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Study Abroad
Tokyo - Language & Culture Add to favorites
  • Tokyo, Japan

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Why Tokyo?

Tea ceremony, calligraphy, music, dance, and martial arts—Japan is a medley of culture that you can explore during your time in Tokyo. Live and learn in this exciting city where the past mingles with the future, and the modern stands side-by-side with the traditional.

What You'll Study

Expand your understanding of this country by immersing yourself in contemporary Japan and its culture—what better way to learn the Japanese language? At Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS), you take a 6-credit language course specially designed for IES Abroad students (with the option of taking up to 12 credits of language), plus area studies courses taught in English. The English-language course offerings look at Japan from the point of view of popular culture, history, politics, and the arts. KUIS is a modern and vibrant university with an international faculty and state-of-the-art facilities.

You can also enroll in the course, Social Organization in Japan and the field placement program, which provides you with first-hand experience in a Japanese organization. Spend one day per week as a participant-observer at a local business or not-for-profit organization, and then share your experience in a seminar course to learn more about Japanese culture.

Daily Life

KUIS is located within walking distance of the IES Abroad Center in Makuhari, a modern city in Chiba prefecture, which is in the Greater Tokyo Area (just 30 minutes from downtown Tokyo). The area around the Center has easy access to public transportation, plus offers many public amenities, like shopping and dining, a movie complex, a game arcade, parks, the beach, and open spaces to relax and hang out. A good way to practice your language skills while getting to know Japanese culture is through your housing option. Live in a homestay with a host family or live in residence halls with Japanese university students and young professionals. Both options allow you to get to know Japanese customs and traditions, and make local, life-long friends. 

We want you to feel at home in Tokyo, so we do everything we can to help you integrate into life in the city. Check out our Center newsletter to see what our current Tokyo students are up to. Our E-pal program introduces you to a local student before you even arrive. Through your E-pal, you will have opportunities for more 1:1 Japanese cultural experiences to practice speaking Japanese. We also take you to places in and around Tokyo that you might not experience on your own.

$5 Million in Financial Aid

We firmly believe that financial limitations should not prevent a qualified student from participating in an IES Abroad Program. This is why we commit $5 million to our financial aid programs.


Our mission is simple: to provide you with the best study abroad program possible—which includes the highest quality academic and cultural experiences.

We offer unique courses that explore Japanese language, history, and culture through an in-depth and hands-on approach. World-class professors and course options enhance your academic experience and provide you with new perspectives each day in class.

You must take 15-18 credits per semester. Courses are worth 3 credits unless otherwise specified.

Create your own academic experience by selecting from the following required and optional program components:

  • Japanese language course (required, 6 credits)
  • Japanese language electives (must be placed in 300-level Japanese or higher, 2 credits each)
  • English-taught IES Abroad area studies courses or KUIS area studies courses (9-12 credits)
  • Field placement and required seminar



 This is a list of potential course offerings. After you are accepted, you will see a list of final course offerings in your MyIESabroad account.


JP 101 Japanese in Context: Novice Abroad I

JP 201 Japanese in Context: Novice Abroad III

JP 301 Japanese in Context: Emerging Independent Abroad Ⅰ

JP401 Japanese in Context: Independent Abroad I

To learn more about IES Abroad’s philosophy for teaching language abroad, refer to the IES Abroad MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication.

NOTE: IES Abroad reserves the right to cancel a course due to insufficient enrollment or circumstances beyond our control.

