Japan: Art &

Design Workshops and Residency



DATE: MAY 11-24, 2020


*Payment Plans Available

COURSE FEE: $3,900

OCTOBER 15, 2019: $3,400 [Early]

DECEMBER 20, 2019: $3,600 [Early] 

Program Overview

Dream and create with the local artists and community builders behind the resurgence of Ishinomaki--a coastal city in the midst of rebuilding itself in the wake of deindustrialization and the 2011 Great East Japan tsunami. 


In this course, we will study a variety of artistic forms (both traditional & modern), get to know the artists who practice them, and reflect on how art functions in communities undergoing rapid demographic, social, and economic change. Along the way, we’ll take group excursions to appreciate Ishinomaki’s lush forests, scenic islands, and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

What's Included?

  • 14 days of homestay & hotel accommodations (based on group occupancy) *Rooms are shared with other guests unless you request and pay for a private room.

  • Airport Pickup and Drop-off for arrival and return flights. [Flight not included in price.]

  • Shared study & studio workspace

  • Lectures, Presentations, and Workshops

  • Breakfast and 4 group dinners

  • International Health Insurance 

  • Travel Guide & Interpreter 

  • Course Credit if approved by your University.


Course /

Residency Outline

A school administrator who revolutionized a traditional Japanese art form. A sushi chef turned master woodworker for a world-renowned furniture brand. A fifth-generation kimono seller. These are only a few of the fascinating makers whom students will learn from in Ishinomaki. 


In this program, we will study traditional Japanese maker art under the tutelage of Tree Tree Ishinomaki (a local kokeshi doll maker). Over six workshops, students will not only learn how to make Ishinomaki-style kokeshi, but also harness the kokeshi as a canvas for their own self-expression. Students will:


  • Acquire woodturning carving skills

  • Learn traditional and modern kokeshi painting techniques

  • Experiment with kokeshi design

  • Produce their own innovative kokeshi pieces


Kokeshi-making workshops will be interspersed with tours, lectures, and workshops hosted by various artists, community builders, and small businesses around Ishinomaki. The program will also take thrilling excursions to the Tashirojima “Cat Island”; the scenic Oshika Peninsula; and the holy island Kinkasan (home to a shrine dating back to the 8th century). Throughout, students will reflect on how art functions in revitalizing communities through group discussions, free writes, presentations to community partners, and a cumulative portfolio. 



Kameshichi Kimono Shop is a pillar of the Ishinomaki business community. The current owner is the fifth generation of his family to manage this well-over a century old shop. Get to know the ins-and-outs of kimono design, fitting, and sales, as well as Kameshichi’s role as a community gathering place and repository of local memory.


Kankeimaru, IRORI Ishinomaki, Machi no Hondana


Experience the past, present, and future of Ishinomaki architecture under the tutelage of one of the city’s up-and-coming architects. Visit restored historic buildings, as well as long-abandoned structures that have been renovated for new uses post-tsunami. 


Tashirojima “Cat Island”; Kinkasan; Gobansho Park


Be inspired by the staggering natural beauty of Ishinomaki. Make friends with the feline denizens of Tashirojima; visit an ancient 8th century shrine on the holy island of Kinkasan; and take in gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean from Gobansho Park.

Traditional Crafts

Tree Tree Ishinomaki is a kokeshi doll brand founded by a struggling kimono shop owner after the 2011 tsunami. Kokeshi are a traditional Japanese artform native to and symbolic of the scenic northeast. Rather than reproducing traditional kokeshi forms, Tree Tree Ishinomaki produces “artisanal” kokeshi in all shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. Study the ins- and-outs of kokeshi making under the founder of Tree Tree Ishinomaki over the course of six in-depth workshops, and develop your own unique kokeshi forms and patterns!

Furniture Design

Ishinomaki Laboratory is a world-renowned furniture brand, co-founded by an Ishinomaki sushi chef and a Tokyo architect. Originally forged as a community makerspace in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami, Ishinomaki Laboratory furniture can now be found across Japan, Southeast Asia, and Europe. Learn first-hand the community-based ethos and maker know-how behind one of the world’s most exciting furniture studio!

