ENGR 365 Global Engineering and Technology

co-offered with HIST 308 Explorations of Regional History: Japan

Japan, 2023

ENGR 365 Japan 2023 was led by Dr. Yanjun Yan. HIST 308 was led by Dr. Gael Graham. Both ENGR 365 Japan and HIST 308 courses were offered as a combo class. Read the WCU news article about this trip here.

Next year in summer 2024, Dr. Yan and Dr. Graham will lead students to visit Bulgaria. Bulgaria is the oldest country in Europe (with a civilization on its land about seven thousand years ago) and the biggest rose oil exporter in the world, while hosting many global and local companies that adapt to the local culture and markets. The students will experience all flavors of history, religions, ideals, craftsmanship, and engineering practices.

If you want to visit Japan in a WCU cohort, you may consider the JPN 493 course led by Dr. Ono (yono@wcu.edu McKee 128A) and  Mrs. Li (yli@wcu.edu) and earn 3 WCU credits, or the BA 304 and MKT 407 course combo led by Dr. Rader (email him at srader@wcu.edu or visit him in FOB 2B) and earn 6 WCU credits. Many of the JPN 493 students will have taken some Japanese language course (and they can come to your aid when needed), but it is not required for you to have any prior knowledge in the Japanese language to join JPN 493. What is required in JPN 493 is your curiosity to experience Japanese culture with an open mind and heart. Similarly, BA 304 and MKT 407 are open to all WCU students, and you can talk with Dr. Rader to see if those courses are what you are interested in.

The three trips to Japan in 2023 (Yan and Graham leading this ENGR/HIST trip, Rader and Kotomi Rader leading the MKT/BA trip, Ono and Nanaka Okamura leading the JPN trip) were in close collaboration during the trip planning phase, and we sincerely appreciate such collaboration and support system.

The 2023 ENGR365/HIST308 class left US from everyone’s chosen airport (CLT and AVL for this cohort) on May 16th and met together in Tokyo on May 17th. The trip ended on June 1, 2023 in Osaka. The class traveled in these areas: Tokyo → Nagoya / Toyota → Hiroshima → Himeji → Osaka / Nara / Kyoto / Sakai. The overall map of Japan with our destinations is provided below.

Maps and Galleries

Galleries of some highlights at universities, museums, and attractions









Advanced Technology Exhibition Hall @TEPIA


Advanced Technology Exhibition Hall @TEPIA

TEPIA disseminates information about innovative technologies developed by Japan's machinery and information industries and offers people of the chance to directly experience these technologies.



Advanced Technology Exhibition Hall @TEPIA (Association for Technological Excellence Promoting Innovative Advances)
1st floor of TEPIA, 2-8-44 Kita Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0061

Tokyo Metro Ginza Line: 4-minute walk from Exit No. 3 of Gaienmae Station


Admission fee Free
Working days and hours Weekdays: 10:00 am ‒ 6:00 pm Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: 10:00 am ‒ 5:00 pm
Closings Mondays (Open when Monday falls on a holiday, but closed on the following Tuesday.)
Visitor capacity 20 (per guided tour in English)
Time required for a tour About 1 hour
Language English and Japanese
Reservation Required
https://www.tepia.jp/inspection/form.phpExternal site: a new window will open.
Other conditions * English Guide Book
* English leaflet


Tel: 03-5474-6123

Odaiba: Miraikan, teamLab, etc.

National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. Miraikan


teamLab Planet


Subaru Sti Musuem


If you like cars and or Subarus, It is definitely worth checking out. I was in awe the whole visit. The STI Dealership and Museum is located at 3-9-6 Osawa, Mitaka, Tokyo.

Senso Ji - Sanja Matsuri


Sanja Matsuri

The Sanja Festival (三社祭, Sanja Matsuri) is an annual festival in the Asakusa district that usually takes place over the third full weekend in May. It is held in celebration of the three founders of Sensoji Temple, who are enshrined in Asakusa Shrine next door to the temple. Nearly two million people visit Asakusa over the three days of the festival, making it one of Tokyo's most popular festivals.



