For students currently in grades 9–12
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Hands-On Experiences to Inspire Your Future

Learning Beyond the Classroom

Adventure Travel & Cultural Immersion

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Active Immersion in Language & Culture

Our Programs

High School
For students currently in grades 9–12

Japan

Ancient Culture in a Modern World

June 19 — July 9
July 3 — July 23
July 10 — July 30
June 26 — July 16
$8,590 + airfare

Japan

Ancient Culture in a Modern World

June 19 — July 9
July 3 — July 23
July 10 — July 30
June 26 — July 16
$8,590 + airfare

Experience the blend of culture, modernity, and more than 2,000 years of tradition that make up the fabric of life in contemporary Japan. Explore the pulsing, neon-soaked neighborhoods of Tokyo and key historical sites in Kyoto, then head off the beaten path into the Japanese countryside. Hike the bamboo forests of Arashiyama, sip tea at a chadō ceremony, and see the newest fashion in Harajuku on a journey through Japan’s past and present.

• Find hidden gems in Tokyo, from ramen to sidewalk fashion
• Explore Shinto and Buddhism at key cultural sites
• Learn to draw with a professional illustrator at an anime drawing class
• Hike through a dormant volcanic crater and relax in natural hot springs
“The trip to Japan exceeded our expectations tenfold. Ella loved every minute of this trip. She was overwhelmed with the beauty and uniqueness of the country and its people. It is the single best thing she has ever done thus far.”
—Julie & Brian C., Saratoga Springs, NY

Itinerary

This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

Departure — Travel Day

Meet your fellow high school student travelers and one or more of your program leaders in San Francisco, California, and fly together to Osaka, Japan. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Osaka, Nara, & Himeji — 5 days

Get to know your group in Japan’s second-largest city, and the hub of the Kansai region. Osaka is known as the “nation’s kitchen” for its incredible breadth of cuisine, try local specialties like okonomiyaki, a savory pancake with unlimited varieties. Walk the dazzling lights of Dotonbori street along the Kizu River with its world-famous neon and animated signage. From this centrally located hub in Kansai, Honshu’s western region, take short train rides to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Himeji Castle and learn about some of the most famous samurai battles in Japanese history. Next, feed the domesticated deer that roam the grounds of Nara Park, home to Japan’s first capital city, and home to one of Japan’s oldest dai-butsu or “giant buddha statues.”

Tajima, Kinosaki, & Amanohashidate — 2 days

Venture away from the busy Pacific coast and into the countryside to explore the less-populated side of Honshu, Japan. Discover one of Japan's "Nihon Sankei," or "Three Most Beautiful Views," at Amanohashidate. The beaches surrounding Miyazu Bay offer an idyllic setting for cycling amid ancient pines or basking in the sun by the waves. Indulge in a seaside picnic and take a refreshing swim before making your way to a traditional onsen hot spring town, where you can immerse yourself in rejuvenating waters and savor local delicacies. Meet and meditate with a Buddhist monk at a beautifully landscaped temple dedicated to the healing powers of hot springs. Explore the ruins of an ancient castle outpost and treat yourself to handmade zaru soba noodles before catching a train to reconnect with the urban side of Japanese life.

Kyoto — 4 days

Head to the former imperial capital of Kyoto, home to more than 2,000 shrines and temples. Spared bombardments in World War II due to its unique cultural significance, this stop showcases some of Japan’s most important cultural places. Due to its historical significance, this major urban hub is an incredible mix of modernity and history. Try some traditional shimesaba oshizushi, watch a maiko or bungakku performance, and experience a traditional chadō tea ceremony. Hike the iconic row of orange torii gates leading to Fushimi Inari, learn some drawing techniques at the International Manga Museum, and explore the history of the worlds’ most famous assassins at the Ninja Museum.

Gifu, Mt. Hakusan — 4 days

Head northeast on a scenic train ride to the stunning beauty of one of Japan’s largest natural parks. Camp and hike through a dormant volcanic crater covered in wildflowers and natural wetlands at the base of Mount Hakusan. Ascend from there to the majestic views atop one of Japan’s three “holy mountains'' and stay in a traditional pilgrim’s lodge. Descend to a UNESCO World Heritage site at Shirakawa-Go village—an immaculately preserved straw-thatch roof community nestled in Gifu’s verdant valleys. Stroll Edo-era streets lined with traditional architecture and interact with this living history as people go about daily life in a place dedicated to preserving thousands of years of history and culture.