Course Name Term Language Credits
AN 310 - Gender and Family in Japan Fall, Spring English 3
AN 343 - Japanese Manga and Animation Fall, Spring English 3
AN 362 - Japanese Popular Culture: Past and Present Fall, Spring English 3
SO/AN 391 - Seminar: Social Organization of Japan Fall, Spring English 3
Course Name Term Language Credits
AR 351 - The Arts and Society in Japan Fall, Spring English 3
US/AR 353 - Architecture, Urban Planning, and Development in Modern Tokyo Spring English 3
Asian Studies
Course Name Term Language Credits
AS 320 - Japan Through Film Spring English 3
Cultural Studies
Course Name Term Language Credits
CU 221 - Dialogues on Difference Seminar Fall, Spring English 1
Course Name Term Language Credits
EC 320 - The Contemporary Economy of Japan Fall English 3
Environmental Studies
Course Name Term Language Credits
ES/HS 339 - Environmental History of Japan Fall, Spring English 3
Course Name Term Language Credits
ES/HS 339 - Environmental History of Japan Fall, Spring English 3
HS 336 - History of Tokyo Fall, Spring English 3
IR/HS 340 - History of Japanese International Relations Fall, Spring English 3
International Relations
Course Name Term Language Credits
IR/HS 340 - History of Japanese International Relations Fall, Spring English 3
Course Name Term Language Credits
JP 321 - Listening Comprehension Fall, Spring Japanese 2
JP 323 - Writing Letters & Email: Personal & Business Communication Fall, Spring Japanese 2
JP 326 - Reading Modern Fiction Fall, Spring Japanese 2
Course Name Term Language Credits
MK 325 - Key Features of Japanese Marketing Strategy Spring English 3
Political Science
Course Name Term Language Credits
PO 363 - Politics and Society in Contemporary Japan Fall, Spring English 3
Course Name Term Language Credits
SO 310 - Contemporary Urban Society in Japan Spring English 3
SO 363 - Introduction to Japanese Society and Culture Fall English 3
SO/AN 391 - Seminar: Social Organization of Japan Fall, Spring English 3
Urban Studies
Course Name Term Language Credits
US 355 - Understanding Tokyo Through Photography Fall English 3
US/AR 353 - Architecture, Urban Planning, and Development in Modern Tokyo Spring English 3

Field Placements

Field Placement is a highlight of our Tokyo program. As one of the requirements for the IES Abroad course, Social Organization in Japan, this weekly placement will get students out into a variety of Japanese organizations. Enrolled students will spend one day each week in a field placement experience as a participant-observer at local businesses, non-profits, or governmental organizations. These placements allow you to directly observe Japanese social and work interactions and to experience the local culture. In the accompanying 3-credit seminar course, you discuss your experiences, complete assignments, and learn more about society and culture in Japan. 

Placement Examples:

  • Japanime (a publishing company)
  • Design Festa
  • The Japanese Association for the Lesbian and Gay Movement (OCCUR)
  • Akasaka Hikawa Shrine
  • Sugano Elementary School

Students are strongly encouraged to participate in the Field Placement Program.

The IES Abroad Tokyo program is dedicated to immersing students in Japanese culture and encouraging them to think deeply about what they experience. The goal is that you understand and experience Japanese culture and society from a Japanese perspective. Toward this aim, students are invited to participate in the Center’s Field Placement Program. Please read the information and instructions in this section carefully.

This is not an internship program. The IES Abroad Tokyo student is a learner engaged in a form of ongoing ethnographic research, the core focus of which is the meaning of actions and events to the people within the social setting the student seeks to understand.

The goals of the Field Placement Program are as follows:

  • Through a facilitated seminar, to encourage students to collectively share and reflect on field placement experiences as a basis for recognizing, understanding, and explaining the social organization of Japan.
  • To discover the “real world” social organization of Japan as it is naturally exhibited, without imposing a particular framework or theoretical preconception as to what will or should be found.
  • To develop basic skills of ethnographic inquiry through conducting weekly participant observation, journal writing, and shared reflection.
  • Through weekly field research, to learn how to describe interactions within a social setting and the outcome of these interactions, and to discover the meanings interactions have for the people being studied.
  • To develop a greater awareness of one’s ethnocentrism and how these tendencies block the understanding of cultures other than one’s own.
  • To become more interculturally competent.
  • To be more patient, objective, and introspective cultural explorers, appreciating the idea of cultural relativism when seeking to understand Japanese social organization.

The Field Placement Program participants must register for the SO/AN 391 seminar, Social Organization of Japan. The seminar meets once every other week for a total of seven, three-hour sessions. Each student is responsible for creating an extensive portfolio of the experience/research that, together with other materials, includes a learning contract, a reflection paper, a final academic paper, and a culture learning journal. To further guide the experience, each student will set at least three learning goals for the placement and state the methods he/she will use to achieve each goal. Students earn 3 credits for the seminar.

