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Program - Japan



Start/End Dates




Summer Language Study ProgramAbout 6 weeksJune 2014 -
August 2014

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Eligibility Age Range:

15 years 0 months - 18 years 0 months

Birth Date Range:06/24/96 - 06/24/99
Travel Dates: Jun 21-24, 2014 to Aug 6-9, 2014
Application Deadline: March 24, 2014

This six-week program is designed to provide an intensive Japanese language learning experience through both formal study and first-hand cultural experience through living with a Japanese host family. Throughout the course of the program you will receive 80 hours of Japanese language classes at a professional language school. You will get a truly intercultural experience by learning alongside fellow AFSers from across Europe in small class sizes with lots of individual help. Language classes will be enriched by projects, activities, and trips that will give you a taste of Japanese culture.

You will live with a host family, likely in one of the following locations: Sapporo, Tokyo, Nagoya, or Osaka. Your location is determined by your prior language experience, as classes of varying levels are offered in different locations.

By spending time with your family in the evenings and on weekends, you will have the opportunity to further improve your language learning. This immersion offers a unique way to skyrocket your learning by placing it in immediate context. Your language learning will not be limited to books, but rather will be a part of every aspect of your life throughout your six weeks in Japan.

Host families in Japan, like all AFS host families worldwide, are volunteers and are not paid. They open their homes to students in order to share their community and culture as well as to enrich their own family lives.

You'll find that family is the foundation of Japanese society. Early on, Japanese children learn to forgo personal gain for the benefit of the group as a whole, and to value group harmony. Seniority is respected, and Japanese children are taught to hold their elders in the highest regard.

Food is art in Japan, and your host family will most likely prepare some amazing meals. The Japanese diet consists largely of rice, noodles, fresh vegetables, fruit, meat (mostly pork and chicken) and seafood. Many meals are eaten with chopsticks. Rice and green tea are part of almost every meal. Nowadays, Western style dishes are also served.

Japanese is the official language of Japan, and although prior knowledge is not a prerequisite for the program, a year or more of formal study is strongly suggested.

The program includes 80 hours of Japanese language classes, host family immersion experience, participation in cultural activities, and travel opportunities to historic and cultural sites. You will attend language class with fellow AFSers from several countries across Europe. Classes will be offered at a professional language school and will have 5-12 students per class. They will take place 4 hours per day, 5 days per week, for four weeks.

For the remainder of the program, you will be able to put your new language skills to immediate use by immersing yourself in the culture of Japan. Through activities and cultural trips you will learn about Japanese art, food, history and current society. Examples of activities include: ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement), shodo (Japanese calligraphy), sightseeing trips, and visits to nearby places of historic interest.

Orientations & Activities

In addition to the online and in-person orientations that you will participate in before you depart, you and your fellow AFSers will have several orientations while abroad. These are intended to help you maximize your AFS experience, prevent culture shock and gain knowledge, skills and a global understanding. Topics covered will include Japanese society, culture, family, school, religion, festivals, safety and health issues. Each orientation will be tailored to your group and your group's needs. All orientations are several days in length, and will occur upon arrival and just prior to your return.


Your program will begin in Los Angeles, where you will meet your fellow AFSers from the US, attend an overnight orientation, then travel together to Tokyo where you will be met by AFS Staff and Volunteers. International airfare is included as part of the tuition, but it will be your responsibility to arrange your travel from your hometown to Los Angeles. Details will be provided after you start your application.

To participate in this program, you must:

  • Be within the age range upon departure
  • Have a passing GPA. Preference given to applicants with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Be mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy in accordance with AFS Medical Evaluation Policies
  • Have a U.S. passport at the time of application. Passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the program end date.
  • Have an open mind, willingness to be flexible, and the ability to adapt to new a culture, school, and environment

Strict vegetarianism will not be accommodated by AFS Japan.

High school graduates may be considered for program participation if they meet the eligibility requirements.

The ability to speak Japanese is not a prerequisite for the program. Beginners welcome!

Japan: The Land of Opposites.

An AFS Student wears a traditional Japanese kimono with her host sister.

On one hand, you’ve got an ancient culture represented by tea ceremonies and graceful gardens. On the other, you have high-speed trains, striking efficiency and hyper-modern skyscrapers. Choose an academic year or semester program to Japan and prepare for complete immersion into one of the most dynamic countries in the world.

No Shoes, Please! Living in Japan with your host family will be an unparalleled opportunity to learn about and participate in everyday Japanese customs. Expect a tidy household where slippers are mandatory and meals are enjoyed together. Family is at the foundation of Japanese culture, so responsibilities around the house, school and workplace are more to benefit the whole, not the individual.

Books, Bikes and Brooms. So, what’s the learning style in Japan? Rigorous and rewarding. The Japanese place a high value on education, so get ready to hit the books. You may welcome extended class time after your long bike commute to school, as most students in Japan choose the bicycle as their primary mode of transportation (often several miles a day.) In Japanese high schools, at the end of classes all students participate in “souji,” a massive clean-up of the school grounds.

Slurping Soba, Sampling Sashimi. Food in Japan can be described in three words: Simple. Fresh. Delicious. Think lots of rice and noodles paired with fresh vegetables, fruit and light meats. Green tea will also be served at most meals. Practice your chopstick skills, as your host family will likely prepare some incredible dishes to share and (slurp!) together.

Student Quote

“Wow, has it been an adventure. It's been hard and fun and eye-opening and inspiring and it has made me grow immensely as a person and a student. I don't regret coming one bit! It has given me a new family and a new culture and made me treasure everything I have at home all the more.”

- Claire 2011 Semester

>>Read more stories on our Study Abroad Blog

More on Japan

View a Japan Slideshow and see what it's like

Watch a Video from one Student's Summer Program in Japan.

Scholarships for the 2014 Japan Spring Year Program

**This is only a sample of previous host communities. New host families are recruited every year. It is not possible to request placement in a specific city or region.


yen (JPY)


377,915 sq km


126,804,433 (July 2010 est.)