Yale Summer Session in Tokyo: Humanities in Tokyo | Study Abroad | Yale University
Career Strategy Fellowships Study Abroad Summer Session MyCIPE

Yale Summer Session in Tokyo: Humanities in Tokyo

You are here

Program Information


Tokyo, Japan




Saturday, May 23, 2020 to Saturday, June 27, 2020



Area of Focus

Arts & Humanities

Distributional Requirements

Fulfills Hu distributional requirement


Study Center

Course Number



2 Yale credits


Seth Jacobowitz 




Surveys the cultural history of Tokyo through literature, film, art, anime and architecture and living spaces. Starting with the heyday of Edo when the city lent its name not only to the shogun’s capital, already a thriving urban center of over a million inhabitants, but to the historical period itself (1604-1868), we will examine the city’s reincarnation as the imperial metropolis of Tokyo in the Meiji period (1868-1912), the phoenix-like cycles of destruction and reconstruction through the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923), the firebombing of the city during WWII and other significant changes in the topography and lived experiences of the city. Particular emphasis will be given to contextualizing the classroom content with field trips to museums, historic neighborhoods and a hands-on experience of living in Tokyo.

Classes will meet Monday - Thursday from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and students should expect about 2-3 hours of work outside the classroom daily, as well excursions and other program activities.

The syllabus below is from a previous summer and contains dates that differ from those of the upcoming summer.


Yale Summer Session Programs Abroad updates program budgets in late January. Please note the year listed on the button below.

Summer 2020 Budget

Trips and Activities

Humanities in Tokyo has a rich and varied schedule of excursions.

  • A visit the Edo Tokyo Museum in an area famous for sumo wrestlers and eat at one of the iconic "chanko nabe" restaurants in the neighborhood. Followed by a visit Tokyo Sky Tree (at 2,080 ft, the third tallest structure in the world) for a sweeping view of the megacity.
  • A walking tour of the Meiji Shrine, Harajuku, and Ometesando shopping district with its many examples of contemporary architecture by Tadao Ando, Maki Fumihiko, and Ito Toyo, among others. The tour will also pass by the sites of the 1964 Olympics and impending 2020 Olympics to consider stadium architecture and the impact of the Games on the city then and now.
  • A day trip to the seaside town of Kamakura, an hour south of Tokyo, where the class will visit several major Zen temples and gardens, the Great Buddha of Kamakura, and experience a Buddhist vegetarian lunch (shojin ryori) inspired by the monks' cuisine.
  • The capstone excursion will be a three-day, two city trip to Kyoto and Hiroshima via the famous bullet train which goes past Mount Fuji. In Hiroshima participants will visit the Peace Memorial Park with the Atomic Bomb Dome, and the historical temples and shrines on Itsukushima Island in Hiroshima Bay; both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Then the group will visit several landmark cultural and religious institutions in Kyoto: Kiyomizu Temple, the Sanjusangendo, the Temple of the Gold Pavilion, and the Zen landscape gardens at Ryoanji.


Students will be housed with local host family in Tokyo, who will provided breakfast and dinner on a daily basis, as well as lunch on weekends. Living conditions and distance to where classes will be held at Waseda University will vary amongst housing assignments.

Homestays are an integral part of this program. This living arrangement provides participants with the opportunity to learn more about the host culture and form meaningful connections in the community. Students admitted into the program are expected to spend time getting to know their homestay family and be mindful of the need to balance time spent at home with time spent traveling or going out with friends. If you have any questions about living with a homestay family, we encourage you to reach out to the program instructor.

Participants must depart housing on the last day of the program.


Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements and are expected to arrive in Tokyo on the first day of the program, and depart no earlier than the last day of the program (see 'Dates' above); additional information will be provided upon admission.


For course content questions contact instructor, Seth Jacobowitz. For general program questions contact the Study Abroad staff.

Learn More

Review eligibility requirements, the application process, and deadlines:

How to Apply