Back to Exchange Countries

Japan’s rich cultural history and world-famous contemporary pop culture make it a fascinating place to study abroad. Experience daily life in a Japanese home; explore the world of Japanese home cooking you won’t find in restaurants; and fall in love with spectacular sights and sounds of the four seasons.

Most exchange students are placed with Japanese host families who have children attending our partner high schools in Kyoto or Kagoshima. They attend the 2nd year of high school (US 11th grade) and move to the 3rd year in the spring with their classmates. Although the Japanese school system runs on a trimester system (April – July, August – December, January – March), NWSE students attend during US school semesters (late August – January and/or January – July). Schools and offer a variety of clubs and activities so you can get to know your Japanese classmates better.

Applicants to the academic-year and semester programs must have the equivalent of one year of high-school Japanese (including writing, reading, and conversation) to apply. If your high school does not offer Japanese language courses, you may fulfill the requirement through private tutoring, community college, language camps, online coursework, or by passing the N5 level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Applicants must also write a letter to their potential host family in Japanese and pass a linguistic interview as well. There is no language requirement for the summer program.

Students must be current high-school students between the age of 15-18 who will not graduate before their exchange. Students who will graduate immediately prior to the start of summer program may apply.

Application Requirements

To be considered for the program, you must:

  • Be 15 to 18 years of age by the start of the program
  • Be in 9th – 12th grade at the time you are applying for the program
  • Have an average grade point average (GPA) of approximately 3.0 (out of 4.0).*
  • Demonstrate a strong motivation to learn Japanese. Existing Japanese skills are a significant advantage.
  • Demonstrate maturity, open-mindedness, consideration, adaptability, as well as other important social and communication skills.
  • Be in good physical and mental health.

* NWSE may consider you for the program with a GPA below 3.0 if you can demonstrate appropriate qualifications in other areas. We are happy answer any questions about the application requirements.

Program Dates

The program dates below are approximate:

Program Start Program End
Academic Year Program: Late July to mid-September Late June – early August
Fall Semester Program: Late July to mid-September Mid-January – late February
Spring Semester Program: Early January to late February Late June – early August

The Program Includes:

  • Placement with a carefully screened volunteer host family who provides room and board
  • Supervision by a representative of NWSE in Japan
  • Acceptance to a Japanese high school
  • Travel insurance
  • Pre-departure, post-arrival and re-entry student orientations
  • Required documents to apply for your Japanese student visa
  • Orientation for the host family in Japan
  • Advising and counseling, when needed, throughout the application process and for the duration of your program
  • NWSE certificate of participation upon successful program completion

Not included in program fees:

  • Plane tickets and travel-related expenses
  • Fee for Japanese visa application
  • School supplies
  • Lunch, if you do not to pack lunch from your host family home
  • School uniform if your school requires one
  • Personal expenses, including for public transportation. NWSE recommends at least $200 per month for the duration of the program plus $250 for start-up fees for each semester.
  • Host Family fees (if applicable)

Program Fees

Please contact NWSE for program fee information. Scholarships (“fee reductions”), based on merit and need, may be available.

“This was our first experience. Everything went very smoothly for us. My husband, who was pretty nervous about the whole idea [of hosting], loved the experience. He texted me the…

Laurie and Glenn from Montana, USA

“[My host family and I] had directly a good connection to each other. I feel now I have another family in America… We had a great relationship with a lot…

Lisa from Germany

“What I love the most about my exchange in America is my host family. I will definitely come back to America to see them and all my friends. The food, school,…

Sol from Spain

“Every person I’ve met here in some way made me think better about myself. And this, I must say, is my biggest impression here. That anytime you talk to somebody –…

Arina from Russia
Read More