IES Abroad Tokyo Summer

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As one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas, Tokyo and its environs will challenge you to look at the world differently. Mastering public transportation, trying exotic foods, encountering the maximum urban environment that surrounds carefully nurtured gardens and parks, experiencing a lifestyle that combines fast-paced modernity with age-old traditions – all of these will expand your view of the world and offer insights into your own reality.

This program is excellent for serious students at all levels who seek to study Japanese language in an intensive 6-credit course and delve into an exciting exploration of Japanese culture.


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Questions & Answers

After classes, which are Monday-Friday 8:30am-12pm, you are free to do as you like. There are a couple field trips organized by IES Abroad, only a few of which are mandatory. So, if you prefer to pass on the non-mandatory field trips, you are allowed to do so. Weekends are usually free so you can make your own plans. Short answer: you have a lot of free time and the freedom to explore and do your...


9.43 Rating
based on 7 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 85.71%
  • 7-8 rating 14.29%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Academics 8.3
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 8.1
  • Housing 9
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 7 of 7
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Yes, I recommend this program

A Summer in Tokyo

As the clouds above soaked a dampened atmosphere, I hurried under an awning to take shelter from the first shower of the rainy season. As if being conducted by maestros along the tops of adjacent skyscrapers, flurries of hotfooted salarymen began to weave between their fellow commuters in a rush hour ballad, only to crescendo in the simultaneous opening of their clear plastic umbrellas as they left the stage of Shinjuku station. Once notorious for employing “pushers” to push commuters onto overloaded trains, Shinjuku station remains one of the busiest train stations in the world with over 3.5 million commuters passing through its gates every day. Although maybe not something that everyone would find amusing, it is a sight that made me truly appreciate the scope of the world.

I grew up surrounded by the sugar plantations sowed along the hills of Hanapepe, Hawaii. Though I would leave the island for university, I would again find myself in a bucolic bog in the wheatlands of Pullman, Washington at Washington State University. Studying computational neuroscience and Japanese, I decided that I should study abroad in Japan to gain an immersion into the language and culture to understand more of what Japan was about. That is when I discovered IES’s summer Tokyo program.

If chosen to participate in the program, you will meet up with your fellow students for a few days of orientation and placement examinations. At the time of my writing this review, there are six total classes spanning from the 1000 to 3000 level with two classes in each division. They are all held on the same campus that you will dorm at in the National Olympic Memorial Youth Centre in the outskirts of Shinjuku. You will dorm in an on campus dormitory, living in an approximate 15’X 5’single room with a desk, communal restrooms/wet rooms, and communal laundromat. I had tested into the higher division of the 3000 level classes. I believe the level of instruction in class is more than satisfactory. Classes are quite personal (~8-20 people). Each class does various extracurricular activities throughout the semester based on level. These range from cooking classes with native Japanese students to traveling to national museums to learn more about the country and culture of Japan. But I believe the true value of the program is found beyond the boundaries of the campus.

Shinjuku station lies a twenty-minute walk or five-minute train ride to the North of campus. From there, the entirety of Tokyo’s 23 wards, an area spanning 239 sq mi, is accessible via subways. metros, buses, and a multitude of other modes of transportation. A new perspective of Japanese culture to the commuters that get off at every station. From the hub of anime and everything Japanese pop related in Akihabara, to the 3-starred Michelin restaurants and ultra-luxury malls of Ginza, every destination that comes to mind when thinking of Japan is within a stone’s throw from the youth centre. You could even take a weekend trip to Kyoto or Sapporo if you wanted (something that I frequently did via the bullet train coming out of Tokyo station).

I have made many friends in the program, fellow exchange student and native Japanese alike. I will never forget the memories that we made in class, the nights in the karaoke booths in Shibuya, or the subsequent trips to the adjacent streets lined with “izakaya”s. You can only learn so much about Japan from inside of the classroom. But, if you are truly interested in learning more about the country, what its people and culture are really like, then why not take a summer to learn abroad in the most populous city in all of Japan?

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Yes, I recommend this program

My trip to Japan

Going to Japan and specifically Tokyo has always been a dream of mine. I am so grateful that IES was able to help me make this dream come true. I did a lot of research before leaving for my trip. I knew that the public transportation would be good. However, I didn't realize how easy it would be until I got there. I was worried about my lack of Japanese reading abilities. It proved to be fairly easy to find my way around and go in trips. I once went to Odaiba three times in one week! Now that I am back I find it odd that the transportation where I go to school isn't as efficient.

What would you improve about this program?
This program was amazing I am not sure how it could be improved.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I'd Do It All Over Again!

I was a student for IES Abroad's Tokyo Summer program this summer (2016) and it was the best experience of my life! I'd do it all over again if I could. I honestly could not think of a single flaw about the program!

Everything from the first day until the last made me feel like I made the right decision about which program I should participate in. The placement test were very accurate in putting the students where they belongs academically. My language teacher was great, very understanding, and patient, as were all the EPALS and staff members. I learnt a lot and wouldn't hesitate to 10/10 recommend this program in terms of academics.

As a Muslim Arab, naturally, one thing that I was worried about when I started the program was discrimination of my background. However, there was never a moment where I had to face any of that. I quickly realized that the group of students I was with was very international. There were many people from different backgrounds, which I loved. I learnt a lot not only about Japan but also about other cultures from the students I was with. I think that is one advantage of studying abroad.

I am so thankful that this program is set in Tokyo, there are so many things to do and see! The location of the housing was in the perfect location. Sangubashi station is a 5 minute walk away, which makes it very easy to commute to many of the hotspots. There are many restaurants and shops nearby. The location is a lovely place that I would enjoy even just walking around!

