Opportunities abound in the Land of the Rising Sun. Whether you are studying on one of Japan's four major islands (Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, or Shikoku), or exploring one of the other countless islands comprising the archipelago, you will find a study abroad experience as unique as Japan's aggregation of traditional and modern (falling somewhere between the busy Tokyo streets and the nearby zen gardens).
Japan is a prosperous nation - the third largest economy in the world - but is much more than advanced technology or fancy electronics. From the postcard-perfect sights of Mt. Fuji to your first cup of sake to the dizzying speeds of the bullet train, Japan is a student's dream destination!
With almost 800 universities, Japan has plenty of opportunities for international students looking for high-quality global education. Although it's just the tip of the iceberg, below are some of Japan’s most popular study abroad destinations:
As home to over a quarter of Japan's population, Tokyo can be best described as "crowded," - crowded with people, opportunities, adventures! Asia's trendiest call Tokyo home. At the same time, when exploring this city, you will discover that some of its neighborhoods feel less urban and more like country-life plucked straight from rural areas and placed smack dab in the city. It is these contrasts that make Tokyo an ever-changing and exciting city. Tokyo has been named the most expensive city in the world and is the financial backbone of not only Japan, but all of Asia. Tokyo has graced the world stage as one of the most modern cities in the world, and is a "must-visit" for every study abroad student in Japan! Explore Programs in Tokyo.
Steeped in history, Kyoto is home to innumerable shrines, museums, palaces, and temples (and 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites!). Some of Japan's oldest traditions, such as the tea ceremony, flower arranging, and geisha schooling originated in this city.
Located in the Kansai region of Japan, Kyoto is dedicated to preserving Japan's oldest traditions, yet it is also an energetic, contemporary city. Modern conveniences are readily available, making Kyoto a perfect destination for study abroad students looking to explore Japan's past without sacrificing the familiar comforts of home. Explore Programs in Kyoto.
While certainly the most popular, Tokyo and Kyoto aren't the only cities in which to study abroad in Japan. Read our article about the The 5 Best Cities for Studying Abroad in Japan.
Planning Your Trip
How to Choose a Study Abroad Program in Japan
The secret to any successful study abroad experience begins with research, so you’re already off to a great start! Now let’s take a look at some useful information that will get you one step closer to eating sushi, singing karaoke, and improving your kanji in Japan.
Popular Subjects to Study in Japan
Japan is, of course, the most popular country for those who want to learn the Japanese language and immerse themselves in the culture. Japanese universities offer most of their courses in the local language, but there are opportunities for international students to take courses in English. For example, popular subjects like business, humanities, and social sciences can be taken in English at Nanzan University through IES Abroad.
Language-intensive courses are at the heart of study for many overseas students, and understandably so! Living in Japan will give you many chances to put those language skills to use—practice your Japanese with the locals and engage them in conversation, even if it just over the price of soba noodles versus udon!
Japan's strong education system has significantly impacted the country's transformation over the last century into the economic powerhouse it is today. Acquiring Japanese language skills will open up many opportunities for internship and career opportunities, as fluency in English and Japanese is a desired skill for many multinational companies that operate in Japan.
When you select a study abroad program in Japan, consider the differing types of accommodation offered. Some programs will give you many options, while others will have only pre-arranged accommodation available. It's also possible that you will choose a program that expects you to find your own housing. Don't worry though -- you have options.
CIEE only offers homestay options to their students, claiming this living situation, "provides students with an unparalleled opportunity for language acquisition, cultural immersion, and local community involvement." The Center for Study Abroad (CSA) offers all accommodation types for their students.
Immersion and Cultural Activities:
Some study abroad program providers will include extra activities in their Japan program costs to enable both community-building and extensive learning. If you prefer to have a more independent program, I would recommend finding a program that gives you more freedom to decide how to fill your time. If you want all of your Japanese ducks in a row even before you leave your home country, then a program with many cultural activities included is more suitable.
IES Abroad's program in Tokyo includes many field trips to places of historical and cultural significance, including a five-day homestay in the city of Mobara to see first hand Japanese familial life. CSA's summer program in Japan organizes and offers excursions such as a trip to Mt. Fuji, a lesson in tea ceremonies, a night of Kabuki, and international student parties. All activities are optional and available for an added cost. Another approach is just to include all program activities in the overall costs; A study abroad program in Japan might include an overnight trip to Nagasaki, and scavenger hunts around Beppu and a pre-arranged meeting with your Japanese study buddy!
Costs & Scholarships
The cost of study abroad programs in Japan can vary depending on if you enroll through a program provider or directly through a university. Generally, direct enrollment tuition fees range between $3,000 to $20,000, while third-party program provider fees range between $8,000 to $25,000.
You'll also have to think about costs to arrive in Japan such as flights, visas, vaccines, and health insurance. Flights from the United States can range between $450 to $2,000 depending on the location and time of year. Consider the living costs while studying in Japan as well, such as rent, utilities, cell phone bill, grocery shopping, and entertainment. Rent can range between $500 to $800 per month.
The price tag for a semester in Japan may be a little steeper than some of its other Asian counterparts. Don't let the cost hold you back - besides budgeting and planning, the following scholarships may free up some space so you can spend your yen on a new manga comic!
- The JASSO scholarship is funded by the Japanese government and available to students studying abroad for one year in Japan.
- The Bridging Foundation offers a scholarship for study abroad in Japan for American undergraduate students majoring in any field of study. Awards are up to $4,000 and are not applicable for summer programs.
- The Freeman-Asia award provides needs-based funding to American students studying in Japan for semester, year, or summer programs.
- As a non-profit, the various USAC study abroad scholarship opportunities aim for students to gain international experience -- without breaking the bank.
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships
How much does it cost to study abroad in Japan?
If you enroll directly in a university, tuition fees can range between $3,000 to $20,000. If you enroll through a third-party provider, it may cost a little more with fees generally landing between $8,000 to $25,000. You'll also have to think about living costs like rent, utilities, groceries, and going out.
Where should I study abroad in Japan?
The most popular cities to study abroad in Japan are Tokyo and Kyoto. However, there are other great cities to explore and learn in like Hiroshima, Sapporo, and Osaka.