Sometimes referred to as the “Cultural Capital” of Japan, Kyoto combines tradition and history with all the conveniences of a modern city. You’ll study at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies (colloquially Kyoto Gaidai), a contained language-focused campus in the northwest of the city that boasts four diplomatic consulates within its walls. After class, travel across the river to Gion, an old artistic neighborhood with winding narrow streets, hidden shops, and geikos – geishas of Kyoto dedicated to maintaining traditional flower arrangement, tea ceremonies, and Japanese art.
- GPA Requirement
- Application Deadlines
Spring: November 15
Fall: March 15
- Avg Course Load
- 5- 6 courses (15+ US credits)
- Language(s) of Instruction
- Japanese and English
Key Program Highlights
- Live in a young, active city where 10% of the population are college students
- Explore new and old traditions in the "cultural capital" of Japan
- Learn Japanese, one of the worlds most important languages, in an immersive setting
- Some of the most delicious food in the world
- Easy access to cities like Osaka, Kobe, and Nara
Your Journey Begins Here
Connect with your Global Advisor to start planning. Apply by the application deadline.
Meet your Program Coordinator to finalize acceptance paperwork, housing, courses, flights, visas, payments, etc. Attend a pre-departure orientation.
Fly away. You'll be greeted at the airport, participate in a robust On-site Orientation and La Vida Local Curriculum with your Site Director.
WHY THIS UNIVERSITY?
The Kyoto University of Foreign Studies (KUFS) is your gateway to Japan. Dive into Japanese language and culture with other students from around the world. Founded in 1959, KUFS was originally a foreign language university. Now, KUFS houses a Center for Global Studies and a Center for Japanese Studies. You'll find a dynamic learning environment in a fascinating city filled with Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and modern buildings.
The Japanese Studies courses provide a solid base for understanding Japanese language and culture. Many former KUFS international students are so inspired by Japan that they return to live and to work there after graduating. You'll have your pick of engaging, creative courses. Furthermore, you'll have hands-on experience with traditional Japanese arts, including calligraphy, tea ceremony, kimono wearing, ikebana, and dance.
Accredited by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan. Also recognized by Japan University Accreditation Association; Japan Institution for Higher Education Evaluation (JIHEE).
How to Choose Your Courses
Now the fun part! You get to pick the courses you will take abroad. Review the course information on this page. Once you’ve decided which courses you want to take, fill out the CISabroad Course Selection Worksheet in your online portal.
Make sure to talk with your home university about course approval and get additional classes approved before you go abroad. For example, if you are taking 4 classes abroad, we recommend getting 8 approved. This gives you some flexibility in setting up your class schedule. Think about courses required for your major, but also courses that fulfill your elective requirements.
If you find your GPA is lower than the requirement listed at the top of this page, do not despair! Get in touch to let us know your situation. In many cases, there are additional application materials that you can submit to make your case for acceptance.
Choose your courses, making sure to get them approved by your home university and then fill out the Course Selection Worksheet.
Semester in Japan offers two 14-week semesters, beginning in September, and April. You can easily find a semester that fits with your study abroad schedule.
GPA Required: 2.5. If you find your GPA is lower than the requirement, do not despair! We’ll do all we can to find the right program for you.
How to choose your courses
Now the fun part! As part of the application process you will be required to complete the CISabroad Course Selection Worksheet found in the CISabroad Application Page. The following instructions will guide you through the steps.
Course load: 6 classes (12 US credits).
Course approval: It is best to get 10–12 classes approved before you go abroad. This gives you some flexibility in setting up your class schedule. Think about courses required for your major, but also courses that fulfill your elective requirements.
Course descriptions and catalog: Click here to view the entire list of courses that Kyoto University of Foreign Studies has to offer.
