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If you have questions about this program, email the program leader listed below.

A Japanese Lived Experience: Northern and Southern Japan

The arrangements for the travel, housing, meals, excursions and course content of this program have been made by the leader. Questions about this program can only be answered by the program leader listed below.

Program Type Departmental
Program Location Okinawa, Shikoku, Kyoto, Tokyo, Japan
Course # SA 10203
Duration Summer
Upcoming Program Dates
To Be Announced
Past Dates
Summer 2019 06/12/19 to 07/24/19

Program Leader

Name Kristofer Chang Alexander

Enrollment Details: Enrollment Currently Closed

Program Description
Our program will return for summer 2021
The Japanese culture is a fascinating mixture of traditional and modern. This mixture can be intoxicating and disorientating – making you feel like you have stepped onto another planet. Japan’s beauty lies within its landscapes, people and its history and traditions. This study abroad program will have students travel backwards in time as they expereince ancient, modern, and futuristic Japan.

The Okinawa archipelago occupies Japan’s lowest latitudes—and it’s where your six- week exploration of Japan begins. After acquainting yourself with the ancient Ryukyu culture in the prefectural capital of Naha, you’ll experience paradisiacal beaches, jungles and nature trails with day trips to the islands of Ie and Tokashiki. Following a hike up Mt. Inana to take in a breathtaking panorama, and an excursion to a 2,000-year old village in nearby Saga prefecture, you’ll travel northward to Hiroshima. The beauty of the floating torii gate off Miyajima island provides a poetic contrast to Hiroshima’s tragic past, which like Nagasaki’s is all-too-well known.

Shikoku is both Japan’s smallest island and its most underrated, and you’ll arrive there from Hiroshima in only a few hours via Shinkansen bullet train. You’ll enjoy an eclectic mixture of culture, cuisine and awe-inspiring nature, from the sprawling Kotohira-gu Shrine, to the famous udon noodles of Marugame to the bizarre Naruto Whirlpools. Then it’s off to the Kansai region, home to historical Kyoto, ultra-modern Osaka, deer- filled Nara and Mt. Koya, the holiest Buddhist place in all of Japan. 

The second half of our trip will have you discovering the untamed wilds of Northern Japan. We will begin in Tokyo, the world’s most populous metropolitan area, before beginning your epic journey. Heading north along the east coast of Honshu island, you’ll savor history and culture. 

A speedy journey through the undersea Seikan Tunnel (courtesy of the lightning-fast Shinkansen Hayabusa) takes you to Hokkaido. As the first burst of summer warmth hits this sub-Arctic wonderland, you’ll survey some of the island’s most precious natural treasures, like the fluorescent Blue Pond of Biei and the jagged cliffs of Cape Kamui. Urban adventures include peninsular Hakodate, which is home to Japan’s most spectacular night panorama, and the prefectural capital of Sapporo, where seven brave Japanese explorers founded modern Hokkaido just 150 years ago.

After a week in Hokkaido you’ll hop a quick flight to Nagoya, the hub of central Japan. A three-day hike along the Nakasendo Way, a now-defunct trading route that was the lifeblood of Imperial Japan, introduces you to the terrain and traditions of the Japanese Alps. Your trip concludes with contrasting versions of the timeless Japanese onsen tradition: One a mountain hot spring filled with red-faced macaques; the other an ornate guest house (for humans) cradled in a wooded ravine.

This program focuses on culture, being present/mindful and connecting to nature.

You do not need to know Japanese to apply to the program (and this program does not teach students to speak Japanese).



Locations: Okinawa, Ie, Hiroshima, Marugame, Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Tokyo, Nikko, Sendai, Sapporo, and Jingokudani.



Academic Credit

12-credits overseas:

CSR 390 Japanese Culture

CSR390 Japanese Way of Life

CSR 390 Intercultural Competency

CSR 390 Cultural Immersion: Japan 

In addition, students MUST enroll for a Spring Course titled Intercultural Development (Tuesday from 6-9pm).

The 3-credit hour course is required in order to do the summer study abroad.

Once students are accepted into the program they receive permission to add the course to their schedules.


All undergraduates regardless of majors are eligible.

Students must complete a pre-interview questionnaire (which is available the first week of classes).

Then, students will be asked to meet the instructors (Students are interviewed because we have many more applicants than we have spots on the trip). 

Based on the interviews, we will take 20 students to Japan.

In 2018, we had over 150 applicants for 25 positions.

We do not look for a specific type of student (we often accept students from all years in school, majors, and backgrounds). We look for insightful students who are interested in Japan's culture, nature, and willingness to engage in mindful reflection.

Application Deadline

A $500 deposit once accepted into the program.



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