Akihabara (秋葉原), also called Akiba after a former local shrine, is a district in central Tokyo that is famous for its many electronics shops. In more recent years, Akihabara has gained recognition as the center of Japan's otaku (diehard fan) culture, and many shops and establishments devoted to anime and manga are now dispersed among the electronic stores in the district. On Sundays, Chuo Dori, the main street through the district, is closed to car traffic from 13:00 to 18:00 (until 17:00 from October through March).

Toshiba Science Musuem, with an exhibit of Karakuri Puppet

Tokyo National Museum

Avatar Robot Cafe DAWN ver.β

Meiji Jingu

Meiji Jingu Shrine honors Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, who had led Japan through a period of rapid modernization starting in the second half of the 19th century

TEPIA Advanced Technology Gallery

Exhibits 70 advanced industrial technologies for the development of the society

Toshiba Science Museum

MagLev (magnetic levitation) train mechanism demonstration, Karakuri Ningyo (mechanical robot since the 17th century), Toshiba innovations, etc.

Miraikan: National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation

ASIMO and other humanoid robots, space lab, 3D production for art and advertisement, etc.

teamLab Planets

An interactive and dynamic art exhibit enabled by tons of sensors and optical parts

Subaru STI museum/dealership

Invited to sit in the first 22B STI and World Rally winner cars, and to hold the championship cup brought out by the staff that was not even on display!!!

Tokyo National Museum

The oldest and largest museum in Japan, preserving over 120,000 art and archaeological objects from Japan and other parts of Asia

Avatar Robot Café DAWN ver.β

OriHime and OriHime-D from their homes and hospitals operate the robots and provide services remotely, as an experiment to achieve a new form of social participation through the use of technology

Sanja Matsuri Festival at Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine

The biggest annual festival

Tokyo Skytree

The world’s tallest tower (not building) at 634 meters

Yakiniku (Japanese barbecue)

Image result for 焼肉勝ちゃん

Shoan Sushi Restaurant

Toyota Automobile Museum

Toyota Kaikan Museum

Chukyu University, Toyota Campus

Toyota Automobile Museum

Showcasing the worldwide history of automobiles and automobile culture, including and beyond Toyota

Sushi dinner at Shou’An

The chef taught some of our students to make sushi

Toyota Kaikan Museum

Toyota’s latest technology on environment, safety, and manufacturing, and the latest models

Chukyo University

A tour and attending some talks at Chukyo University

Yakiniku at Itoshuen

Peace Museum


March-July 8:30-18:00

Last entry is 30 min. before closing time

The Museum does not have a reservation system. We do not take reservations.

Exhibition rooms

● Please do not touch the exhibits or display cases (except the Hands-on Exhibits).

● Please keep quiet so as not to disturb other visitors.

● Large bags are not allowed into the Museum. (Coin lockers are available on the 1st floor of the East Building. To view the floor map, click here.)

● When using writing utensils, please be careful not to deface the artifacts.


Video and Photography

● Video and photography without flash is allowed for personal purposes (no application is required.) . However, tripods and selfie sticks are not allowed in the museum.

● Please be especially careful not to disturb other visitors with the shutter sounds of your camera including cell-phones.

● Photography with flash and/or for the purpose of publication requires an application in advance. For more information, click here.



● Please refrain from talking on a cell phone in any part of the exhibition rooms.


Eating, drinking, and smoking

● Eating and drinking are allowed only in the designated areas.

Visitors may consume food and drink in the Visitor’s Lounge on the 1st floor of the East Building. To view the floor map, click here.

● Smoking is not permitted in any part of the Museum.

The designated smoking area is located outside on the south side of the East Building (facing Heiwa Ōdōri Street).



● Please refrain from disturbing other visitors in the exhibition rooms.

● No dangerous objects may be brought into the Museum.

● Pets are not allowed in the Museum (except for guide, service, and hearing dogs).

● Please comply with any instructions given by the Museum staff.


Itsukushima, also known as Miyajima, is a small island in Hiroshima Bay, western Japan. It is known for its forests and ancient temples. Just offshore, the giant, orange Great Torii Gate is partially submerged at high tide. It marks the entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine, which was first built in the 12th century. Nearby, the Museum of History and Folklore has cultural artifacts in a 19th-century merchant's home.

