School trips to Japan take students to a visual panoply of cutting-edge architecture and traditional shrines in a country rich with culture. Japan’s major cities of Tokyo and Kyoto are centres of commerce and culture, providing a visual feast for students of art and architecture, as well as a wealth of interest for those interested in the cities’ long histories. A dark note in recent history is present in Hiroshima, where the use of nuclear bombs against Japan is memorialised to this day.
A visit to Tokyo is essential on any school trips to Japan. The country’s capital, it is a vast city with a long and storied history. Originally a fishing village called Edo, it was first fortified in the 12th century AD and became the centre of power in 1603. Young learners will enjoy a walk through the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace and Tokyo has many museums, such as the Edo-Tokyo Museum, National Museum, Mori Art Museum, and, for fans of anime, the Ghibli Museum (for which tickets must be booked prior to travel). Art, art history and history students will all be well served by these museums. Architecture students will want to hit the streets to see the relationship between the older building styles of shrines and the dynamic designs of the city’s many modern structures.
Nestled in trendy Shibuya is the tranquillity of the Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress ShÅ ken. Surrounded by forest, it is a peaceful place to come and contemplate the beauty of the shrine, the prayers offered on wood, the barrels of sake donated, and the people simply passing through.
The capital of Japan for more than a thousand years, Kyoto is a major city at the heart of Japanese history. The collections of the Kyoto National Museum display art and artefacts from this era, making it an essential stop for students on school trips. From maps of early rice fields to exquisite pottery and screens, the collection will awe and inspire. Numerous shrines – roughly 2000 – fill the city and are open to international visitors. Kyoto is an excellent city for groups on school trips to wander around, go shopping, or even visit a cat café.
The darkest moments in Japan’s recent history occurred in 1945, when nuclear bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park remembers the loss of life in Hiroshima, and includes educational museum displays that will help students understand the extent of the destruction. However, there is more to Hiroshima than the bomb, and youngsters can also try the locally preferred savoury pancake okonomiyaki, visit the beautiful garden of Shukkei-en or go shopping in HondÅ ri shopping arcade.