Japan and Its Buddhist Traditions
On this Fall Semester program (early Sept – early Dec) in Kyoto, students gain a greater understanding of Japanese society and culture through the lens of Buddhism. Students take courses in Japanese Language, Religions, and Culture from the Program Director and additional faculty. In addition, students attend daily meditation practice at local temples with expert instructors. Program activities include regular site visits (1-5 days) to Buddhist temples, monasteries, and sacred sites in Kyoto, Nara, and surrounding mountains. The program culminates in a three-week independent study period where students research a topic of interest in depth.
“I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life.” -Rebecca Scott, Swarthmore College
Engagement in Buddhism and Japanese University Life
Students experience Japanese campus life, as courses are held at Ryukoku University in Kyoto. In addition, each AEA student is paired with a ‘language buddy’ – a Japanese student at Ryukoku. AEA students also have full access to the Ryukoku library, computer labs, and cafeteria. Additionally, students attend daily meditation sessions at local temples and with expert instructors in Zen, True Pure Land and Shingon traditions, and are encouraged to follow the five basic Buddhist precepts.
Independent Research/ Travel Period
During the final three weeks of the program, students may travel in small groups within Japan to conduct research on a topic of interest to them. Previous topics include Buddhist-Christian Dialogue, Medical Effects of Meditation Practice, Japanese Calligraphy Zen Influence, and Women in Mahayana Buddhism.
On-site Faculty and Support
Program Director George Klonos, Assistant Professor of Japanese Studies, organizes the program and teaches several program courses. He is joined each year by additional faculty, typically from Kyoto. The program TA assists the Director and helps students in their transition to life in Kyoto. Logistical support is provided by the site coordinator from Ryukoku University.