Summer in Japan: Japan Then and Now

Image of Summer in Japan: Japan Then and Now
This program will next run in Summer 2024.

During this summer program, students will explore pre-modern and modern Japanese history through site visits.
Location: Hiratsuka, Japan
Language of Instruction: English
Term: Summer
Program Type: Faculty-led
Open to non-KU Students: No
Fulfills KU Core 4.2: No
Fulfills KU Core 5: No

  • This program will next run in Summer 2024. 
  • Three-week summer program that includes visits in Hiratsuka, Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, and Osaka
  • No language experience required
  • Interact with Japanese people to immerse yourself in Japanese history and culture

This three-week course offers a hands-on, in-depth look at pre-modern and modern Japanese history through visits to sites that provide visual evidence of past historical events.

The program is based at Kanagawa University in Hiratsuka, Japan. Hiratsuka (pop. 260,000) is 50 miles southwest of Tokyo on the coast of Sagami Bay near Kamakura and Mount Fuji. During the program, Kanagawa University will be in session during the program which allows participants to interact with Japanese students.

The program also includes a one week excursion to visit Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima and Osaka.

Program Itinerary 


We begin in the city of Hiratsuka, Lawrence’s sister city and the site of a way station of the great Tokaido highway of the feudal era.

During the stay in Hiratsuka, students experience the following:

  • Live one week in home stay with a Japanese family and live in a guesthouse on campus of Kanagawa University
  • Meet with Hiratsuka citizens at community event
  • Attend classes and social events with Japanese students at Kanagawa University.
  • Rice planting at local farm near Hiratsuka
  • Visit Akihabara, a major shopping district for video gamesanimemanga, and electronics.
  • Visit Asakusa, site of an important Buddhist temple and the center 
  • Visit Shibuya, a contemporary hot spot for Japanese youth.
  • See a kabuki play.

Participants will then travel to Western Japan to visit Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka.

  • Visit temples and gardens…
  • Experience Zen meditation.
  • Eat traditional cuisine.
  • Visit a traditional crafts museum and observe ancient craft practices.
  • Participants will visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park to reflect on the war and its culmination in the atomic bombing of that city
Itsukushima (Miyajima Island)
  • Participants will see the Torii gate of the Itsukushima Shrine and be greeted by the island deer
  • Participants will visit Osaka Castle and various sites in this bustling merchant city, long the center of Japan's economy and famous for gastronomy

EALC 231/331 Studies in: Japan: Past and Present (3 credits) In this course, students will gain a knowledge of the past eras of Japan’s history and culture and will be able to verbalize insights into how historical experiences have shaped and influenced the Japan of today.

Students will be required to keep a journal and deliver short reflections on the influence of past historical conditions on the present. All students will submit a final essay exam after returning to the U.S. Students who take the course for Jr/Sr credit hours (EALC331) will also be required to write a term paper on a topic approved by the instructor. In addition to the overview of Japan’s history, the course entails close interaction with contemporary Japan through interaction with home stay families and student clubs on the Kanagawa University campus and through participation in traditional activities such as rice planting, calligraphy, and tea ceremony.  

While knowledge of Japanese is not required, students with background in the language will be expected to use Japanese in the home stays and students with no background will be taught and encouraged to learn phrases and simple grammar during the course of the homestays and travel.

Participants will stay one week with a homestay in Hiratsuka and one week at Kanagawa University's Guest House on campus at Kanagawa University in Hiratsuka. During the excursion in Western Japan, students will stay at hostel and a hotel.

SAGE is dedicated to creating international engagement opportunities that meet the needs of all our students and providing resources to support you through the process of studying abroad. Study abroad is achievable for students of all identities including our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and students with religious/non-religious viewpoints. Before selecting a program, consider how your identities may impact your experience abroad in unique ways and talk with your Program Coordinator about any program-specific concerns. Students with documented disabilities should discuss any accommodation needs with their Program Coordinator early in the planning process.

Additional Resources

Check our Identity Abroad page and resources listed below for information specific to you and other students who may be on your program.

Open to undergraduate and graduate students from any accredited U.S. college or university. No previous Japanese training is required. Minimum 2.50 GPA required (exceptions considered only after submission of a petition).

Dr. Maggie Childs, Associate Professor of Japanese and Chairperson at the East Asian Language and Cultures Department at the University of Kansas, has over twenty five years of experience teaching Japanese language and literature. She was director of the first Summer Institute in Hiratsuka in 1990 and this year will be her eleventh year directing the program in Hiratsuka. She has taught Japanese at the University of Kansas since 1987 and her research focuses on premodern Japanese literature, gender relations and religious issues.