Tokyo — 4 days

Return to urban Japanese life as you hop the train to the iconic mega-city of Tokyo, one of the largest cities in the world. Celebrate the end of your journey at iconic spots in Japan: Tokyo Skytree, Tsukiji fish market, Sensō-ji, and more within easy striking distance from centrally located accommodations. Travel by ferry to the Odaiba district to explore the cutting edge of technology and robots at the Miraikan Museum, and experience an immersive digital art and light world at teamLab Borderless. For a dose of Japanese pop culture, hit Takeshita street in the Harajuku district and take in the burst of candy-colored stores, playful Tokyo fashion, and theme cafes. Spend your last night celebrating your experience with your group before bidding sayōnara to Japan.

Return — Travel Day

Fly from Tokyo, Japan, to San Francisco with your group and a leader, then continue on to your final destination. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Itinerary

This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

Departure — Travel Day

Meet your fellow high school student travelers and one or more of your program leaders in San Francisco, California, and fly together to Osaka, Japan. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Osaka, Nara, & Himeji — 5 days

Get to know your group in Japan’s second-largest city, and the hub of the Kansai region. Osaka is known as the “nation’s kitchen” for its incredible breadth of cuisine, try local specialties like okonomiyaki, a savory pancake with unlimited varieties. Walk the dazzling lights of Dotonbori street along the Kizu River with its world-famous neon and animated signage. From this centrally located hub in Kansai, Honshu’s western region, take short train rides to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Himeji Castle and learn about some of the most famous samurai battles in Japanese history. Next, feed the domesticated deer that roam the grounds of Nara Park, home to Japan’s first capital city, and home to one of Japan’s oldest dai-butsu or “giant buddha statues.”

Tajima, Kinosaki, & Amanohashidate — 2 days

Venture away from the busy Pacific coast and into the countryside to explore the less-populated side of Honshu, Japan. Discover one of Japan's "Nihon Sankei," or "Three Most Beautiful Views," at Amanohashidate. The beaches surrounding Miyazu Bay offer an idyllic setting for cycling amid ancient pines or basking in the sun by the waves. Indulge in a seaside picnic and take a refreshing swim before making your way to a traditional onsen hot spring town, where you can immerse yourself in rejuvenating waters and savor local delicacies. Meet and meditate with a Buddhist monk at a beautifully landscaped temple dedicated to the healing powers of hot springs. Explore the ruins of an ancient castle outpost and treat yourself to handmade zaru soba noodles before catching a train to reconnect with the urban side of Japanese life.

Kyoto — 4 days

Head to the former imperial capital of Kyoto, home to more than 2,000 shrines and temples. Spared bombardments in World War II due to its unique cultural significance, this stop showcases some of Japan’s most important cultural places. Due to its historical significance, this major urban hub is an incredible mix of modernity and history. Try some traditional shimesaba oshizushi, watch a maiko or bungakku performance, and experience a traditional chadō tea ceremony. Hike the iconic row of orange torii gates leading to Fushimi Inari, learn some drawing techniques at the International Manga Museum, and explore the history of the worlds’ most famous assassins at the Ninja Museum.

Gifu, Mt. Hakusan — 4 days

Head northeast on a scenic train ride to the stunning beauty of one of Japan’s largest natural parks. Camp and hike through a dormant volcanic crater covered in wildflowers and natural wetlands at the base of Mount Hakusan. Ascend from there to the majestic views atop one of Japan’s three “holy mountains'' and stay in a traditional pilgrim’s lodge. Descend to a UNESCO World Heritage site at Shirakawa-Go village—an immaculately preserved straw-thatch roof community nestled in Gifu’s verdant valleys. Stroll Edo-era streets lined with traditional architecture and interact with this living history as people go about daily life in a place dedicated to preserving thousands of years of history and culture.

Tokyo — 4 days

Return to urban Japanese life as you hop the train to the iconic mega-city of Tokyo, one of the largest cities in the world. Celebrate the end of your journey at iconic spots in Japan: Tokyo Skytree, Tsukiji fish market, Sensō-ji, and more within easy striking distance from centrally located accommodations. Travel by ferry to the Odaiba district to explore the cutting edge of technology and robots at the Miraikan Museum, and experience an immersive digital art and light world at teamLab Borderless. For a dose of Japanese pop culture, hit Takeshita street in the Harajuku district and take in the burst of candy-colored stores, playful Tokyo fashion, and theme cafes. Spend your last night celebrating your experience with your group before bidding sayōnara to Japan.

Return — Travel Day

Fly from Tokyo, Japan, to San Francisco with your group and a leader, then continue on to your final destination. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

Featured

Leaders

Meet some of our featured leaders. Please note that these may not be your leaders for the program. 

