Semester in Japan
Kyoto University of Foreign Studies

Gap Year Friendly
Spring 2021

Explore new and old traditions in Japan's “cultural capital.”

Kyoto combines tradition and history with all the conveniences of a modern city. 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.

What to Expect:

  • Language: Japanese and English
  • Average Courseload: 5-6 courses (15+ U.S. credits)
  • GPA Requirement: 2.5


  • 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 world's 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

Program Details

Kyoto University of Foreign Studies

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).

Areas of study with 3 to 7 classes available

Don't see your major listed here? There may still be courses available. Browse our programs by major.

Areas of study which have more than 8 classes available

  • Humanities
  • World Languages

Don't see your major listed here? There may still be courses available. Browse our programs by major.

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.

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.

We recommend you use Google Chrome to open the above course list, so that you can translate the page to English.

Why Life in 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.

Live La Vida Local

  • 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.

Housing in Kyoto


Students will occupy 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.


Put your skills to the test and cook your own meals in your kitchenette. Try your hand at making local favorites.

Inclusions and Amenities

  • BathroomEnsuite
  • CommutePublic Transportation
  • Desk
  • Kitchenette
  • LaundryOn-site
  • Private Room

What's Included


Program fees are in U.S. dollars and include the following:

  • CIS Abroad Comprehensive Academic and Cultural Orientation in Tokyo
  • Full-time tuition and fees
  • Excursions to Osaka, Gion, and Nara
  • Housing
  • Medical and accident insurance
  • CIS Abroad support services before, during, and after the program
  • Academic advising
  • Financial aid counseling
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Pre-departure orientation
  • Airport pickup
  • On-site support
  • Kyoto University of Foreign Studies Transcript
  • La Vida Local cultural program

Welcome & Orientation

As part of your CIS Abroad program, enjoy a comprehensive Academic and Cultural Orientation in Tokyo ahead of the start of your Semester in Japan program in Kyoto. This 1-day, 2-night experience kicks off the program with an orientation in the morning, where 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, program excursions, bucket-list items, what to do in case of an emergency, and how to get your questions answered.

Following the orientation, head over to the famous Sensō-ji Temple, an ancient Buddhist temple located in the heart of Asakusa, Tokyo, to jump right into a traditional area of the city while having a delicious ramen welcome lunch! The next day, 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 – and fill you in on all about our favorite places in town.

Note: this will not be available for the Spring 2021 semester. See the COVID-19 Plan tab for more information.

Farewell & 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.

As part of our sending off event “Our Memories with a Geisha,” enjoy a final dinner and gathering in Gion featuring a delicious Kyoto style meal and the company of a Maiko from Kyoto, who will share her dancing skills and help you practice the Japanese that you’ve learned throughout the semester by engaging in conversation during the meal.

Program Excursions

While participating on a CIS Abroad 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 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.

The Nara Experience Tour

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.

Temple Hopping

Temple Hopping

This excursion takes us into the history, culture and beauty of seasons in Kyoto. We start off at the famous Ginkakuji Temple, walking the path through the inner Shrine taking in all the beautiful natural settings that fill the property. Next, we walk along the Philospher`s Path to Honen-in Temple, quiet and scenic. Next stop is Anraku-ji Temple, featuring an amazing Japanese garden. Then it’s onto Eikan-do Temple, famed for its beautiful foliage. The last stop on the Path is Nanzen-ji Temple, full of beauty and amazement. We’ll rest our feet for a bit before we make our way to Chion-in Temple for their special night time “Light-up” event. We finish off the tour walking to nearby Gion for some free time enjoyment.

Site Director

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:

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.


Originally from New Jersey, Jeff attended Rider University where he studied Business Administration. After graduation, he started working for a small college in northern New Jersey where he started the Office of International Programs, study abroad programs, language programs, and established international exchange programs. He was sent to tour Asia to establish international educational exchanges and continued expanding exchanges over the course of the next decade. He then moved to Tokyo, where he continues to develop programs and support systems for students studying in Japan.

Your Support Staff

Global Advising Team
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 text, phone call, email or personal visit—you will find that our passion for international education is contagious. We’re ready to launch you abroad.

Julia Sementilli
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!

Alexandra Woolner
Travel Tip:

Expect the unexpected! Sometimes culture shock is stronger in countries where you expect things to be more similar to your home country and environment. Traveling abroad is an excellent way to learn more about your own culture, habits, style, and adaptability.

CIS Abroad's COVID-19 Plan

We want you to have the study abroad semester of a lifetime, and also know that Spring 2021 is a unique time to be having this experience. We want to provide useful information to you so you can make the best decision for your finances, academic career, and personal health and safety. 

We are making three commitments to you.

Our Financial Commitment

100% Refund 22 Days Before Your Program Starts

CIS Abroad has worked with international partners to create refund and withdrawal policies that limit the financial impact on students and families should COVID-19 change a student’s plan to travel. 

  • 100% refund of total program costs 22 days prior to the start (arrival) date of the program* 
  • 80% refund of total program costs 21-15 days prior to the start (arrival) date of the program
  • 50% refund of total program costs 14-8 days prior to the start (arrival) date of the program
  • 20% refund of total program costs 7-1 days prior to the start (arrival) date of the program
  • Academic continuity is guaranteed, see below.

*Update 10.6.20: Excluding quarantine upon arrival costs. See our Health & Safety Commitment below for more information.

To insure yourself from additional loss, such as the loss of airfare, or any other non-recoverable loss after your program begins, we recommend purchasing trip protection insurance, aka CFAR/IFAR insurance. 

Our Academic Commitment

Course Continuation Guaranteed

CIS Abroad has carefully selected programs where there is zero to minimal academic risk. 

  • If a student cannot travel to the country due to host country COVID-19 restrictions, remote academics are guaranteed. These may be synchronous or asynchronous, i.e. live or recorded.*
  • If a student arrives in-country and must quarantine or miss classes due to sickness, remote academics are guaranteed. These may be synchronous or asynchronous, i.e, live or recorded.
  • If a city or country goes on lockdown due to sickness, remote academics are guaranteed. These may be synchronous or asynchronous, i.e. live or recorded.

*Update 10.6.20: Our Japan programs cannot offer academic continuity if students don’t arrive on-site. So, we are unable to mitigate this risk.  Please proceed with these programs only if that is acceptable to you. 

Our Health & Safety Commitment

COVID Care Package Included

CIS Abroad has developed a site-specific risk management plan for every location so that health and safety protocols are monitored, managed and communicated throughout the semester. 

We have developed a COVID Care Package included in our program fee for all Spring 2021 programming to make traveling and living in a host country easier on students, especially those first few weeks on-site: 

  • COVID-19 compliant airport pick-up and transfer to housing.
  • 14-day Quarantine housing cost, if quarantine is required when entering the country
  • Information and assistance on meal delivery, if quarantine is required when entering the country
  • Welcome packet of masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies
  • Single rooms in student residences, or apartments.*
  • Access to accommodation if isolation is necessary due to positive COVID-19 test or exposure; this housing may incur additional charges. 
  • Access to COVID-19 testing; this testing may be an additional charge.
  • Medical and accident insurance that covers COVID-19-related illness
  • La Vida Local cultural activities and reflection that emphasize safe, local exploration geared to the specific context of being abroad at this special time. 

*except for our Asia-Pacific programs where COVID-19 compliant doubles are included. 

Note: For our programs in Kyoto, Japan host governments have advised that a 2 week quarantine upon arrival will likely be required and will be confirmed closer to departure. CIS Abroad will have to pay for the quarantine in advance in order for students to begin the visa process. Thus the costs of the quarantine are only refundable if a quarantine is not required. 

    • $2,000 (for 2 weeks of a hotel in the Kansai area and some meals)

We recognize not every student, family, or university will allow travel this Spring, despite the risk mitigation outlined above.  We are committed to providing our Virtual Global and Virtual Accelerated Internships so that we can bring international learning & career skills to you.


If Japan is requiring students to quarantine upon arrival, CIS Abroad will have you covered. CIS Abroad is closely monitoring changing international regulations and will help you plan accordingly. The CIS Abroad COVID Care Package includes two weeks of housing at a hotel with some meals included.

Orientation and Excursions

The CIS Abroad Comprehensive Academic and Cultural Orientation in Tokyo will not be included this semester. The Welcome and Orientation for the Spring 2021 term will be finalized when more is known about the possible quarantine upon arrival.  We will not start in Tokyo for the Spring 2021 term, but we’ll do some fantastic adventuring far and wide once students are settled into their program in Kyoto.




Teaching English and Professional Development in Japan

Extend your time in Japan, immerse more deeply in the culture, and learn the theory and practice of teaching the English language in Japan and other Asian countries!

Please note: This add-on is only available to summer in Japan participants in sessions 2 & 3 or sessions 1, 2, & 3 or for participants in spring programs in Japan.

Summary of Program:

  • 6 weeks
  • 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
  • Tokyo English Camp with included activities
  • PRE-TESOL Basic Certificate and letter of recommendation post-completion.

Get more information about this add on.

Dates & Prices

ADVISOR TIP: Please WAIT to book flights until you have received confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork. Dates posted here are subject to change.

  • Application Deadline:
    EXTENDED!Nov 7
    Nov 1
  • Arrival: March 24
  • Departure: July 25 | August 16
  • Price: $12,790
  • Application Deadline:
    EXTENDED!Nov 7
    Nov 1
  • Arrival: March 9
  • Departure: July 25 | August 16
  • Price: $14,790
  • Application Deadline: Apr 1 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: September 7 (Estimated)
  • Departure: December 19 | February 28 (Estimated)
  • Price: $12,790 (Estimated)
Additional Information:

For Spring 2021, you will be charged the 14-day quarantine price. This additional $2,000 covers 2 weeks of accommodation in a hotel and some meals.

If quarantine is not required for your first 14 days on-site, you will be refunded this amount. Please do not book flights until CIS Abroad confirms the start date.

As with all study abroad programs, you should count on a few additional expenses.

CIS Abroad reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partner universities.