IES Abroad Tokyo – Language & Culture

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Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, IES Abroad has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

Video and Photos

Okinawa Cliff Selfie
Okinawa Cliff Selfie
Learning how to play the Sanshin in Okinawa, because IES does the best group trips ever.
Since I stayed for a full year, a friend and I ended up having the same host family. Our host mom made us yukata for Tanabata, taught us how to wear them, and took our picture with our host sisters
Crossover session between the intermediate Japanese language class and the freshman English language class of Kanda University of International studies. Yes, the room is really that white.
Sensō-ji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo
Sensō-ji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo

About

Whether you’re people watching in the hip Shibuya neighborhood, visiting Asakusa temple, or exploring Okinawa on a course-related excursion, your semester in Tokyo will be a whirlwind of adventure. As you explore your host city, Tokyo will become your classroom.

Expand your understanding of Japan with our Language & Culture Program by immersing yourself in contemporary Japan and Japanese culture. When you study abroad in Tokyo, you will take a 6-credit language course specially designed for IES Abroad students, taught at Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS), plus area studies courses taught in English.
Now is your chance to live and learn in one of the world’s most famous cultural metropolises.

Start your adventure with IES Abroad today.

Scholarships

IES Abroad Scholarships
IES Abroad Scholarships and Financial Aid

As far as we're concerned, financial limitations shouldn't prevent you from studying abroad with us. That's why we offer more than $5 million in scholarships and aid.

Value
$500 - $5,000

Questions & Answers

As for the weekly schedule, I was in the language intensive program, not the language and culture program, so it may be slightly different. In addition, I was in the program in Fall of 2012, so it may very well be different now. The weekly schedule with a host family was like this: Japanese language class from 9 am to 12 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday Classes in the evening on...

Reviews

9.57 Rating
based on 23 reviews
  • Academics 7.3
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.6
  • Housing 9.1
  • Safety 9.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 23
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Khalia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I met my second family and they were a big support system for me!

I spent a semester in Tokyo, Japan in Fall 2019. I was the only one from my college and state going on this IES Abroad program. I wasn't sure if my Japanese was sufficient to navigate around in the city or to ask for specific help whenever I needed it. It was the first time I would be away from home for so long. So I was excited to see how it would turn out, and I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to adjust to life in Japan because Japan and Georgia, USA are entirely different. However, IES Abroad allowed me to make a Japanese friend through email (e-pal) and meet my future classmates through Facebook so I would have someone I know meet me at the airport. There were 40 international students and 20 E-pals that would grow to be some lifelong friends. All of us were so unique and came from different backgrounds, majors, and language levels. The staff that worked at the IES Center were like family to a lot of us. They really looked out for us and helped us learn how to adjust and cope with occasional homesickness. The program had trips to Nikko and Hokkaido that allowed us to explore the differences that exist in various prefectures of Japan.
I lived with a host family, and they helped me adjust to the lifestyle and practice my Japanese. Every morning my host mom would say, "what is today? What is the date? What will you do today?" in Japanese, and I would have to respond in Japanese. In the evening times, my host parents would ask me: "how was my day? What did I eat for lunch? What did I learn?" and so on. It was great and not at all as overwhelming as one may think. They were patient with me and waited for me to think out my response and would gently correct me when my grammar was wrong. I am vegan, which means that I do not eat meat, dairy, fish, eggs, or any animal byproducts. So my options were a little bit restricted, but my host mom had vegan cookbooks and researched my dietary needs. So she would make new dishes or modify well-known dishes so that I could eat with the family. So this is something I am extremely grateful for because not many people are willing to do this or occasionally adjust their meals to accommodate someone for four months. I truly felt like I had a new family and hope to keep in contact with them now that I have returned to America. I made many lifelong friends while I was in Japan, and this experience helped me grow as a person. I hope in the future I can come back to work and live in Japan.

What would you improve about this program?
I wouldn't improve anything about this program. It was great!
Default avatar
Kate
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Unforgettable Semester

I had such an amazing time studying with IES Abroad in Tokyo! The administrators were so encouraging when I expressed interest in getting involved with the local community. The traveling opportunities were so much fun, and I enjoyed our excursions a lot. The coursework was a little light, but it allowed me time to really get out and explore Japan, and most of the Japanese learning I did occurred when I interacted with other students at Kanda University of International Studies. The KUIS campus is absolutely gorgeous - a wonderful place to spend a semester.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I was encouraged to join clubs on campus, so I joined the wadaiko (Japanese traditional drumming) circle at Kanda University. I was the only foreigner in the club, and activities were conducted in Japanese only. It was really hard to adjust, but I always had a blast playing the drums, my language skills really improved, and I'm so grateful for all the people I met.
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Amy
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Great Time Exploring Tokyo!

