japanese dressed in traditional battle gear

Japan: Essence of Japan

27 September to 13 October 2002

Day 1: Friday 27 September 2002, Adelaide - Sydney - Tokyo

Check-in from 4pm to depart Adelaide Domestic Airport Flight QF 766 at 6:05 pm. Arrive Sydney at 8:25pm and transfer to the International Terminal for our flight QF 21 at 10:15pm, bound for Narita Tokyo.

Day 2: Saturday 28 September, Tokyo

Arrive Narita Airport at 6.40am. After entry procedures we will transfer to central Tokyo for an orientation of the city. From the outset, you need to be on the lookout for indicators which reflect the many different influences on Japan’s long and varied history and development. Try to be wary, too, of the ‘selective syndrome’ whereby visitors to a new country can tend to focus only on those images which reinforce their own preconceived ideas. Fittingly enough, our first visit will be to Rainbow Bridge which will lead us to an area that is thrusting Tokyo into the future – Odaiba, built on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay. Amongst the sites are the futuristic Fuji Television Building built by Tange Kenzo, Japan’s largest Ferris Wheel at Pallette Town, Toyota Mega Web, a large showroom for Toyota automobiles (past, present and future), and the convention centre, Tokyo Big Sight, which won an award from the Building Contractors Society for its design. Past Study tour experience indicates that by now you will have used several films, so be certain to bring plenty along!! The remainder of the day is free for rest or to begin your personal exploration of this vast megalopolis. If you are not too weary and do decide to venture out, you may prefer to restrict yourself to a stroll around the Minato area where our hotel is situated. Or you might like to start acquainting your self with Tokyo’s public transport network and head further afield to somewhere like Shinjuko or Ikebukuuro.

Overnight stay at Hotel Shiba Park

Day 2: Sunday 29 September, Tokyo

A full day investigating the historical heart of the city, providing a complete contrast to the previous day’s introduction to the contemporary dynamism of modern Tokyo. Note that not all that appears to be old is necessarily that old, due to the ravages of natural disasters and war in the early – mid 20th century. As we travel around, as well as just looking, it is important to attune your other senses as well – hearing and smell, for example – in order to take in the full atmosphere. And in addition to looking at sites try to observe people as well – what they look like and what they appear to be doing. The program begins with a visit to the famous Meiji Shrine which provides us with a reminder that the Japanese head of state is a monarchy and that there are close links between the Imperial line and the Shinto religion. It was the Emperor Meiji, too, who headed the Meiji Restoration which brought Japan out of long isolation in the mid 19th century. Next we will proceed to the Asakusa district, one of the few areas ofthe capital that retains the atmosphere of old Edo (now Tokyo). Asakusa grew up as a business district surrounding the Asakusa Kannon Temple which we will visit and which alerts us to the fact that Buddhism has exerted a major influence on Japan since the 6th century. This thriving and colourful market district will introduce us to the days when Japan was led by the shogun or military ruler. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant before driving past the Imperial Palace Plaza to the highly important collections of the Tokyo National Museum. Of particular interest to the study tour is the Main Gallery, which houses a very impressive collection of Japanese art, including sculpture, painting, swords, calligraphy, ceramics and lacquer-ware. Don’t miss the room devoted to the arts of the minority indigenous Ainu peoples of Hokkaido. Also to be visited is the Gallery of Horyuji Treasures. The tour includes the Horyuji temple in Nara, but here are found treasures such as masks, scrolls, and Buddhist sculptures over 1000 years old. Due tothe frailty of the treasures, the gallery may be closed if it is humid or raining. Other well-known Tokyo landmarks we may catch sight of as we travel around the city include the National Diet building (home of Japan’s parliament), the Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Station.

