Top 5 EVERYTHING for Study Abroad in Japan

by Zach Herzog

Are you currently suffering from a severe case of Japan-damonium?! We know we are. Its side effects apparently include motivation to create the ultimate top five list for every student drawn to study in the Land of the Rising Sun. From the best food to the best programs to the must-know slang phrases to be cool, is here to inspire (and establish camaraderie) with our fellow Japanophiles.


While there are dozens of cities (and temples…and zen gardens…) at your disposal, not all Japanese study abroad destinations are created equal. Find out all of the dirty details about these hot cities in our article specifically outlining the 411 on the best places to study in Japan.

  1. Tokyo
  2. Kyoto
  3. Osaka
  4. Hiroshima
  5. Sapporo

    Did your favorite city or intended destination not make the cut? Don’t worry, we’re still confident your study abroad experience in Japan is going to be an incredible and worthwhile one.


    Tokyo, Japan is one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world. A center for business, fashion, and culture, it is a very strategic place for a variety of majors to study abroad in Japan. Choosing the right program can be tough, so here is a list of a few of the most popular and best reviewed study abroad options available in Tokyo.

    1. KCP International Japanese Language School offers an intensive program for learning and developing Japanese language skills. Courses are offered in both semester and summer form, as well as an extended semester version that runs about six months. The summer option seems to be one of the most popular, with many students earning up to a year’s worth of Japanese language credit to transfer back to their university.

    Classes with KCP International are usually made up of international students from various different countries. The coursework is demanding and the schedule keeps students engaged and busy. That said, the school has a great track record of both satisfied students and successful course completion.

    2. IES Abroad, or the Institute for the International Education of Students, has multiple programs in Tokyo, many of which focus on international studies. From classes in international politics and global business to world cultures, this is a great option for globally minded students who want to explore the connection between Japanese culture and their field of study.

    Classes are primarily offered in English (with options for novices to pick up a little of the language) making it a great place to study abroad in Japan for students with a vast array of experience. There are both structured and unstructured opportunities to explore both the city and the country, with facilitated field trips tied into course work.

    3. ISA, short for International Studies Abroad, is well known in the study abroad world for their top notch programs, which include opportunities in Tokyo. There are additional courses available to students in Japanese history and culture, and many exciting excursions are included (like visiting Enoshima and Mt. Takao. Students will also have opportunities to become certified Japanese teachers or even earn the Gakko Hojin certificate of language proficiency. Students will attend the Musashi University, a small private institution, where they can choose to live in dorms, apartments, or homestays. 

    4. GenkiJACS, also known as The Genki Japanese and Culture School, is perfect for students who want to explore life in Japan. Class sizes are small, with typically only four to six students in each session, so it is easy to get personal help learning all about the language and culture from the Land of the Rising Sun.

    Courses are tailored to Western students, with opportunities to learn about local religions, the infamous tea ceremony, origami, and so much more. The teachers and staff get great reviews for their patience, understanding of both English and Japanese, as well as being accommodating with a great sense of humor. The student dorms are the most popular housing chosen among students as they provide social activities for students plus opportunities to study and practice language together.

    5. Internship in Japan. For students interested in business or computer science, this program gives you the opportunity to explore those fields while also gaining a better understanding of how these fields operate in Japan. Internship in Japan combines an internship with career counseling and optional classes on Japanese language and culture.

    The coursework is not the primary emphasis of this program, although some universities may accept it for internship credit, but rather the hands on application of experience in the field. From practicing language skills alongside native speakers to building software with international experts, the learning you can gain from this program is real-world and relevant.


    While any and all majors are welcomed with open arms (and usually taught in English), you can integrate the location of Japan into your subject studies if you are strategic in your course selection. Popular options amongst past students include:

    Truth be told, the sky’s the limit. Japan is home to many excellent, world-renowned, respected universities, and course options therefore truly span the gamut. Talk with your program adviser today to ensure the courses you take while studying in Japan will count toward your major.


    Studying abroad in Japan can be a serious investment. Instead of admitting defeat and binge watching Dragon Ball Z to lessen the pain, start applying for scholarships. Many financial aid packages, including awards, grants, and fellowships, exist to help you study abroad. The secret is to apply early and apply to many!

    • Monbukagakusho Scholarships The Japanese Government’s Ministry of Education offers four types of scholarships to enable foreign students from 110 countries to study and research a broad range of topics in Japan.
    • Bridging Japan Scholarship offers up to 30 scholarships each semester for immersion study abroad in Japan.
    • Gilman Scholarship is funded by the U.S. Federal Government and supports students studying Japanese in Japan.

    Other options to lessen the blow of the costs to study abroad include asking for money in lieu of birthday presents or creating an online fundraiser for your trip.


    Some very wise old man probably said at some point that the best way get to know a culture is through your stomach. But since you’re ballin’ on a budget and aren’t trying to have the finest blue-fin tuna for every meal, here are some more affordable dining options:

    • Sushi conveyor belt establishments
    • Soba
    • Gyūdon
    • Sashimi-don

    Supermarkets and fast food chains are other great go-to’s for cheap eats while in Japan. 


    Warning: use of any of these terms will earn you automatic street cred with your Japanese friends. Just don’t overdo it by using too many at once.

    • ヤバい (yabai) - said when something bad happens
    • (chou)、めっちゃ (meccha) - “way” or “super”
    • いかれてる (ikareteru) - you’re going crazy!
    • キモイ (kimoi) - “gross”
    • しゃれてる (shareteru) - stylish

    The best way to get to know more colloquialisms and everyday-casual speech in Japanese is to ask your new friends to teach you (we know from experience asking your 先生 Sensei how to say “rad” doesn’t end very well).


    Grab a map, charge your battery, make sure you have plenty of space in your phone memory, and head to one of these amazing locations to geek out over Japan’s more traditional, natural, religious, consumer, or modern sides.

    • Golden Pavilion
    • Mount Fuji
    • Tokyo Tower
    • Shibuya Crossing
    • Itsukushima Shrine

    If you’re more apt to check out places off the beaten path, we at GoAbroad are secretly planning a group trip to Hitachinaka.


    Since a temple probably won’t fit in your carry-on and your mom probably wouldn’t appreciate you bringing home a bowl of fresh roe, here are some alternatives to consider purchasing as mementos of your great adventure studying in Japan.

    • Candy and snacks (Koala yummies and hi-chews, please!)
    • Kendama
    • Cat goods***
    • Tenugui
    • Yukata sets

    Don’t be ashamed if you buy a kimono or more J-pop records than humanly possible like we did either.

    *** indicates “of utmost important”


    Everything you ever wanted to know about studying in Japan in the form of a five part listicle. No need to say どうもありがとう, dōmo arigatō, we are happy to be of service!