Harvard Summer Program in Kyoto, Japan

May 31, 2019 to July 27, 2019
Apply by: 
January 31, 2019
Host Family

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.


EALC S-29 and EALC S-33 count as two semester-long courses (4 credits each) of degree credit. EALC S-29 meets the General Education requirement for Culture and Belief and EALC S-33 meets the General Education requirement for Culture and Belief or Societies of the World, but not both.  EALC S-33 also fulfills the requirement that one of the eight General Education courses also engage substantially with Study of the Past.

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. The program will provide commuter passes for student to use when traveling between Doshisha’s campus from their homestays.

Note: Palace Side Hotel accommodations for the first day of the program will be covered by the program.


Early application is strongly encouraged. Each program has unique requirements included in the online application. Beginning your application early is the best way to ensure that you have sufficient time to review and complete the application requirements by the deadline.

A complete online application includes:

  • Basic personal information
  • A statement of interest
  • Your most recent transcript
  • Program-specific requirements (if applicable; may include letters of recommendation, audio or video submissions, etc.)
  • A $75 application fee (per program)

Interviews may be requested at the discretion of the program.

The summer 2019 application period is now closed. Harvard College students applying for funding from the Office of Career Services (OCS): Please note that the OCS funding application is separate.

If you have questions about the application, please contact the Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Office by email at summerabroad@summer.harvard.edu, or by telephone at (617) 998-9602.

Cost & Expenses

The program fee includes:

  • Tuition
  • Accommodations
  • Scheduled program activities
  • Some meals (the program will provide further details)

You will also need to budget for a number of expenses not covered by the program fee. The amounts listed below for these out-of-pocket expenses are approximate, and you may incur additional expenses not noted here. Your actual expenses will depend on a number of factors, including personal spending habits and currency exchange rates.

  • International airfare ($1,600 - $2,000)
  • Ground transportation ($100)
  • Meals ($700)
  • Personal expenditures, communications, course materials, and miscellaneous ($800)

If you have specific questions about personal budgeting, please contact the program directly.

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

Additional Information

Program director

James Robson


  • Mary C. Brinton, PhD, Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology, Harvard University
  • James Robson, PhD, James C. Kralik and Yunli Lou Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University