Experience the adventure of a lifetime and continue your studies — with a twist — by spending a summer abroad in Japan! Ready to have the best summer break of your life and pick up some Japanese along the way? Hai!? Good! Japan is a fusion of ancient traditions and modern cityscapes, from zen rock gardens to exotic nightclubs. Discover why summers are the best time of year to taste the nagashi-sōmen, watch sumo championships, dance the Bon-odori, and raft down the Yoshinogawa River. Watch your studies come to life in a jaw-dropping cultural kaleidoscope. Be like a ninja and get a slice of this heaven by spending a summer abroad in Japan!
Why Spend Summer Abroad in Japan
Take advantage of your short break by learning from creative innovators on this isolated island— did we mention it boasts ecological, economical, and efficient means in nearly any field of study? The prosperous country of Japan has a diverse economy with some of the largest companies in the world, especially in the areas of research, engineering, and economics. When you’re not hitting the books to earn extra credits, you’ll enjoy some of the top experiences Japan has to offer: scuba diving with manta rays in the Izu Peninsula, colorful mass folk dancing at the festivities, and kicking back with a Sapporo to muse the urban landscapes from patios and rooftops.
Step outside of your comfort zone and learn more about Asian etiquette, customs, and aesthetics by learning Japanese during your summer study abroad in Japan. While you do have the option of taking a few courses here or there in English, most classes are in this local tongue. Not only that, but knowing the language will also help you navigate your way through the country and order some delicious, chilled soba noodles from the locals like a pro. The courses may be intensive, but most summer study abroad programs in Japan offer homestay experiences for you to help you practice more.
Comprised of 7,000 islands, summer study abroad in Japan will please any student who is a cultural lover or adventure seeker (or both). From endless coastlines to rugged mountains to iconic skyscrapers, get in on the fun in one of these awesome Japanese cities.
Tokyo. Immerse yourself with views of neon-lit streetscapes, manga, anime, and Hello Kitty all from the Sky Tree Tower in the capital city. Relax with classmates and a brewski at the Meiji Kinenkan beer garden. Savor some sushi or mochi at a five-Michelin-star restaurant. Rock your heart out at the Summer Sonic rock festival, watch traditional dances of Okinawa at the Shinjuku Eisa festival, and join the water fight at the Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri. Class excursions could include trips to the breathtaking Mt. Fuji or to the seaside city Kamakura.
Kyoto, located on the Tamba highlands of central Honshu island, is home to many study abroad summer programs in Japan. Stroll through the exclusive geisha area of the Gion District, explore the gardens around the Ginkaku-Ji Temple, and walk through a refreshing bamboo grove in the Arashiyama area. Leave your backpack behind as you stop for green tea ice cream for a cool treat. Watch a procession of large Yamahoko floats at the Kyoto Gion Matsuri festival or celebrate the Gozan Okuribi festival where five large bonfires light up the mountain slopes.
Fukuoka, which is situated in southern Japan on the Kyushu island. Visit Marine Park Uminonakamichi on the northern side of the Bay of Hakata, where you can take rides at the amusement park, soak up some sun on the beaches, and enjoy seeing dolphins, seals, and otters (oh my!). Celebrate the beginning of summer at the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival, an annual event of more than 700 years where Yamakasa floats are displayed. Don’t forget to ooh and awe over 6,000 rounds of fireworks light up the sky at the Nishinihon Ohori Fireworks event!
Tips for Summer Study in Japan
Depending on where you want to spend your summer in Japan, the weather may get a little too hot and humid for your liking. Take care to hydrate often — perhaps invest in an insulated tea bottle to keep your whistle wet all day. You might choose to carry a pocket fan, handkerchief, and body sheets to wipe the sweat off your brow too. If you have the need for light air-conditioned breezes, hole up in communal areas like museums and cat cafes — perfect places to cool down and chat with (or pet) some locals while taking your summer abroad to Japan.
To beat the heat, be sure to visit Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido, which has milder weather. Hike the picturesque mountains and explore the rugged and remote areas of some national parks: Yotei-zan, Rishiri-zan, Daisetsuzan National Park and Shiretoko National Park. Many of the areas in these parks are only accessible during the summer, so you’re in for a treat!
Summer is also the perfect time of year to see flowers that come alive and delight your senses. Marvel at the statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, while visiting Hasedera and strolling through the hydrangea garden. Peer at the 50,000 lavender bushes at the Tambara Flower Park or breathe the smell of lavender at the flower fields of Furano.
Summer Abroad Scholarships Japan
While you’ll overall spend less than a full semester, Japan has a lot of tourists in the summer, and airfare and accommodation can be a bit spendy. However, you bet your bottom dollar (er, yen) that you’ll cut down the costs with summer study abroad scholarships in Japan! Here’s a couple of suggested scholarships to help you get started:
- CEA awards plenty of scholarships based on need, merit, and diversity. The scholarships range from $500-$1000! The requirements differ for each of them, but most require a personal essay, a recommendation letter, and a good GPA.
- TEAN Abroad offers a full ride scholarship for summer term with a value of up to $26,000! Applicants will need to meet the GPA of the program they’re in and submit a one-page essay. March 1st is the deadline!
- IES Abroad provides summer study abroad scholarship of $1000! Applicants will need to be attending a university that is a member of the ISA Consortium and submit an application with a personal essay and a profile.
That extra yen will come in handy for another cup of kakigori. The list may seem endless, but take heart! You’ll find a few that will speak to you, so just keep chugging along. Don’t forget to check for summer study abroad scholarship requirements and deadlines — most deadlines are several months before the summer begins. Take a look-see at GoAbroad.com’s Scholarship Directory for oodles of available summer study abroad scholarships in Japan.
Benefits & Challenges
You’ll acquire valuable international viewpoints in a global community by spending a summer in Japan. Hundreds of U.S. companies have branches in Japan, and hundreds of Japanese companies are U.S. competitors. Unlock business opportunities domestically and internationally and win the favor of Japanese customers and clients by taking courses to learn the language. Employers will gasp in delight when they recognize your multicultural prowess, knowing you’ll be a valuable asset to their team in any global field.
While Japan is a blend of eastern and western customs, you may experience a good dose of culture shock while there. You may not be accustomed to seeing naked people at public baths, putting on slippers while in a bathroom, or slurping your noodles loud and proud. Arm yourself with proper etiquette knowledge before going to Japan. The locals are warm and welcoming, so the least you can do is return their niceties with polite behavior.
Whether you’re cooling off in the mountains or busting out lyrics with karaoke, you’ll never want to leave the Land of the Rising Sun. You’ll end up writing your own memoirs (like a geisha) after spending a summer of study abroad in Japan!