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It may take great courage to study in Japan where the culture and customs are so different from those of your own country.
These universities offer their own distinctive programs and support systems to help you achieve academic goals and enhance your experience in Japan.

Free online course "Studying at Japanese Universities"

The University of Tokyo

Helping students who want to study in Japan to prepare by introducing international study programs and making plans for overseas study

The University of Tokyo (UTokyo) has developed and offers a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) titled "Studying at Japanese Universities" via Coursera, as a free online course for those interested in studying in Japan.

The course is designed to help learners discover the diverse programs offered by different Japanese universities including UTokyo and help prepare their study plans by listening to experiences and advice from international students who are currently studying in Japan. In addition to gaining knowledge about the programs offered in Japan, learners will also be able to make a draft personal application and study abroad plan through the assignments in the course.

This course intends to support studying at Japanese universities by providing opportunities to the learners to interact online with others who are also interested in studying in Japan as well as with the Course Teaching Assistants (Course TAs) and international students currently studying in Japan.

Furthermore, information on study abroad programs offered at other Japanese universities and study abroad guides are provided in the course through cooperation with universities selected for the Top Global University Project, MEXT (Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), and JASSO (Japan Student Services Organization) with the aim of increasing the number of international students coming to Japan and enhancing the study abroad education.

This course is delivered in English with English subtitles and is open to all through Coursera at no cost. Those who complete the course have the added option of earning a verified certificate of completion should they wish to do so.

Please check out the course regardless of whether or not you have decided to study in Japan!

International Support Desk (ISD)

Chiba University

If you're having difficulties, go to the ISD for help and advice on all aspects of life at university

Chiba University opened its International Support Desk (ISD) on the first floor of the Center for International Education in 2010. Today, three staff members offer a one-stop service providing support for international students and foreign researchers in all aspects of everyday life, mainly in the following areas.

◆ Visa issues

Staff help with applications for the Certificate of Eligibility required to obtain a visa, offer information on visa procedures while resident in Japan, and give advice on matters such as points to note when bringing in family members.

◆ Scholarships

The International Student Division provides information on all the scholarships available to international students, including those from the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) as well as those from private organizations. Application procedures are also handled by the division.

◆ Housing

The ISD handles applications for places in the International House dormitory for international students and introduces students to apartments available through the Urban Renaissance Agency (UR) and private corporate dormitories associated with the university. The university will also act as an institutional guarantor for international students to enable them to rent private apartments and similar accommodation, provided that the student himself or herself takes out Comprehensive Renters' Insurance for Foreign Students Studying in Japan.

◆ Daily living

Staff provide help with resident registration and opening a bank account on arrival in Japan, advice on paying National Health Insurance and introductions to hospitals, guidance on points to note when moving house, and support for everyday matters. They are also available to consult on worries arising from issues such as interpersonal relationships while students are staying in Japan.

◆ Opportunities to engage with local communities

Staff carry out recruitment, liaison, and coordination to provide opportunities for engagement with local schools and volunteer groups.

◆ Course credits

The International Student Division handles the registration and management of Japanese-language courses for credit, and also offers guidance and advice on how to register.

Off the Nishi-Chiba campus, the ISD also has branches on the Inohana and Matsudo campuses with the aim of offering fuller support.

Japanese cultural experience

Tokyo University of the Arts

Experience the "real thing" in Japanese arts, and study the true nature of history and tradition

Tokyo University of the Arts provides a range of Japanese cultural experience programs for its international students. Founded in 1887, it is Japan's only national university of the arts, with over 130 years of history and tradition. Its faculty, who are active on the global stage in a wide variety of specialist fields, plan and implement exceptionally high-quality programs that provide students with irreplaceable learning and experiences.

For example, as part of the program on "Chanoyu (the Japanese Way of Tea) and Japanese Culture," students visit the Mushakouji Senke Kankyuan Tokyo Branch Training Room, which is close to the campus, where they hear lectures by high-ranking tea ceremony practitioners and experience attending a tea ceremony themselves. The time spent hearing directly from the tea master about the origin of tea, the different ways it has been enjoyed in East and West, and a diverse variety of tea bowls made in different periods and in different countries, while seeing the tea room and garden, meticulously thought out in every detail, with their own eyes is extremely valuable. They can also learn about implements used in the tea ceremony such as natsume (tea caddies) and futaoki (lid rests), the course of a formal tea ceremony, and the environment in which the samurai class enjoyed taking part in tea ceremonies.

The Noh drama program is held in the Noh hall on campus, with faculty from the Department of Traditional Japanese Music invited. The international students who take part learn about aspects such as the unique basic stance used in Noh, how to use timing and pauses (ma), how to move their feet while keeping the upper body still, and how to use a fan for spatial expression, using actual Noh plays as teaching materials. Rather than just hearing them explained, students practice by copying the professor's performance, and at the end of the program all the participants take the stage to perform part of a Noh play, enabling them to experience the unique world of this art form.