Overnight stay at Hotel Shiba Park

Day 3: Monday 30 September, Tokyo

“Don’t say kekko (die) ‘till you’ve seen Nikko” is an age-old Japanese expression that will develop meaning after our full day tour to this most splendid (and popular) of Japan’s sacred sites. Its history stretches back to the middle of the 8th century, when a hermitage was established by a Buddhist priest that grew to become a major centre of Buddhist learning. During the 17th century, however, the location was chosen as the site for the mausoleum for Tokugawa Ieyasu, the general who wrested control of all Japan and established the shogunate which ruled Japan for 250 years until the Meiji Restoration ended Japan’s feudal era in 1868. The Tosho-gu shrine makes a stark contrast to Buddhist aesthetic ideals of minimalism and ‘nothingness’. Instead, it presents a profusion of red-lacquer, gold leaf, myriad animals, (including the ‘three wise monkeys’), trees, flowers, mythical beasts, Chinese sages and dancing girls. Many Japanese consider the shrine a vulgar and decadent expression, but as a statement of Japan’s supreme arbiter of feudal power (Iyesau ordered the execution of his wife and son in order to gain ascendancy amongst other feudal lords) it is important to see. We also visit the nearby Lake Chuzenji-ko set amid beautiful montane scenery and the 97 metre Kegon Waterfall,providing a contrast to the urban landscape of Tokyo and surrounding areas and helping to prepare us for the wonderful diversity of natural environments we will encounter during our stay in Japan.

Overnight stay at Hotel Shiba Park

Day 4: Tuesday 1 October, Tokyo

Free day for optional tours or individual activities. If it’s a tour you’re after, you may care to join a group visiting Kamakura, about an hour’s train journey from Tokyo and a former capital of Japan (12th – 14th centuries). While Kamakura is, like Nikko, an area where there are many Buddhist sites, the atmosphere and architecture provide quite a contrast to Nikko. The most famous feature, often depicted on Japanese postcards, is the Kamakura Daibutsu, a large bronze image of the Amida Buddha.

For those preferring to investigate on their own, you could head to the nearby port city of Yokohama (about 45 minutes by train) or more fully investigate some of Tokyo’s many districts, such as Shinjuku, Akasaka, Shibuya or the Ginza (especially at night). A couple of interesting areas for a relaxing prowl around include the Tokyo Station Plaza (not far from the Imperial Palace) and the Paris-like boulevard of Omote-sando in Harajuku (to the east of the Meiji Shrine).

Overnight stay at Hotel Shiba Park

Day 5: Wednesday 2 October, Tokyoto to Takayama

Note: we can only take an overnight bag with us today, as our main luggage will be transferred separately direct to Kanazawa.

We leave Tokyo for the Kiso Valley via the Chuo Express, furthering our experience of the Japanese transportation system. The Kiso Valley is particularly scenic, surrounded as it is by the Japan Alps and with some heavily wooded areas still remaining.As you observe the changing landscape, you might care to focus on how the environment has appeared to shape human interaction with it and vice versa. En route we will visit the old staging post town of Tsumago. Tsumago is a protected area preserving a variety of traditional buildings creating an open-air museum that gives us an insight into life in a lodging station along one of Japan’s ancient highways. At one time, this whole area was declining into irrelevancy, but you might reflect on the resurrection being brought about by modern tourism. Another question for consideration which you may find sparked by your observations today and which will certainly recur as we continue our investigations of Japan is the nature of the relationship between the ‘old’ Japan and the ‘new’ Japan – how did one lead to the other and how is contemporary Japan influenced by its past. From Tsumago, we will proceed to the historical district and town of Takayama.

Overnight stay at Hida Takayama Washington Hotel

Day 6: Thursday 3 October, Takayama to Kanazawa

The historical district of Takayama was built by three generations of local lords using the most advanced woodwork technology of the day. Takayama is still renowned for its skilled woodworkers today. It is also known for quality sake production, but we might just have to take their word for it (most areas of Japan seem to say that their sake is the best!). Often, castle towns were distinguished by their labyrinthine roads to discourage attacks, but the lords of Takayama made the streets of this provincial capital straight, creating an attractive commercial district that is today designated by the government as a Traditional Building Protection District. The city will provide a contrast to the small towns visited yesterday. Our investigations include the Takayama Yatai Museum, the Kusakabe Folkcraft Museum before transferring to the designated World Heritage Shirakawago Gassho Village. Tucked into a deep mountain valley, the village has maintained its apearance for some hundreds of years. The highlights include the renowned thatched-roofed houses built to cope with the several meters of snow which accumulate each winter. The multi-generation houses are much larger than ordinary dwellings and have tall, sharply sloped roofs which are said to resemble the shape of hands held in prayer. The unique shape of these snow-removing roofs provides interior space for the raising of silkworms. Many of these houses are up to 300 years old. Following our visit to some of these dwellings, we transfer to Kanazawa.