As part of the seminar, students are assigned to field placements in Japanese organizations where they work as a participant-observers every Wednesday for 8-10 hours. In doing participant-observation for ethnographic purposes, you have dual goals of engaging in activities appropriate to the situation and observing the activities, people, and physical aspects of the situation. Please bring at least one set of business-level clothing for your placement. You will need to step outside your defined cultural backgrounds, to set aside socially inherited ethnocentrism, if only for a brief period, and to comprehend the world from the viewpoint of others who live by different meaning systems. Students are encouraged to discover the cultural assumptions Japanese people use to organize their behavior and interpret their experience. What meanings do these interactions have for the Japanese? Rather than collecting data about people, you are to learn from the people in your field placement, to be taught by them. You are not an agent of change.

Placement Information
Complying with specific placement requests is difficult, if not impossible.  IES Abroad Tokyo staff works very hard to find placements that achieve the objectives of the course and that also match the research interests of the student. While course objectives take priority, the staff will do everything possible to find the type of placement that each student wishes to have.

You should not expect to be placed with particularly high-profile or high-prestige organizations. However, the staff have been very successful at finding good placements that meet both the goals for the course and students’ expectations. This would not be possible without the students’ cooperation.  If you have unanswered questions about the field placement, contact your IES Abroad Advisor.

Academic Year Students
Students at IES Abroad Tokyo for a second semester who wish to participate in the Field Placement Program for a second time will have the option of conducting an independent study in lieu of the seminar course. This independent study must be approved by the course instructor, the IES Abroad Center Director, and the student’s home school.

Should IES Abroad be asked to arrange an independent study tutorial, the cost incurred will be borne by IES Abroad. Though the focus of this tutorial need not be limited to Japanese social organization, focus of the placement should remain true to the foundations of ethnographic research. Priority in field placements will be given to first-semester students.


With permission from the Tokyo Center Director and the KUIS instructor, you may enroll in English-taught area studies courses at KUIS that are 1.5 credits per course.

Offerings vary each semester, and the course schedule is determined by KUIS shortly before the start of each semester. For this reason, it is not possible to preregister for these courses before you arrive in Tokyo. Recent courses have been offerend in the following disciplines:

  • Anthropology
  • Communications
  • Culture Studies
  • History

NOTE: KUIS reserves the right to cancel a course due to insufficient enrollment or circumstances beyond its control.

Partner Institution(s)

Kanda University 神田外語大学
Founded in 1987, KUIS is a private university dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in International Studies, Foreign Languages, Intercultural Communication, Japanese Culture, and Linguistics. It is a modern and vibrant university with an international faculty and state-of-the-art facilities. The University enrolls approximately 3,100 graduate and undergraduate students; all students study a second language. It features modern computer facilities, library, sports and recreation center, and cafeteria.

Location and Commute Time
KUIS is located in Makuhari, a short train ride from Tokyo and near the IES Abroad Tokyo Center. Commute times will vary based on the location of your housing option.  Expect commute times to range between 30-90 minutes.  KUIS is a five minute-walk from the IES Abroad Tokyo Center.


Field Trips & Events

Even though your adventure starts in Tokyo, our field trips take you beyond the city to discover the culture and traditions of your host country. (These trips are partially subsidized by IES Abroad.) Here are a few possible destinations:

4 Days | Fall
Visit the Hiroshima Peace Museum and learn about the events that ended World War Two. Enjoy the beauty of the Itsukushima Floating Shrine (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and sample the local cuisine.

2 Days | Fall
Visit Japan’s most spectacular Shinto Shrine and some of the country’s most beautiful mountain scenery.

1 Day | Fall & Spring
Go to the site of Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest and most popular temple, and have a walk around this very traditional district. 

1 Day | Spring
Visit the site of the first shogunate (warrior government), the home of the Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha statue), and some of the most famous gardens and temples in Japan.

4 Days| Spring
Visit this island known for its unique cultural traditions, historic fortresses, and pretty beaches.

Daily Life

Part of making you feel at home in Makuhari and the greater Tokyo area is doing our best to make you feel safe and cared for. Whether it’s the orientation program that prepares you for what’s ahead, your housing that is well-located and comfortable, or the field trips that take you places to enrich your cultural and academic learning—we’re all about our student services. This is just one of the things we’re known for.

Wondering what it's really like to study abroad in Tokyo? Check out the recent issue of our Center newsletter, the Tokyo Shinbun!


The program begins with a specially designed, three-day orientation that introduces you to the IES Abroad staff, your fellow students, KUIS, and the city of Makuhari in Chiba, as well as exploring parts of Tokyo.

Our Comprehensive Orientation & Re-Entry Experience (CORE™) begins right when you arrive and continues through the semester with activities focusing on academic and cultural adjustment. Detailed information about housing, public transportation, culture, health and safety, and other important topics are also covered.


