Montclair in Japan



The group of 12 students, two faculty/staff chaperones and their tour guide, receiving the certificates for completion of the Kakehashi Project 

From June 9th to the 19th 2014, twelve MSU Art and Design majors participated in the “Kakehashi Project- the Bridge for Tomorrow.” Funded entirely by the government of Japan through the Japan-US Educational Commission (Fulbright Japan), the program will eventually bring a total of 2,300 American students to Japan for an all-expense paid 10 day study tour. The Montclair State university students participated in the “Student Creators” project, forming a delegation along with five other US universities including Rhode Island School of Design, Massachusetts College of Art, the University of Cincinnati, Catawba College, and LIM Institute.


The program’s primary objective is to promote interest in Japan, contributing to Japan’s economic recovery, and to raise awareness of Japan’s values and strengths. The program also brings Japanese students to the US, and Montclair State University has been selected to host students from Tokyo University of the Arts in November.

During their stay, the MSU student had the opportunity to visit Tokyo University of the Arts and spend the day with their counterparts, seeing the painting, sculpture, and craft studios, and developed an understanding of the unique objectives of the school. MSU students also visited Kanazawa College of the Arts and saw a very different approach to teaching art and design.  


The students and faculty/staff chaperones (Prof. Abby Lillethun of Art and Design and Wendy Gilbert-Simon of the Global Education Center) spent the 5 nights in Tokyo and 4 nights in Kanazawa City. 

Students were able to get a taste for both contemporary urban atmosphere and thriving traditional art forms, along with the many modern expressions of the combination coming from young artists..

Several major museums were part of the itinerary, including the Tokyo National Museum, the Kanazawa Kutani Museum and the National Museum of Modern Art, where the MSU Art and Design majors could be seen deeply absorbed in studying prints, paintings, armor, ceramics and textiles.


The students heard lectures by experts from a range of fields, including a crash course on the Japanese language, a discussion on how to evaluate design, led by the head of the Good Design.

The students learned a great deal about traditional Japanese music and art, and were treated to several performances, from a student recital of traditional Noh music and dance by students from the Tokyo University of the Arts traditional to professional shamisen solo music to a performance and introductory lecture at the National Kabuki Theater. 

For these MSU students majoring in animation and illustration, fashion studies, graphic design and industrial design, contemporary pop culture was also a focus, and the trip included visits to the neighborhood of Shibuya (comparable to Times Square), the fashion center Harajuku, the electronics and comics center Akihabara, and the ultra-modern Odaiba district.


The group was taken to the Japan Sea coast city of Kanazawa, known for its traditional arts and crafts. There they participated in several hands-on experiences, including a dying workshop, a tea ceremony and opportunities to try on Noh theater masks and costumes. They also visited a beautifully preserved samurai residence and explored one Japan’s most renowned traditional gardens, getting a sense of how the aesthetics they had seen in the museums is conveyed in landscape design.

MSU will welcome art and music students from Tokyo National University of the Arts in November, at which time there will be panels and demonstrations by both the MSU students and the Japanese students, showing how their experience has been translated into their own art work. 


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