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Japan is an ideal place to explore a new culture in high school. With its intricate mix of tradition and modernity, Japan appeals to history buffs and futurists alike. By living with a host family and attending a high school abroad in Japan, you’ll be fully immersed in Japanese language and culture, developing fluency.

Modesty, politeness, and social harmony are important parts of Japanese culture. But the Japanese are not quite the perfectionists they’re made out to be. For example, wabi-sabi, a subtle element of Japanese culture and aesthetics, roughly translates to an acceptance of life’s imperfections and impermanence.

Japan also has unique pop culture. Discover kawaii and other Japanese fashion trends. Listen to J-Pop (Japanese Pop music). And, of course, explore the birthplace of manga and anime.

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare


Graduates Eligible? No, participants cannot have graduated high school prior to program start
Minimum GPA 3.0
Age Range March Departures:
15 yrs, 0 months to
17 yrs, 11 months at start of program

August Departures:
15 yrs, 5 months to
17 yrs, 4 months at start of program
COVID-19 Vaccine Strongly recommended, not required*
*AFS cannot predict and is not responsible for changes to host school or government health requirements which may change from the time of application and could impact program eligibility

Based on differences in culture, strict government regulation of medications, and other local customs, it has been our experience that not all of our international AFS partners are able to support students with certain diagnoses, including but not limited to, severe allergies, strict dietary restrictions, ADD/ADHD, and those currently taking or who have taken psychotropic medications and/or received counseling for mental/psychological issues within the past year. If this applies to you, please get in touch with an AFS Study Abroad Specialist early so that we can determine the right experience for you.

Your journey to Japan

In the months before your departure, AFSers have the opportunity to participate in various preparatory activities, including an online Student Learning Journey, which is an interactive course that brings AFSers from around the world together to learn how to develop essential global skills, intercultural communication techniques, and practice social impact, maximizing the outcomes of the AFS learning experience. 

AFS-USA will coordinate and share your international travel with you. You will need to coordinate your own travel to the point of international departure. From there, your journey in Japan will begin when you land, where you’ll be met by staff, volunteers and meet your fellow AFSers from around the world. Shortly after arrival, you will attend an arrival orientation and get a crash course on Japanese culture, living with a host family, safety, and support structures.


High School Abroad in Japan

By attending a local Japanese high school and living with an AFS host family, you’ll experience all aspects of Japanese life. This way, in time, you’ll become a cultural insider. And, full immersion is the tried and true method of gaining fluency in Japanese.

As a teenager in Japan, most of your social life will happen at school. Many of our exchange students make friends and learn about Japanese culture by joining a club, such as calligraphy or kendo (a modern Japanese martial art).


The Japanese place a high value on education and academic achievement. In fact, high school is not mandatory in Japan. Instead, it’s seen as a voluntary commitment made by students. Teachers command great respect in Japan. This challenging high school study abroad environment provides excellent language-learning opportunities, since all high school classes, including English, are taught in Japanese. Schools have classes Monday-Friday from 8:30 am to around 3:30 pm, and some have classes on Saturday morning, too.

School in Japan runs from April to March. You will likely wear a uniform and commute by bike, bus, or train. After the school day ends, you’ll participate in a custom called souji, when everyone gets together for 30 minutes to help clean the school and grounds. Activities throughout the year include Bunkasai (school festival), Tai’ikusai (sports day), chorus competition, and excursions. Optional school trips will give you the chance to visit popular tourist sites in Japan or sometimes even overseas.


Your Accommodations While Attending High School Abroad in Japan

When you enter your host family’s house, you can expect to take off your shoes and change into slippers. Japanese homes tend to be well kept. With cleanliness as a priority, be ready to help your host family with daily chores. Being on-time is also an important part of Japanese manners.

In most Japanese families, traditional food is important, and meals are communal. Get ready to enjoy some delicious green tea, rice, and noodles! (Food is generally cooked with meat, so vegetarianism isn’t very common.)


AFSers have lived in communities all throughout Japan, but you’re most likely to have a host family that lives in a small town or rural area. Because the country’s major cities are some of the most populated in the world, living space can be tight there.

Like anywhere in the world, all families in Japan are different. Nuclear families are common, but you might also find homes with three generations living together. Tradition and family values tend to be very important to the Japanese, as is respect for elders. Prioritizing community and saving face are mainstays of Japanese culture.

Scholarships and Aid

We believe that studying abroad should not be contingent on personal finances. When you apply, we work with you to understand your family’s needs and match you with available scholarships and aid. 100% of accepted applicants with demonstrated need receive funds.

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What's Included

  • 75+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 32,000 dedicated volunteers
  • Accommodations with a vetted host family
  • Round-trip international airfare for the designated program dates
  • School enrollment fees
  • Worldwide, 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Access to an in-country support team and network, as well as our Participant Support Department based here in the U.S.
  • Free Language Proficiency Testing: after your immersive study abroad experience, take an AAPPL (ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages) language proficiency test to be able to add your language skills to your resume or possibly your high school transcript!
  • Orientations and intercultural education before and during your program
  • International secondary medical travel coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people

Visa Info

Do I need a visa/residence permit for Japan? YES. Visa
How do I apply for the visa? (By mail, In-person, In host country) In-person
Visa/Residence Permit Process Difficulty Level (Easy, Average, Complex) Average
Estimated Visa/Residence Permit Expenses
($ – $$$)
Frequently Asked Visa Questions Visit our general visa FAQ page for more information.

Returning Home

“Life-changing” is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. “Transformed” is another one.
When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do.
That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. “Life-changing” means it’s only the beginning.
It’s not just an adventure abroad; it’s a whole new reality. The perspectives and personal connections you gained will stay with you and likely draw you back to the second home you found in Japan.

In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.