15 DARCH Apex students embarked on a 14-day study trip to Japan from 27 September to 10 October 2013 and visited Osaka, Kyoto, Arima Onsen, Takamatsu and the islands of Seto Inland Sea for the Setouchi Art Triennale 2013. The objective of the trip was to promote appreciation and understanding of Japanese history, culture and lifestyle through visits to both traditional and contemporary Japanese art and architectural sites. The students had the opportunity to visit several architectural works by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando, such as the Shiba Ryotaro Memorial Museum which is uniquely nestled in a quiet Japanese residential neighbourhood in Osaka; Chikatsu Asuka Museum, housing a special period of Japan’s historical ancient burial mounds “kofun”; Garden of Fine Arts in Kyoto with its dynamic spatial configuration; Ando Museum showcasing ingenious new intervention within a traditional Japanese hut; the sculptural building and landscape design of Lee Ufah Museum; the mind-blowing light and spatial experience at Minamidera Art House Project in collaboration with artist James Turrell and finally the wonderfully executed underground museum of Chichu Art Museum - all four projects located on Naoshima island. Students were in awe of the sublime spatial qualities at each of Tadao Ando’s works where one essentially needs to be physically in it to experience the meaning and genius loci of the masterful works.
Aside to the architectural sites, students also visited two important sites, namely the Osaka castle and Nijo castle in Kyoto which today are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Both sites provided students with a better understanding of the culture and architectural styles of Japan's rich historical past.
In addition, the students had the opportunity to experience being dressed up as Maiko, Geisha and Samurai, and took a stroll down a cultural sidewalk in the heart of Kyoto. Students also undertook a 90min 4-panel manga drawing session at the Kyoto International Manga Museum.
For the last leg of the 2-week travel, students visited the Setouchi Triennale 2013 at the Seto Inland Sea where they spent 4 full days visiting artworks and art sites on the island of Naoshima, Teshima and Ogijima. It was a unique experience as the artworks were seamlessly integrated within the local fabric and infrastructure of the islands where students witnessed artworks created through collaborative efforts between international artists/ architects and its local residents.
Overall it was truly a cultural enriching experience for the 15 students who each took away fond memories of the study trip.