Study Abroad in Japan: FAQs

Programs for this blog post

Ancient + Modern Japan

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College Study Abroad

If you’re about to embark on a study abroad adventure to Japan or considering this fascinating country a study abroad option, read on as we dive into some of our most frequently asked questions about our Japan study abroad programs!  

Why Study Abroad in Japan? Top 3 Reasons  

There are tons of reasons why studying abroad in Japan is your best bet, but we’ve narrowed it down to our top three!  

Reason #1: You’ll explore Japan’s well-preserved ancient history.  

Japan is an ancient country, with scholars noting its first historical periods as early as 13,000 BC. This incredible place is packed with history. Notably, Kyoto is considered Japan’s cultural capital, with thousands of historic monuments, gardens, temples, and shrines, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.  

A few historical landmarks we consider must-sees during your Japan study abroad program: 

  • Nijo Castle: Built in the 1600s, this UNESCO World Heritage site was initially used as an imperial palace  
  • Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine: One of Kyoto’s most important religious landmarks  
  • Meiji Jingu: A sacred shrine to Japan’s first emperor, Emperor Meiji  
  • Sensoji Temple: A Buddhist temple in Japan’s capital, Tokyo, built originally in 628 AD  
  • Todai-ji: The largest wooden building in the world, constructed between 745 and 752 BC  

And tons more! As you learn more about Japan’s ancient history during your study abroad trip, note how these complexities might’ve shaped modern-day Japan. You’ll be sure to gain a unique perspective during this once-in-a-lifetime trip.  

kyoto two students japan

Reason #2: You’ll discover incredible natural sites in Japan.  

While most people think about Japan’s ancient constructs, like temples and teahouses, Japan’s natural beauty and lands are often overlooked. There are many breathtaking natural sites throughout Japan that will deepen your exploration of this fascinating country.   

Some natural sites to check out during your Japan study abroad program include:  

  • Mt. Fuji: While you might not have time to hike this incredible wonder, also an active volcano, simply observing the mountain or getting close to its base will be a one-of-a-kind experience  
  • Katsura Imperial Villa: A beautiful and historic walking garden right in Kyoto; most visitors note the peaceful and relaxing vibe here  
  • Arashiyama: A stunning site where you can walk through bamboo forests and see the Ayashiyama Mountains  
  • Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden: A charming, tranquil garden located right in the country’s capital, Tokyo  
  • Abukumado Cave: Located in Fukushima, this limestone cave looks like something out of a movie  

You’ll stay plenty busy exploring Japan’s incredible natural wonders.  

Reason #3: You’ll indulge in Japanese food while better understanding the country’s culture.  

While authentic Japanese food is absolutely delicious, it’s also a large part of the country’s long-standing history and modern-day culture.  

Japan has many cuisine customs, both in restaurants and at home. Japanese food preparation is intentional and detail-oriented; individuals even carefully choose colors and patterns for their meals. Nature and the seasons – spring, summer, fall, and winter – also influence traditional Japanese cuisine, with preparers using locally sourced ingredients and specializing in cooking techniques depending on the season. 

Food is also well celebrated in Japan, with local festivals, traditions around planting seasons, and even recognized in some religions.  

There are several authentic Japanese dishes we recommend trying during your Japan study abroad program:  

  • Sushi: An essential Japanese food 
  • Miso Soup: A staple in the country 
  • Udon: A type of noodle dating back several centuries in the region  
  • Tofu: This soybean ingredient is popular in Japan, with its history traced to ancient times as well  
  • Yakitori: This grilled chicken dish is simple yet delectable  

Read More: Eat, Drink, Explore: Tokyo 

As your tastebuds go on an incredible adventure while you study abroad in Japan, you’ll also better understand Japanese customs and traditions.    

kyoto students eating together

Read More: Eat, Drink, Explore: Kyoto  

Where Should I Study Abroad in Japan?  

No matter where you go in Japan, you’re guaranteed an insightful adventure. But two of our favorite cities to explore are Tokyo and Kyoto.  

Beautiful Kyoto is where you’ll get a deep understanding of Japanese history and tradition, with various religious sites, gardens, and more to visit. As you journey through this exciting cultural capital, you’ll get the best of both worlds, diving into the city’s modern-day establishment of globally recognized products like manga, Nintendo, and Q-Games.  

Tokyo, one of the busiest cities in the world, offers students a unique look at its bustling business culture, incredible nightlife, shopping, architecture, and technology. And while this is all exciting, this capital city is famous for its historic landmarks and clean public spaces. Tokyo really is the perfect mix of old and new. You’ll be busy at every turn!  

Read More: 2 Best Places to Study Abroad in Japan  

What’s it Like Studying Abroad in Japan?  

