Semester in Japan (Partner)

Basic information

  • Location: Hikone, Japan | Map
  • Dates: Spring, Summer or Fall
  • GPA requirement: 2.5-3.0+
  • Cost: ${costText} (estimate)

Spend the semester studying the Japanese language and culture in Hikone, near Kyoto, Japan. In this program held at the Japan Center for Michigan Colleges and Universities (JCMU), language courses are taught at all levels and cultural engagement includes field trips, home stays and participation in local cultural events.

Students may choose to spend either fall, spring, 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 universities like Calvin have been invited to join in the program.

Hikone, Japan

Hikone is an old castle town 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, but retains many of the aspects of traditional Japanese culture.

Things to do

Hikone offers all of the charm of a historic, traditional town with the excitement of a modern city center. All students receive a bike and helmet for the duration of their program which they can use to explore the area. Students often spend their weekends studying at cafes, exploring temples, singing karaoke with friends, walking along lake Biwa, sampling local restaurants and shopping at local retail centers and small traditional stores.

Japan is home to one of the most efficient train systems in the world. With Hikone station only a bike ride away, JCMU students have easy access to the large cosmopolitan cities of Kyoto, Nagoya and Osaka as well as historic towns like Nara, Taga and Gifu. Some students also choose to spend time in Tokyo (accessible by bus or bullet train) before, during or after the program.

In addition to individual travel experiences, JCMU provides guided excursion and cultural engagement opportunities at JCMU, within the local community and throughout Shiga Prefecture.

Hikone is the home of the famous Hikone Castle, which was originally built by Ii Naotaka after the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. It is one of only four castles in Japan designated as national treasures, and all of the original castle buildings and the castle garden still survive. Hikone is also known for its production of hand-crafted Butsudan (Buddhist Altars), a historic industry that still exists today.
Approx. 113,000
Hikone has hot, humid summers with temperatures as high as 100° F (38° C) and snowy winters that dip just below freezing. Fall and spring are celebrated in Japan as being especially beautiful and scenic.


Each semester the Japan Center for Michigan Universities offers courses in both Japanese language and Japanese culture.

Students in the Language and Culture program will take a 10-credit hour language course as well as one or two elective courses. Language courses are taught at four different levels, and placement is determined by proficiency tests administered at the beginning of the program. Elective course offerings vary each semester, but have included topics such as Japanese Economic Practices, Environmental Issues in Japan, Introduction to Japanese Cinema, etc.

All language classes are taught at JCMU, and some elective classes are taught (in English) at neighboring Japanese universities.


Grades will be represented on your Calvin transcript, but will not calculate into your GPA. Learn more about Direct-Enroll credits in Academic Services.

Course Fulfillments

Japanese majors and minors who complete the Language and Culture semester will receive credit for JAPN-310 and JAPN-302. Some 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 new and modern, and are located on the beautiful shores of Lake Biwa. Students may live either in double rooms in the western-style dormitory provided on campus or do a home stay with a Japanese family for the entire semester (students may also choose to live in the dorms and do a home stay for just one weekend). Occasionally, Japanese students from neighboring universities will take English courses at JCMU and students are given the option of living with a Japanese roommate.

The program fee does not include a meal plan, but there is a family restaurant on campus where students receive discounts and each dorm room is equipped with a kitchen. Restaurants and grocery stores are easily accessible on foot or by bike.

Home stay students who need to use the train on their commute will be compensated for their travel expenses. Home stay families provide their students with breakfast and dinner.


This program is available to Japanese majors and minors. Even though the great majority of students who participate in this program have already studied some Japanese language, a background in the Japanese language is not required. GPA level and other requirements vary between programs, see the JCMU website for more information.


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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 an administrative fee. For more details about the program cost, visit the financial information page.

Questions / contact

Kaori D Schau

Kaori Schau

Assistant Professor
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