I'd been to Japan before, so I more or less knew what to expect from being in Japan, but I got to explore Japan a lot through this program! Each IES class had field trips in Tokyo to expand on what we learned. We had two cultural activities through IES: learning about Noh in Nakano and making Chicken Ramen in Yokohama. We also went on IES field trips to Hokkaido and Nikko! This program does well with helping you learn about Japan by being IN Japan, not just being in a classroom! The KUIS campus also has lots of clubs, including taiko and kendo, and an entire building dedicated to encouraging students to speak English, so you'll definitely feel comfortable on campus too!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Going to Nikko and trying the onsen was scary at first, but going with friends made it a lot easier! It ended up being a lot more fun than (and nowhere NEAR as scary as) I'd imagined!
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Curran
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

IES Tokyo Program

This program is great for anyone who wants to improve their Japanese language skills and learn more about Japan. There are lots of chances for students to go out into Japan, as well as communicate with Japanese students. The program places students at Kanda University of International Studies, which is a language school. Many of the students at the school speak very good English, so even students who have no prior Japanese knowledge will be able to make great friends. The staff at IES Tokyo are really fun to spend time with and always there for whatever you need. I had a great time staying with my host family, and really enjoyed all of the friends I made while I was in Japan. It is important to keep in mind that this program is actually located in Chiba, which is about a 45 minute train ride from central Tokyo. I really loved this location because it shows you a different side of Japan, away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo proper.

Default avatar
Guy
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Amazing Experience!

Studying abroad is such a unique experience, and I feel like I was able to get the most out of my time by studying through IES. The program staff in Japan were fantastic, and they held regular events to help us explore the local area and culture. These included trips to nearby cultural or historical landmarks, such as the big Buddha statue in Kamakura or the shrines in Asakusa, as well as kabuki theater and a glass-blowing shop where we made our own Japanese-style wind chimes. I definitely recommend participating in as many of these and similar events as you can.
The school I attended, Kanda University of International studies (KUIS) or 神田外語大学, was also special and helped my time in Japan be as amazing as it was. As a foreign language school, everyone at KUIS is required to study English. While the majority of students are of course not yet fluent, this meant that they were overall more comfortable in speaking English and, more importantly, more eager to interact with overseas students and make international friends. I came in with several years of Japanese study already under my belt, and improving my language skills was probably the biggest reason I decided to study in Japan. I was very glad to attend a school where everyone was excited to talk to me and would be more than happy to help me with my Japanese when requested. I was easily able to make many close friends who I still keep in touch with.
In terms of housing options, we could either do homestay or live in a dorm or an apartment. Students were on average probably 45-60 minutes away from the school via train and walking or biking; this commute was a little tiring every day, but that's not too bad for Japan, and you get used to it. I personally lived in the apartments, and I really enjoyed it. It gave me more freedom than the dorms or homestay (I didn't have a curfew, for instance), and it gave me the chance to cook more and explore the local cuisine rather than being on a meal plan in a dorm. I had a single, with two other people (local Japanese people) living in the same apartment, but they mostly kept to themselves so it honestly felt like I was living alone sometimes. This was nice at times, but I had also hoped to be able to talk with them more and become friends. From talking to my other friends living in the apartments, this seemed to be a somewhat common experience.
My main complaint about the program would be the classes; in particular, the three-hour lecture-based classes were often tedious, and I felt like most of the classes didn't cover their topics as deeply as I would have liked. The required Japanese language course was an exception - I improved my language skills a lot, and the teacher was extremely helpful. I wish we had learned a bit more kanji, but the class focused on mostly grammar, vocab, and speaking, which, in my opinion, are probably the most important aspects of learning Japanese. Other classes could be boring at times, but the workload was very manageable and left plenty of time to enjoy the local culture.
Overall, my study abroad experience in Japan was definitely the best time I have ever had in my life, and I would recommend it to anyone.

