SPC Japan: A Wonderful Opportunity – Center for International Programs

While in Japan, our group visited many different culturally significant places. A few of these were UNESCO World Heritage Sites. World Heritage Sites are landmarks and areas with legal protection administered by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) for having cultural, historical, or scientific significance. These protected sites included Himeji Castle, Peace Memorial Park and Museum, and Nijo-Jo Castle. We visited Himeji Castle on the second day, Peace Memorial Park and Museum on the third day, and Nijo-Jo Castle on the fourth day.

Himeji Castle is Japan’s most visited castle. It is known as “White Heron Castle” because of its soaring keep and brilliant white plaster walls. The main function of the castle was to serve as a center for administration and home for the Himeji’s daimyo (feudal lords). The main keep was built in 1601 and is one of the oldest surviving castle keeps in Japan. Due to the fact that the castle was never besieged, bombed, or burned, more of Himeji Castle’s buildings survived to present day than those of any other Japanese castle. Himeji Castle is considered a national treasure, so it has undergone regular restoration since the early 1900s in order to preserve it for future visitors.

Peace Memorial Park and Museum is located in the center of Hiroshima, Japan. The park is dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as it was the first city to experience a nuclear attack and also to the direct and indirect victims of the attack. Despite its harrowing past, this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It is full of amazing natural landscapes and modern architecture. Over one million people visit Peace Memorial Park each year.

Nijo-Jo castle is another beautiful site in Japan. Niko-Jo castle has witnessed some of the most important events in Japanese history and the 400 years since it was built. The castle was completed in 1603 on the orders of the founder and Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The castle served as the Kyoto residence of the Shogun on the very rare occasions when he visited the imperial capital. When the Shogun was not in residence, Nijo Zaiban samurai guards who were dispatched from the Shogun at Edo (present day Tokyo), were Garrison at the castle. This 400 year old site is a unique survival from one of the golden ages of Japanese architecture and design that was known for its ornate architecture and magnificent interiors.

This trip to Japan was a wonderful opportunity and I am grateful to have been able to experience Japanese culture first hand. I was able to make long lasting memories and meet some amazing people. I would highly consider moving to Japan myself in the future. I truly loved my time in Japan and hope that I can return to the country again soon.
– Hunter, SPC Japan Study Abroad Program, May 2024

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