Japan: Japanese Language & Culture

Language Training

Study Japanese through intensive language training and exciting activities. Explore the country’s diverse regions, from vibrant Tokyo neighborhoods to the natural splendor of Hokkaido. 






Temple Stay

Program Description

Land in Tokyo for orientation before traveling to Sapporo, where you will begin Japanese classes and practice writing systems like hiragana and kanji. Your language skills will develop through 60+ hours of direct exposure through formal classes, host family interactions, peer-to-peer practice, and more. English is not widely spoken in Japan (especially in Hokkaido), providing countless opportunities for immersion. Local college students will be your language exchange partners for some activities in Sapporo, such as visiting their homes to cook and share a meal or experiencing karaoke the Japanese way. You’ll also enjoy sushi and indulge in handmade noodles at the city’s famed ramen shops.

Continue practicing your Japanese and deepen your understanding of the culture and family life during your homestay in Hokkaido, known for its natural beauty. Learn to cook homemade soba noodles or roll your own sushi with your host family. Participate in cultural activities such as the art of etegami (colored paper collage), learn Zen meditation, experience a traditional tea ceremony, or visit local schools and activity clubs to interact with students. Your journey through Japan continues as you spend several days in ancient Kyoto, exploring its temples, markets, and shrines. Finally, return to Tokyo, where you will discover what its exciting and unique districts have to offer, including anime and manga in Akihabara and the colorful fashion scene in Harajuku.

At the conclusion of this program, students will earn a language certificate noting the number of hours of language training through formal classes and experiential learning completed.


Program Availability:

Not Yet Enrolling



Sample Itinerary

    Days 1-3

      • Learn about the history and culture of Japan through visiting museums and sites of historical significance throughout the city such as the Imperial Palace and the Sensō-ji temple.
      • Get to know other members of your group while exploring diverse neighborhoods such as Ueno and Asakusa and visit iconic locations such as the Sky Tree and Shibuja crossing.
      • Adventure through the city by way of a scavenger hunt, navigate the city using public transportation, and sample Japanese cuisine.
      • Start your Japanese language lessons and practice Japanese greetings and self-introductions.

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

    Days 4-5

    Excursion to Kyoto

    • Travel by train to the ancient city of Kyoto.
    • Visit local temples with excursions to Nara or the Fushimi Inari Shrine, shop in bustling street markets, see pristine Japanese gardens, and experience the traditional art and architecture of Kyoto.

    During this excursion, you and your group will stay in a hotel.

    Days 6-15

    Thematic Focus in Sapporo

    • Become immersed in Japanese language and culture through interactive small-group language classes. This includes placement tests on the first day followed by interactive lessons that you can apply by practicing during activities throughout Sapporo.
    • Apply your lessons to practice with local students who will be your language exchange partners – enjoy meals with your partners as you learn about youth culture and practice your Japanese skills.
    • Learn about the indigenous Ainu culture and dance by spending time with Ainu youth.
    • Learn more about the daily lives of Japanese youth by visiting a local high school.

    During this period, you and your group will stay at a nonprofit center.

    Days 15-20


    • Become fully immersed in the daily life of a Japanese family and community.
    • Explore your host community (one of the three below) and the surrounding area with your group. Sample activities include:


    • Visit the Kansho-ji Temple, Seeragi park and the Bihoro Museum. Meet the Mayor of Bihoro, visit junior- high schools, and eat lunch with Japanese students. Sing and draw with the youth of Otari kindergarden.
    • Paint your own Etegami (picture postcard), while attending lessons with teachers and practice Japanese calligraphy. Also attend Koto (Japanese harp) lessons and attend traditional yoga demonstrations.


    • Take part in local culture including drying seaweed and other fishery activities. Attend a craft making workshop with a grass float.
    • Visit a high school where you will interact with local students by lunching together and participating in their club activities.
    • Travel in a fishing boat and have a picnic on a nearby island.


    • Visit the Kelp Museum and Horin Temple, learn about Nanae traditional lifestyle, including the practice of dressing in kimonos.
    • Go canoeing at Onuma Quasi National Park and enjoy a picturesque day with your group, exploring the surrounding lakes and vast forest. Participate in a traditional tea ceremony and learn how to make Soba, a popular and traditional dish.

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

    Day 21

    Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Sapporo

    • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program.
    • Enjoy some last-minute shopping and have a final Japanese meal with your group.

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

    Day 22


    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.

Itinerary is subject to change.

Past Group Leaders

  • Allison Barnes

    Allie is a veteran leader, having had two wonderful experiences co-leading the Japan: Language and Cultural Traditions program. A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Allie Barnes graduated from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, with a BA in art and minors in Japanese studies and theater arts. She spent her junior year studying at Waseda University while living with a host family in Tokyo, Japan. After college, she spent a year serving at a high school in Sitka, Alaska, as an AmeriCorps volunteer. She then worked as a professional photographer at a family studio. As of fall 2014, Allie is working on her master’s in international education at SIT Graduate Institute.

