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.

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 believe that study abroad is still possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, but certain policies and procedures will need to be in place to ensure every student can be safe and healthy during their semester abroad. Note: The COVID-19 Plan for this program is still in development as of September 2020. A similar program has a fully developed plan. Check out Semester in South Korea at Sogang University.




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: Nov 1 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: March 23 (Estimated)
  • Departure: July 8 (Estimated)
  • Price: $12,790
  • Application Deadline: Apr 1 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: September 7 (Estimated)
  • Departure: December 19 | February 28 (Estimated)
  • Price: $12,790 (Estimated)
Additional Information:

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.