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Hiroshima, Kyoto, Tokyo, Japan

Program Description

Immerse yourself in the rich, complex artistic and cultural heritage of Japan. As part of your program of study, you will spend time in Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Tokyo. You will engage in site visits to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, encounter arts, crafts, and buildings designated as National Treasures, and witness performances of traditional dance, music, and theatre by leading Japanese artists. Trips to surrounding cities will allow visits to additional cultural sites. At the same time, you will have a chance to experience the cutting-edge technology and exciting pop culture of one of the safest developed countries of the world.

Through partnerships with Ritsumeikan University and Hiroshima University, you will both experience Japanese student life and have the opportunity to interact with students and faculty at two leading universities in Japan. Accommodations will include dormitories on-campus, offering access to both the resources and student life of the universities. The excellent public transportation systems also offer easy access to nearby restaurants, shopping areas, and entertainment.

You do not need to speak Japanese to participate in this study abroad session, as all instruction is in English. While Japanese is the native language, English is widely used on signs, menus, and in major tourist sites. Students enrolled in any major at any university are welcome to participate and apply JMU course credit hours toward one's degree program.

Location Description

The ancient capital of the country, Kyoto has long been a center for artistic and cultural development, and today is a mecca for both traditional artisans and contemporary artists. As one of the few cities spared from destruction during World War II, Kyoto’s countless temples, shrines, and historic structures offer visitors a glimpse into Japan’s past. At the same time, it is also one of the country’s largest cities, known for both emerging pop culture and live music. Highly walkable, the city is surrounded by pristine natural beauty.

A city with a long history as an important trade port and center for the military, Hiroshima is today most associated with the dropping of the first atomic bomb, which occurred on August 6, 1945. Almost instantly destroyed by the blast, Hiroshima’s citizens persevered to rebuilt their city. After a remarkable recovery, the city is today home to over 1.2 million people. Visits to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum along with excursions to local festivals and historic sites will offer students a glimpse into the city’s past and present cultures.

The capital of Japan since 1869, Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area in the country and the most populous metropolitan area in the world. A major urban and artistic center since the seventeenth century, Tokyo has long been a showcase for avant-garde art, architecture, and technology. From nighttime tours of graffiti art to excursions to the cutting-edge Mori Building Digital Art Museum, the city will be the dazzling backdrop to our final days in Japan.


Virginia Soenksen| | Madison Art Collection


Accommodations will be provided for students through furnished dorm rooms on the campus of Ritsumeikan and Hiroshima University. Rooms will have internet access, kitchen and laundry facilities. In Tokyo, accommodations will most likely be in double-occupancy rooms with internet access and laundry facilities.

Students will be allocated a meal stipend to cover the cost of daily meals, which will be distributed every 3-5 days. We will have two group meals (welcome and farewell dinners).

Additional Items to Consider

No vaccines are required for entry to Japan. The United States Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that travelers should be up to date on routine vaccines including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and the flu shot.

With a valid passport and an onward/return ticket, students can stay on a tourist/business "visa free" stay of up to 90 days.

The easier and cheapest way for students to use cell phone data and make voice calls while in Japan is to buy an international plan through their US cell phone provider.

Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs that are readily available in the US are prohibited to bring into Japan. Prohibited drugs include those containing stimulants (including pseudoephedrine, found in Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers), or codeine. Some US prescription medications cannot be imported into Japan, even when accompanied by a customs declaration and a copy of the prescription. Prohibited prescription stimulants include Vyvanse, Dexedrine, and Adderall, all of which are standard medications used to treat ADHD symptoms in the US. If you bring these stimulants into Japan for any reason, you risk arrest and imprisonment. Currently, the only drug used to treat ADHD that is legal in Japan is Concerta.

US prescriptions are not honored in Japan, so travelers with ongoing prescription medicine needs should arrive with a sufficient supply to see them through until they are able to see a local care provider.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

No language requirement

Open to all majors

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Interview with Program Director may be required
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

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Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


ARTH 206: Survey of World Art II (3 credits)

HUM 252: Cross-Cultural Perspectives – East Asian Humanities (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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