In addition to the programs on traditional culture and arts, Tokyo University of the Arts also offers other programs that focus on contemporary Japanese culture, including a program on the history of animation in Japan and the Japanese culture that underlies it taught by faculty from the Department of Animation in the Graduate School of Film and New Media, and another on the history and works of Studio Ghibli held in the Ghibli Museum. A yearly overnight Japanese Cultural Experience Trip is also offered for international students to visit famous, historically significant sites in Japan, such as Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture or Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture. The trip includes visits to art galleries, museums, temples, and shrines and the chance to try making local traditional crafts and food.

In addition to these cultural experience programs, spending in a general arts university that consists of the four fields of fine art, music, film and new media, and arts studies and curatorial practices offers students, throughout a year, a wide variety of experiences with exhibitions, performances, and showings free of charge. For international students with an interest in Japanese arts and culture, studying at Tokyo University of the Arts is sure to be a fantastic experience.

Student counseling program

Nagaoka University of Technology

Providing full support to international students together with the local community to alleviate worries about studying in Japan

Nagaoka University of Technology (NUT), at its University Counseling Room, offers a counseling service for students, both Japanese and international, who have problems relating to health, study or various other issues. NUT's Center for International Exchange and Education (CIEE) also helps international students through its education support program, offering advice on living in Japan, and promoting exchange activities between the university and local community. In addition, graduate students are appointed to serve as tutors to help international students adapt quickly to life on a Japanese campus by helping them with daily living, study and research. Support for daily living is also provided by Mutsumi-kai, a voluntary group organized by local residents to help NUT's international students. Specific details of the support are outlined below.

◆ University Counseling Room

The University Counseling Room was set up to ensure that students can live a fulfilling campus life, from enrollment in NUT to graduation or completion. The counseling service is for students with various needs, such as those who need advice but don't know where to ask, who have concerns about their studies or future career paths, who have problems with daily living, or who want to make requests or complaints to NUT. NUT also runs a counseling program that allows students to discuss their problems with a doctor or professional counselor, or to seek advice about their research, as well as a study support program run by graduate students and a harassment consultation program.

◆ Center for International Exchange and Education (CIEE)

Besides the consultation service for international students, CIEE offers support for Japanese language education at NUT through an intensive Japanese course to prepare international students for studying at a graduate school, as well as a basic Japanese course for those beginning to learn Japanese. Mastering the language is essential for living and studying in Japan. International students often struggle to study basic subjects at the School of Engineering due to different educational methods from their home countries and inability to understand Japanese technical terms. CIEE plays a central role in dealing with these problems. Family members accompanying international students may also take the intensive Japanese course or basic Japanese course under certain conditions if they wish.

◆ Tutor system

International students who are new to Japan are helped with living and studying in Japan, principally by Japanese graduate students, for up to six months before and after arrival in Japan. Such support aims to help international students with:

  1. (1) Studies (e.g. assisting in taking Japanese courses, completing course registration procedures, studying specialized subjects, preparing entrance examination application documents)
  2. (2) Living in Japan (e.g. providing basic information on living in Japan, payment of utility and other bills, renting an apartment, and etiquette and rules of living in Japan)
  3. (3) Human relationships (e.g. relationships with the academic advisor, Japanese students, and co-workers for those working part-time)
◆ Mutsumi-kai

Mutsumi-kai holds a weekly counseling session every Wednesday at the International Friendship Lounge (Counseling Room), while organizing various events for international students throughout the year, such as a sale of daily items, tea ceremony, yukata-wearing experience, Japanese speech contest, and bus trips.

Career Development Program

Kumamoto University

Collaborating with local organizations to give students the ability to work in Japan

In the 2017 academic year, Kumamoto University established an international student employment promotion consortium in collaboration with the prefectural government, economic organizations, and other institutions in the prefecture, which launched a program to help international students find jobs in Japan. The Career Development Program Office was set up within the university, staffed by a coordination specialist offering career advice for international students and using electronic records to provide sympathetic guidance.

International students who participate in the program take part in educational activities including classes in business Japanese, career education, internships, and recruitment seminars, as well as gathering company data and recruitment information, enabling them to acquire skills required by companies such as business-level Japanese, corporate understanding, communications skills, problem-solving abilities, and the capacity to understand different cultures and customs. Students who meet certain conditions may also receive scholarships.

One of the unique initiatives included in this program is that the doors are open to participation by exchange students as well as full-time students. It offers support for international students who have returned to their home country after completing an exchange program and will now attend Kumamoto University for graduate studies, and who intend to look for a job in Japan after finishing their course.

In collaboration with the Kumamoto prefectural government, economic organizations, and other institutions in the prefecture, the program is also identifying companies that will accept interns, offering effective support to enable international students to find jobs while actively matching them with companies in the prefecture that are looking to recruit global personnel.

Extracurricular Activities

International University of Japan (IUJ)

Interact with the world and make global connections through a diverse array of programs

International University of Japan (IUJ) is a graduate school located in Minamiuonuma City, Niigata Prefecture. Since it was founded in 1982, all classes have been conducted in English, and the doors have been open to students from all over the world. Today, the student body includes members from over 50 countries and regions. All students are accommodated in dormitories, and they study day and night in friendly competition in the beautiful Niigata countryside. Minamiuonuma is a wonderful place to encounter Japanese tradition and culture, and as students from a wide variety of backgrounds not only study together but also actively engage with the local community, IUJ is genuinely a place where "the world comes together." Its support systems for international students have been built up and improved over a 35-year period, encompassing not just systems of support for daily life but also a range of extracurricular activities to help make student life in Japan more meaningful.