Overnight stay at Holiday Inn, Kanazawa

Day 7: Friday 4 October, Kanazawa to Kyoto

Kanazawa once derived its wealth from rice production and the aristocratic families who benefited from this wealth encouraged and supported many traditional arts and crafts, so that today Kanazawa is still recognised as one of Japan’s foremost centres of culture. When reflecting on the former rice economy of traditional Japan, it is perhaps ironic to consider that in many areas of Japan rice farmers now really only survive because of heavy government subsidies and tariff protection. Early this morning we will be introduced to the concepts and aesthetics of the ‘Japanese garden’. From microcosmic compositions of dry gravel and sand and tea ceremony gardens, through spacious landscapes evolved from a dynamic intermixing of traditional Japanese thought based on Shinto andZen Buddhist ideals and Chinese Buddhist and Daoist philosophies, the garden has often become synonymous with Japanese cultural expression. The study tour will encounter a wide range of garden styles, many of which respond to new trends in contemporary architecture and ways of living that create an intimacy with nature that epitomises the Japanese world view. Kanazawa is home to the Kenroku-en, one of Japan’s most important and beautiful gardens. The name refers to a renowned Sung dynasty Chinese garden which required six attributes of perfection: seclusion, spaciousness, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water and broad views.

Then our tour continues to the Seisonkaku Villa which will provide a glimpse of the traditional elegance of a private dwelling of the mid 19th century. We leave Kanzawa for Kyoto by Japan Rail (JR) limited express for Kyoto and transfer on foot to the nearby hotel.

Overnight stay at New Miyako Hotel, Kyoto

Day 8: Saturday 5 October, Kyoto

Serving as the imperial capital from the 7th to the 19th centuries, Kyoto (and nearby Nara) contain treasures of traditional architecture, housing classic works of Buddhist sculpture, painting, and calligraphy, as well as villas, gardens and ‘tea architecture’.

A morning tour will introduce the splendid heritage of the old ‘western capital’ The first stop will visit the Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion). This building was originally a retirement villa of the shogun, and as a symbol of his power and wealth he covered the entire outer surface of the building with gold leaf. The pavilion stands in the middle of a ‘strolling garden’, the large pond of which reflects the Kinkaku-ji like a mirror. In case it all sounds too idyllic, you may wish to recall that the current building is a fairly recent replica, due to a monk (yes, a monk!) deciding to set fire to the place in 1950. Next is one of the highlights of Zen meditative garden architecture, the Ryoan-ji. Founded in 1450, this Rinzai (a Zen sect) temple is famous for its kare-sansui or’dry landscape’ style garden. The austere groupings of 15 rocks in racked sand invites a variety of interpretations of meaning. Finally, the Daitoku-ji with its extensive complex of sub-temples, is a significant site of Zen culture. Of importance to the study tour is the Daisen-in Subtemple with a magnificent kare-sansui garden.

Following lunch, a very special event has been organised. We will visit the studio of a world-renowned calligraphic artist, Ibata sensei. Ibata sensei and his student, Sawada sensei, have invited us to witness the creation of one of Ibata sensei’s spectacular giant calligraphic works. These works are represented in many Art Museums throughout the world.

