History, Culture, and Society from Kyoto to Tokyo

Journey through the fascinating history and elegant culture of the feudal samurai, its ideological Imperial period, and on to a harmonious modernity found in both the scenic countryside and atmospheric cities. As part of that journey to modernity, learn about how Japan commemorates its involvement in World War II.
Harkness Travel - Japan
Harkness Travel - Japan

This trip, in partnership with WalkJapan, will take us to the old capital of Kyoto, vibrant Hiroshima, the megalopolis of Tokyo, and very much off-the-beaten-track, to central Japan and the Nakasendo Way, an ancient highway in the beautiful Kiso Valley.

After delving into the fascinating history and elegant culture found in Kyoto, we journey to Hiroshima to explore the Peace Museum and effects of the atomic bomb and then on to travel on foot one of the old highways of Japan, the Nakasendo, or 'road through the central mountains'. Once a main thoroughfare of feudal Japan, today the Nakasendo provides a delightful excursion through scenic countryside.


Harkness Travel - Japan
Harkness Travel - Japan

En route we delve into Japan’s elegant culture; its history, especially when the samurai were at the height of their power; and modern life both in Japan’s cities and countryside. As part of that history we will look at the ways Japan has memorialized its involvement in World War Two. Along the way, we stay in atmospheric, traditional inns; enjoy a wide variety of Japanese cuisine; and make friends with the Japanese, some of the politest and friendliest people on earth.

Sights include exquisite temples and gardens in historic Kyoto, the bright lights of cosmopolitan Tokyo, and quiet, pretty villages in secluded valleys. We experience the Japanese way of life including sleeping on futons, bathing in wooden baths and eating while sitting on tatami mat floors. We learn why the Nakasendo Way existed and about Tokugawa Ieyasu, the great shogun leader who established a dynasty that ruled Japan for over 260 years. We also learn to sing traditional folk songs and visit a school. Of course, each day also provides opportunities to learn some Japanese. Other highlights include singing karaoke and exploring Tokyo’s Harajuku, which has long been at the center of Japanese youth culture.


Sign-Up Instructions

Participation for all Lawrenceville Harkness Travel Programs is dependent upon a review of student applications, Head of House/Advisor recommendations, medical clearance for participation, and financial and disciplinary standing. Seniority and gender balance is also considered in the selection process.
Application to this program is not considered complete until both of the following items have been submitted:
Head of House / Day Advisor Recommendation must be completed and submitted to Louise Wright by Monday, October 30, 2023.
Application Survey must be completed by Monday, October 30, 2023.


June 9 - 21, 2024



Includes all ground transportation, flights, meals, accommodations, visas and all required non-routine vaccines. Families will receive a list of all MANDATORY vaccines that are required. All travelers must be up-to-date on routine vaccines. Families will be charged for any trip related routine vaccines administered on campus. If the participant has received any of the mandatory vaccines, documentation must be provided to the Health and Wellness Center; they will be in touch with that date sometime in early 2024.

Target Student Population

This trip is open to II - IV Formers.

Program Leaders

Kris Schulte
History Teacher
Yanhong Zhang
Chinese Language Teacher
Hunter Cuniff
Spanish Teacher

Pre-Trip Work

There will be regular meetings and preparatory homework during the Winter and Spring terms to prepare for the trip.

Student Expectations

Click Here to View the Japan Summer 2024 Packing List

Passports MUST be valid through October 15, 2024; if the passport will expire before that date students should apply for a replacement as soon as possible.

Location Info