Year — Spring 2020
Semester — Fall 2020
Semester — Fall 2019
Aug 18-21, 2019 → Feb 1-4, 2020
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 local high school, 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.
Challenge yourself in a country where competitive academics and dedication to technological advancement are world famous. Remember that Japan’s culture is complex and full of contrasts. So, you’re bound to have an exciting, eye-opening, and educational adventure.
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.
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.
"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.
A new you awaits. Apply for High School Study Abroad in Japan!
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.