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On one hand, you’ve got an ancient culture represented by tea ceremonies and graceful gardens. On the other, you have high-speed trains, striking efficiency and hyper-modern skyscrapers. Choose an academic year, semester or short-term programme to Japan and prepare for complete immersion into one of the most dynamic countries in the world.

As an AFSer, you’ll have an unparalleled opportunity to dive into Japanese culture and live with a host family while attending a local high school. Japanese society places high value on education, so your academic experience will be rigorous. You will probably wear a school uniform, and be ready to get peddling, as most students commute to school on bike.

Eligibility Requirements

  • You must be 16, 17 or 18
  • Enrolled in a NZ school
  • Getting ‘achieved’ or more in your school work
  • Language requirements: Japanese (beginner – intermediate)

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare
  • Airport Pick-up
  • Host Family Placement
  • Housing
  • Meals
  • School Placement
  • Medical Insurance
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Domestic Transport
  • Visa Application Assistance
  • Pre-Departure Orientation
  • Orientations during your time abroad
  • Access to Alumni Network
  • Continuous Support
  • Worldwide Presence
  • 70 Years Experience

What you are responsible for

  • Vaccinations
  • Visa and Passport Fees
  • School Uniform

High School

The Japanese place a high value on education and academic achievement. In fact, high school is not mandatory in Japan. Instead, it’s seen as a voluntary commitment made by students. Teachers command great respect in Japan. This challenging high school study abroad environment provides excellent language-learning opportunities, since all high school classes, including English, are taught in Japanese. Schools have classes Monday-Friday from 8:30 am to around 3:30 pm, and some have classes on Saturday morning, too.

School in Japan runs from April to March. You will likely wear a uniform and commute by bike, bus, or train. After the school day ends, you’ll participate in a custom called souji, when everyone gets together for 30 minutes to help clean the school and grounds. Activities throughout the year include Bunkasai (school festival), Tai’ikusai (sports day), chorus competition, and excursions. Optional school trips will give you the chance to visit popular tourist sites in Japan or sometimes even overseas.

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Accommodation and lifestyle

When you enter your host family’s house, you can expect to take off your shoes and change into slippers. Japanese homes tend to be well kept. With cleanliness as a priority, be ready to help your host family with daily chores. Being on-time is also an important part of Japanese manners.

In most Japanese families, traditional food is important, and meals are communal. Get ready to enjoy some delicious green tea, rice, and noodles! (Food is generally cooked with meat, so vegetarianism isn’t very common).

AFSers have lived in communities all throughout Japan, but you’re most likely to have a host family that lives in a small town or rural area. Because the country’s major cities are some of the most populated in the world, living space can be tight there.

Like anywhere in the world, all families in Japan are different. Nuclear families are common, but you might also find homes with three generations living together. Tradition and family values tend to be very important to the Japanese, as is respect for elders. Prioritizing community and saving face are mainstays of Japanese culture.

Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure

Kick-start your future with AFS and discover who you really are, make new lifetime friendships and immerse yourself in a fascinating intercultural experience.

This programme begins at your home country with a pre-departure orientation and continues with orientations, other supported learning activities and facilitated conversations which will help you maximize your experience, cope with the challenges of navigating a new culture and community as well as gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding throughout your time abroad, and as you return to your home country. AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you and your host family the whole way through.

Find out more