Japan: Zen and Existential Philosophy

Japan: Zen and Existential Philosophy

Explore Japan while learning about Zen Buddhism and existential philosophy. During our tour we will visit Tokyo, various Buddhist temples in Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima.

Dates: May 29-June 8, 2020 • $2,500
Class transfers as PSY 330H/PHI370H

Course Registration and Eligibility


This program is open to Brooklyn honors students.  

Registration Deadlines

$500 non-refundable deposit by November 11, 2019.

All deposits are non-refundable. Failure to make payment in accordance with the deadlines could result in the office terminating the participant's enrollment in the program.

All scheduled payments should be brought to Mik Larson on the 1st floor of Lorenzo Hall during Common Hour of the due date. Make all checks payable to St. Joseph's College with a note in the memo line: Japan Honors 2020. Payments 2 through 5 (also $500) will be made on the following dates: 12/16, 1/22, 2/24, 3/30.

Program Cost and Deadlines

The cost for the trip is $2,500. The total balance is due March 30, 2019.

The price includes:

  • Accommodations
  • Breakfast in-country
  • Transportation within the country for activities scheduled on the itinerary
  • Entrance fees within the country for activities scheduled on the itinerary
  • Roundtrip airfare

The price does not include:

  • Transportation to/from JFK
  • Additional increases in taxes and fuel surcharges at the time of ticketing
  • Additional activities or optional trips
  • "On your own meals and trips"
  • Personal expenses such as Wi-fi and phone
  • Currency fluctuation
  • Exceeding the airline’s baggage allowance


May 29: Depart JFK for Tokyo
May 30: Arrive in Tokyo 
After you check into your hotel in Central Tokyo, the rest of the day is free. 
May 31: Tokyo City Tour
Visit the Kiyosumi Garden, famous for its “auspicious stones,” and the Edo Museum, which shows the history of Tokyo. Then, your guide will take you to Akasaka, one of the oldest, most traditional areas of Tokyo, which includes the temple Senso-Ji. Afterwards, you’ll go to the Akihabari area known as “Electric Town.”
June 1: Tokyo City Tour
Visit the Imperial Palace and East Gardens and then Takeshita Dori (street) in Harajuku, home to many eccentric styles, such as high fashion, goths, manga and cosplay. After lunch, the group will meet up at the entrance to the Meiji Shrine, the most beautiful shrine in Tokyo. Finally, after touring both sections of the shrine, you will explore the Shibuya area.   
June 2:  Tokyo – Train to Kyoto
Take the Shinkansen train to Kyoto (approx. a three-hour ride), where you will check into your Ryokan hotel (about a 10-minute walk from the train station). You can enjoy the Ryokan facilities. We will also visit Kennin-ji Temple, the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto.  Kennin-ji Temple is an oasis of calm on the edge of Gion with a superb Zen garden.
June 3: Kyoto – Free Day   
Continue to enjoy the Ryokan. Then you will check out and check into your regular hotel by the train station. Your professors will lead this day.  You can go to the Path of Philosophy, the Honen-in Temple and Nanzen-Ji. This is also a good day to go to the Daimaru Department Store and the Nishiki Market.
June 4:  Kyoto Tour 
You may visit the nearby Sanjusangendo Temple, which is one of the most unique temples in Japan, with its 1,000 life-size statues. Then we will take you to the Shinto Temple, Fushimi Inari. This is the temple with the 10,000 orange Dori (gates), which was featured in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha.”  After lunch, you will visit the beautiful Kiyomizu Temple. This lovely hillside temple has many buildings and gardens, as well as a lovely view of the city. From there, you will walk down some traditional streets, Sannen Zaka Dori and Ninen Zaka Dori, and if there is time, you can visit Chion-in Temple and the Shoren-in Temple before visiting the historic Gion area.
June 5: Kyoto  
Your guide will take you to the Ryōan-ji, a temple with the most famous rock garden and Kinkakuji Temple – the famous Golden Pavillion. You may also visit the Daitokuji Temple. The Daitokuji compound is a city within walls made up of 24 sub-temples, eight of which are open to the public. Dinner at Pontocho Alley (at your own expense). If the class is interested, Kabuki or Noh theater performances are available on certain nights in Kyoto. 
June 6: Kyoto – Day Trip to Nara 
Depart early for Nara (utilizing your rail passes). Upon arrival, you’ll have an opportunity to feed deer. Then, you will be taken to the beautiful temple Tōdai-ji, home to the Daibutsu — the largest Buddha statue in Japan, and one of the largest in the world. Appropriately, the Daibutsu-den houses the largest wooden building in the world. We can also take you to the Nigatsudo Hall and the Kofukuji Temple.
June 7: Kyoto – Train to Hiroshima – Tours of Hiroshima, Miyajima
You will leave the hotel early and take the Shinkansen Express train to Hiroshima. Your guide will meet you at the hotel and then take you to the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. We will then take you to Miyajima. Before you board the ferry across to the island, you will get to enjoy a very special lunch — a Hiroshima-Yaki meal (at your expense); this food is unique to this area.  Then you will proceed to Miyajima, which includes the Itsukushima Shrine, the Daisho-in Temple and the Miyajima Ropeway.  This beautiful area includes the gorgeous Torii Gate in the water (at high tide).
June 8: Hiroshima – Transfer to the airport for your flight home 
Today you will check out of your hotel and proceed by train to the Hiroshima Airport. Then, you will fly with a one-stop in-country connection back to Tokyo and then home, with many wonderful memories! 

Itinerary is subject to change

How to Apply

Directions for applying online:  

  1. Log in to the portal and check off private computer. If you are on a public computer be sure to logout when you're done.
  2. Open up your email so you do not time out.
  3. Fill out the application
  4. Follow the "St. Joseph’s Study Abroad Program" checklist 

For more information:

Email Michael Burke at [email protected], Mik Larson at [email protected] or visit our Facebook Group or visit the Office of the Executive Dean for Academic Affairs at SJC Brooklyn in Lorenzo Hall, first floor.


Due to new government regulations, passport information must be provided with your final payment. If you need a new passport, apply immediately.

Without a passport, information tickets cannot be issued and delays with ticketing may create penalties and/or cancellations without a refund. If you don’t have a passport, please apply for it and provide a passport processing receipt with your deposit.

A copy of your passport is due no later than March 2, 2020.