I wouldn't think twice about doing this program again! Thank you IES Abroad!

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Yes, I recommend this program

Super Satisfied with IES Tokyo

I love the experience in Tokyo this Summer and I enjoyed it with IES program so much. They are really considerate from every aspect, including pre-departure meetings and assistants and staffs that are willing to help you at any time during your staying in Tokyo. I loved how they would pair you up with a host family that suits your and their interests. I wrote that I practiced Aikido for a year and would like to experience Japanese martial arts. And they paired me with a Karate family. My host father, older brother and little brother all practice Karate for over 10 years. And I got the chance to observe how they take Karate tests in Japan. It was totally a precious experience for me. I really saw that they prepared well for every event. I really love how they tried their best to make sure students having the best experience in Japan. Here I highly recommend IES program Tokyo with all of you.

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Yes, I recommend this program

An Amazing Experience

Overall, this was an excellent study abroad, and I would definitely do it again. The best part is that you're in the heart of Tokyo, which is great, but a little costly on daily expenses. The housing rooms are a little dated and VERY small, so pack light. Overall it's a nice setup, and you're conveniently located a few minutes from the classrooms in the main building, as well as an on-site convenience store that you will learn to love. Public transportation is extremely convenient, you'll most likely be using it every day, but make sure to budget for it. The staff and teachers are excellent, and are happy to help with any issues you are having. Tokyo overall is one of the most amazing cities in the world, and you're so close to so many fun things to see and do. Don't let the language barrier intimidate you, and get out of your comfort zone to get to know as many people as you can; you'll be glad you did. In short, if you are looking for a summer Japan program, I highly recommend this one. Also, there are field trips and a homestay included in the study abroad, DO THEM, they were one of the best parts of the experience.

What would you improve about this program?
Bigger rooms in housing, and some more clarity on some of the pre-departure information. But you can always call the IES office to get answers to any of your questions.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Tokyo: Learning inside the classroom and even more outside

I really enjoyed my daily life in Tokyo with IES. In the mornings from Monday to Friday we had class from 8:45 to noon. Afterward, many of us explore different parts of Tokyo everyday. The freedom in the free time was the highlight of the trip. The staff were students who had participated in an IES Japan program previously and therefore they were really helpful with finding cool places. Day to day class activities included speaking, reading, and writing in Japanese. We would also have special assignments such as interviewing a Japanese person, or cooking with local Japanese students. Homework usually only took about one to two hours, with extra hours in preparation for the two tests. One of the highlights was how IES arranged a weekend homestay in a more rural area of Japan. The staff even looks carefully at the students' and the Japanese families' interests when matching up people for the homestay. Usually during the weekends people would plan mini-trips to a nearby city or we would participate in an IES field trip to a historical or culturally significant site a few hours from Tokyo. In addition to this, there were four optional small field trips within Tokyo and we were able to choose three to participate in. I personally enjoyed going to the Ghibli Museum and making food in Asakusa. A difficulty I encountered was trying to find the motivation to speak more Japanese when I was surrounded by English speakers. I know this sounds ironic, but it is very tempting to just speak your more convenient language and stick to those who can as well. There is not a language commitment requirement, although it was highly encouraged to speak as much Japanese daily as we could, and the classes we took were not with other Japanese students. IES did have a conversational Japanese language partner pairing though with students from Kanda University who were interested in improving their English. That made it easy to make close Japanese friends in only the span of 6 weeks. Many of us would meet up with our conversation partners, or go in a big group, after class. Another difficulty, if you've read anything about Tokyo, is the price of food and cost of living in general. IES does provide some coupons that you can use at two cafes in the Olympic center complex, but I could only eat so many sandwiches in a summer. The Olympic Center is a complex of a few buildings and some dorms (be warned, the dorm rooms are small). We stayed in the dorms and took classes in the buildings within the complex. Many diverse groups came to the Olympic Center, but I had to go out of my way to interact with them. The location of the Olympic Center itself is amazing. It's situated right next to the giant Yoyogi park, a 20 minute walk to Harajuku, and a 10 minute train commute to Shinjuku. There are also some nice restaurants and the indispensable convenient stores in the surrounding the area.

What would you improve about this program?
If I had to change one thing about this program it would be the length of time. 6 weeks went by so fast. I wanted to speak more Japanese with Japanese people, but between assignments and weekend trips, the time went by in no time. I think an 8 week summer program would have been more ideal.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Summer in Tokyo

IES's Tokyo program was a great first experience in Japan for me. It had just the right amount of the familiar (for example, living in dorms with other college students) with the new and unexpected (staying with a host family for one weekend, venturing out into the city alone).

In terms of academics, we covered the equivalent of one semester's work in six weeks. Although class could sometimes feel long, we generally had limited homework and therefore plenty to time to explore Tokyo.

For the majority of the program, we stayed in the National Youth Olympic Center, which is located next to Yoyogi Kouen. It was convenient to be able to stay in dorms a mere five minute walk from where language classes were held, and there were cafes and a conbini in the Center as well.

What would you improve about this program?
By the end of the program I realized that I should have chosen a more academically intense and language-immersive program because I came to really friggle fragging love Japan and wanted to accelerate my studies. Also, some of the other students in the program had questionable motivates for coming to Japan (finding a wife???) and made the experience less pleasant. Finally, I would have liked`to spend more time conversing with native speakers. Often, I had to go out into the city alone before I could practice my Japanese with a native speaker.