"Japan totally blew my mind."
That's a typical comment from a student after returning from Doug Akagi's summer study-abroad trip to Japan. Akagi created the course -- titled "In Search of Emptiness and Wabi-Sabi" -- three years ago, and he has led it each summer since. It's often difficult for the students to put into words what the adventure means to them and their work.
"Most of them," Akagi observes, "have never experienced a metropolis like Tokyo or the sublime beauty of an ancient city like Kyoto. And I realize that the trip is expensive, with the tuition and the airfare and the incidentals. So I try to make it a trip of a lifetime.
"Leading 14 students to almost 30 venues in two different cities in 12 days without incident is a challenge, and exhausting. Dozens of subway, train, and bus rides, endless miles of walking, and counting heads at every juncture.”
But there is plenty of beauty and inspiration as a reward. And Akagi gets a profound kick out of showing off his old haunts from when he was a young graphic designer living and working in Tokyo and Kyoto.Read the rest