What would you improve about this program?
It could offer a wider range of courses (such as some that focus on STEM subjects) and revise some of the existing ones to make them more engaging.
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Matthew
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Thankful for IES Tokyo

A big goal in life of mine was to visit Japan and I'm so proud I can say I accomplished that by the age 20. I've been interested in Japanese culture since I was five years old. One day in the summer of 2017 I was watching random videos on Youtube and I found IES Abroad Tokyo's youtube channel and that one video made me immediatly apply to the program. I did more research online and each time this program sounded more amazing after each article.

The flight to Japan was nerve-racking and I was honestly scared, but as soon as we landed at the airport and met the IES staff, other students, and E-Pals (our online Japanese student pen pal) I immediately felt at home. Everyone was so welcoming and easy to talk too. We studied at Kanda University of International Studies which its students primarily focus on different languages, but English is a requirement to enter. So it was extremely easy to make new friends and be an active member on campus by joining clubs. The Japanese course that was mandatory for us to take actually helped so much I was able to utilize the language in less than two weeks of starting classes. IES Abroad took us on various cultural excursions we flew to the island Okinawa for 4 days and got to participate in activities that a normal tourist would not be able to do. We even met up with students at Meio University for a couple of hours and we all bonded and added each other on social media. We visited Kamakura which is known for it's temples and shrines, and we got to go to various locations in Tokyo! I'll forever be thankful for this program, because I know If I didn't participate in this program I would've not been able to do any of this.

What would you improve about this program?
I feel like the academics weren't as engaging as I thought they were going to be. Reading the syllabus before even applying to the program I was super excited for some of the courses, but 2 weeks into the program I felt disengaged and some of the professors teaching styles didn't help make things better.
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Fayola
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Time in Tokyo, Japan

From March to July of 2018, I had the opportunity to live abroad in Tokyo, Japan. I studied Anthropology and Sociology through IES Abroad's Tokyo Language and Culture program. IES Abroad's program was not only academically stimulating, culturally relevant and engaging. From the beginning of the application process, to my last day in Japan, the IES staff were extremely helpful in providing information and resources to prepare for an amazing semester. The Tokyo study abroad center itself felt almost like a second home. All of the staff were extremely kind, welcoming and even went out of their way to help me explore my interests in Japan. For example, I knew I wanted to explore popular culture, particularly fashion. With the help of the staff I was able to gain some information about different neighborhoods in Tokyo that were popular shopping districts . The staff also organized a number of opportunities to travel which were both interesting and financially feasible. I had the opportunity to travel to Okinawa and Kamakura, two places I wouldn't have considered visiting on my own. In regards to academics, the class offerings were diverse and interesting, and I had equal opportunity to enroll in classes through the local university as well. Kanda University, the partner institution was not only aesthetically beautiful, but there were also a number of resources (like free printing) that helped my succeed academically. The Japanese course I took through Kanda was challenging but I can very much say that my Japanese skills improved immensely over the course of 3 months. Overall, if you're looking for a supportive, engaging, and challenging experience I definitely recommend IES Abroad. There was a clear balance of academic rigor but also extracurricular fun and engagement.

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Haley
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Nihon, Lets Go!

When I travelled abroad with IES abroad, I was surprised by all the support I received once I got there. The heads of my program were so kind and helpful in every aspect, from helping me figure out my phone situation and just in general making sure we were all doing well as we travelled abroad. The events and trips that they planned were top notch. Some folks argued that it was too overplanned for their liking, but they managed to squeeze so much fun into the few days we had in Okinawa or the time we had in Asakusa that it was worth it! And even then, there was still plenty of time available for personal travel. The classes weren't too intense--the ones taught by IES were deliberately made intensive to meet the standards of a typical US classroom, whereas the classes taught at Kanda were pretty lenient. I enjoyed most of my professors all the same, short of the one who was teaching Japanese Architecture as if she were teaching it to architecture majors who had already spent years studying it and didn't necessarily grade fairly from student to student. Manga and Animation was my favorite course, simply because it actually did what many of my major courses lacked--taught some of the basics and histories, then let you utilize those aspects to analyze manga and anime of your own choosing! It was definitely a class where you got out of it what you put in, so I ended up really learning a lot in the end. The professor is also very passionate about it :)

Overall, I absolutely loved my time there, and I can't wait to stop by and say hello next time I make it back to Japan!

What would you improve about this program?
I'd say probably just recognize when students have complaints about an instructor. This is something all institutions could stand to do, though, international or national. If enough people are having the same complaint, then perhaps it's on the instructor, not the students.