Kyoto, Japan

Japanese Language & Culture

Want to boost your language skills before going? Add a block 1 online course for just $150
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Information for term Japanese Language & Culture

Application deadline, and cost information.

Application Deadline

August 1, 2020

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Deadline: August 1, 2020
  • Dates: Sep 28 – Nov 7, 2020 (6 weeks)

Application Deadline

September 1, 2020

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Deadline: September 1, 2020
  • Dates: Nov 9 – Dec 19, 2020 (6 weeks)

Application Deadline

August 1, 2020

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Deadline: August 1, 2020
  • Dates: Sep 28 – Dec 19, 2020 (12 weeks)


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Core components of this program are subject to change in Fall 2020, in order to accommodate any new health and security requirements, due to COVID-19. View the details.

Step back in time in the ancient capital of Japan with the Imperial Palace, Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples and Zen gardens as your backdrop

Take part in walking tours of Kyoto and discover both the traditional and modern elements of this city. Learn why a cup of matcha bitter green tea is more than just a delicious hot beverage. This immersive experience is all about soaking up the centuries-old Japanese customs and culture all around you. But don’t worry: For a taste of the here-and-now, you can still find popular shopping districts, video-gaming arcades and sidewalk vending machines selling unique products (from socks to pizza slices!) to round out the experience.

You’ll spend most mornings in Japanese language classes with native instructors, improving your skills and confidence no matter your level of proficiency. Afternoons are for cultural exploration and practicing your language skills in real life – on the streets, in cafes and on expert-guided excursions to temples, shrines, palaces, museums and more. For a fully immersive experience, you’ll be placed in a homestay with a Japanese family where you’ll join in the daily routines and learn first-hand about local customs. Together you’ll prepare and share traditional meals, go shopping in markets, visit local sites or just hang out. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that opens your eyes, ears and access to the world — and one you’ll never forget.

CIEE Gap Year Abroad programs are focused on supporting participants in acquiring knowledge and developing skills to live in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world. In addition to developing your language skills and gaining a better understanding of the local culture, you will take part in our Global Competence Course. This online course will allow you to connect and collaborate in real-time with our entire cohort of Gap participants worldwide, through interactive workshops and discussions. Reflect on your own cultural biases, share insights about your experience and learn about topics ranging from cultural identity and leadership styles to how to work and live sustainably or develop communication skills.

On weekends and evenings participants will spend time with their homestay where you'll get into the rhythm of local life while exploring all your neighborhood has to offer. Prepare meals with your hosts, meet up with friends, take a day trip to explore a nearby town or nature reserve. Make the most of this amazing opportunity!

The Take-Aways


    15-20 hours per week of Japanese language learning designed to improve real world language skills


    Build a strong foundation in the core components of intercultural learning. Come home with an improved sense of self and awareness of what shapes others


    Earn a Certificate of Learning in Japanese

  • of alumni said their language skills improved

  • said they learned to interact with different cultural backgrounds

  • said their level of independence increased


Location & Culture

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Japan’s most historic city remains the hub of traditional old-world culture — and a perfect place to study traditional art, architecture and history

Did you know? Kyoto is home to more than 1,600 temples and 400 shrines.

While Tokyo is the official capital of Japan, Kyoto is often called the country’s “cultural capital.” With a wealth of well-preserved historical and religious landmarks (including 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites), Kyoto is like a living, open-air museum — and a perfect place for studying Japanese language and culture.

Here you’ll see sacred shrines rather than skyscrapers; lanterns in place of neon lights. The narrow stone streets in the center are lined with old wooden houses, traditional teahouses, and quiet gardens. But all around you’ll find modern shops selling snacks (for your fix of Pocky and Matcha Kit Kat!) and noodle or curry houses catering to hungry students.

Adventurous eaters will love Nishiki Market, which has over 100 food stalls and shops of its own. You can fill up on samples, skewers, gyoza dumplings, noodles and more noodles, and pickled everything! Mountains of rice-cake mochi and other wagashi confections come in all shapes and colors. Go for a grilled baby octopus on a stick if you dare!

Daily Life

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Daily Life

A succesful Gap experience achieves the right balance between structured language instruction, practice in the community and cultural activties to be fully immersed in the local culture.

Here's how a typical week goes on a CIEE Gap Language & Culture program:

  • 15-20 hours of interactive language learning at a language school
  • 1 hour of the CIEE Global Competence Course (online with our global gap community)
  • 2 cultural activites, some of which will be done with local university students
  • Free time to explore and have fun!

Weekends are for group excursions (two per 6-week block) or personal travel and exploration.

*If Covid-19 homestay requirements cannot be met participants will be placed in a CIEE-vetted dormitory or apartment. Confirmation will be communicated to participants in advance.

  • Carefully Screened Homestay*

  • Local Support

    Local CIEE Center staff available 24/7


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Sample Excursions

  • Practice the ancient arts of Japanese calligraphy and tea ceremony.
  • Visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace, where former emperors lived in high style. 
  • Climb to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, ascending Inari Mountain while passing through thousands of bright-orange torii gates.
  • Check out the Kyoto International Manga Museum and its collection of 300,000 comic books! See manga-related exhibits and read any manga (comic book) you like.
  • Eat up at world-famous Nishiki Market, or sample traditional tofu, yuba, and saikyo-yaki — Kyoto-style grilled fish.

Sample Day Trips

  • Head to the historical city of Nara to see eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Great Buddha Hall of Todaiji Temple and the Kasuga Grand Shrine.
  • Visit Osaka, a thriving port city known for trendy shops, flashy signs, excellent eateries and youthful energy!
  • Take in gorgeous views on a daytrip to Kobe – an historic harbor city nestled between mountains and the sea. Look for the iconic port tower and its signature dish, Kobe beef.

Please note this list of activities is based on past programs and subject to change at CIEE's discretion to both adapt to local circumstances and participant feedback. Our goal when revising itineraries is always to enhance your experience. Every activity is designed to provide you with a deep immersion in your topic, local culture and sights. Get ready for maximum fun!

Eligibility & Fees

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Eligibility & Fees


  • High school graduates in good academic standing.
  • Students must demonstrate, through the application and interview process, flexibility and maturity.
  • Students must be 17 years or older at the time of their departure.
  • No previous language experience required.



Apply for one or two 6-week blocks. Combining blocks in two different locations is not yet available.

Program fee includes iNext travel insurance. Full inclusions are found online.

Want to boost your language skills before going? Add a block 1 online course for just $150.


Application Due

Start Date

End Date


Fall Block II 2020 6 weeks Aug 1, 2020 Sep 28, 2020 Nov 7, 2020


Fall Blocks II, III 2020 12 weeks Aug 1, 2020 Sep 28, 2020 Dec 19, 2020


Fall Block III 2020 6 weeks Sep 1, 2020 Nov 9, 2020 Dec 19, 2020


Enroll for two in-country 6-week blocks and save 15% ($8,245 total)!

Ready to change your life?