Studying abroad in Japan is simply amazing. But don’t just take our word for it – hear directly from students who embarked on a Japan study abroad program themselves:  

  • “The Kyoto CIEE program was one of the most culturally enriching programs I’ve ever done. Even though it was only for 3 weeks, I met some of the most amazing people and was able to experience Kyoto in a way I didn’t think possible. I would highly recommend such an experience to any peer. CIEE facilitates this experience tremendously with support from staff and instructors.” – Jesus C., Massachusetts Institute of Technology  
  • “There are a lot of perks to CIEE, such as the Hiroshima excursion, the Independent Study Tour, and cultural reimbursement that encourage further and deeper interaction with Japan.” – Erick C., University of Southern California (Dornsife) 
  • “It was fun. I learned a lot of Japanese, and I made a lot of friends in the program and outside of the program at the university.” – Izaak D., Iowa State University  

There are a ton of Japan study abroad insights from students – reach out to a CIEE staff member to learn more!  

3 Best Japan Study Abroad Programs  

Now that you’ve learned more about how totally cool Japan is, read more details about some of our top Japan study abroad programs!  

Ancient + Modern Japan (Kyoto) 

Kyoto is the cultural hub of Japan. If you’re interested in learning new languages and developing a better understanding of Japan’s ancient history, tradition, and religion compared to its present-day culture, this program is perfect for you.  

Program details:  

  • Length: 15 weeks  
  • Credit: 15 semester hours/22.5 quarter hours 
  • Eligibility: 2.5 Overall GPA  
  • Cost: $20,850 
  • Featured Course: Japanese Feudal History  
  • Excursion Highlight: Visit the Zen Rock Garden at Ryoanji Temple  


kyoto shrine students visit

Arts + Sciences (Tokyo)  

Our Arts + Sciences Japan study abroad program in Tokyo offers a wide range of courses from art and philosophy to business and STEM-related disciplines at the prestigious Sophia University. Taking on these exciting courses while in one of the world’s liveliest cities will be an unforgettable experience.  

Program details:  

  • Length: 18 weeks 
  • Credit: 15-16 semester hours/22.5-24 quarter hours 
  • Eligibility: 2.8 Overall GPA  
  • Cost: $26,950 
  • Featured Course: Intercultural Communication and Leadership  
  • Excursion Highlight: Visit the Ghibli Museum, where Totoro’ll greet you  

Open Campus Block (Kyoto)  

Open Campus Block is an excellent opportunity to build your own study abroad program. And with our Kyoto program, you can learn more about one of the most well-preserved historical cities in the world.  

Choose one, two, or up to three consecutive six-week block sessions and take courses that sound interesting to you and align with your academic path!  

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to CIEE Open Campus Block  

Program details:  

  • Length: Up to 18 weeks  
  • Credit: 6-7 per Block semester hours/9-10.5 per Block quarter hours 
  • Eligibility: 2.5 Overall GPA  
  • Cost: $20,850  
  • Featured Course: Analysis of Japanese Popular Culture  
  • Excursion Highlight: Travel to the nearby Ohara village, home to two beautiful temples  

Read More: 7 Best Japan Study Abroad Programs 

How to Study Abroad in Japan  

The steps to a Japan study abroad program are simple! We’ve outlined them here:  

  • Step 1: Choose where you want to go – Kyoto or Tokyo  
  • Step 2: Pick your dream study abroad program – and we offer many in Japan!  
  • Step 3: Explore scholarship and grant options  
  • Step 4: Start and complete your application – the easiest one! Check out our how to apply page for more details  


tokyo students buddha statue

Read More: How to Study Abroad in Japan: 4 Simple Steps 

What to Pack for Study Abroad in Japan  

The weather varies in Kyoto and Tokyo, so pack the appropriate clothing based on when you’re studying abroad in Japan.  

Average temperatures in Kyoto are around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, with winters getting much colder, averaging about 38 degrees. The city also has a rainy season in the summer, making them hot and muggy. The weather in Tokyo averages around 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months, where the winters dip down to about 35 degrees. It is relatively rainy year-round.  

You’ll also need to pack some essential items as you organize your clothing (and it’s a smart idea to pack a rain jacket no matter when your travels are planned).  

Your essential documents: 

  • Passport + a photocopy (just in case) 
  • Visa + a photocopy  
  • A second form of valid ID (e.g., driver’s license or government-issued ID) 
  • Plane tickets  
  • Proof of health insurance 
  • Proof of CIEE enrollment 
  • Cash (Japan uses the Japanese Yen) and a credit card accepted in Japan 

Other essential items: 

  • Comfortable walking shoes, ideally closed-toe and waterproof 
  • Camera to capture all of Japan’s beauty  
  • One nice outfit for special occasions 
  • Prescription medications, enough for the stay if possible 
  • Preferred over-the-counter medications 
  • Prescription eyewear 
  • A reusable water bottle that you can fill up at the airport and use when on the go  
  • Adapters to charge your current tech in Japan’s electrical outlets 

Take Your Studies to Japan 

Don’t delay a Japan study abroad trip any longer; it’s time to get going!