The IUJ university festival, known as the International Festival, is a major event organized by the Graduate Student Organization - Executive Committee (GSO-EC). Since IUJ's establishment it has been co-hosted by Minamiuonuma City, with the aim of encouraging engagement with the local community. Visitors can enjoy food from students' home countries and regions in marquees erected outside amid the fresh spring greenery, while on the indoor stage students in colorful ethnic dress perform traditional dances and songs, and stage performances are also presented by local residents. The International Festival is a place where people can experience the friendly international nature of IUJ.

The IUJ Olympics are a sporting competition that is also organized by the GSO-EC each year. They are held in May after classes and at weekends, with multinational, male-female teams made up of those students, faculty, family members, and others who want to take part. The teams compete in 15 events, which encourage participants to understand the importance of mutual international understanding and peace through international exchanges and contributions by means of sport.

The GSO-EC also plays a key role in managing activities by different clubs and other events such as the IUJ Ski Day. The wide variety of clubs include those for sporting and cultural activities as well as some connected to religion. The university's position is that it should accommodate a multicultural, multireligious environment, and classrooms are also made available for such activities. The IUJ Ski Day is an event in which students, their families and friends, faculty, former students, and others gather in a local ski resort to take advantage of Minamiuonuma's location in one of the snowiest parts of Japan and experience winter sports. Many students have never had the opportunity to go skiing or snowboarding before, and the Ski Day gives them the opportunity to see how enjoyable it can be.

These extracurricular activities offer students from widely varying cultural backgrounds the opportunity to actively engage with local residents and other students, deepening their cross-cultural understanding, building networks that transcend national boundaries, and acquiring an international sensibility with the ability to see the world from different viewpoints.

Homestay Program

Kwansei Gakuin University

Living with a Japanese Family enables students to immerse themselves in Japanese culture, customs and ways of thinking

Kwansei Gakuin University (KGU) is located in Nishinomiya city, which is the most popular residential area in the Kansai region (western Japan); from the campus, it's very easy to commute to the larger cities in the area such as Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe.

Thanks to this geographical advantage, KGU offers comfortable housing for our incoming exchange students from partner institutions, including the option of a homestay for one-third of the students who wish to experience everyday life in Japan.

Host families provide a private room with bedding, wardrobe, and desk. They also provide two meals a day on weekdays and three meals on weekends. A homestay is a very effective way to learn about Japanese culture and language. Becoming part of a Japanese family will certainly be an amazing experience!

Student voice

Maria Bingjie Xu from Queen's University, Canada
My homestay experience is in some way of a very special kind. To me, a former participant in KGU's summer program, this was an occasion of reunion for me and my host family, this time for a full year. What has made this experience truly special, nevertheless, is exactly the blessing of the ordinary, everyday life, where I have witnessed and participated in Japanese culture and lifestyle in its fullest. I have definitely been finding the opportunity to immerse myself in a Japanese only environment very rewarding. While being an absolute beginner in Japanese last year and almost using English all the time, I have gladly been able to stay in the "Japanese mode" this time and interact with every member of the family so much more.

Through my host family, I got to meet all kinds of interesting people and listen to all kinds of Japanese, be it all levels of the local dialect or the male-female contrast in language usage. A single child in my own family, I have been thrilled by this opportunity of becoming the big sister of three lovely kids. In attending my host siblings' sports tournaments, volunteering at events hosted by my host mom's organization, and even helping at harvesting sweet potato in the countryside, I have literally been feeling like "growing up" for a second time. As much as my host family have made my time in Japan such a life-changing experience and this country a second home to me, I hope, with my own efforts, I can one day make a difference in their lives as well.

KGU offers the Contemporary Japan Program, a semester-long or a year-long program composed of the "Japanese Language Track" and the "Modern Japan Track", to incoming exchange students. While the Japanese Language Track focuses on Japanese language studies, the Modern Japan Track focuses on English-taught courses featuring a variety of subjects related to Japan, and so enrolled exchange students are not required to take Japanese language classes. Also, no prior knowledge of Japanese language is necessary to study at KGU as an exchange student; however, KGU may not be able to find a host family for those who cannot speak any Japanese as host families might not be able to speak English.

For details, see the website of the Center for International Education and Cooperation, Kwansei Gakuin University.

STEP 1Collect information and decide which university to study

01

Decide the purpose of studying in Japan

02

Collect information

03

Decide the purpose and which university to study at

– Links to relevant websites –

STEP 2Apply for the study abroad program and prepare for studying in Japan

04

Improve language proficiency

05

Decide the budget

06

Go to Japan to study

– Links to relevant websites –

STEP 3During and after studying in Japan

07

Various support systems for international students

08

Career path

– Links to relevant websites –