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Nagano, Iiyama, Madarao, Japan

Program Description

"Culture of the Japanese Alps" offers students a unique opportunity to fulfill course requirements, experience culture and to learn Japanese in an authentic setting. Students will be exposed to the multilayered culture the Nagano region offers with several visits to cultural sites with local experts.

There will be a 3 credit hours course on Japanese civilization that fulfills the Cluster Two general education requirement, one 3 credit course on the culture of the Japanese Alps and one 6 credit course on Japanese language that satisfies one year of the two-year language requirement for the B.A. degree.

This program allows students to choose either a language focus or a cultural focus while fulfilling key requirements earning a total of 6 credits in a 4-week program. This program will lay the foundations for students to learn and reflect on the culture they will be immersed in and broaden their worldview to appreciate other cultures.

Location Description

The program will also offer students unique opportunities to experience the culture such as site visitations, food preparation, field excursions, and mini-series with local experts.

This program will focus on the natural and pristine locations the Japanese Alps offer. Students will live in Nagano city, a city surrounded by mountains and landscapes that can be explored by train or bus.

Another unique focus of this program will be the tourism industry of the Japanese Alps. We will be staying at a local “pension” for 3 nights to experience and learn from small business owners and their strategies to cope with a booming industry.

Finally, there will be 4 days for free travel towards the end of the program and students are encouraged to explore on their own and even attend some of the events of the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.


Samuel Hernandez | | Foreign Languages, Literature and Cultures

Aayami Makino | | Foreign Languages, Literature and Cultures


Accommodations will be available in the University of Nagano with access to public transportation, internet and laundry facilities.

There will be a meal stipend that covers approximately 14 meals per week.

Meals will be included in field excursions and site visits.

Additional Items to Consider

- US citizens are not required to obtain a visa in Japan for a stay of 90 days or less. Citizens of other countries should check their visa requirements
- Internet access is available at the university housing
- The program will cover field excursions and site visits
- Some U.S. carriers have cell phone service in Japan for an additional fee, check with your cell phone carrier. SIM cards can be purchased or rented in Japan and installed in your device
-Immunizations are not required in Japan but students are advised to consult with their local healthcare provider. U.S. prescriptions are also not valid in Japan and students are encouraged to have their medications for the duration of their stay and carry a copy of the original prescription for customs inquiries. Some prescriptions are not allowed in Japan, please see the list in the Japanese consular website and consult with the prescribing physician
-Most credit cards are accepted in Japan but be sure to have a card that has no foreign transaction fee to avoid over paying
-The Japanese Alps have a cooler weather in the evenings and rain is common during this time of the year, students are encouraged to have a light rain coat and comfortable shoes for walking
-Students should be advised that soy and wheat are common ingredients in Japanese cuisine. There is an activity planned where students will make their own soba noodles from scratch, and students are encouraged to check for buckwheat allergies

COVID-19 Location Information:

Each country has different requirements upon entry with regard to COVID-19. Please check this website for the most up-to-date information on what is required for the country (or countries) that are part of this program. Please note that this changes often, so we encourage you to check back frequently.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

No language requirement

No program prerequisites

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 ($40 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Academic references
  • 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. 

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


FL 490: Culture of the Japanese Alps (3 credits)

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

JAPN 111: Accelerated Review of Elementary Japanese (6 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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