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Programs : Brochure

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Fact Sheet:
Candice Snowden
Who Can Apply?:
UMA only - non-UMA students consult your study abroad office
Fields of Study:
Culture, Environmental Sciences, Japanese Languages & Literature
Host Institution:
Japan Center for Michigan Universities
Language(s) of Instruction:
English, Japanese
Language Prerequisite:
0 College-Level Semester
Program Provider:
Japan Center for Michigan Universities
Program Type:
Study Abroad
Summer Program Duration:
10 weeks
Family Home Stay, Residence Hall
In Classes With:
All US Students
Minimum Class Standing:
1st Semester Sophomore
Minimum GPA:
Classification of Credits Available:
Program Description:
JCMU - Environ & Sustain


Learn about the unique challenges facing Japan's environment firsthand!



Length: 4-5 weeks, from mid-May through mid-June

Credits: 6

Location: Shiga Prefecture, Japan

Housing: JCMU Residence Hall

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

Language of instruction: English

Program fees: Environment & Sustainability in Japan budget sheet

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


Summary: Learn about the unique challenges facing Japan's environment firsthand! This course will introduce you to many of the environmental issues facing Lake Biwa (the largest freshwater lake in Japan) and the region from a variety of scientific and socio-cultural perspectives. You will get the chance to study topics such as forestry & wildlife, water turbidity, conservation, pollution, sustainability, and more!

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: Visit the local Japanese universities, travel the country with your classmates, and engage in weekly cultural activities right on JCMU's campus.

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 while you are on the program:

  • (3 credits) Keystone course in environmental sciences: This course will introduce you to many of the environmental issues facing Lake Biwa (the largest freshwater lake in Japan) and the region from a variety of scientific and socio-cultural perspectives. Lectures are complemented by field trips and practical research activites. Past students have had lectures while exploring wildlife museums, hiking through forests, entering large caves, and so on.
  • (3 credits) Introduction to Japanese culture & society: This course will present you with the opportunity to further explore the foundations of Japanese culture and society and how they shape the lives of the Japanese people, which will help you understand the culture that you will be living in. Classroom lectures will be enhanced with guest lectures, site visits, and Japanese cultural demonstrations and activities.


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!

Chikubu Island Fishing in Lake BiwaLake Biwa MuseumExploring the Forests of Shiga

Program Overview

The Environmental Sciences in Japan Program (ESJ) includes intensive study of Japanese language and culture, a keystone course surveying environmental problems and responses, field trips to environmentally sensitive sites, and internships with the University of Shiga Prefecture's School of Environmental Science. ESJ is designed for natural science and public policy students who want to add international dimensions to their careers, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The program runs June-August, on the same schedule as the JCMU Summer Intensive Program.

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


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

Lake BiwaThe 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 touristical 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.


Courses: Intensive Japanese Language [3 credits; four levels, from beginning to advanced]; Japanese Environmental Problems from Meiji to Heisei [3 credits]; ESJ Internship [4 credits]

The ESJ keystone course, Environmental Issue in Lake Biwa [3 credits], The course will acquaint students with the environmental problems Lake Biwa faces from a wide perspective including political and socio-economic issues affecting the Lake's development and conservation. Classroom study will be augmented by fieldtrips to introduce students to the history of the interaction between the lake and human beings and practical research activities

The Japanese language for Science Majors [3 credits] involves regular course meetings and will pay particular attention to science-related themes, vocabulary, situations, and activities by drawing upon examples from Japanese culture, society and experiences related to the keystone course work. Beyond classroom training, ESJ students are able to apply their increasing language skills in the local community and in internships. Field trips, demonstrations, and other activities, whether organized by the JCMU staff or initiated by students, complement language study.

Students additionaly participate in internships coordinated and supervised by the University of Shiga Prefecture laboratories of the School of Environmental Science. Possible internship topics include various fields of study such as "Ecosystem Studies", "Environmental Planning", "Biological Resources Management", "Socio-Environmental Systems" and "Design and Architecture". Students will be placed in a laboratory which matches their interests.

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:
Term Year UMass/IPO Application Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2018 05/01/2018 ** Varies TBA TBA
NOTE: Please check the partner program website for ACTUAL APPLICATION DEADLINES. The posted deadline above is the date when UMass materials, signature documents, and questionnaires need to be handed in or completed. If the program start and end dates read "TBA," consult the program's website or your IPO advisor.

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Students will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.