TRVL 300: Japan Travel Course

Spring 2018

Dr. Kailai Huang

Course Description: Get ready to challenge yourself to a travel experience that takes you through times, terrains, and tastes like no other! This high-impact travel course combines classroom learning with a 12-day trip to Japan from March 8-19, 2018 during the spring break. The travel component of the course will focus on the main island of Honshu, where the ancient capital Kyoto and the world’s largest metropolis Tokyo are located. From these two base-cities, high-speed and local express trains will take you to castle towns, country trails, and the Japanese Alps. Before the travel, weekly meetings will introduce students to the basic information about Japan’s history, culture, and society. Upon completing the course, students are expected to gain a deeper understanding of Japan’s various blends of ancient traditions and cutting-edge modernity, to appreciate the distinct Japanese aesthetics, and to develop a new perspective on the challenges and advantages of globalization.

Travel Highlights

  • Visiting palaces, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, gardens, and museums to be immersed in Japanese history, religion, and art. Many of these sites are on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.
  • Tracing the footsteps of the traveling feudal daimyo lords in the Kiso Valley when hiking the 5-mile picturesque trail (slow descending) between the old post towns Magome and Tsumago. This trail passes waterfalls, forest and farmland.
  • Riding the high-speed Shinkansen “bullet” train to traverse the diverse landscape.
  • Visiting the Manga/Anime Museums to have a close encounter with Japan’s exuberant pop culture.
  • Staying in a traditional Japanese ryokan inn to enjoy a full-fledged Japanese-style banquet.
  • Soaking in the Japanese onsen hot-spring to unwind and get familiar with traditional customs and etiquette.
  • Strolling through Kyoto’s narrow alleys during the annual Hagashiyama Lantern Festivel to experience the exquisite traditional culture and customs.
  • Visiting the famous sixteenth-century “Crow Castle” in Matusmoto to learn about the time and life of samurai in the feudal period.
  • Reflecting on Japan’s modern transition when lingering among a priceless collection of buildings of both Japanese and Western styles in the open-air architectural museum of Meiji Village in Inuyama.
  • (Window) shopping in Tokyo’s enormous and glittering department stores to experience their unsurpassable varieties and courteous service.
  • Walking around in the mind-boggling Akihabara Electric Town in Tokyo to find all kinds of electronic devices and gadgets.
  • Dining on Japanese food to take in its variety and visual and culinary finesse.

Course Evaluation:

All students are required to establish a course e-portfolio and keep a journal during the trip. Students will be evaluated by their attendance to the weekly meetings prior to the trip, their behavior on the trip and the quality of their reflective final project based on their Japan experience.

Course Cost: the estimated cost per person is $2,950 US dollars (subject to change due to the airfares and the exchange rate at the travel time). This cost includes:

  • round-trip international airfares to Japan and airport transportation.
  • a Japan Rail Pass that covers all train travels.
  • ground transportation (bus, subway, and train) on the days with scheduled activities.
  • all admissions based on our itinerary.
  • 10 overnight stays, mainly in western-style budget hotels or traditional Japanese inns (sleeping on floor futon). Depending on lodging facilities, it can be two, three or four people sharing a room.
  • breakfast in most days and a full-fledged Japanese-style dinner banquet.

Not included: lunches and dinners (estimated daily food cost $15-20) and personal expenses.

Travel Course Scholarships and Financial Aid: MCLA offers a limited number of merit-based, partial travel scholarships to help qualified students with travel course costs. To learn more about the requirements and application deadlines, go to

All interested students are required to contact Dr. Huang before enrollment. He will discuss with you to determine if this course is a good fit for you.

Payment Schedule:

First payment $250 on Friday, October 13, 2017

Second payment $1200 on Monday, November 13, 2017

Third payment $1500 on Friday, February 2, 2018

All payments are due in the Bursar’s Office

Fall 2017 Information Meetings:
Monday, September 11 from 6:00-7:00 pm in Bowman 201

Tuesday, September 19 from 6:00-7:00 pm in Bowman Hall 201


Dr. Kailai Huang, phone, 413-662-5426, email: