Kyoto is filled with beauty and intrigue, a city holding onto its past while blazing into the future. Modern skyscrapers tower over traditional temples, and you’ll encounter an astonishing seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sites. On Semester in Japan, you’ll explore this fascinating city as you study at the Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, which has a strong focus on Japanese language and culture. Even as Kyoto hangs onto its heritage, the city is awash with young people. College students comprise ten percent of Kyoto’s population, making for a very lively and dynamic city. Fuel up on the best sushi of your life as you take in this small but grand island nation.
- GPA Requirement
- Application Deadlines
Spring: October 1
Fall: March 15
- Avg Course Load
- 6 courses (12 US credits)
- Language(s) of Instruction
- Japanese and English
Key Program Highlights
- Modern city with a rich, ancient past
- Quiet temples, sublime gardens, and colorful shrines dot the city
- University focus on Japanese language acquisition, with courses from beginner to advanced
- Some of the most delicious food in the world
- Young, active city, where ten percent of the population are college students
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.
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 near 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 weekend and 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.
Dinner & Strolling in Gion
Gion (祇園) is Kyoto's most famous geisha district, located around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine in the east and the Kamo River in the west. Gion is a site to behold filled with traditional wooden machiya merchant houses. Due to the fact that property taxes were formerly based upon street frontage, the houses were built with narrow facades only five to six meters wide, giving the area a cozy atmosphere. The streets and side alleys are lined with preserved machiya houses many of which now function as restaurants, and along the canal are lines of willow trees and ochaya(teahouses). Bring your cameras for this excursion, along with your appetite!
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.
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.
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 and 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.
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.
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).
Caitlin Haggerty - Stevens Institute of Technology
Program SupportMeet Our Staff
Before, during, and after your study abroad experience, you’ll be supported by the dedicated and passionate CISabroad staff. Our goal is quick responses to your questions before you depart, and even quicker once you’ve arrived on site.
Robust Advising Center
Our team of advisors will help you choose a program, connect with your home university regarding classes and financial aid and get you prepared to apply for your program.
Team of Dedicated Program Coordinators
Your Program Coordinator will assist you in finalizing housing, enrolling in courses, booking flights, obtaining visas, arranging payments, and provide pre-departure orientation.
Experienced On-site Staff
From greeting you at the airport to a robust On-site Orientation to La Vida Local Activities our on-site staff will be there to support you throughout your time on-site.
Our support doesn’t end when your program does. We have alumni programming, webinars, and resources to help you readjust when you’ve returned from your experience.
Your Support Staff
Global Advising Team
MANAGER OF PROGRAMS - Asia, Pacific, and Africa
Site Director in Japan
Application DeadlineMarch 15ArrivalSeptember 3OrientationSeptember 4DepartureDecember 23PRICE$11,990
Application DeadlineOctober 1ArrivalMarch 26 (Estimated)OrientationMarch 27 (Estimated)Classes StartApril 2 (Estimated)Classes EndJuly 27 (Estimated)DepartureAugust 4 (Estimated)PRICE$11,990 (Estimated)
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, Kobe, and Onsen 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 (US university)
- NYTimes Digital Subscription
- La Vida Local cultural program