In a collaboration between the SAAHP, the Feinstein College of Arts and Sciences and the Spiegel Center for Global and International Programs, twelve Roger Williams students led by Professor Rebecca Leuchak and Assistant Professor Jordan A. Yamaji Smith undertook a two-course, six credit Summer 2012 study abroad program exploring the Arts, Architecture, and Literature of Japan. Students enrolled in AAH 430/530 Arts and Architecture of Japan, and Hum/Eng 320 Japanese Literature and Aesthetics: Classical to Modern Times. The courses focused on a transdisciplinary, coordinated study of Japanese arts and literature, through several days of study on the Roger Williams campus, followed by two weeks of travel in Japan.
Studying the arts and architecture and the great literary traditions of Japan from earliest history to the present day, students and professors Rebecca Leuchak, art historian, and Jordan Smith, literature specialist, met for one full week of class work on the Bristol campus with visits to museum collections in Boston and Salem. All-day sessions analyzing works of art in relation to poetry and fiction were interrupted mid-day by language lessons and student presentations on Japanese popular culture. The two week travel portion of the course followed this week of preparation. Tokyo was the home base with its energy and lights and high tech rhythm. From there the path led to the most ancient Shinto Shrine of Ise, the earliest capitol of Nara with its ancient Buddhist temples, the great site of Kamakura with a hike through sacred forests to see the largest Buddha in Japan, to Kyoto, where for a week living in a Zen monastery the group visited palaces, museums, shrines, and temples, including the temple of Roan-ji with its world-renowned meditation garden. The return to Tokyo brought the present day back in focus with visits to the Manga Museum and contemporary arts museums and galleries, and a tour of the great architectural projects of the twentieth and twenty-first century by Tadao Ando, Yoshio Taniguchi, Arata Isozaki and others.