2023_XPATB_Jennifer Brown (1)
Jenn Brown
View Bio
2023_XJPNA_SIJJPNB_Sheldon Ito
Sheldon Ito
View Bio
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Featured

Leaders

Meet some of our featured leaders. Please note that these may not be your leaders for the program. 

2023_XPATB_Jennifer Brown (1)
Jenn Brown
View Bio
2023_XJPNA_SIJJPNB_Sheldon Ito
Sheldon Ito
View Bio
Loading...
About the Destination

The archipelago of Japan, known to the Japanese as "Nihon" or "Nippon", marks the eastern edge of Asia. Although Japan is a relatively small country in size, its global historical and cultural impact is large. Japanese inhabitants are well known for their quirky, exaggerated cultural arts such as anime and manga, and their food has become something of a global staple. When thinking of Japan, people often imagine Tokyo's bustling metropolis with 37 million inhabitants. However, the majority of Japan's land boasts a more natural setting, with 67% of the islands covered in forests. The Japanese imperial family is the longest unbroken monarchy in the world, stretching back more than 2,000 years. The primary belief systems in Japan are Shintoism and Buddhism.

Language

Japanese is the national language of Japan. There are a large number of dialects, with the Tokyo dialect considered standard Japanese.

Climate

Japan is very humid during the summer months, with temperatures ranging from 80–95°F (27–35°C), with a rainy season from mid June to early July.

Cuisine

Japanese food has become famous worldwide in recent years. Dishes like sushi, udon, and miso soup are now widely enjoyed. The Japanese have also adapted and changed other Asian dishes in unique ways, such as ramen and gyoza from China, Korean barbecue, and curry from India. Japanese people are known for their love of "umami" which is a “deep richness of flavor.” Primarily their foods get umami from a traditional mix of fish broth (dashi), “kombu” seaweed, and a traditional sweet cooking wine called “mirin.” Today, most Western foods like pasta and sandwiches are also available in modern Japan, though they are often slightly altered.

About the Destination

The archipelago of Japan, known to the Japanese as "Nihon" or "Nippon", marks the eastern edge of Asia. Although Japan is a relatively small country in size, its global historical and cultural impact is large. Japanese inhabitants are well known for their quirky, exaggerated cultural arts such as anime and manga, and their food has become something of a global staple. When thinking of Japan, people often imagine Tokyo's bustling metropolis with 37 million inhabitants. However, the majority of Japan's land boasts a more natural setting, with 67% of the islands covered in forests. The Japanese imperial family is the longest unbroken monarchy in the world, stretching back more than 2,000 years. The primary belief systems in Japan are Shintoism and Buddhism.

Language

Japanese is the national language of Japan. There are a large number of dialects, with the Tokyo dialect considered standard Japanese.

Climate

Japan is very humid during the summer months, with temperatures ranging from 80–95°F (27–35°C), with a rainy season from mid June to early July.

Cuisine

Japanese food has become famous worldwide in recent years. Dishes like sushi, udon, and miso soup are now widely enjoyed. The Japanese have also adapted and changed other Asian dishes in unique ways, such as ramen and gyoza from China, Korean barbecue, and curry from India. Japanese people are known for their love of "umami" which is a “deep richness of flavor.” Primarily their foods get umami from a traditional mix of fish broth (dashi), “kombu” seaweed, and a traditional sweet cooking wine called “mirin.” Today, most Western foods like pasta and sandwiches are also available in modern Japan, though they are often slightly altered.

What to Expect

Review specific program expectations here. For more general information:

Exploration

To learn more about our Exploration programs click here.

Independent Project

Pursue an independent project and explore an aspect of local culture of particular interest to you. Sample the breadth of Japanese cuisine, from sushi to ramen, or create a series of photos cataloging Japanese pop culture, or design your own anime storyboard.

Physical Activity

This is a physically active summer travel program. You can expect to hike on mountain terrain, walk and take public transport in cities, swim, and participate in taiko drumming or karate classes. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.

Accommodations

The group stays at a variety of residences on this program. While in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, we stay in local hotels, typically in double rooms with twin beds. When visiting Tajima and Gifu, we enjoy simple accommodations in rooms with traditional tatami floor mats and Japanese futon mattresses. In Tajima, we will have the option to use the public baths for onsen. Hotels may or may not provide a private onsen option.

Meals

We enjoy breakfast each morning at our accommodations, which offer both traditional Japanese breakfast and typical Western-style options. For lunches and dinners, we eat together either at restaurants or head to a local market to shop for a picnic. Please note that dietary restrictions and some allergies (Halal, Kosher, Vegetarian/Vegan, GF, shellfish allergy, etc) may require advance preparation, so please contact us.

