Senior School art and history trip to Tokyo

This week was certainly a busy one for the Senior School, not least because of the exertions of the Arts Festival and the preparations for Thursday’s incredible performance of ZOOM!, but also thanks to a whirlwind 72-hour trip for a contingent of pupils in years 9-11. Its purpose was to enrich their appreciation of History, Art and Culture, and there are few better cities in the region (if not the world) where this can be better achieved than the Japanese capital of Tokyo.

 

A busy start…

Friday was nothing if not full on. We left the hotel at 9AM and headed for the Mori Art Gallery to take in a provocative exhibition on ‘The Art of Disaster’, which provided an artistic commentary on how societies have dealt with disasters, both natural and man-made. The participatory elements of the exhibition allowed pupils to consider for themselves how human beings recover from, and respond to, majorly traumatic events.

A visit to the Meiji Shrine followed soon after, where pupils could enjoy the tranquil surroundings while enhancing their understanding of Japanese society past and present. The architecture was pretty spectacular to boot.

A short walk away lay the Samurai Museum. Once again combining the dual foci of the excursion, pupils learned about the heyday of the samurai, Japan’s warrior elite, while admiring the craftsmanship and symbolism of their paired swords, the katana and wakizashi, as well as their extremely ornate armour. We witnessed these being put to good use in a live samurai demonstration, and as you can see from the photo, the pupils were even allowed to let a little of their own warrior spirit show in a posed shot of them each holding a katana.

 

…with a more leisurely finish

On Saturday we enjoyed a slightly more relaxed pace, starting with an early morning visit to the historic Asakusa district, incorporating the Senso-ji Temple. Here, pupils tried their hand at the traditional art of Japanese woodblock printing, and no doubt their artistic efforts will now be adorning a fridge somewhere near you.

Our final stop was downtown Shibuya, where pupils could see for themselves the bustling metropolis that Tokyo has become from its background as a sleepy fishing village founded around 400 years ago. We hope that this element allowed the pupils to contextualise their learning of the past two days and to draw comparisons between the worlds of the past and present.

Our world continues to be shaped by, and subsequently create, art and history. Tokyo provided the perfect working model for pupils to consider this creative balance, and to have plenty of fun in the process.

 

Darren Simpson, Head of History and Kelly Edwards, Art teacher

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