Semester — Fall 2019
Year — Spring 2019
Mar 17-20, 2019 → Feb 1-4, 2020
With its intricate mix of tradition and modernity, Japan is an ideal place to explore a new culture. By attending a local high school and living with a host family, you’ll get to experience Japanese life from the inside. This is your chance to get to know the language, customs, and people of the nation called “The Land of the Rising Sun.” Challenge yourself in a country whose unique popular culture, competitive academics, and dedication to technological advancement are world famous. Japan’s culture is complex and full of contrasts, so you’re bound to have an exciting, educational adventure.
Modesty and politeness are important parts of Japanese culture. You can expect to take off your shoes and change into slippers when you come into the house. In most Japanese families traditional food is important and meals are shared together. Food is generally cooked with meat, so vegetarianism isn’t very common. But get ready to enjoy some delicious green tea, rice, and noodles!
Based on differences in culture, strict regulation of medications, and other local customs, it has been our experience that AFS staff in Japan have not been able to support students with severe allergies, strict dietary restrictions, ADD/ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome, and those currently taking or who have taken psychotropic medications and/or received counselingfor mental/psychological issues within the past year. If this applies to you, please get in touch with an AFS Study Abroad Specialist early on to determine if Japan will be the best experience for you.
Your journey to Japan will begin in Los Angeles, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the US. You’ll learn some essentials for your first days in Japan and speak with a Cultural Resource who recently spent time there. Then, you’re off! You’ll travel with a group to Tokyo where you’ll be welcomed by AFS Staff and Volunteers.
Soon you’ll be ready to head to your new community. Along the way you might pass tranquil temples and Zen gardens or spot sleek skyscrapers and hear the rattle of high-speed trains. You never know what you might find in a country that has everything from live lobster vending machines to historical teahouses.
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.
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 are very important to the Japanese, as is respect for elders. Keeping the home clean is also a high priority, so you can expect to help your host family with daily chores and activities.See where past AFSers have lived
While living in Japan 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 the birthplace of manga and anime, with many devoted fans called otaku. Popular culture is vibrant and varied, but teenagers also have to follow strict rules. High school students are still seen as children and their parents are usually very involved in their lives. As a teenager in Japan, most of your social life will happen at school. You can also get involved in different cultural and sports clubs, such as calligraphy or kendo (a type of modern Japanese martial art), to help you make friends and learn more about Japanese culture.
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.
The Japanese place a high value on education and academic achievement. Students often bike from far away to get to school, and work hard once they arrive. This stimulating environment provides excellent language-learning opportunities, since all 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. Like teenagers in most parts of the world, Japanese high schoolers wear uniforms. An optional school trip is often the highlight of the year, giving many students the chance to visit popular tourist sites in Japan or sometimes even overseas.
After the school day ends, you’ll participate in a tradition called souji, when everyone gets together for 30 minutes to help clean the school and grounds. After souji, you can choose from a wide range of available clubs and activities. Students make friends and learn about Japanese culture by joining a club. Most clubs meet all year and students generally join as least one club.
"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 feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.