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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Hikone, Japan
  • Program Terms: Academic Year, Fall, Spring
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Program Sponsor: Japan Center for Michigan Universities 
  • Dates / Deadlines
Program Description:
JCMU - Sem Language & Culture


Experience life in Japan on this semester-long program!



Length: You may apply for a single semester (fall or spring) or for a full academic year

Credits: 12-15/semester

Location: Shiga Prefecture, Japan

Housing: JCMU Residence Hall or Japanese host family

Eligibility: Minimum 2.5 GPA, open to college students of all majors

Language of instruction: English, Japanese

Program fees: Semester Language & Culture budget sheet

Tuition discounts: Students attending a JCMU Consortium school pay a discounted rate



Summary: On this program, you can make Japan a part of your academic plan by studying abroad for the fall, spring, or the entire academic year. Discover the historic city of Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, right in the heart of Honshu (the main island of Japan). There, you will learn an entire year's worth of college-level Japanese each semester!

While at JCMU, you will immerse yourself completely in Japanese language and culture. There are no language prerequisites, though: we offer beginner level courses all the way through advanced. You will get the chance to participate in a wide range of classroom activities, including practice with a Japanese student and sitting in on a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Through this, you will find that your ability to utilize Japanese on a day-to-day basis in Hikone will increase exponentially. 

Location: Built as a castle town during the early 1600s, Hikone retains much of its original charm. Spend your time visiting sites such as Hikone Castle, one of only twelve Japanese castles to remain in its original construction. After a day of sightseeing, head back to our campus directly on the shores of Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan and the third oldest lake in the entire world. 

Looking for modern conveniences? In Hikone's vibrant downtown area, you can chill out in large malls, eat at a wide variety of restaurants, and even sing your heart out at one of many karaoke shops. Want to explore other parts of Japan? The city is only a short train ride away from the cities of Kyoto and Osaka, and on the bullet train line to Tokyo.

Cultural demonstrations and internships: Practice Japanese with conversation partners, participate in club activities and events at local universities, and engage in non-credit internships based on your interests.

Housing: Students may live in the JCMU Residence Hall or with a homestay. The JCMU student apartments are designed for double occupancy with two private bedrooms and a shared kitchen, dining area and bathroom. The residential building has wireless internet and features a laundry room, TV room, lounge and other amenities. JCMU arranges short- and long-term homestays with local families based on family availability and student preferences. Homestays, regardless of duration, offer students the best opportunity to meet and interact with Japanese people.

Field trips & other benefits: You will be provided with your own bike to use while on the program. In addition, you will have the chance to go on a field excursion with your classmates! The location & date of the excursion are subject to change on a yearly basis, but past students have been taken to Kyoto, Nara, Uji, and more.


You will take the following classes each semester while you are on the program: 

  • (10 credits) Intensive Japanese language: Daily instruction will address listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Beginner through advanced levels are all offered. Placement is based on exams at the beginning of the program. No prior language study is required!
  • (1-4 credits) Japanese studies elective course: Taught entirely in English, each course explores an aspect of Japan, such as its history, religions, politics, arts, economy and more. Course offerings vary by semester; a list of electives for upcoming semesters can be found on the JCMU website.
  • (1 credit) JCMU Experience course: The study abroad experience can be confusing and stressful for anyone. Talk about the new, exciting, and frustrating things you see and experience in Japan on the JCMU Experience course (taught in English). Learn more about why Japanese culture is the way it is, and discuss how your particular views are influencing your international education.


Want to learn what past students have said about their time in Hikone?  Or do you want to read about what our recent students have been up to? Then visit the Alumni Testimonials and Events sections of the JCMU Official Blog!

Sakura in bloomCultural activities ahoy!Hikone Castle in autumnTemple sightseeing

Program Overview

The Japanese language program at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) located in Hikone, Japan, offers four levels of instruction: elementary, lower intermediate, intermediate, and advanced. Each level at the Center is designed to advance the language students' proficiency through the combination of in-class instruction and outside activities. The language program as a whole aims to produce students who can communicate effectively in a variety of sociocultural contexts both in spoken and written Japanese.   Students can also participate in part-time internships with several community organizations or businesses during the second half of each semester.  Contact provider for more information on possibilities for "Community Internships."

Check their website for multimedia tours of the JCMU site on the shores of Lake Biwa:



The small town of Hikone (pop. 110,000), located between Tokyo and Kyoto, is reputed for its medieval castle, one of the few surviving original in Japan.

The first castle of Hikone was destroyed in 1600. The new lord assigned by the Tokugawa government rebuilt a new castle, completed in 1622, and Hikone thrived on rice trade, strategically situated between Kyoto and Nagoya. Nowadays, the castle is a major tourist attraction in spring when thousands of surrounding cherry trees make it the perfect spot for the typical picture of Japan. The Genkyu-en Garden down the castle adds to this traditional image with its colourful ornemental carps.


This is an intensive language program with 15 - 20 hrs. of classroom work on Japanese per week.

Core Courses
Elementary Japanese (Level 1)
Lower Intermediate Japanese (Level 2)
Intermediate Japanese (Level 3)
Advanced Japanese (Level 4)

Language and sociocultural learning outside of the classroom is a unique aspect of the Japanese language program at JCMU. Language course supplements through the Friday Project, related Japanese study courses and seminars

The Center gives a placement test to students at the beginning of each term so that they may be placed in the proper level according to their language proficiency, to maximize their learning experience at JCMU.

Living Arrangements

Students may either live with community families ("homestays") or in the JCMU apartments. Homestays are an important part of the Japan experience. JCMU arranges homestays of various durations, based on family availability and student preferences. Students may, for example, live for one month in the Center apartments and stay one month with a family, or live for the whole summer in the Center and spend an occasional weekend with a family.

Student apartments are designed for double occupancy, each with a private bedroom/study and shared kitchen and bathroom. Each apartment is separately metered for utilities, including telephones. The residential building also contains a new computer lab, laundry, television room, weight room, and lounge. It is part of a larger JCMU complex including an academic building and a traditional Japanese garden overlooking Lake Biwa. The spacious academic building houses classrooms, a library, language labs, a traditional tatami room, a public restaurant, and offices.


Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year UMass/IPO Application Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring 2019 12/01/2018 ** Varies 01/07/2019 04/20/2019
Fall 2019 05/01/2019 ** Varies TBA TBA
Academic Year 2019-2020 05/01/2019 ** Varies TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admissions.

If you are applying to a partner program, you must check their website for ACTUAL APPLICATION DEADLINES. The posted deadline above indicates when your UMass Abroad application materials are due and the program’s deadline may be sooner.