YAHO! Check Out the Top 5 EVERYTHING for Study Abroad in Japan

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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, GoAbroad.com is here to inspire (and establish camaraderie) with our fellow Japanophiles.

Today, we're going to share our favorites of just about everything in Japan (except Sanrio characters—we'll leave that up to you). Instead, let's focus on figuring out the...

  • Best cities for study abroad in Japan
  • Highest-rated study abroad programs in Japan
  • Top subjects to study
  • Scholarships to help you get there!
  • Tastiest—and most budget friendly—foods
  • Can't-leave-without souvenirs for international students in Japan
  • Most useful Japanese slang phrases

Let's get this study abroad in Japan party started!

Top 5 cities for study abroad in Japan

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.

For a quick summary, the following cities are consistently ranked as top-notch destinations for international students 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. After all, destination is only part of the formula—it's up to each and every student to make the most of their study abroad program in Japan. 

    [Need a little help? Our Online Advisors are FULL of free advice]

    Top 5 study abroad programs for study abroad in Japan

    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 Japan.

    1. KCP International Japanese Language School 

    kcp logo

    KCP 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.

    RELATED: Read reviews of KCP | Visit their site

    2. IES Abroad

    ies

    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.

    RELATED: Read reviews of IES Abroad | Visit their site

    3. ISA

    isa logo

    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. 

    RELATED: Read reviews of ISA Study Abroad | Visit their site

    4. GenkiJACS

    genki logo

    Also known as The Genki Japanese and Culture School, GenkiJACS 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.

    RELATED: Read reviews of GenkiJACS | Visit their site

    5. Internship in Japan

    internship in japan logo

    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.

    Top 5 subjects to study in Japan

    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.

    [MyGoAbroad makes it SUPER easy to compare programs side-by-side]

    Top 5 scholarships for study abroad in Japan

    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.

    Top 5 student-budget friendly (and can't miss out on) Japanese foods 

    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 (these are real—and awesome)
    • Soba
    • Gyūdon
    • Sashimi-don
    • RAMEN, BABY

    Supermarkets and fast food chains are other great go-to’s for cheap eats while in Japan. Past study abroad students in Japan cite some of their favorite memories happened around the dinner table (or conveyor belt), so be sure to use these opportunities to connect with your new friends.

    [Challenges to Anticipate Before Studying in Japan]

    The 5 most iconic places to visit in Japan 

    kyoto temples

    Grab a map, charge your camera 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.

    That's just it, isn't it?! Japan has so many incredible sides to discover, that this list really doesn't encompass all of the incredible places to visit while you're living there. But, if you're pressed for time or hate adventures, try to still squeeze the following five in:

    • 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.

    5 most useful Japanese slang words 

    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).

    Top 5 souvenirs for international students in Japan

    waving kitty japan

    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.

    • 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 importance”

    How to plan for studying abroad in Japan

    If none of our top 6 month internships resonate with your career goals or heart-eye-emoji travel dreams, fear not. There are dozens of 6 month internships out there — both in your home country and internationally — and we know juuuust the ticket to help you find them.

    • Step 1: Figure out where you want to go. Do you want to study abroad in a mega-Japanese city or somewhere more rural? Keep in mind that both have pros and cons, and it ultimately depends on the type of experience you want.
    • Step 2: Decide when you want to go. Are you keen to study abroad in Japan in the summer? Prefer autumn in Kyoto over springtime? No matter the time of year, just make sure it’s compatible with your availability and academic calendar.
    • Step 3: Start finding programs. Lucky for you, GoAbroad makes it *super* easy to filter internships and narrow your search results ‘til you find *the one.* Just head over to our Study Abroad in Japan Program Directory to get this skills-development-party started.
    • Step 4: Overwhelmed? Ask for help. Our team of Online Advisors LOVE to give advice on the perfect internship for you. Just send them your preferences and they’ll work their magic.
    • Step 5: Cross analyze and compare. Now that you have a couple of finalists in the running for your internship, login to your MyGoAbroad account and size them up — side by side. Consider reviews, inclusions, cost, and how well the program aligns with your ultimate goals.
    • Step 6: Pick your program, pack your bags, and go! We’ll see you there. :-)

    And now that you’re ready to start kicking butt from day one of your internship, here’s what you need to do to maximize the potential of your time abroad.

    There you have it! Everything you need to rock your study abroad in Japan

    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!

    Find your dream program in Japan