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Tokyo, Ueda, Japan

Program Description

Upcoming Info Session 

February 9: 10:30am - 11:15am 

Harrison Hall 2101

Come explore Japan’s hidden gem!

The Culture of the Japanese Alps offers students the unique opportunities to explore the areas known as Japan’s roof top. In this region of northern Japanese Alps, students will explore the beauty of nature, humanity, and its multi-layered culture with deep roots in history. The program puts its focus on experiences with the locals, allowing students to get to know the people of the area and visit the places that few ever get to see and do. Experiences such as visits to national treasures, exploration of a 400-year-old magnificent Samurai castle, hikes with snow monkeys, tea ceremony in kimono, and wet-rice farming experiences are some of the highlights --- right along with discovering the savory flavors of Japanese cuisine and its art.


The program is open to all majors and minors. Students will be earning a total of 6 credits from this four-weeks program. Courses offered are HUM 252, FL490, and JAPN 447. Students will choose a combination of two 3-credit-hours courses learning about Japanese culture, history, language and cuisine. Through these courses, students will learn about the past and present scenes of Japan, as well as the culture specific to the northern Japan alps area. All students will also be taking Japanese language classes at a local institution. No previous knowledge in Japanese language is required and all levels are welcome.


The program will start in Tokyo, Japan’s capital, exploring some of the significant sites of the metropolitan city. The program will then continue in the nature-rich Nagano prefecture in the northern Japanese alps. Students will reside in the historic castle city of Ueda in Nagano. Ueda as our home base, students can easily explore other areas of the country with the convenient access to Shinkansen bullet trains and other public transportations. 

On the first week, students will get to know the area of their residence by walking to the castle, shrines, local shops, sake-distilleries, cafes, and confectioneries. During the program, students will be engaged in intercultural-leaning experiences by connecting with local college students and visiting public schools in the neighborhood. This experience will provide an inside look into the Japanese educational systems. Later weeks’ excursions include Zenkoji temple, Matsumoto Castle, the world-famous Hakusai museum, National Parks, Snow Monkey hikes, and a stay at a Japanese-inn.

Another uniqueness of the program location is the tourism industry of the northern Alps. The northern Alps area is visited by many Japanese metropolitans in search of the pristine beauty of nature, hot springs, as well as exquisite cuisines. We will stay at a Japanese Inn to experience and learn from small business owners and their strategies to cope with this industry. This experience will expose students to common business practices in the field of hospitality management.

Finally, there will be 3 or more days of free travel at the end of the program. Students can plan their own trip and explore any part of Japan on their own or with group members.

The program will maintain its limit capacity and the small group feature allows for more close interaction with the peers, locals and with the program leaders.

See some highlights from previous programs on Instagram.

Location Description

Tokyo to Nagano:

The program will start in the metropolitan city of Tokyo and then move to the prefecture of Nagano, deep in the northern Japan Alps. The Japanese Alps are full of life, history, and culture to offer students who wish to see the unexplored parts of Japan. Much is known of the urban centers, but few get to experience what central Japan has to offer.

Nagano is accessible by 1 ½ hour bullet train ride from Tokyo.


Samuel Hernandez | | Foreign Languages, Literature and Cultures

Aayami Makino | | Foreign Languages, Literature and Cultures


The Nagano Business College campus will offer housing accommodations with dorm-like facilities. These dorms are equipped with all the same amenities JMU dorms offer in addition to a personal refrigerator. Take a virtual tour here.

Students will be given a weekly stipend for meals. Additionally, there will weekly meals covered by the program.

Additional Items to Consider

There are some readings and some assignments to be completed online prior to departure.

There is no visa requirement for U.S. citizens visiting Japan for less than 90 days

A COVID-19 vaccine is not required but is highly recommended.

Cell phone cards can be purchased for Internet access.

Wi-fi spots is available in train stations, public parks and on most trains and buses.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

No language requirement

No program prerequisites

Open to all students

Application Process

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

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($40 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Interview with Program Director may be required
  • Attendance at program info session may be required
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

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

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


HUM 252: Japanese Culture Past and Present (3 credits)

FL 490: Special Studies in Foreign Languages: Culture of the Japanese Alps (3 credits)

JAPN 447: Special Topics in Japanese Culture: Japanese Language and Cuisine (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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