Overnight stay at New Miyako Hotel, Kyoto

Day 9: Sunday 6 October, Kyoto

So rich is Kyoto that another full day has been devoted to a continued discovery of its heritage. First of all, the Nijo Castle which was built in 1603 as the official Kyoto residence of the first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu. The castle is famous for its “Nightingale Floors”, the boards of which are designed to squeak should anyone (ie, an assassin) intrude and walk upon them which is also a reminder that having power did not necessarily bring peace of mind. There is a series of chambers in the castle, spectacularly decorated with gilded screens, providing an opportunity to see how the screen is designed as an architectural fitting, in contrast to those we view in Adelaide’s Art Gallery which are far removed from their context. The Ginkaku-ji or Silver Pavilionwas also built as a private villa by the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimoto in 1482 as a retreat from the civil war that was raging at the time. After Yoshimoto’s death it too became a Zen temple, but here the unadorned wood gives it a very different aesthetic from the Kinkaku-ji. Walkways through the gardens include meticulously raked cones of white sand representing at once mountains of incense ash and the sacred mountain (Meru) at the centre of Buddhist cosmogony. After lunch, we visit a completely contrasting series of sites, beginning with the Heian Jingu Shrine. The main building is a replication of the gate to the original imperial palace and hints at the grand aristocratic culture of the ancient capita’s past. Built in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of founding of Kyoto, the buildings are in stark contrast to the subtle Zen qualities seen in Saturday’s tour. Finally, we visit the Kiyomizu-dera, which is also registered as part of the World Heritage Program. First built in 798, the reconstructions date from 1633 and provide one of the most famous of Kyoto’s landmarks. Though one of the city’s largest buildings, it is a fine example of wooden architecture without nails or metal fasteners. There is a steep approach to the temple called “Teapot Lane”, lined with shops selling all kinds of Kyoto handicrafts, local snacks and resources for your classroom. Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant following a demonstration of traditional Japanese arts at ‘Gion Corner’

Overnight stay at New Miyako Hotel, Kyoto

Day 10: Monday 7 October, Kyoto

This morning we transfer for a full day tour to Nara and surrounding areas. Today will provide a further opportunity to consider the impact of external cultures and ideas on early Japanese culture. Nara was built at a time when Chinese culture began to exert a great influence on Japan. Thus, when Nara was determined as the site for Japan’s first permanent capital in the early 8th century, the city was laid out in a grid pattern along the lines of the then Chinese capital of Changan (modern Xian). Similarly, Buddhist ideas and practices were introduced to Japan via China (and also Korea). We will first visit the Horyu-ji temple, an 8th century replica of the original 7th century structure. Horyu-ji has the world’s oldest wooden buildings and a magnificent ancient pagoda, as well as superb works of Buddhist sculpture. Nearby is another of Nara’s great art works, the Todai-ji, the world’s largest wooden building and home to a huge bronze image of the Buddha (bigger than the one at Kamakura. You may care to look at the nearbyShoso-in, a storehouse where early emperors kept many precious cultural artefacts and treasures. This wooden building was cleverly constructed in such a way as to provide a controlled environment to ensure the preservation of the precious items contained within. The Kasuga Shrine was built in the 8th-9th centuries, and its approach is bordered by 2000 stone lanterns, and more than 1000 iron lanterns hang from the red eaves of the shrine itself. The Kasuga shrine serves the Shinto religion, which is entirely Japanese in its embodiment, enjoying imperial patronage. You will probably have already noted how centres of differing religions seem to coexist peacefully and that many Japanese appear to draw on elements from a range of religions. As we walk to Nara’s cultural treasures, we will encounter many of the sacred deer in the park-like setting of the temples. You can purchase ‘biscuits’ to feed the deer, which may be preferable to being baled up by them if they are feeling particularly hungry or disgruntled!

Overnight stay at New Miyako Hotel, Kyoto

Day 11: Tuesday 8 October, Kyoto

This morning we depart for the Shigaraki area which is renowned for its ceramic tradition. One of Japan’s Ancient Six Kilns is located in this district. Then it’s on to contemporary Japan at the Miho Museum, which opened in 1997 in the neighbouring Shiga Prefecture. The museum was designed by I.M. Pei, who also designed the pyramid entrances to the Louvre and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Located at the end of a long tunnel, the building seems to appear out of nothingness, with most of it deep underground - perhaps emphasising the Zen-like qualities of void and serenity. The museum holds the collections of Koyama Miho and has many works from Egypt and ancient Japan.

This afternoon has been left entirely free for you to develop your curriculum projects. You might care to visit the Kyoto Museum, or stroll along the backstreets and temples on the Ninnen-zaka Walk which winds its way between Kiyomuzu-dera Temple and Maruyama-koen Park. Perhaps call in to Sannen-zaka, a street lined with old wooden houses and shops selling local pottery, food and souvenirs before turning into Ninnen-zaka itself where more historic houses, tea houses and shops abound. Just beyond is the Kodai-ji temple with its garden designed by the famed architect Kobori Enshu, and teahouses built by the renowned master of the tea ceremony, Senno-Rikkyu.