Image result for miyajima

Hiroshima University

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Unfortunately, after we left, the clock since the last nuclear test was reset multple times.

Hiroshima MOCA

Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art

More in Hiroshima


Fushimi Inari Shrine - Kiyomizu temple




A beautiful shrine home to the god of thriving business

A popular destination for tourists because of its thousands of red torii gates, Fushimi Inari Taisha is the head of the approximately 30,000 Inari shrines located throughout Japan. This temple is said to be a good place to pray for success in business and industry.

In addition to torii, you may notice that there are a number of white fox statues throughout the shrine. Called byakko-san, these special foxes are thought to be the messengers of Inari Dai Kami-sama, the god enshrined at Fushimi Inari Taisha.

HOURS The shrine itself does not close; stores selling good luck charms and etc. are open 7:00am~6:00pm
ADDRESS 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
ACCESS Just outside of Inari Station on the JR Nara Line
TEL 075-641-7331
WEBSITE http://inari.jp/ (Japanese only)

Knife Forging at Sakai Traditional Crafts Museum and Knife Shop



Gion (祇園) is Kyoto's most famous geisha district, located around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine in the east and the Kamo River in the west. It is filled with shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses), where geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain.

Gion attracts tourists with its high concentration of traditional wooden machiya merchant houses. Due to the fact that property taxes were formerly based upon street frontage, the houses were built with narrow facades only five to six meters wide, but extend up to twenty meters in from the street.

Many tourists visit Gion hoping to catch a glimpse of a geiko or maiko on their way to or from an engagement at an ochaya in the evenings or while running errands during the day. However, if you spot a geiko or maiko, act respectfully. Complaints about tourists behaving like ruthless paparazzi are on the increase in recent years.

A visit to Gion is best combined with a stroll through the nearby Higashiyama Districtbetween Yasaka Shrine and Kiyomizudera. This area has more preserved streets and traditional shops selling all kinds of local foods, crafts and souvenirs.

Gion can be reached from Kyoto Station by bus number 100 or 206 (20 minutes, 230 yen). Get off at Gion bus stop. Alternatively, the closest train stations are Gion Shijo Station on the Keihan Line and Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Line.

Osaka Castle

Shimano Bicycle Museum

Himeji Castle

A national treasure and the first world heritage site in Japan, VR and AR tour guide on phone app

Shimano Bicycle Museum

Experience the history and future of cycling

Sumiyoshi Taisha

One of Japan’s oldest shrines. The roof is made of the grass that makes tatami, very durable and waterproof. Yet, the habitat of such grass is shrinking, making it hard to obtain now.

Knife Forging at Sakai Traditional Crafts Museum and Knife Shop

A tour on knife forging

Tea Ceremony at Risho-no-mori

Osaka Castle

It played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi-Momoyama period

A full-course dinner at Ume-no-hana

Selected Group Photos:

Odaiba in Tokyo

Toyota Kaikan Museum

Hiroshima University

TEPIA in Tokyo

Wagashi workshop in Kamo, Kyoto

Knife Forging Museum in Sakai

With Dr. Rader's Japan Travel Class

A travel student got us started on collecting the fun designs of the manhole covers in the cities that we visited, and below is a collection of them.

Manhole Cover Collection

What the students said

Eye-opening, fun-packed, new friendship

A once in a lifetime experience.

Adrian M.

A fun filled, lifetime opportunity that is packed with some of the most unique, eye-opening experiences that are sure to help you grow as a student and a person.

Alberto C.

This trip is very life changing to me, it is like setting foot to another planet with the enormous difference between US and Japanese culture!
Aldous M.

This trip is as great as you’re imagining it is… maybe even more so!

Alyssa A.

The 2023 Japan trip was a life changing experience for me to explore Japanese culture and better understand the world outside the United States.

Cray M.

The trip was the most incredible experience in my life so far, I got to make friends with the other students and I got to be a part of a different culture.
Jacob E.

Highly recommended experience that promotes self-improvement, cultural understanding, and academic learning in a unique way.
Jeric P.

It was an amazing experience that I will never forget.
John C.

Japan was a fun and fulfilling experience that allowed me to experience many facets of a different nation’s lifestyle and culture in ways that I would have been unable to do on my own.

Logan W.

