2014 Field Studies Applications now available

Theme: “Heritage and Tourism”

2013 was an eventful year for “heritage” in Japan. UNESCO added both Mt. Fuji and Japanese cuisine to its World Heritage list. Such events bring new attention to the question of what should be preserved in the present to be enjoyed in the future.

How is heritage defined? Who decides what is preserved and remembered? How is heritage packaged for tourist consumption? What controversies and possibilities surround the future of heritage in Japan?

In this module students investigate the interface of heritage and tourism in Japan. We study how heritage attracts visitors and what role heritage plays in the construction of local and regional identity. Please join this unique chance to study about Japan in Japan!


May 12-15 Coursework at NUS
May 16-26 Study in Japan

At NUS we will learn about heritage, tourism, and qualitative research methods. Students will also present case studies of the locations we will visit.

Then, we will travel to Japan. We begin by traveling with Kyushu University students to Tomonoura, a picturesque village in Hiroshima Prefecture that partly inspired Miyazaki Hayao’s animated film “Ponyo.” Then we continue to several communities in Kyushu where heritage and tourism are relevant.

Along the way, students will experience a homestay and farmstay, try hot springs, go hiking, eat like a samurai at Kumamoto Castle, and visit historical sites.



In order to learn more about eligibility and costs, please download the flier and application here Flyer2014. Submit your application (including all necessary transcripts) by Friday, 21 Feb at 5:00pm.

Also, please read the FAQs about the program.

Minamata homestays

On May 17, we traveled from Isahaya to Minamata, which is infamous for the disease that carries its name (it is interesting to note that several decades ago the citizens requested the disease be renamed something else; an effort that eventually failed).

In Minamata students were welcomed into family homes for two nights. For many students it was their first time to experience a home stay anywhere, let alone in Japan. They were both excited by the prospect of making new close friends and anxious about communicating only in Japanese. Their years of language training were on display as soon as the families pick them up to drive them home. At that point, they were on their own, and I knew that despite their concerns, the kind people of Minamata would take care of them.

Of course, for students the benefits of doing a home stay are innumerable. Apart from language practice in a real-life setting, students are able to set foot into a Japanese home, which comes with the cultural lessons of appropriate behaviors in different spaces (genkan, bath, dinner table). All of their previous lessons about cultural norms and etiquette are put to the test. Finally, they are able to explain something about themselves and their homes. For those who haven’t been outside Singapore, this includes explaining their country and possibly seeing it from an outsider’s perspective for the first time.

After two nights with their families, the students had a new appreciation for the everyday life of at least one Japanese family. They had stories to share and comparisons to make with other families. When we said farewell, the students and hosts thanked each other for the shared memories and wished each other well. Many of them have already become Facebook friends, and I hope they will stay in contact for years to come. Special thanks to Mr. Nishi of Shiranui Kan Planning for making the home stay arrangements and for all the families that participated.

All Minamata home stay families and students

The Onizuka family

The Ōsawa family

The Matsumoto family

The Fukuda family

The Einaga family

International Exchange

A highlight of any study trip is meeting one’s peers. During the Field Studies in Japan, NUS students are treated to a special party by the students of Nagasaki Wesleyan University, who dress in their finest and prepare an “international cafe” atmosphere, complete with candle light and red and white checkered table cloths. Professor Joseph Romero, whose warm and giving spirit so impressed me last year, set his students to the task of creating a wonderful experience again this year. When we arrived by bus, we were greeted by an arch of human arms, all ushering us into the intimate school setting. How many times in life is one applauded just for arriving?

NWU students welcome us with open arms

Entering the tunnel of hospitality

Students from the department of international languages led us to their cafe, where, following a few short welcome speeches, we ate a light meal and made new friends. Some NUS students were worried about their language ability, but the warm personalities of the NWU students set them at ease.

Professor Romero

Getting comfortable

Having fun with new friends - in Japanese

A huge group, all excited about international exchange

A great “thank you” to Professor Romero and all of his students at Nagasaki Wesleyan University for the incredible reception. We hope we encouraged a few students to aspire to visit, study, or live in Singapore one day.