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Chiba, Japan; Hiroshima-shi, Japan; Ishinomaki, Japan; Kyoto, Japan; Narita, Japan; Tokyo, Japan (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Jan Term
Homepage: Click to visit
Restrictions: SMC-CA applicants only
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Jan Term 2018 12/01/2017 12/01/2017 TBA TBA
Program Description:
Course Title:Culture Clash: JapanCourse ID:JAN 178Instructors:Sawako SuzukiContact Email:ss12@stmarys-ca.eduLocation:

Japan (Chiba --> Kyoto --> Hiroshima --> Tokyo --> Miyagi --> Chiba/Narita)

Course Description:

For a small nation--whose size fits within the state of California--Japan has had a remarkable impact on world culture. Japan offers the visitor a rich cultural experience beyond what one can experience from visiting the Japantown in San Francisco, watching anime, or eating sushi. Central to the development of modern Japanese culture has been a series of “cultural clashes;” clashes between the traditional and contemporary cultures, the mainstream and sub-cultures, folk and popular cultures, and Japanese and non-Japanese cultures. In this course, students immerse themselves deeply into Japanese culture to explore the harmony and dissonance at the heart of these clashes.

Students begin their journey in Miyagi, engaging in community service learning and teaching English to elementary school children. This community engagement experience will help students understand English as a lingua franca. Moving to Tokyo, students will explore tradition, present, and future of Japan and its relation to the United States (American culture, language, etc.). Students will visit several Japanese universities to experience what it is like to be a college student in a globalized city, Tokyo. Students, then, will experience Japanese New Year at a Buddhist monastery and immerse themselves in the tradition and ritual to prepare for a new year. Following the New Year celebration, we will explore a new way of community living in Shizuoka, where we might be able to see the snow covered peak of famed Mt. Fuji. These experiences welcome students to engage in culture clash at a very fundamental level. Moving to the Kyoto area, students will explore how Japanese traditions started. From there, we will go to Hiroshima to examine the impact of the WWII on the now and then of the Japanese society. By the end of this course, students will not only have learned various forms of intercultural and co-cultural clash, they will also have learned how to prepare futon, properly slurp soba noodles, and take a nap standing in a crowded train. Throughout the course, students will document and reflect upon their experiences of Japanese culture and culture clash through photography, video, and a shared course blog, culminating in a final presentation to the SMC campus upon return.

Division:Upper DivisionPrerequisites:

Permission of instructor based on the pre-registration meeting attendance.

Although it is not a prerequisite, students are strongly encouraged to take Japanese 1 prior to the travel course (Fall 2016).

Priority on the waitlist goes to students who have taken a Japanese language course.

Informational Meetings:

Attendance at one of the following meetings is mandatory for enrollment (contact instructor if you have time conflicts):

Tuesday 9/6, 4:00-5:00pm, Galileo 201

Wednesday 9/7, 4:00-5:00pm, Galileo 201

Wednesday 9/14, 1:00-2:00pm, Galileo 201

Thursday 9/15, 5:00-6:00pm, Galileo 201

Reading List:

Min-Sun Kim, “Non-Western Perspectives on Human Communication”

Daniel Sosnoski, “Introduction to Japanese Culture”

Boye Lafayette De Mente, “Etiquette Guide to Japan: Know the Rules that Make the Difference!”

There might be other supplemental additional short readings from articles and book chapters.

Basis for Final Grade:

20% Book Review

Critical evaluation of Min-Sun Kim’s “Non-Western Perspectives on Human Communication” reading

20% Japanese Culture Presentation based on Min-Sun Kim’s “Non-Western Perspectives on Human Communication” and Daniel Sosnoski’s “Introduction to Japanese Culture” readings

20% Class Participation

Class discussion participation during the post-registration meeting
Class discussion on site
Blog feedback participation

20% In Country Reflections on Blog

Report on activities and reflections tied to the readings

20% Final Presentation

In February, students will do a final presentation to the SMC community.

Course Fee Per Student:$4,400Description of What the Course Fee Covers:

Flight and on-site transportation


Excursion and admission fees

3 group dinners

Student travel insurance

Instructors’ costs

Dates Traveling:


Dates on Campus:


Spaces reserved for freshmen:No