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Off-Campus Programs

Abroad programs in Japan

Semester | Interim

Semester program in Japan

Students may choose to spend either fall semester, spring semester, or summer semester at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities in Hikone, Japan. The program was established in 1989 by a consortium of all the state universities in Michigan, including the University of Michigan and Michigan State. In the past few years, private colleges like Calvin have been invited to join in the program. Hikone, the site of the program, is an old castle town of 100,000 located on the shores of Lake Biwa, in the heart of the main island of Japan, near Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka. It is a very modern town now, yet retains many of the aspects of traditional Japanese culture.

Each semester courses are offered in both Japanese language and Japanese culture. In addition, students take two other courses related to Japan. The course offerings vary each semester, but include topics such as Japanese Economic Practices, Environmental Issues in Japan, Japanese International Relations, etc. All credits will be accepted by Calvin College and the culture courses can help meet core requirements. This program only has around 40 students enrolled each semester, which means that class size is small and students are given much individual attention.

The facilities of the program are very new and modern, and are in a beautiful setting on Lake Biwa. Students may either live in the dormitory provided on the lake, do a homestay with a Japanese family for the entire semester, or live in the dorm but do homestays with a Japanese family on various weekends. The program provides contact with the local community through field trips and participation in local cultural events, as well as through the homestays with Japanese families.

The Semester in Japan program is a non-Calvin program but students remain eligible for Calvin financial aid at the same level as if they were on campus. The cost is the same as Calvin's tuition, room and board rate plus a $150 administrative fee.

Contact Larry Herzberg, Professor of Japanese, for further details.

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Interim trip to Japan


3 credits, three-week course, offered May/June every third year; this trip gives the students both credit for an Interim course as well as automatic CCE (Cross-Cultural Engagement) credit.


A three-week trip around Japan will be offered every four years in late May and early June, instead of during the January Interim term. The trip will include most of the famous historical sites in Japan, including Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Nikko, Hikone, Hiroshima, and Hirado (where Christianity and Dutch trade first came into Japan), as well as some of the most famous scenic places, including the Japanese "Alps" around Nagano, the mountains of Gifu Prefecture, Lake Chuuzenji, and the beaches of northwestern Kyushu.

Students will have the chance to do home stays with Japanese families in five different locations around Japan, including Tokyo, Hikone, and Hirado, as well as in small towns in Nagano and Gifu Prefectures. This will afford them the chance to learn much about daily life in this island nation. This trip also gives students the opportunity to improve their Japanese language skills, given the large amount of time devoted to home stays and close interaction with Japanese people.

View a slide show of the May 2013 Interim to Japan.

View the movie 'Discovering Japan' (May Interim to Japan)

Prerequisite: permission of instructor
Instructor: Kaori Schau

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Learn More

Get details on the costs of the semester in Japan, courses, accommodations and more at Off-Campus Programs.

Learn more about financial aid and studying in Japan.

Learn how to apply for the semester in Japan.