Life in Kyoto
Welcome and Orientation
As part of your CISabroad program you’ll enjoy a Comprehensive Academic and Cultural Orientation in Tokyo ahead of the start of your Semester in Japan program in Kyoto. This 3-day, 2-night excursion kicks off the program with visits around the city to see downtown Tokyo, from Harajuku to the Meiji Shrine. You’ll learn the “do’s and don’ts” of life in Japan, like how to get around by public transportation, how to stay safe, what to do in case of an emergency and who to contact if you have any questions. Following the orientation the group will get on a bullet train down to Kyoto with the program Site Director who will then help you check into housing and settle into Kyoto, your new home. Once in Kyoto, we’ll also tell you all about our favorite places in town (restaurants, museums, markets, etc.).
Farewell and Re-entry Program
Though you’re not an astronaut returning from space, re-entering your home culture after being abroad can be shocking to the system. We’ll walk you through some of the things to expect, rehash your time abroad so that you can remember the highlights and, yep, we’ll feed you again as part of our farewell to Japan.
Studio-style apartments in a shared building, with single rooms in a great location within 30 minutes of campus. Students will have a small kitchenette, ensuite bathroom, and access to laundry facilities.
- Nijojo Castle: Nijijo Castle is one of Kyoto’s most popular and impressive sight. It shows the power that the Shoguns wielded over the emperors throughout the Edo period.
- Nishiki Market: Nishiki Market, also called “Kyoto’s Kitchen”, lies beside the shopping district where young people gather. Along this 390 meter market are shops that have been decorating Kyoto’s dining tables for the past 400 years. Kyoto vegetables, dried foods, pickles, sushi and other items are sold.
- Kinkakuji Temple: Kinkakuji Temple, the famed “Golden Pavilion,” is Kyoto’s most iconic sight, rising above its reflecting pond like an apparition.
More About Kyoto
Kyoto is a magnificent city with amazing cultural treasures unlike any other city in the world. Kyoto has been home to samurai, shogun, the imperial family, monks, and masters. All have left their mark on the city. Ancient temples, pagodas, shrines, and castles are the backdrop for the Semester in Japan program.
There are seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sites in just this one city—more than most countries in the world! Kyoto is the ideal spot to dive into Japanese culture and language. Luckily, the most sacred cultural and historical sites are all close to your program. Don't forget to bring your camera because Kyoto is a photographer's dream city.
Another bright spot: you can reach the city of Osaka by train in just 25 minutes. You'll have the deep history, culture, and traditions of Kyoto, and some of the best shopping and nightlife in the world in Osaka. Additionally, the fascinating cities of Kobe and Nara are also close. Or, zip over to the Osaka International Airport for a short flight to many of the other beautiful regions of Japan.
While participating on a CISabroad program, you'll be able to take part in built-in day trips at no additional cost. These trips are subject to change from term to term; listed below are excursions that have run in the past.
Yokoso to Kyoto
Yokoso means “Welcome” in Japanese. The day starts out in Arashiyama, located only about 30 minutes from KUFS housing and famous for Zen Temples and Gardens, the Monkey and Bamboo Forests, and so much more! We first enter Tenryu-ji Zen Temple, a serene temple with gorgeous views of the Zen garden and koi pond. We'll then head into the Bamboo Grove of Arashiyama for a stroll through the serene forest. We'll then take a break for some matcha ice cream. You are then free to roam - check out the monkey park in the forest, relax by the Katsura river, or freshen up for the night to come. Later on, we meet up in Gion, the Geisha district of Kyoto. This is where we have our Yokoso Dinner at an Izakaya restaurant tasting a variety of Japanese food dishes. We'll then enjoy a walking tour of the area covering Pontocho dori, along the Kamo gawa river, then to check out a Geisha's home, then over to the famous Yasaka Shrine, then to Hanamikoji dori all the way into Kennin-ji, the oldest Zen Temple in Kyoto and home to over twenty different shrines.
