Discover what it’s like to call world’s largest metropolitan area home, as you’re welcomed by a Japanese host family. This immersive experience combined with intensive Japanese language instruction that suits your level is the fastest way to fluency – and the most rewarding.
During your stay in Tokyo, you’ll explore the contrast of uber-modern and ancient in a city where bright lights and buzz skyscrapers coexist with the one of the oldest Buddhist temples of the world and the emperor’s Imperial Palace – a bastion of open space and serenity in the middle of Tokyo. Take an overnight excursion each semester to experience life and culture in another part of Japan.
By working directly with members of the Japanese community (and practicing Japanese) as you volunteer with a local organization or at a school, you’ll make connections and live everyday experiences that tourists miss. And through classes at the CIEE Study Center, you’ll develop valuable leadership and intercultural skills that you’ll find valuable during your time abroad, in college, and beyond.
Whether you’re brand new to Japanese or an advanced speaker, a gap year or semester in Tokyo will supercharge your language skills and pull you into the world of traditions and trends that make up this extraordinary city.
The CIEE Difference
The CIEE Difference
You’ll receive 16 hours of intensive language instruction each week at the Intercultural Institute of Japan, located near the famous electronics district of Akihabara. Whether you’re an accomplished Japanese speaker or a beginner, small classes and individualized instruction will improve your skills.
You’ll join other CIEE Gap Year Abroad participants for a course in leadership and Japanese culture at the CIEE Study Center on the campus of Sophia University in Yotsuya. These classes prepare students to navigate different cultures. You’ll also discover fascinating parts of Tokyo through excursions to the Imperial Palace, Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, the ultramodern, man-made island Odaiba in Tokyo Bay, and more.
During a CIEE Gap Year Abroad, you’ll not only explore Japanese culture, you’ll also have a chance to make a difference in your new community. Volunteering is a great way to build relationships with Japanese people and develop professional skills and experience while you help the local people.
Students contribute two to three hours of volunteer work per week. Activities could include preparing meals at a local soup kitchen or helping Japanese children during afterschool or Saturday-morning programs at local elementary schools.
There’s no better way to learn how the locals live than by living alongside them. The members of your host family will introduce you to local food and customs, help you develop conversational Japanese skills, and welcome you to their community. The relationship you create with your host family is an important part of the gap-year experience, so we encourage students to join in and participate in family activities.
CIEE carefully selects, screens, and interviews all host families.
Each semester, you’ll travel overnight to a different part of Japan. In fall, students travel to Hiroshima to view peace memorials and museums, and perhaps hear from a survivor of the atomic bombing and discuss nuclear arms with a professor from the Hiroshima Peace Institute. Fall day trips include a visit to Kamakura – known as the Kyoto of eastern Japan – where you can roam numerous shrines, temples, and other historical sites, and enjoy regional cuisine. Students also will learn about Bunraku – a type of traditional Japanese puppet theater – before they see a performance in Tokyo.
The spring overnight trip is still under consideration. Day trips include a visit to the well-preserved city of Kawagoe, where students will explore the old storehouse merchant houses, including a variety of traditional Japanese candy shops, as well as the Toki no Kane or Bell of Time tower, and enjoy the local cuisine that has helped make Kawagoe an important and popular destination. Students also will learn about sumo wrestling – steeped in Shinto tradition – and see a traditional sumo wrestling match during a day trip to Tokyo.
Dates, Deadlines & Fees
Dates, Deadlines & Fees
We want to make sure you get the most out of your gap year abroad experience with CIEE, which is why we offer the most inclusions in our fees.
- Transportation from Narita International Airport
- Luggage transportation service to and from your host family’s home
- A stipend to cover transportation costs from your homestay to the CIEE Study Center and your language classes
- Language classes at the Intercultural Institute of Japan
- A CIEE cultural and leadership course, including class excursions and admission fees
- Volunteering activities
- CIEE-sponsored trips and excursions
- Room and board with a host family, including breakfast and dinner daily
- Costs associated with changing host families midyear (for academic-year students)
- Supervision and support from the CIEE Study Center staff
- Orientations before leaving the United States and upon arrival in Japan
- International medical, travel, and emergency-evacuation insurance through iNext and 24-hour worldwide travel assistance and support services
Academic Year 2015-2016
May 15, 2015
August 1, 2015
November 1, 2015
*Prices are subject to change. Your price will be locked in when CIEE receives your complete application and program deposit.
- Must be high school graduates in good academic standing
- Must demonstrate – on their application and during an interview – maturity, flexibility, adaptability, good character, and readiness to face the challenges of living in a different culture
- Must be at least 17 at time of departure
- Are not required to have previous language experience
The CIEE Study Center staff in Tokyo is responsible for supervising and supporting CIEE participants throughout their stay. Students also have access to a support coordinator in our corporate headquarters in Portland, Maine. This coordinator acts as a liaison between the Tokyo Study Center and the student’s family in the United States.
Study Center staff members maintain regular contact with students throughout the semester or Academic Year 2015-2016 and monitor their language progress and how their homestay and volunteer placements are going. Study Center staff members become familiar with students and have a large role in the CIEE experience.
CIEE Gap Year Abroad participants join an online predeparture orientation, led by CIEE Study Center staff members in collaboration with staff members in Portland. In addition to providing logistical information, this orientation helps students set realistic expectations and goals, and gives students and parents an opportunity to ask questions.
Students participate in a second orientation after they’re met by CIEE staff members at the airport in Tokyo. This in-country orientation introduces students to their new city, public transportation, their host families, and classmates. During orientation, students stay at a hotel near the CIEE Study Center. Faculty and staff will review the academic program and discuss health and safety – including during a visit to the Life Safety Learning Center to learn about earthquake safety. CIEE staff members also provide advice on adjusting to the new language and culture.