In 1982, Karam left Beirut for Japan as a scholarship student for postgraduate studies in architecture. He studied under prominent Japanese architects Hara, Maki and Ando, approaching architecture under Hara’s guidance through philosophies of eastern thought and concepts of space in physics. Japan of the 80’s was defined by the bubble economy; the mood was effervescent and Tokyo was a field of experimentation where possibilities abounded. Meanwhile, Lebanon was experiencing some of the worst violence of its 1975-1990 war. At this time, Karam began producing sketches, paintings, installations and performances, generating a philosophy he called Micropluralism and artistic approach that would, ultimately, form the backbone of his creative output.
His doctorate studies on the performance spaces of temples fed into his artwork, evidenced by his installation/performances Temple of the Obelisks, a commemoration of the war dead, and Celebration of Life: the Funeral. It was during the latter that Karam’s distinctive philosophical humanism combined with absurdity first emerged and thereafter became a defining factor of his work.
The decade closed with the death of the Emperor of Japan and soon after, the bursting of the Japanese economic bubble. Karam left Japan in 1992, at a time when Lebanon was slowly emerging from its long war.