Manga / Comics

Ishinomori Manga Museum is a one-of-a-kind experience dedicated to the manga art form. Dedicated to the memory  of manga artist and native son Ishinomori Shotaro, the manga museum features interactive exhibits about Ishinomori’s legendary works and other manga works. 


Day 00

May 10th

Departure from home country.

Day 07

May 17th

Art/Design Making Studio 3. Ishinomaki architecture tour.

Day 01

May 11th

Arrive in Tokyo. Transfer from airport to Sakura Hotel Nippori. Group dinner at Sakura Hotel Nippori.

Day 08

May 18th

Tashirojima “Cat Island” Excursion. Visit to Kameshichi Kimono Shop.

Day 02

May 12th

Trains to Ishinomaki. Hotel check-in & group dinner.

Day 09

May 19th

Art/Design Making Studio 4. Wood Working Studio at Ishinomaki Laboratory.

Day 03

May 13th

Ishinomaki walking tour. Art/Design Making Studio 1.

Day 10

May 20th

Ishinomori Manga Museum. Taiyaki-making workshop.

Day 04

May 14th

Oginohama & Gobansho Park Excursion.

Day 11

May 21st

Art/Design Making Studio 5. Sushi Making Workshop.

Day 05

May 15th

Art/Design Making Studio 2. Hike Hiyoriyama and out to the sea.

Day 12

May 22nd

Art/Design Making Studio 6. Farewell BBQ Dinner.

Day 06

May 16th

Kinkasan Excursion.

Day 13

May 23rd

Trains to Tokyo. Hotel check-in & group dinner at Sakura Hotel Nippori.

Day 14

*Note this schedule is subject to change due to local weather, force majeure or new opportunities that better suit the needs of the group. This will help you get an accurate picture of what your experience will be like. 

May 24th

Departure from Tokyo.

Location / Site

Ishinomaki is a quiet regional city perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the major legacy cities of Japan’s northeastern “Tohoku” region. Given its proximity to the ocean and vast farmlands, the city is internationally-renowned for its fresh seafood and sake. Despite suffering immensely at the hands of deindustrialization, suburban flight, and the 2011 tsunami, Ishinomaki has emerged over the past several years as a haven for artists, makers, and builders of all stripes. 

We will stay at a local hotel in downtown Ishinomaki, in walking distance of the train station, restaurants, grocery stores, and retail. Most workshops and our shared study/studio space are also within a 10 minute walk of the hotel. The banks of the Kitakami River, a park overlooking the Pacific coast, and countless coffee shops offer space for reflection and creativity throughout the day.

Before you sign up

  • Transportation to Japan is not included. AIP will send you instructions for travel along with a list of supplies after registration.

  •  “Lunch and most dinners not included. For group dinners, please let us know of your dietary restrictions and we will work with you to accommodate your needs.”


  • Ishinomaki (and Japan in-general) is a heavily cash-reliant society. Come prepared with sufficient amounts of Japanese yen in cash. ATMs compatible with foreign debit cards are readily available (international withdrawal rates will apply and vary  by bank).


  • We recommend a visit to your health care provider before the trip [scheduled for a minimum of six weeks before travel]. If you have any ongoing medical conditions, please consider when registering.



Airport pickup and drop-off is only for the program dates indicated. You may choose to arrive early or stay late, where you will be responsible for your transportation arrangements/costs.


& Insurance

We require all participants to be in possession of a passport valid 6 months after your date of travel into the country.




U.S. Citizens do not need a visa when traveling to Japan. If you are traveling from a country that a visa is required when entering Japan, you should start the process as soon as possible after signing up.




All participants are enrolled in our international health insurance policy. We highly recommend participants enroll in travel insurance for trip cancelation and personal items. Travel insurance covers: trip delay, cancellation, or interruption due to an unforeseen event- plus lost, delayed, damaged, or stolen gear or bags.


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123 Bowery

New York NY, 10002

(859) 414-6508