Japan: Japanimation--Anime and Manga

Experience contemporary Japanese art forms on an immersive summer abroad program for high school students.

Explore Japanese culture through the arts of anime and manga on this high school summer abroad program. Work with professional artists who have experience in the Japanese anime and manga industries and Japanese student animators in Tokyo. Take introductory classes in character development, animation and manga techniques, and voiceover recording. Immerse yourself in Japan’s vibrant pop culture through visits to popular sites and neighborhoods synonymous with “Cool Japan.” Gain in-depth knowledge of the anime industry and tips to improve your manga. Develop skills to design and animate your own character.

Deepen your perspectives on Japanese culture by living with a host family on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan’s largest prefecture and home to national parks, dense forests, and mountains. Learn to cook and enjoy regional cuisine as you share daily life with your family, and visit a school to meet with local students. Depending on your homestay location, you will have the opportunity to participate in a local festival, learn how to make a Japanese family crest, or visit the local mayor’s office.

The program begins and ends in Tokyo, one of the world’s most populous cities. Wander through the busy market streets of Ameyoko, ride the escalators at Ginza’s skyscraping department stores, and consult the oracle at Sensō-ji, the oldest temple in Tokyo. Through a diversity of program activities—small-group language lessons and activities with Japanese teachers and volunteers; time with Japanese students; cultural engagement with shrines, temples, hot springs, and tea ceremonies; and others—you will gain in-depth insight into historical and contemporary Japan.

Orientation: Tokyo, 3 days
Homestay: Tomakomai, Otaru, Bihoro, or Nanae,* 7–9 days
Other Accommodations: Hotels and/or hostels

* Homestay locations can vary.

Days 1–4

Orientation in Tokyo

  • Learn about the history and culture of JapanStudent showing off his anime creation
  • Get to know other members of your group during activities and group discussions
  • Visit famous sites and museums throughout both cities
  • Explore diverse neighborhoods, navigate the city using public transportation, and sample Japanese cuisine

During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in centrally located hotels and pensions.

Days 5–17

Animation and Manga Study

  • Participate in drawing and animation workshops at an anime school
  • Work with Japanese instructors and student animators to hone your skills
  • Learn about character design, coloring, basic animation, and voiceover techniques and create and animate your own character
  • Visit nearby towns and see local museums
  • On the last day of classes participate in a showing of your animation with your group and students from the school

During this period, you and your group will stay in a youth center and a hostel.

Days 18–27


  • Become fully immersed in the daily life of a Japanese family and community
  • Do activities with your host family
  • Explore your host community and the surrounding area with your group
  • Visit nearby schools and temples
  • Experience onsen (hot springs)
  • Learn about traditional Japanese culture

During this period, you will stay in the home of a family. Sample host communities: Bihoro, Yubari, Tomakomai

Days 28–29

Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Tokyo

  • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program

During the reflection period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

Day 30


Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience — including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above.

These are leader bios from summer 2014.

Christy Bahr

Christy BahrA native of the Pacific Northwest, Christy Bahr graduated from University of Washington in 2008 with a BA in international studies and a BA in Japanese. Christy’s interest in Japan started at age nine when her family began hosting Japanese exchange students. She traveled to Japan for the first time in high school and completed a one-year study abroad in Tokyo during her time at UW. Following graduation, Christy moved to northern Japan to work with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program for five years as a an international relations coordinator, assistant language teacher, and prefectural advisor.

Before leading an Experiment program, Christy traveled the world on a 105-day voyage with Peace Boat, a Japanese NGO, where she worked as a language interpreter. During her time on Peace Boat, Christy led sightseeing and exchange tours in the 17 ports of call including Madagascar, Argentina, and Easter Island. Christy has traveled to 25 countries in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. Christy enjoys running, photography, and playing the violin. She is currently pursuing an MA in international education at New York University.