    Allie jumps at the chance to travel; besides her trips to Japan, she has also traveled to South Korea, France, Italy, Canada, Jamaica, and Mexico. Allie also loves to swim, dance, rock climb, hike, or just park on the couch with a good book or TV show.

  • Joshua Moore

    A Kentucky native, Josh Moore graduated from Centre College in 2010 with a BA in political science and philosophy. From 2010 to 2012, Josh taught English to Japanese elementary and junior high school students in the small town of Isen. Upon returning to the US, he began work as a project manager at the Japan-America Society of Kentucky, where he planned events to better connect communities in Japan and Kentucky. Josh also has a passion for volunteering in his community, and he has worked closely with the local sister cities commission and a primate rescue center. In fall 2014, Josh moved to the Northeast to tackle a new challenge: he is now a first-year law student at Boston College. In his spare time (of which he has woefully little while in law school), Josh enjoys reading, cycling, and practicing martial arts.

  • Nicholas Plimpton

    Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Nick Plimpton graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in history and a minor in Japanese. After spending his junior year at Waseda University in Tokyo, Nick longed to return to Japan after graduation. He therefore applied, and was accepted to, the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, and from 2006 to 2008, Nick taught English on Aguni Island, a community of 800 people, in Okinawa, Japan.

    When Nick returned to the US, he began his medical education, completing his prerequisites at the University of Minnesota, and obtaining an MA in medical sciences at Boston University. After leading an Experiment program to Japan in summer 2014, Nick headed to Florida, where he is currently a first-year medical student at the University of South Florida. Nick is a lifelong traveler, having been all over the US, as well as to Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, Canada, and East Asia. In addition to his love for travel, Nick loves to run, camp, hike, read, canoe, and play saxophone.

  • Emma Stadele

    Emma grew up in a small mountain town called Nederland in Colorado, where her childhood consisted of frolicking through the mountains and imagining far-off destinations. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2013 with a BA in psychology, and during her college years she enjoyed being an extremely nerdy developmental psychology research assistant. Emma has always been on a mission to see the world and has traveled to Copan Ruinas, Honduras, where she taught English; Juarez, Mexico, where she built houses; Akita, Japan, where she studied abroad; and Tokyo, Japan, where she taught English and lived with a host family.

    Besides globetrotting, Emma loves running, hiking, re-reading Harry Potter, listening to good music, obsessively watching My Neighbor Totoro, eating Azuki bean paste, and hanging out with her adorable dog Edea. A two-time Experiment leader to Japan, Emma is currently teaching, saving up for graduate school, and plotting her next travel adventures.

Student Voices

  • Bihoro was where we had our homestay, and I truly had an amazing time in this city. The local culture was so amazing and everyone knew each other. I spent a lot of time with the other host families doing barbecue and hanabi (fireworks). We learned Taiko and etegami and went shopping with our families before preparing for our farewell party. I grew extremely close to my host family and truly love them as my own family now. They are very eager to learn English, but you must be eager to learn Japanese as well.

  • The places I have travelled to, Tokyo, Sapporo, Kamaishi, and Kyoto were all unique in there own way, they’re all pieces in a puzzle that make up Japan as a whole. Almost all the Japanese people that were encountered were surprised at us American-jins and loved to hear us try to speak Japanese.

  • My trip to Japan was an experience that I will never forget. Not only did I expand my cultural knowledge and awareness but I also got to immerse myself in and around groups of amazing people. Never before had I felt so welcomed and thrilled to keep learning. Everyday was a day in which I felt in paradise. Whether it was exploring with my group, playing with my host siblings, eating amazing food, hanging out with college students, or having language classes, I always had an extreme amount of fun. Japan will forever be one of my favorite places.

  • I learned so many things. I learned that you can’t fully enjoy the experience of being in a foreign country if you’re not open-minded. You must be open and willing to try whatever is thrown your way because you could miss out on a once in a lifetime experience.

    I think the language training was the most helpful part of the trip. I came here with no knowledge of Japanese and now I can actually read some of the hiragama and katakama. My sensei was also just wonderful and incredibly nice. I also loved the language portion we had and [the] teacher’s assistants. They helped with our conversation skills and were always fun to spend time with.

  • My host family experience, in my mind, could not have been any better. My host family took me in as one of their own! I usually was watching/ playing with the kids, but I also helped around the house when asked. I learned that the world is just as curious as I thought. By that I mean it was a back and forth learning experience. As I cleared misconceptions, I learned more about culture. As I practiced my Japanese, I fortified the bonds of mutual exchange.