Japan: Sushi Dreams and Sustainability – Food for Thought
Note: This program will not be offered in 2024.
Can centuries-old traditions save the planet? By looking back, do we learn lessons that can help us find our way forward? For a thousand years, the Japanese have celebrated respect for nature and the sustainability of natural resources. By eating in harmony with nature and preserving the beauty of the land that provides sustenance, we are healthier and our communities are stronger and more sustainable. In the aftermath of the tsunami of 2011 and the tragedy at Fukushima, there is heightened awareness about the link between food, ecological preservation and the importance of treading more lightly on our planet. Live with monks to study Zen Buddhism, cook seasonally using local ingredients with Japanese culinary masters, hear from indigenous Ainu experts and work closely with new Japanese friends as you learn from the past, immerse yourself in the present and consider how to build a future in greater harmony with the natural environment.
You and your new friends spend the first few days in Tokyo, the world’s largest city. Practice survival language skills with Japanese volunteers, explore the Sensoji temple in Asakusa and visit the iconic Tsukiji fish market. Learn about Japan’s geography, ecology and the important relationship between food and sustainability with local experts. Journey south to the ancient city of Kyoto to learn about Zen Buddhism and Washoku. Meet with a sushi master, practice Zen meditation and prepare traditional meals with fresh ingredients from local markets. Then travel to Hokkaido to learn more about environmental preservation from indigenous Ainu experts. Living for a few days with a local family in the small town of Tobetsu, you visit a junior high school, spend time with Japanese students, hike mountain paths and consider efforts to build a greener future. At the end of the program, travel to Nanae in Southern Hokkaido to explore the ecosystems of Lake Onuma, learn about sustainable farming and cook with locals. Return to Tokyo and visit familiar neighborhoods, reflect on all that you have learned and share a final meal at a traditional izakaya restaurant before the journey home.
Orientation in Tokyo
- Sample fresh sushi, slurp noodle soup and taste crunchy tempura.
- Visit Asakusa, Tokyo’s old town to explore the 7th century Sensoji temple.
- Navigate the complicated Tokyo metro with Japanese volunteers.
- Practice Japanese language skills in the shops of Harajuku, Ueno Park or Tsukiji fish market.
The Seminar in Kyoto and Sapporo
- Practice Zen meditation with Buddhist monks during a temple-stay.
- Embrace the art of Washoku, practice your knife skills with a sushi master and take classes at a Japanese cooking school.
- Learn traditional cooking methods and environmental stewardship from indigenous Ainu experts.
- Practice Japanese language with college students.
Family and Community Stay
- Live with local families in Tobetsu.
- Become Japanese.
- Visit a local school.
- Learn about sustainable agriculture and ecological preservation from community leaders.
- Travel to Nanae on the Southern tip of Hokkaido.
- Explore the ecosystems of Lake Onuma.
- Learn about and experience sustainable farming.
- Cook with locals.
Journey’s End in Tokyo
- Return to familiar neighborhoods in Tokyo.
- Taste delicious food during a final meal at a traditional izakaya restaurant.
- Reflect on all that you’ve learned as you prepare for the journey home.
Program: Japan – Sushi Dreams and Sustainability
Start/End: Los Angeles International Airport
Dates: TBD Summer 2025