Harvard Summer Program in Kyoto, Japan

Program dates and costs to be announced.

Immerse yourself in Japanese culture and learn the extraordinary story of its modernization. 

Rich in history and tradition, Kyoto was Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence for over a thousand years, from 794 until 1868. It is now Japan’s seventh largest city, with a population of 1.4 million people. Here, you can easily retreat into a small temple courtyard, stroll down a narrow street lined with small homes and shops, or relax in a park under a stand of swaying bamboo.

But Kyoto’s modern side is never far away. From the glass and steel architecture of Kyoto Station to the convenience of its world-class subway system, Kyoto is an easy place to live and learn about Japan.

Program Structure

By studying in this summer program based at Doshisha University, you will encounter both modern and traditional Kyoto.


You take two courses; they count as two semester-long courses (4 credits each) of degree credit. 

Noncredit Japanese language instruction with Doshisha staff is provided for students with no previous exposure to the Japanese language.

EALC S-29 Study Abroad in Kyoto, Japan: Inequality and Society in Contemporary Japan ( 33372)

Mary C. Brinton

4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

East Asian economies, starting with Japan, burst onto the center stage of global capitalism in the mid-late twentieth century. How were the lives of ordinary people affected? Who has gained and who has lost during economic growth and during the lost decades since the early 1990s? The course uses ethnographies, historical accounts, survey data, and other sources to examine the contours of social and economic inequality in contemporary Japan. From social class to gender inequality to homelessness to the status of Japans zainichi communities, we explore how and why some social groups are thriving in twenty first-century Japan and others are struggling.

EALC S-33 Study Abroad in Kyoto, Japan: East Asian Religions—Traditions and Transformations ( 33549)

James Robson

4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

This course is designed as an introduction to the study of East Asian religions. It aims to cover the development and history of Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Shinto, and various forms of popular religions in a cross-cultural setting. The course begins in India, and moves north and east to China and Japan, at the same time we move (in a meandering way) from ancient times down to the present day. Since this course is being taught in the culturally rich city of Kyoto, it takes advantage of that location to link the course material to specific temples, shrines, and other cultural sites in the Kansai region to provide students with a sense of history as well as a hands-on experience of the lived religions of contemporary Japan. All sections of the course are connected to Japan, since even the Indian Buddhist and Chinese religious developments are discussed in an interdisciplinary and transnational context.

Where You Live and Study

Kyoto is an ideal city to immerse yourself in Japanese culture and study its extraordinary transformation to modernity. 


You stay with a local family, where you will have the best chance to experience the Japanese way of life. You have a private room. Access to a kitchen, laundry facilities, and a telephone may be arranged between you and the family. Families live in safe neighborhoods within commuting distance of the university.

How to Apply

Before applying, review How to Apply.

To apply to the 2017 Study Abroad Program in Kyoto, complete the application available through online services in early December.

All application materials are due January 26, 2017. You will be notified of admission decisions by mid- to late-February.

Online application components

  1. A statement of interest in the program that includes information on relevant coursework and travel experience abroad (previous travel is not required) 
  2. Transcripts
    • Harvard College applicants: You may submit an unofficial transcript accessed from my.harvard.edu
    • Non-Harvard applicants: Submit an official transcript from your university
  3. A $50 nonrefundable application fee

Note: Interviews may be requested.


The program fee includes tuition, accommodation, scheduled excursions and activities, as well as some meals.  

In addition to the program fee, you are responsible for:

  • International airfare
  • Transportation to and from Kyoto
  • Passports and visas (if the latter is needed)
  • Immunizations and health insurance fees
  • Some meals
  • Personal expenditures, including laundry, cell phone charges, and personal excursions

See Funding and Payment for information on how to submit payments and funding options. 

Additional Information