Japan: Art &

Design Tour and 




DATE: MAY 15-28, 2019


MARCH 1, 2019: $3,950 [EARLY]

MAY 1, 2019: $4,400

Program Overview

From the urban city of Tokyo, which is the largest megalopolis in the world, to traditional towns and villages, Japan is the muse in this interdisciplinary investigation and experience. We investigate identity and place to study concepts of ‘designer as author’. This immersion in Japanese culture will explore the local, native and indigenous such as religion, traditions, festivities, cuisine and the constructed environment while we also examine it’s history, art, architecture, the natural world, and modern culture transformed from the Edo period to today.

What's Included?

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

  • All breakfasts [excluding independent travel days]

  • All lunches [excluding independent travel days] 

  • All dinners [excluding independent travel days]

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

  • Map and Travel Guide 

  • Three credits for all University students, no pre-requisites required if course approved by your university

All workshop fees and supplies are purchased independently. Each course has a different lab fee that will be communicated in advance.

Course Outline

As strangers meet a new friend and learn their story over time, each individual will respond to one’s own experience in place as familiarity turns one from a stranger to a visitor and sometimes tourist. Responding to this experience by documenting thru written word, thru the lens of a camera, or on the pages of a sketchbook as well as the collection of artifacts creates each individual story as an author in and of place that will be transformed into a visual narrative. Steeped in the art of travel, participants will walk as a creative tool, not unlike the Haiku master Basho, a wandering poet who made traveling central to his life. Emphasis on the art and experience of travel may occur during examining the historical representation of travel from the art of Ukiyo-e in the Edo period to participation in contemporary travel riding on Japan’s amazing infrastructure of trains. No prior experience in travel, design or other art-making is expected. Each participant will receive one-on-one coaching from the instructor in ways to best approach documenting one’s experience and transforming that into your visual narrative which could take the form of a series of maps, a field guide, a magazine or book, a formatted blog, or other art forms that may require more time after the experience. Expect daily prompts, regular discussions, and reflection time.

Course: Culture, Narrative & Perspectives

The Art of Travel & Identity with Place


  • To critically examine a distinctly unique culture through it’s built and natural environment

  • To examine design and multiple art mediums in an historical and contemporary context

  • To participate in a narrative development experience

  • To walk as an instigation in the discovery and creative process

  • To participate in activities of the daily life in Japan

  • To examine the art of travel and tourism from an interdisciplinary approach

  • To document and translate an individual experience in place transforming from stranger to visitor to tourist

  • To explore a place from the scale and pace of a megalopolis to small towns or villages to the rural


Visual Narrative [Minimum sequence culminating in the Final Design Artifact]

  1. Experience with place - exercise in random time and place experiment as a strange (should conduct each time arrive in a new place)

  2. Journal or daily documentation in some manner (collect objects, photographs, notes, helpful to do at the same time each day - version of day in life project)

The Final Design Artifact will be a visual narrative integrating some aspect of the exercises in design format or in content using designer as author techniques. This should include a reflection statement in the form of an essay that examines in an analytically with special reference to creating a dialogue between texts studied in our coursework integrated with in-depth reflection on experiences in Japan.

Topics of Discussion


  • Narratives- including but not limited to:

    • Art of the book

    • Manga

    • Transformation of stories through visual space

    • How are stories being told in museums or visual experiences?

    • How does sense of place change the narrative?,

    • What are the relationships between cultural landmarks and adjacent cultural activities?

    • Do you find any rituals or references to customs in any form?

  • Uki-yo-e

    • Several museums will have this traditional art form

  • Visual language system- including Romaji (ordering from menus, interpretations of visual form)

  • 20th century design examples- advertising design museum and others

  • 21st century design examples- an array of packaging, advertising, branding, etc. that will be encountered

  • Design culture- from packaging to signage to visual manifestations of cute (Kawaii) culture to historic examples of

  • Kimono and other Japanese art forms


Day 00

May 14th

Departure from home country.

Day 01

May 15th

Arrive in Tokyo. Airport transport, Group dinner, Orientation, Night photography

Day 02

May 16th

Exploring Tokyo, History and Culture. Museum and cultural heritage sites

Day 03

May 17th

Architecture and Pop Culture. Then & now. Harajuku visit, Museum and cultural heritage sites

Day 04

May 18th

Festivals & Traditions. Asakusa. Sanja Matsuri (festival), Parade, Free time

Day 05

May 19th

Festivals & Traditions. Contrast with Contemporary Entertainment. Kanda Matsuri, Matinee in Shinjuku, Night photography

Day 06

May 20th

Contrasts. Slow Pace. Quiet Traditions. Workshop in Takayama. Return to Asakusa, Cultural heritage sites

Day 07

May 21st

Takayama. Hida Takayama Musem of art, Fabric store visits, Night photography

Day 08

May 22nd

Traditions. Food and culture walking tour

Day 09

May 23rd

Exploring the Region.

Shirakawago. Creative projects, Tea and dessert

Day 10

May 24th

Matsumoto. Explore the castle, Independent project, Museum and cultural heritage sites 

Day 11

May 25th

Urasa. Immerse in nature. Write, draw, organize photos and more for independent project 

Day 12

May 26th

Immerse in nature. Write, draw, organize photos and more for independent project, Return to Tokyo.

Day 13

May 27th

Shinkansen. Free day, Farewell dinner

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 28th

Transport to Airport using JR pass

Location / Site

In this age of information breaking all geographic boundaries and a migratory culture, there is a tendency to adhere to certain aspects of social and cultural identity. Lucy Lippard in Lure of the Local: senses of place in a multicentered society discusses our attachment and identity with place in 7 levels – stranger, visitor, tourist, from away, local, native, and indigenous.


A central thesis of this immersion program in Japan is walking. You have a different relationship with the built and natural environments walking. Not to mention, the pace is our own allowing for random circumstances and the unexpected discoveries that come with wandering on purpose. We will also engage in utilizing public transportation and have opportunity to ride the amazing efficient Japan Rail system including the high speed Shinkansen.

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.

  • Please let us know of your dietary restrictions and we will work with you to accommodate your needs. 

  • 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. The villa can help you arrange this.


& 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. 

JAPAN          FRANCE            SPAIN             ITALY            INDIA



123 Bowery

New York NY, 10002


+1 - 929 - 244 - 9771

  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black Pinterest Icon