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A Global Education: Studying Photography in Japan

Posted by on March 14, 2018 | Education

Ever thought about taking your photography education overseas? For six weeks every other summer, Kyoto University of Art and Design in Japan hosts Indiana University students for an intensive program focused on photography, either still or motion. While run by Indiana University, the program is open to students from any accredited U.S. college or university in their second full-time semester or later. Completion of an introduction to photography course (or approved equivalent) is also required for consideration for the program.

Photography critic, curator and educator Mariko Takeuchi lectures students on Japanese photography.

Students partake in photo walks and hands-on demonstrations of Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, printing and studio-lighting techniques during their time at the Kyoto campus. They have access to computer labs and chemical darkrooms as well as a shooting studio in the school. The program is capped by an exhibition in downtown Kyoto at the end of the first five weeks.

A group photo of IU students in front of Osaka Castle.

Kyoto itself is a historical city known for its natural and manmade beauty, including gardens, palaces and shrines—ideal backdrops for adventurous photographers. On weekends and nights, students take field trips to different parts of the city and explore the diverse communities and historical sights, or take day excursions to Osaka, Nara and Kobe. Weekend trips are also planned for Hiroshima, Miyajima and Naoshima.

“Students keep a journal in which they describe the feelings of being submersed in another culture, the impressions they get from the city, notes about the shooting locations and a collection of visual materials,” notes professor Osamu James Nakagawa, an Indiana University professor who founded the program in 2007 and continues to run it today. “Students are required to incorporate the journal as part of their final art project.  The final product will be a group of prints or a video sequence that epitomizes each individual’s personal journey into Japan’s vibrant, modern society and its rich, layered history.”

Japan is one of several study abroad programs highlighted in the latest issue of PDNedu (you’ll also find information about programs in Italy and France). View the full feature in the free digital edition of Spring 2018 PDNedu here