aimai, pp. 8-16)
9:05-10:20: JPN110
10:35-11:50: MUSC/THAR 328: Guest lecturer–Akiko Sakurai (biwa)
12:00PM:Optional lunch w/ Akiko Sakura
Afternoon & evening: FREE

May 22 (TH)
8:30-9:35JPN110 (A) 
9:40-10:45JPN110 (B)
10:50-11:55: MUSC/THAR 328: Guest lecturer–Erina Matsumura (koto)
12:00PMOptional lunch w/ Erina Matsumura
Afternoon & evening: FREE

May 23 (F)
8:30-9:00AM:The Japanese Mind discussion forum (topic: Bigaku, pp. 35-40)
9:05-10:20: JPN110
10:35-11:50: MUSC/THAR 328: 
Guest lecturer–Christopher Blasdel (shakuhachi)
12:00PM:Optional lunch w/ Christopher Blasdel
1:45:Depart for Tokyo National Museum
3:00-5:00Free time in museum
5:00~Wrap-up outside of museum
5:30: Group meal #1

TAMU in Tokyo 2014 Schedule Week 2 (May 26-30)

May 26 (M)
8:50AM: Weekly schedule/announcements meeting
9:05-10:20: JPN110 
10:35-11:50: MUSC/THAR 328: Critical summary no. 1 due
5:00:Depart for Rikkyo University
6:00-8:00:Self-introductions, presentations, and topic conversations

May 27 (T):
9:30-10:00AM:The Japanese Mind discussion forum (Uchi to Soto, pp. 217-222)
10:05-10:35: JPN110 (A) 
10:40-11:50: JPN110 (B)
Afternoon & evening: FREE

May 28 (W)
9:05AM-10:20: MUSC/THAR 328 Folk music workshop w/ Masahiro-minyō kai 
(Arts and Culture 41)
10:35-11:50: MUSC/THAR 328 Folk music workshop w/ Masahiro-minyō kai 
12:30PM: Optional lunch w/ Masahiro–minyō kai 
Afternoon & evening: FREE

May 29 (Th): Kyorin University Field Trip
8:15AM: Meet in lobby, bldg. D, depart for Kyorin University
4:30PM: Leave Kyorin
6:00PM:Optional welcome party (2,500 yen) 

May 30 (F)
8:30-9:00AM:The Japanese Mind discussion forum (Kenkyo, pp. 143-152)
9:05-10:15: JAPN110 (A&B)
10:20: Depart for Ikebukuro station (meet in bldg. D lobby)
11:30: Red Arrow Express 13号 Ikebukuro–Chichibu
12:48: Arrive Chichibu station
1:00PM-5:00: 秩父屋台囃子 festival taiko drumming workshop
5:00-7:00: Group meal #2 w/ Toshio Takahashi
7:25: Red Arrow Express 48号 Chichibu-Ikebukuro
8:46: Arrive Ikebukuro station

TAMU in Tokyo 2013 Schedule Week 3 (June 2-6)

June 2 (M)
8:50AM: Weekly schedule/announcements meeting
9:05-10:20: JPN110
10:35-11:50: MUSC/THAR 328 (Critical summary no. 2 due)
Afternoon & evening: FREE

June 3 (T)
8:30-9:25JAPN110 (A)
9:30-10:25 JPN110 (B)
10:35-11:50: MUSC/THAR 328: Read Kabuki in course reader
Guest lecturer–Maki Shibata
12:00Lunch w/ Maki Shibata
1:30:Depart for National Theater
2:30:Kabuki performance

June 4 (W)
8:30-9:00AM:The Japanese Mind discussion forum: Iitoko-dori, p. 127-134
9:05-10:20AM:  MUSC/THAR 328: Read Bunraku in course reader
Guest lecturer–Keiko Kikuta (Furoshiki specialist)
Afternoon: FREE
5:00PM: Depart for Pink Cow
6:00-8:00 Group meal #3–Dinner/cultural exchange with Japanese university students 

June 5 (TH) Day trip to Kamakura
8:30-9:00AM:The Japanese Mind discussion forum: (topic: Zoto, pp. 233-244)
9:10: Meet in D bldg. lobby, depart for Harajuku station
9:56: Shibuya-Kamakura (Shinjuku-shōnan line)
10:44 Arrival at Kita-kamakura station, sights we plan to visit: Enkakuji Temple, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, Komachi-dōri, Hase Temple, Daibustu
Evening: FREE

June 6 (F)
8:30AM: Meet in bldg. D lobby with one suitcase for delivery to Kyoto
9:05AM-10:20: JPN110 (A&B): Review Japanese phrases for homestay experience
10:35-11:50: JPN110 (A&B): Review Japanese phrases for homestay experience
Afternoon & evening: FREE

June 7 (Sat)
9:30AM: Check-out of rooms, meet in bldg. D lobby w/ keys
10:00 Depart Yoyogi Memorial Youth Center, walk to Harajuku station
11:17: Depart from Shinagawa station (Nozomi 27)
1:27PM: Arrival at Kyoto station
2:00: Host faculty check-in Palace Side Hotel/meet host families/journal entry #3 due
Evening: FREE

