Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Pop Culture: Anime, Manga & Gaming

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Information for term Japanese Pop Culture: Anime, Manga & Gaming

Application deadline, and cost information.

Application Deadline

The application deadline has passed.

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Dates: Jun 18 – Jul 8, 2023 (3 weeks)

Application Deadline

The application deadline has passed.

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Dates: Jul 9 – 29, 2023 (3 weeks)


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Explore three creative industries — anime, manga and gaming — in the hub of pop arts and culture.

It’s hard to think of a place more passionate about pop culture. In Tokyo you’ll find multi-story arcades, galleries, cinemas, libraries, shops, and museums dedicated to gaming and your favorite pop art forms. On this 3-week cultural immersion, you’ll follow both tracks (one after the other) to gain a broad knowledge of all three creative arts and industries. 

Manga (Japanese comics) and anime (Japanese animation) have become a global phenomenon. What’s the draw for fans and creators? What makes them so compelling and unique? In classroom sessions you’ll study manga and anime up close, comparing and contrasting them with traditional art forms. In interactive workshops, you’ll engage with professional artists and create artistic works of your own. On field trips in the city, you’ll visit museums and cultural sites related to your studies, and learn about careers in the anime and manga industries from insiders. 

Study up on the Japanese video game classics—from Pac-Man and Pokemon to Super Mario and Final Fantasy—and learn about game design, evolving technology and industry careers. You’ll start from the beginning, tracing the history of video gaming in Japan from the “golden age” in the 1970s through the different generations of consoles to the current renaissance. 

In the classroom you’ll learn about game design, balance, and mechanics, as well as different approaches to game studies. Fun interactive exercises include critical analysis of your own video game playing in motion. Out in the field you’ll visit sites of cultural interest and learn about careers in the industry (offerings run far wider than just coding!). Learn how video game marketing campaigns are developed to sell game products. 

You’ll live at the Tokyo Central Youth Hostel (TCYH), where you’ll start the day with your choice of Japanese or Western style breakfast foods. From there you’ll head off to exciting classes, workshops and group activities designed to expose you to as many aspects (artistic, technical and business) as possible. As for lunch and dinner, Tokyo’s got you covered with countless options for both local and foreign cuisine. 

The Take-Aways


    Discover the history and development of anime, manga, and video games through museum visits, guest lectures, workshops and cultural activities. Learn introductory level theory and develop skills needed to critique various forms of Japanese popular media.


    After just 3 weeks away, you'll build self-confidence, gain a broader world view, improve your interpersonal communication skills and make lifelong friends from all across the U.S.


    Topics for your college essays, experience to inform your future career, and a Certificate of Participation.

Location & Culture

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From multi-story gaming arcades to animal cafes (with live cats, dogs, owls, and even miniature pigs!), Tokyo is a one-of-a-kind blend of retro, new and cutting-edge.

Neon lights and nonstop electronic entertainment make Tokyo a delightfully over-the-top mecca of pop culture. There’s just no place like it.

Japan’s world-class capital city is a fascinating mix of centuries-old tradition and futuristic technology. Teens from around the world are drawn to Tokyo’s legendary pop culture, making a bee-line to its museums, cinemas, manga shops and video arcades. Some of the city’s arcades are more like indoor amusement parks — complete with rides, roller coasters, and haunted houses!  

The hotspot district Akihabara is where anime, manga, retro video games, and electronics mix with cosplay and niche cafes. Other famous attractions include the Tokyo Anime Center and Tokyo Polytechnic University Suginami Animation Museum; Tokyo International Manga Library in Meiji University; the Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo and Nanjatown in Namco Parks ; and the Ghibli Museum celebrating Japan’s world-famous anime film studio, producer of award-winning films, such as My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away.

In addition to otaku culture, Tokyo has science and technology museums, beautiful parks and zoos, and of course karaoke. Shoppers can hit the Shibuya and Harajuku districts for trendy fashions and people-watching. Food is big here, and there’s no shortage of options wherever you go. Expand your palate and try a range of Japanese favorites. Get your fill of ramen, soba, and udon noodles, along with yakitori, gyoza and anything you can grill on a stick! In summer it’s easy to find shaved ice treats and other snacks on the go.

CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. Local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter in Tokyo.

Daily Life

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Daily Life


Each day offers a balance between interactive instruction and cultural activities with time on your own, too. Morning classes and afternoon activities may swap places. 

  • Breakfast at the hostel
  • Hands-on classes with expert instructors and theatre professionals   
  • Lunch with your fellow Global Navigators  
  • Out and about for a Cultural Activity or Workshop  
  • Dinner at the hostel or out in the community 


  • Overnight or day excursions to top sites  
  • Quality time with friends  
  • Housing

    Tokyo Central Youth Hostel (TCYH)

  • 24/7 SUPPORT

    1 Program Leader for every 12 students and support from local staff


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Sample Activities

  • Discover Akihabara, the heartland of Otaku culture where stores specializing in anime, manga, retro video games, and electronics mix with cosplay and niche cafes. 
  • Unleash your creative spirit in a hands-on manga art workshop. 
  • Join Japanese teens for calligraphy or origami workshops. Visit the famous Meiji Shrine, Asakusa Sensoji Temple and other amazing historical sites. 
  • Head to the man-made island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay, a buzzing teen entertainment hub, and see the ginormous, life-size Gundam statue in action! 


A day trip back in time to “Little Edo,” a former feudal-era castle town in Kawagoe. The architecture, food and atmosphere will transport you back to the Tokugawa Era, while modern highlights like “Candy Alley,” lined with Japanese penny candy shops, spice things up. 

An overnight trip to Yokohama, the exciting capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture, to visit landmarks, walking through near the harbor you will reach nice colonial style Western district. The latter areas are a remainder from when after 200 years of complete isolation Japan opened its ports and Yokohama became a commercial gateway to Japan. 

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, covid-related measures and restrictions 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! 

Dates & Fees

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Dates & Fees


Application Due

Start Date

End Date


Summer Session I 2023 3 weeks Deadline Passed Jun 18, 2023 Jul 8, 2023


Summer Session II 2023 3 weeks Deadline Passed Jul 9, 2023 Jul 29, 2023


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