Our Memories with a Geisha
On this excursion participants will have the opportunity to experience a private dinner with a geiko, hear traditional music and play traditional games. What is the difference between a geisha and a geiko you may ask? Literally translating to ‘arts person’, geisha (芸者) are highly trained in Japanese traditional arts, including music, singing and dancing. By contrast, geiko (芸子) is primarily used to refer to geisha from Kyoto. Although geisha formerly referred to only those from Tokyo and its surrounding areas, it has now become the general term for all geisha. An apprentice to a geiko is termed a maiko (舞妓) who undergo about 5 years of training in various arts, before graduating to become geiko.
The Nara Experience Tour
Every Semester, students join an exciting excursion to nearby Nara, the first ancient capital of Japan. Nara's ancient history is considered very significant to the foundation of much of Japanese culture. Such cultural aspects of Japan such as Sumo wrestling and Sake were birthed in Nara. Many historical monuments are registered as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites. Every semester, May in the Spring semester, and November in the Fall semester, we set out for a day of culture and exploration to this wonderful city and prefecture. Included in this excursion are round trip transportation, lunch, snacks for the deer at Nara Deer Park, a visit to Todaiji Temple, a mid-day soft cream snack, and the private night at Kashihara Shrine including a special dinner.
Everyone within the program had their hearts, heads, and souls in the program, and it made me feel so welcomed and so happy. The students, teachers, directors, and all the people I met in passing on the trip taught me so much about myself and inspired me to be better and think bigger.
Your Support Staff
Travel Tip: Be open to meeting new people! Some of my favorite memories while traveling include meeting people in hostels, or by getting involved at my school abroad. You never know who will be a lifelong friend! Try all of the local foods, even if you don’t think you will like it. Write everything down in a journal- you will appreciate those stories later!
Travel Tip: When choosing places to travel, venture to locations with a culture entirely different than your own, where the language, food, behaviors, traditions, ways of thinking, and ways of working and living are totally foreign to you. The experience will be transformative in good ways and stay with you for a lifetime.
Travel Tip: We love what we do and want to talk to you! The Global Advising Center is here to help you decide on a program, and complete the Online Application. From the moment you first hear from us be it through a phone call, email or personal visit, you will find that our passion for international education is contagious. We’re ready to launch you abroad.
Application DeadlineNovember 1stArrivalMarch 25 (Estimated)OrientationMarch 26 (Estimated)DepartureAugust 4 (Estimated)PRICE$12,290
Application DeadlineMarch 15ArrivalSeptember 3 (Estimated)OrientationSeptember 4 (Estimated)DepartureDecember 21 (Estimated)PRICE$12,290
CISabroad reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partner universities.
Optional Elective Course: Teaching English and Professional Development in Japan
(Currently offered during spring semester only)
Summary of Program:
- Semester-long, plus one extra week at the end
- Training course in theory and practice of teaching the English language in Japan and other Asian countries
- Three stages: series of lectures, group discussions, peer activities, real-world teaching observations, and teaching demonstrations
- 18 hours of instruction
- 34 hours of practical teaching experience
- One week of classroom teaching in Tokyo
- PRE-TESOL Basic Certificate and letter of recommendation post-completion
Interested in extending your stay? You could earn up to a $1,000 discount!
Many students wish they could extend their time abroad. It’s often easier to do so before your program starts, rather than when you’re on site. From doing a full-year program to adding an internship or even combining two programs in different countries, there are many ways we can help you. Ask your global advisor for more info.
As with all study abroad programs, you should count on a few additional expenses.
Program fees are in US dollars and include the following:
- CISabroad Comprehensive Academic and Cultural Orientation in Tokyo
- Full-time tuition and fees
- Excursions to Osaka, Gion, and Nara
- Medical and accident insurance
- CISabroad support services before, during, and after the program
- Academic advising
- Financial aid counseling
- Assistance with travel arrangements
- Predeparture orientation
- Airport pickup
- On-site support
- Kyoto University of Foreign Studies Transcript
- NYTimes Digital Subscription
- La Vida Local cultural program