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Get to know the people, customs, and language of Japan through this intensive one-month summer program. You’ll attend 4 hours of Japanese classes each day, and then engage in a unique cultural exchange by living with a local host family. After your language lessons, you’ll have the chance to explore Japanese art, food, and society by participating in group activities and taking sight-seeing trips to nearby historic locations. Your classes will be small (about 5-12 people) and organized by skill level, so you can expect plenty of individualized instruction.

Things to know

Japanese people tend to value modesty and politeness. Most families will expect you to take off your shoes and change into slippers when you enter the house. Traditional food usually contains meat, so vegetarianism isn’t very common. But get ready to enjoy some delicious noodles, fish, and fresh vegetables! Based on differences in culture, strict regulation of medications, and other local customs, if you’re currently on any medications, have severe allergies, or have strict dietary restrictions, it’s a good idea to talk to an AFS Program Advisor early on to determine if Japan will be the right experience for you.

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare


Graduates Eligible? High school graduates are unfortunately ineligible.
Minimum GPA 3.0
Age Range 15yrs, 0 months to
18yrs, 0 months at start of program
Language Skills It is preferred (though not mandatory) that applicants are level A1 and/or have scored an N5 or higher level on the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).

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.

Along the way you’re bound to find a contrasting mix of traditional culture and modern technology, from ancient pagodas to shiny skyscrapers. In cities, you’ll likely come across Japan’s unique fashion scene, full of trendsetters with colorful clothes and funky hairstyles.


Meeting Your Japanese Host Family

You’ll likely live with a host family in Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, or Nagoya. Your location will be determined by your language skills, as classes for various levels are taught in different areas.

Tradition and family values are very important to the Japanese, as is respect for elders. Nuclear families are common, but you might also find homes with three generations living together. You can expect your host family to keep a tidy house and conserve water and energy.


Settling into daily life in Japan

Language Lessons

During this month-long summer program in Japan you’ll receive approximately 80 hours of Japanese language classes (4 hours per day, 5 days per week). Lessons are offered at a professional school with classes of around 5-12 students. Your Japanese-speaking ability will be evaluated at the beginning of the program and you’ll be assigned to the class that best fits your personal language level. At the end of the day you’ll go home to your host family, where you can practice your Japanese and taste some fresh and delicious homemade meals.


Exploring Japan

After your language lessons you’ll have the opportunity to participate in many cultural activities such as ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) and shodo (calligraphy) as well as attend sight-seeing trips to nearby historic locations. Otherwise, you’ll have the chance to explore Japanese life on your own; you can discover the culture of kawaii (a word used to describe everything cute and lovable), listen to J-Pop (Japanese Pop music), and look out for the latest fashion trends. Japan is also the birthplace of manga and anime, so you’re bound to run into some devoted fans called otaku.


Foods You’ll Encounter in Japan

If you like your meals deep-fried, you’ll love the variety of Japanese tempura. Otherwise, food in Japan usually consists of rice and noodles mixed with fresh vegetables, fruits, and light meats like pork and chicken. Seafood, either raw or grilled, is also very popular. For dessert, you can try traditional wagashi, which includes delicious treats like mochi (a kind of rice cake) flavored with sweet red bean paste. Sushi actually isn’t that common, though you might get to enjoy it on special occasions.

What's Included

  • 75+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 32,000 dedicated volunteers
  • Accommodations
  • Round-trip international airfare for the designated program dates
  • Program activity 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!
  • International secondary medical travel coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people

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.

Learn More


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.