Overnight stay at New Miyako Hotel, Kyoto

Day 12: Wednesday 9 October, Kyoto to Hiroshima

Note: We can only take an overnight bag again today, as our main luggage will be transferred separately direct to Okayama.

We leave the hotel on foot for nearby Kyoto Station to board our JR Super Express (shinkansen) bound for Hiroshima. The 350 km trip will be fast and efficient (there’s often a speedometer in the cafeteria car if you’re interested), and upon arrival in Hiroshima, we board our bus and transfer to a boat for the trip across the ‘Inland Sea’ to the island of Miyajima. From ancient times the island with its tall Miyajima peak has been considered sacred, and on its shores stands the Shinto Itsukushima Shrine, whose corridors are reminiscent of the “shinden” style of architecture of the Kyoto court. Centred on the large main hall, the complex contains 20 buildings including a Noh stage and over 300m of corridors. During high tide, the sea flows under the pillars of the buildings, giving them the appearance of floating. Perhaps one of the most stereotypical impressions of Japan is the shrine’s tori or gateway ‘floating’ in the water. The beautiful buildings and untouched forest of the surroundings have been registered as part of the World Heritage. After Miyajima, we return to Hiroshima to encounter remnants of more recent histories and the horrors of war. The Peace Memorial Park (festooned with Sadako’s origami cranes, -testimony to just one personal tragedy), Gembaku Dome, a stark artefact of the atomic blast, and the Peace Memorial Museum will strengthen anti-war sentiments.

Overnight stay at Hotel Granvia Hiroshima

Day 13: Thursday 10 October, Hiroshima to Okayama

Its on foot this morning to Hiroshima Station by JR Super Express to Okayama (South Australia’s Japanese sister state) where we visit another of Japan’s ‘top three’ gardens, the Koraku-en. This is another ‘stroll garden’ with large ponds, a tiny tea plantation and the ‘borrowed’ scenery of Okayama Castle in the background. There is a Noh stage, a Ryuten building for the poetry composition contests and the Yatsu-hashi zigzag bridge. Many of you may have included in your classrooms the story of Momotaro, the ‘Peach Boy,’ which has strong links with the Okayama region. We will encounter many statues commemorating the legend.

The afternoon is free for your curriculum projects or to make contact with your ‘Sister school” in Okayama.

Overnight stay at Mitsui Garden Hotel, Okayama

Day 14: Friday 11 October, Okayama to Himeji

In each of the Study Tours there are inclusions that will long remain as highlights. One of them will, for many, be this morning’s ascent of Mount Onoe san. The mountain is dotted with Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, and our participation in a sunrise ‘worship’ ceremony at a Shinto shrine has been negotiated to allow us to experience the nature, forms and music of Shinto ritual. We return to the hotel for breakfast before transferring to Himeji, Adelaide’s ‘Sister City in Japan. Following our arrival in Himeji, we visit the most magnificent of the handful of Japanese castles that have survived the ravages of war, demolition by rival clans or property developers. Built in 1580 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, it was subsequently enlarged by Ikeda Terumasa. Ikeda who was awarded the castle by Tokugawa Ieyasu, when the latter’s forces defeated the Toyotomi armies. The castle has been home to 48 lords and remains a splendid contrast the temple, shrine and garden architecture already encountered. The rest of the day is free for individual curriculum activities or ‘Sister School’ visits.

Overnight stay at Hotel Sun Garden, Himeji

Day 15: Saturday 12 October, Himeji to Kansai

This morning is free to meet your teaching colleagues in Himeji, continue your curriculum work or explore other sites Himeji has to offer. In the afternoon we will be transferred to Kansai International Airport for our Qantas flights home. Departing around 9:30pm, some participants will fly to Sydney via Cairns, others direct to Sydney. Please refer to your personal Flight Itinerary to ascertain your flight numbers and departure/arrival times.

Day 16: Sunday 13 October, Adelaide

The flights touch down in Australia around 9:00 - 10:00, and following customs and immigration procedures in Cairns or Sydney, participants transfer to Qantas domestic flights to Adelaide, arriving in the early afternoon.

Tour Cost AUD 4950.00 per person twin share
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