The small island nation of Japan has for centuries been one of the most imposing forces, culturally, economically, and politically, on the global stage. One of the wealthiest countries in the world per capita, Japan has seen an incredible amount of growth, from an agricultural to an industrial based economy, over the last 150 years. Today, it is one of the most infrastructurally impressive and culturally unique countries on Earth. For those seeking a great adventure, complete with a fair dose of cultural exploration (and maybe a little culture shock), high school programs in Japan may be the perfect option.
With many possible locations spread out across this long, skinny island nation, students will be able to choose from high school programs in large, medium, or small Japanese cities.
Tokyo is the first place where many students start their search for high school programs in Japan. With over 35 million people living in the metropolitan area, Tokyo battles for the title of world’s largest city every year, and therefore it can often feel like its own planet entirely. It is a truly iconic city in Japan, complete with stunning ancient temples, bustling backstreet marketplaces, and a booming nightlife illuminated by bright city lights and billboards. High school programs in Tokyo will be a once in a lifetime experience that is worth facing the sometimes overwhelming population for.
Kyoto is another popular city for high school programs in Japan. The capital of the Japanese empire for over 1,000 years, today Kyoto is a much smaller city than Tokyo, with just over 1 million residents. While it is a modern city in some respects, Kyoto is more widely famous for its beautiful ancient temples and other historical monuments, which make it one of the most widely visited destinations in the country.
Other common destinations for high school programs in Japan include Okinawa, Hiroshima, and Kanto. Some students will even be lucky enough to travel to several regions or cities throughout the country during one single program; these multi-location programs are great for students who are having trouble deciding on just one city. No matter where you decide to travel to for your high school program in Japan, it is a very small country geographically and consequently easily connected by a high speed railway system, so you will always be within just a few hours of another great destination.
High School Programs in Japan
Most high school programs in Japan are centered around cultural exploration, and therefore present students with a wide range of educational and travel opportunities to help them understand Japanese culture better. Guided trips to important monuments, classes in traditional Japanese arts, such as cooking and dance, lessons in regional history, interactive field trips, all of these are popular components of cultural exploration programs in Japan. The latter activities are also common in high school study abroad programs in Japan too.
Language immersion is another option for high school programs in Japan. While cultural exploration programs are shorter in length, generally only lasting a few weeks, language immersion program allow students to live in Japan and study Japanese for up to one or two months. Language immersion programs are typically associated with a specific language school or other local academic institution. Considering the structure of these programs, language courses taken in Japan are usually eligible for academic credit, and are offered at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.
Exchange programs, which allow high school students to study abroad at a local high school in Japan for a full semester or academic year, are also available for particularly ambitious students who want to fully immersive themselves in Japanese culture and spend a longer period of time away from home. The language barrier can present a significant challenge for high school students in Japan, since most high schools utilize Japanese as the language of instruction, but there are quite a few international schools where studying in English is possible.
Scholarships & Costs
As one of the wealthiest nations in the world, it will not exactly be cheap to participate in high school programs in Japan. However, there are a decent amount of scholarships available for eligible students who want to participate in high school study abroad programs in Japan, and online fundraising is another great way to help cover the costs of the trip. Be sure to take advantage of these resources to help make your international dreams come true!
Accommodation & Visas
As a geographically small country with a very large population, accommodations in Japan are generally less spacious than in the rest of the industrialized world. But, the Japanese do know how to utilize space efficiently, so you will find that accommodation is still quite comfortable, even with less square footage. Homestays are generally the most popular accommodation option offered in high school programs in Japan, though dorm style living is also sometimes available.
Japan’s visa policy varies for each country. Citizens from most countries in the developed world are allowed to enter Japan for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa, while citizens from some other nations will have to obtain a visa prior to arrival. For more information regarding your specific situation you can check out GoAbroad’s Japanese Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Culture Shock. If you have never been to Japan before, you are in for a treat. Thriving for thousands of years as an isolated nation before its eventual integration, Japan has retained many elements of its own autonomous culture, and is truly unlike anywhere else on Earth.
Educational Opportunity. Many students from the Western world do not know about Japan’s rich and intricate history, so high school programs provide the opportunity for an invaluable crash course. Japan has long been a domineering presence in the East and there are many fascinating regional ties to learn about.
Enhanced Worldview. Since it is such a distinct country and society, high school programs in Japan will also alter many previous views you may have had about your own culture. You will return knowing much more about the ways of the world, and most specifically the ways of the Japanese.