Spring 2017


Students participating in this program study gardens and architecture in Japan from the field, a rare opportunity in the discipline of art and architectural history. The site of Kyoto, the capital of Japan until 1868, offers an amazingly rich environment to study garden design and architecture in its cultural context. There are hundreds of well-preserved sites from as early as the 8th century in the region as well as institutions that have preserved and perpetuated traditional activities and rituals. Students will learn about traditional Japanese culture while in Japan and have the opportunity to continue Japanese language studies if they so choose.

Learning Goals

  • Demonstrate awareness of the ways in which garden construction in Japan has been related to the built environment and how gardens express various types of meaning, whether religious, political or social
  • Develop skills of close looking, visual analysis and attention to detail
  • Understand how the aesthetics of various styles of gardens in Japan are determined by both geography and human land use patterns


During the Orientation Session in Tokyo, housing will be at the hotel in Tokyo that is designed for students. It is located very close to Shinjuku, one of the busiest and most interesting parts of Tokyo.

In Kyoto, for the first six weeks, students will be housed at a dormitory that is a five-minute walk from the main campus of Doshisha University. Most meals will be available at the University. For the final four weeks, the program will move to a hotel, which is in the same general area as the dormitory.


All Carleton-sponsored 10-week off-campus study programs charge the Carleton comprehensive fee, which includes instruction, room and board, group excursions, public transportation, medical and evacuation insurance, travel assistance, and most cultural events.

Students are responsible for books, passports and visas (when required), transportation to and from the program sites, and personal expenses and travel during the seminar. Students will receive a program-specific Additional Cost Estimate at the time of acceptance.

Student financial aid is applicable as on campus. See the Off-Campus Studies website for further information on billing, financial aid, and scholarships.

Faculty Director

Kathleen Ryor, Tanaka Memorial Professor of International Understanding and Art History / Director of Asian Studies

Professor Ryor teaches courses on Chinese and Japanese art history, world art history and the theory and methods of art history, and most recently has offered a course on Chinese and Japanese gardens.  Her garden course has been developed as a hybrid class that combines art history and studio art, in which students apply their cultural knowledge to hands-on design projects. She is also developing a dyad course with Professor Kelly Connole in Studio Art that focuses on the arts of the Japanese tea ceremony. 

Professor Ryor was the Faculty Director of the Intercollegiate Sri Lanka Education Program in 2006, and has served as chair of the Department of Art and Art History, the director of the Asian Studies Program and chair of the Carleton Japanese Garden Advisory Committee. She is currently the co-director of the Carleton Global Engagement Initiative and the coordinator of the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment.


The seminar is open to all Carleton students. Prior knowledge of Japanese is not required for any courses.


18 Credits

ARTH 268: History of Gardens and Landscape Architecture in Japan (6 credits)
A garden is usually defined as a piece of land that is cultivated or manipulated in some way by humans for one or more purposes. Gardens often take the form of an aestheticized space that miniaturizes the natural landscape. This course will explore the historical phenomenon of garden building in Japan, with a special emphasis on how cultural and religious attitudes towards nature contribute to the development of gardens in urban and suburban environments. In addition to studying historical source material, students will be required to visit garden sites on a weekly basis.
Instructor: Kathleen Ryor

ARTH 269: Projects in Japanese Garden Design and History (3 credits)
Reading assignments followed by an independent project related to Japanese gardens. Linked to the work done in ARTH 268, this course requires an in-depth study of a particular style of Japanese garden design and its history.
Instructor: Kathleen Ryor

ASST 282: Religion, Politics and Architecture in Pre-Modern Japan (3 credits)
This course will consist of a series of lectures focusing on topics such as Shintoism, Buddhism, architecture and environmental issues, etc. In addition to the lectures, there will be related field trips beyond those required for ARTH 268.
Instructor: Visiting lecturers

JAPN 105: Introduction to Japanese Language/Japanese Culture through Language Study (6 credits)
Students with no prior Japanese language study will enroll in this course. It will be designed to introduce basic pattern and vocabulary with a special emphasis on topics related to everyday life in Japan and interactions with people.  Students will also learn both forms of the Japanese phonetic script, hiragana and katakana.
Instructor: Local faculty


JAPN 103: Elementary Japanese
JAPN 206: Japanese in a Cultural Context (6 credits)
This course is designed for Carleton students who have either taken the JAPN 101, 102 sequence or the JAPN 204, 205 sequence to continue their language study in Japan.
Instructor: Local faculty

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Application Deadline
Monday, April 28, 2016

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