Residence Halls
Live with Japanese university students and young professionals— each hall is configured differently. They are single-sex, privately managed, and offer single rooms with shared common spaces and bathrooms.The residence halls offer a meal plan that provides breakfast and dinner from Monday through Saturday (no meals are provided on Sundays or public holidays). The cuisine features typical Japanese set menus. There is also a common kitchen for student use, and rental refrigerators are available for student rooms for an additional cost.

Live with a host family and forge life-long friendships while you learn about Japanese customs, manners, and cuisine. Accommodations vary by placement. Hosts provide breakfast and dinner seven days a week. Homestay opportunities may be limited.

Live with Japanese university students, other IES Abroad students, and young Japanese professionals in this privately managed co-ed building. Each apartment suite of 3-4 residents is single-sex, and offers single rooms. You will share a kitchen, bathroom, and washing machine with your roommates. There is also a large communal kitchen, communal bath, and student lounge for all residents to use. Meals are not included.

Whether staying with a host family, residence hall, or apartments, you likely commute 40 to 90 minutes, as do most Japanese residents in the Tokyo area. If you have particularly high commuting costs, you will receive a monthly subsidy from IES Abroad.

Extracurricular Activities & Cultural Events

Redefine the way you live and learn in Tokyo through our cultural events, such as:

  • Art & Culture Series - Special classes and demonstrations are held throughout the semester for you to experience the traditional arts of Japan. These may include ikebana (flower arranging), shodō (calligraphy), fūrin (glass bell making), origami (paper folding), sadō (tea ceremony), and chōchin (paper lantern making).
  • Guest Speaker Series - Distinguished speakers are invited each semester to address IES Abroad students. Past presentations have included “A Brief History of Gender and Sexual Minorities in Japan” and "Japan in the Asia-Pacific: The Politics of Identity"

University Clubs & Events
IES Abroad students in the Japanese Language Intensive Program have access to all KUIS facilities and receive a KUIS student ID that entitles them to student discounts on museum entrance fees, the cinema, theatrical performances, and rail travel.

While you’re in Tokyo, joining a club or program is a great way to meet local students and practice the Japanese language. Here are a few recommended ways to get involved:

E-pal Program – Partner with a Japanese student to help you meet local students. You are introduced to your E-pal via email one month before the program begins. Your Japanese E-pal then meets you after arrival and serves as your cultural resource throughout the term. We strongly encourage you to sign up for an E-pal and start your cultural and linguistic preparation before departure.

Student Council – Students at the Tokyo Center elect an IES Abroad Tokyo Student Council, which receives funds to be used for student events. Past councils have held photo contests, sponsored softball games with Japanese students, headed fundraising drives to benefit local charities, and hosted holiday parties.

Get to Know Your New City

Enjoy Art & Culture in the Roppongi District

Known as a shopping destination with excellent restaurants, Roppongi also has a thriving and lively art scene. When you visit, be sure to check out the Mori Art Museum and Observatory, as well as Tokyo Mid-Town.

Hike Mount Takao

Need a break from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo? Take a day trip to Mount Takao, where the views are breathtaking.

Experience the Harajuku District

Make your way to this trendy fashion and shopping district (a must!), but be sure to see the popular Meiji Jingu Shrine and Yoyogi Park.

Learn About Tokyo at Edo Tokyo Museum

Observe the history of Japan’s great capital city from the Edo period to modern times inside this beautifully-contemporary building.

Spend a Day on Odaiba

Take a walk across Tokyo Bay on the striking Rainbow Bridge (where you’ll take in fabulous views of the Tokyo skyline) to explore this island filled with museums, theme parks, shopping malls, and more.

Program Cost

Consider these prices as a starting point. We encourage you to contact your study abroad office to determine the actual cost to you when factoring in financial aid, scholarships, your home school policies, and other factors.

Term: Fall 2018
Term Tuition Housing Insurance Total
Fall 2018
Academic Year

Term: Spring 2018
Term Tuition Housing Insurance Total
Spring 2018 $15,650 $5,225 $240 $21,115

Use our budget worksheet to calculate your costs

$5 Million in Financial Aid

We firmly believe that financial limitations should not prevent a qualified student from participating in an IES Abroad Program. This is why we commit $5 million to our financial aid programs.