Bring History to Life on School Trips to Japan

For students of history, visiting Japan on school trips can excite, inspire and, most of all, offer insights and first-hand experience, thus bringing history to life. From the ancient roots of its civilisation to the Second World War to the dynamic growth of modern Japan over the last 60 years, this is a country with a wealth of history. It is a fantastic place to demonstrate to students how specific moments are rooted in the context of what came before - the continuity of history, and its bearing on the present and future. To maximise the learning potential of a visit to Japan, here are some important attractions to include in your itinerary.

Edo-Tokyo Museum

Tokyo, formerly known as Edo, was originally a fishing village and then a fortified town, and although it was only made the imperial capital in 1866 it enjoyed a long and prosperous history beforehand. As Edo, it was chosen by the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu for his seat of power, and became one of the world's largest cities, as well as effectively being the cultural capital of the nation. When Japan returned to imperial rule with the Meiji Restoration, the Emperor moved there from Kyoto and established the City of Tokyo. Students on school trips to Japan will most likely be familiar with this history; however, the wealth of detail on offer at the Edo-Tokyo Museum goes beyond anything that can be learned in the classroom. With original artefacts and faithful reconstructions, it tracks the culture, politics and daily life of the city from its beginnings to the present day, and even looks to the future.

Kyoto Imperial Palace

The Kyoto Imperial Palace was the Emperor's official seat of power since the 12th century and up until the Meiji Restoration, although the building has gone through many incarnations; the current one dates from 1855, but its style harks back to the architecture of the Heian Period. Students on school trips with an interest in the Imperial court during the Meiji era and earlier will find plenty to fascinate them here, with tours of the buildings and grounds revealing the halls, state rooms, and residences of important figures.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

School trips to Japan also offer students the opportunity to learn more about the Asian and Pacific side of the Second World War, while the Hiroshima Peace Memorial serves as a reminder of the war's devastating impact. Although it can be a sobering experience, a visit to the Peace Museum brings home lasting damage of the bombing, with exhibitions of objects and photographs, but it is also a place to learn about efforts being made towards worldwide peace, with a good selection of material aimed at enabling school groups to explore these issues.

Angela Bowden works for STS (School Travel Service), the UK's largest educational travel company, providing school trips for recondary schools, primary schools and colleges. School trips with STS can encompass art/design, foreign languages, history, science/nature, geography and more, to worldwide destinations.



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