My trip to Japan was a great opportunity of learning about a new rich culture and meet great friends.

Mae B.

This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip to experience a totally different culture, make new friends, and get credits while doing it!

Max F.

Some of the most fun and educational experiences I’ve ever had.

Nate B.

A bucket-list trip full of cultural experiences, great food, great fun, and new friends.

Nick G.

The Japan 2023 trip was an invigorating, eye-opening experience that made me more aware and appreciative of the world I live in.

Ryan D.

My Japan trip experience was one-of-a-kind.
Sommer A.

My trip was perfect when I went exploring on my own.
Vegas G.

An experience of a lifetime.
Vincent P.

A whirlwind, exciting adventure filled with new experiences and cultural differences.
Virginia W.

Example Student Work

Students are encouraged to explore their interests, besides doing the common assignments

After the trip, the students did post-trip assignments and submitted final reports. For the final reports or projects, they were encouraged to choose a topic that they were most interested in.

As an example of some student work, we witnessed Toyota’s Kaizen practice during the trip, and Nick Gonzalez applied Kaizen at the company where he did an internship back in NC.

Kaizen includes several principles for improvement such as 5S (seiri (整理), seiton (整頓), seisō (清掃), seiketsu (清潔), and shitsuke (躾), or ‘sort’, ‘set in order’, ‘shine’, ‘standardize’, and ‘sustain’. In some quarters, 5S has become 6S, the sixth element being safety (safe)), lean manufacturing, and the 7 QC (Quality Control) Tools (Check sheet, Fishbone diagram (cause and effect diagram, or Ishikawa diagram), Histogram, Pareto chart, Control chart, Scatter diagram, Stratification).

Toyota proposed and applied these principles. One of Toyota’s most recognized Kaizen contributions is their establishment of the Seven Deadly Wastes: overproduction, motion, defects, waiting, inventory, processing, and transportation. Toyota combats many of these wastes using Just-In-Time manufacturing, where workers create just enough products for the next manufacturing process without creating overproduction or waiting for parts to move along the manufacturing line. Through decades of experience and tweaking their manufacturing processes, Toyota has greatly limited several of the Seven Deadly Wastes by investing in Kaizen Techniques.

Nick has personally applied Kaizen at the company where he did his internship, and besides a report, he presented some visuals on the transformations at his workplace, whose 5S scores increased from 38% to 84%, and may potentially grow to 94% at the phase 2 implementation.

Ryan did a reflection of his views of Japan before and after the trip, and here are his slides.

Mae made some interesting observations with the photos and comments reported here.


We are very grateful for all that our hosts and friends did for us!

The 2023 trip was an interdisciplinary collaboration among two faculty-led travel courses (ENGR 365 taught by Dr. Yanjun Yan and HIST 308 taught by Dr. Gael Graham) and a few others (Dr. Scott Rader and Dr. Yumiko Ono) who also led students to Japan in 2023. It wouldn’t happen without many people’s help.


The names of our hosts who are not public figures are omitted for privacy. Our appreciation extends to all who have welcomed us.

In no particular order, we thank

  • Miku in Nagoya, a WCU alum, who arranged our Nagoya itineries and accompanied us and drove us during our entire stay there, led us to great dinners (sushi and yakiniku (Japanese barbecue)).
  • A professor in the Department of Information Engineering, School of Engineering, and his students at Chukyo University
  • Two professors at Hiroshima University who arranged a customized working session with Japanese students
  • Dr. Wang in Osaka
  • Takamichi Sensei who helped arrange our activities and guided us in Sakai
  • Our Japanese friends who arranged the wagashi making workshop with temachi-sushi and many other delights, and the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
  • Staff at the following museums or organizations who offered us excellent info and extra help, whenever needed:
  • Staff at the hotels, train stations, restaurants, shops, and many other places, who took the efforts to help us as best as they could,
  • and many others who have met with us and interacted with us.

An amazing interdisciplinary trip!

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Meet professionals and students in Japan

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Experience Japanese culture

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Advance in your career

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Open to opportunities yet to be revealed

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Earn 6 credits of two courses in P6 category

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Broaden your horizons

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Be one of the few students who study abroad!

Enjoy the world as your classroom!