TAMU in Tokyo Schedule Week 4 in Kyoto (June 9-13)

June 9 (M) – Field trip #1: Higashiyama & Northwest Kyoto
9:30AM: Weekly meeting/announcements (meet in lobby of Palace Side Hotel)
10:00: Departure from Palace Side Hotel to Higashiyama
Sites we plan to visit: Kiyomizu temple, Sannen-zaka, Ninen-zaka, Yasaka Pagoda, Maruyama Park
12:00PM: Optional maiko/geisha make-up and photographs at 四季 / Shiki “Four Seasons”
2:00: Meet at south entrance of Maruyama Park, leave for Northwest Kyoto
Sites we plan to visit: Kinkakuji, Ryōanji
5:00: Optional visit to vintage kimono shop
Evening: FREE
NOTE: In preparation for our visit to Ryōanji, please read Wabi-Sabi in The Japanese Mind (pp. 223-231) and prepare the discussion questions.

June 10 (T) Field trip #2: Uji and Zen meditation
10:00AM: Meet at Kyoto Station Tourist Information Center
10:20: Kyoto-Uji (JR)
10:36: Arrival in Uji
11:00-11:45: Hands-on Green Tea Workshop at Kamibayashi-sanyu
Sights we plan to visit: Byōdoin Phoenix temple
2:12PM: Uji-ōbaku (Kintetsu)
2:16: Arrival at Ōbaku station
2:45-4:15: Zen meditation at Manpuku Temple 
Evening: FREE

June 11 (W) – Field trip #3: Nara
10:00AM: Meet at Kyoto Station Tourist Information Center
10:13: Kyoto-Nara via Kintetsu line
11:03: Arrival in Nara
Sights we plan to visit: Tōdaiji Temple and Nara Park
3:14: Nara-Kyoto (Demachi Yanagi station) via Kintetsu line
4:16: Arrival in Kyoto (Demachi Yanagi station)
4:30-6:00: Shakuhachi lecture and performance at Hyakumanpen-Chionji temple w/ Yōdo Kurahashi, Yoko Reikano Kimura, and Hikaru Tamaki
Evening: FREE

June 12 (Th): Field trip #4: Hiroshima and Miyajima
9:00AM: Meet at Kyoto Station Tourist Information Center
9:13: Kyoto-Hiroshima (Nozomi 7)
10:54: Arrive in Hiroshima 
Sights we plan to visit: Atomic Bomb Dome, Peace Park, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Miyajima Island
Overnight in Miyajima (Jukeiso Ryokan, tel: 0829-44-0300)

June 13 (Fri)
4:13PM: Hiroshima-Kyoto (Nozomi 42)
5:52PM: Arrival in Kyoto

June 14 (Sat): FREE

June 15 (Sun): Return to Tokyo
11:30AM: Meet at Kyoto Station Tourist Information Center
12:05PM: Kyoto-Tokyo (Nozomi 224)
2:16: Arrival at Shinagawa station
3:00:Check back into Yoyogi

TAMU in Tokyo 2013 Schedule & Announcements Week 5 (June 16-20)

June 16 (M)
8:50AM: Weekly meeting
9:05-10:20: JPN 110 (A&B)
10:35-11:50: MUSC/THAR 328: MUSC/THAR 328 Critical reflection/summary #5 due
Afternoon & evening: FREE

June 17 (T)
8:30-9:00AM:Discussion forums: Honne and Tatemae (pp. 115-119)
9:05-10:20AM: JPN 110 (A&B)
10:35-11:50: MUSC/THAR 328 
Afternoon & evening: FREE

June 18 (W)
9:05-10:20: JPN110 (A&B)
10:35-11:50: MUSC/THAR 328

June 19 (Th)
8:30-9:00AM:Discussion forums: Ganbari (pp. 83-94)
9:05-10:20: JPN110 (A&B)
10:35-11:50: MUSC/THAR 328 Final mini-presentations
12:45 Depart for JR Mitaka Station
2:00-2:30Enter Ghibli Museum

June 21 (F)
8:50AM: Final departure meeting
9:05-10:20: JAPN110
10:35-11:50: MUSC/THAR 328: Guest lecturer-John Oglevee (Noh theater)
5:30: Meet in bldg. D lobby, depart for noh theater performance
6:30: Noh theater performance
8:00: Group meal no. 5

June 22 (Sat):
10:00AM: MUSC/THAR 289/489, JAPN 110 Journal entry #5 and MUSC/THAR 328 Critical reflection/summary #5 due, luggage drop-off for return flights on Monday, June 23, meet in bldg. D lobby
Afternoon and evening: FREE

June 23 (Sun):
10:00AM: Meet in bldg. D lobby to collect journals and MUSC/THAR 328 assignments,
luggage drop-off for students leaving on June 24 (T) or later
Afternoon and evening: FREE

June 24 (M)
9:30: Room check by host faculty (Make sure it is clean, empty, and ready for inspection)
10:00: Check-out of rooms, meet in bldg. D lobby w/ keys, check-out of Yoyogi Memorial Youth Center


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