What to Expect

Review specific program expectations here. For more general information:

Exploration

To learn more about our Exploration programs click here.

Independent Project

Pursue an independent project and explore an aspect of local culture of particular interest to you. Sample the breadth of Japanese cuisine, from sushi to ramen, or create a series of photos cataloging Japanese pop culture, or design your own anime storyboard.

Physical Activity

This is a physically active summer travel program. You can expect to hike on mountain terrain, walk and take public transport in cities, swim, and participate in taiko drumming or karate classes. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.

Accommodations

The group stays at a variety of residences on this program. While in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, we stay in local hotels, typically in double rooms with twin beds. When visiting Tajima and Gifu, we enjoy simple accommodations in rooms with traditional tatami floor mats and Japanese futon mattresses. In Tajima, we will have the option to use the public baths for onsen. Hotels may or may not provide a private onsen option.

Meals

We enjoy breakfast each morning at our accommodations, which offer both traditional Japanese breakfast and typical Western-style options. For lunches and dinners, we eat together either at restaurants or head to a local market to shop for a picnic. Please note that dietary restrictions and some allergies (Halal, Kosher, Vegetarian/Vegan, GF, shellfish allergy, etc) may require advance preparation, so please contact us.

A Day in the Life: Kyoto​

Due to the traveling nature of this student program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day in Kyoto.
8:00am
Enjoy a traditional breakfast of miso soup, rice, fish, and seaweed
9:00am
Hike to the top of Mount Inari and visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine
12:00pm
For lunch, taste the local specialty of shime saba, a vinegared mackerel sushi
2:00pm
Visit the International Manga Museum
4:00pm
Participate in an anime drawing class with a local artist
7:00pm
Enjoy dinner and theater at Gion Corner with geisha performing maiko
9:00pm
Group meeting to discuss the day and upcoming schedule

A Day in the Life:
Kyoto​

Due to the traveling nature of this student program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day in Kyoto.
8:00am
Enjoy a traditional breakfast of miso soup, rice, fish, and seaweed
9:00am
Hike to the top of Mount Inari and visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine
12:00pm
For lunch, taste the local specialty of shime saba, a vinegared mackerel sushi
2:00pm
Visit the International Manga Museum
4:00pm
Participate in an anime drawing class with a local artist
7:00pm
Enjoy dinner and theater at Gion Corner with geisha performing maiko
9:00pm
Group meeting to discuss the day and upcoming schedule
“This program deepened her passion for Japan and the Japanese culture. She can’t wait to return.”
—Dawn R., Ashburn, VA

This Program is Directed by

Ed Thanhouser

If you have questions or would like to talk further about this program, please get in touch!

This Program is Directed by

Ed Thanhouser

If you have questions or would like to talk further about this program, please get in touch!

Enroll in two programs & save $1,000!

$800 tuition discount + no application fee

Japan
Ancient Culture in a Modern World

2024 Dates
June 19 — July 9
July 3 — July 23
July 10 — July 30
June 26 — July 16

Duration
21 days

Tuition
$8,590 + airfare

Eligibility
Currently* in grades 9–12
*Your grade as of the day you apply

Typical Group
16–18 students, 2 leaders

Group Flight
Departs from San Francisco


 

Additional Info

Questions? Visit our FAQ or call us at (802) 387-5000

 

2024 Dates
June 19 — July 9
July 3 — July 23
July 10 — July 30
June 26 — July 16

Duration
21 days

Tuition
$8,590 + airfare


 

Eligibility
Currently* in grades 9–12
*Your grade as of the day you apply

Typical Group
16–18 students, 2 leaders

Group Flight
Departs from San Francisco

 

Questions? Visit our FAQ or call us at (802) 387-5000

Share this program:

Request More Info

Alaska
Baja & the Gulf of California
Barcelona
Belize
Chile & Peru
Germany & Sweden
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Montana
Peru
Switzerland
Australia, New Zealand, & Fiji
Croatia & Slovenia
Cuba
Faroe Islands & Iceland
Italy & Greece
Japan
Kilimanjaro
Panama & Colombia
Patagonia: Skiing
Spain, France, & Portugal
Switzerland, Italy, France, & Holland
Spain
France
Ecuador & the Galápagos
Tuscany
Barcelona
Tokyo
Argentina
Costa Rica
Ecuador & the Galápagos
Fiji
Hawai'i
Morocco
Nepal
Peru
Puerto Rico
Tanzania
Thailand
Vietnam
Iceland
France & Holland
Italy & Greece
Spain
France
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador & the Galápagos
Hawai'i

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