Andre Martinez

Andre Martinez, a native of Denver, Colorado, graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2014 with an MA in Japanese language and culture with a focus on medieval and early modern illustrated fiction. Prior to entering graduate school, Andre taught a multitude of courses in Japanese language, art, history, and culture in middle and high schools in the Denver metro area. Upon entering the university’s Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, he continued to teach advanced and beginning courses in Japanese as a teaching assistant.

Andre began studying Japanese at the age of 14, he attended high school in Japan, and he received his BA in graphic design from Tokai Daigaku, a Japanese university. Besides his passion for the Japanese language, Andre also holds an undying love of Japanese traditional movement: he has studied kendo, kyudo, karate, kenjutsu, and jujutsu. When he isn't sharpening his pen or sword, Andre enjoys gliding around town on his skateboard.

Marcus Williams

Marcus WilliamsA native of New York City, Marcus graduated from Haverford College in 2012 with a BA in East Asian studies. In 2007, he went abroad for the first time to Japan as a representative of his high school, helping to build communication between his home school and a partner school located near Tokyo. The following year, he was invited to participate in an internship for teaching English at this partner school. While in college, Marcus returned to Japan for a semester of study in Nagoya. Along with his love of learning language, Marcus also enjoys computing, drawing, writing stories, running, and making music. After leading one of the summer 2014 Japanimation groups, Marcus has begun working at a charter school in Brooklyn, teaching Japanese language to middle school students.

Serena Winchell

Serena WinchellSerena Winchell is a native of Red Hook, a small town in upstate New York. In 2006, she graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a double major in German language and literature and Asian studies. While at SUNY New Paltz, she studied abroad for one year at the Universitaet Wuerzburg, in Bavaria, Germany. She then continued on at her alma mater to receive her MSEd for TESOL in 2008. Upon receiving her New York State teaching certification for TESOL, Serena spent four years teaching English in Japan with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program in Shirakawa-shi, Fukushima Prefecture. A survivor of the 2011 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, Serena spent much of her time volunteering and raising funds for the relief effort. Upon returning home, Serena has made it a goal to promote understanding about Fukushima’s dilemma while at the same time encouraging tourism to her beloved second home. In her free time, she enjoys studying languages, watching anime, singing karaoke, playing the hand bells, and baking.

It has been almost two months since the first day I embarked on my adventure to Japan. I remember the first night I came home and how I felt that everything was a dream. I walked into my room and felt as if I had never left. But, during the next week, I received calls and emails from my experiment family and experienced the Experiment once more.
It's still overwhelming to think back on what we did because our home-stay week was very full. We canoed, went to a hot spring, played park golf, attended Japanese schools, tried kitsuke, attended a tea ceremony, made key chains, tried many different foods, and so much more. Our week was surreal and passed by so quickly that it didn’t seem a day had passed when we had to leave for Sapporo. However, we established family bonds with our hosts and I will try my best to make mine stronger.
Yoyogi was a dream come true. We had two weeks to "taste" anime school, but I feel as though I fulfilled a life-long dream. I will not be an animator any time soon, so I am extremely grateful to have gotten the chance to try animating. Our instructors were wonderful and allowed us to develop however we wanted. We were also told how japanimation is produced. After learning how painstaking the process is, I have developed a new respect for the artists. I hope that I might join them in the future.
What else did we do? We had language classes in the morning. Again, our instructors were very patient and adjusted lessons according to our varying levels. They made it more than a regular class by teaching us games and songs as we learned. I am also very grateful for these cultural lessons (which I have also been sharing with kids at home).
In addition to the time with my Experiment family, I also deeply enjoyed the time with our language partners. They didn’t treat us like kids and we didn’t treat them like chaperones. Always eager and friendly, they shared their daily lives with us. Even though there was a language barrier, I felt that they really became ‘one of us’ and that made the experience all the more memorable.
We left Sapporo to spend our last few days in Tokyo. During that time, we moaned about how we didn’t want to leave and that we "wished we could stay forever!" Now that I think back, I would take that statement back. I am glad to have left because now I have a wonderful memory to turn back to and a new goal to work towards: to return with everybody some day.

Angela Chang