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Harvard Summer Program - Japanese and East Asian Cultural Beliefs and History, Kyoto, Japan

Publish Date: Sep 28, 2015

Deadline: Jan 28, 2016

Rich in history and tradition, Kyoto was Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence from 794 until 1868. It is now Japan’s seventh largest city, with a population of 1.4 million people. One can easily retreat into a small temple courtyard, stroll down a narrow street lined with small homes and shops, or relax in a park under a stand of swaying bamboo.

But Kyoto’s modern side is never far away. From the glass and steel architecture of Kyoto Station to the convenience of its world-class subway system, Kyoto is an easy place to live and learn about Japan.

By studying in summer program based at Doshisha University, you will encounter both modern and traditional Kyoto. Professor Adolphson’s course examines Japan’s historical traditions and transformations, exploring the nation’s tumultuous move to modernity.

Course of study

You take two courses. Noncredit Japanese language instruction with Doshisha staff is provided for students with no previous exposure to the Japanese language.

HIST S-1851 Study Abroad in Kyoto, Japan: Japan—Tradition and Transformation (32604)

Mikael Adolphson
(4 credits: UN, GR) Limited enrollment.

This course examines Japan from the emergence of a court-centered state 1,500 years ago to a warrior-dominated society centuries later. Starting with the people, institutions, and ideas of premodern Japan, the course then turns to the extraordinary transformations of Japan's modern era. It examines the invention of new traditions as one crucial aspect of the process of change from the mid-nineteenth century through the present, and explores how the Japanese have dealt with the dilemmas of modernity.

Prerequisites: none.

Additional courses to be announced. 

Course credit

See Study Abroad Credit Information.


Mikael Adolphson, PhD, Professor of Japanese Cultural Studies, University of Alberta


Before applying, review the Admission and Policies and FAQs pages.

You must be at least 18 years old and have completed at least one year of college or be a first-year student in good academic standing to apply.

The application materials, outlined below, are due January 28, 2016:

  • A completed online application (available in early December) that includes:
    • A $50 nonrefundable application fee
    • A statement of interest in the program, including information on relevant coursework and travel experience abroad (previous travel is not a prerequisite)
    • Transcripts (student record accepted for Harvard students)

Program directors may ask for interviews.

You will be notified of admission decisions by mid-February.


There is a nonrefundable $50 application fee. The program cost includes the following:

  • Tuition
  • Room and some meals
  • All scheduled excursions and extracurricular activities

In addition to the program fee, you are responsible for:

  • A health insurance fee (waived if you have US insurance that provides coverage outside the United States)
  • Transportation to and from Kyoto
  • The cost of passports and visas (if the latter is needed)
  • Any immunizations

How to pay and funding options

See Payment and Funding for payment deadlines, deposit amounts, and more information, including funding options for Harvard College students.


You stay with a local family, where you will have the best chance to experience the Japanese way of life. You have a private room. Access to a kitchen, laundry facilities, and a telephone may be arranged between you and the family. Families live in safe neighborhoods within commuting distance of the university.

Additional information

Contact summerabroad@dcemail.harvard.edu.

Students with disabilities

Contact the disability services coordinator as soon as possible. See Students with Disabilities for more information.

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