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Kyoto Overview

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Academic Objective

The Kyoto Program is designed for students with intellectual interests in the complex interplay between Japan’s distinctive blend of ancient and modern culture, the diverse challenges the country faces as a post-industrial nation surrounded by rising regional powers, and the way that Japan continues to innovate in the face of the forces of globalization. The program also helps students understand the professional value of developing linguistic proficiency and cultural competencies that facilitate interaction in the Japanese culture while simultaneously complementing their technical abilities.

Students benefit from the multiple levels of Japanese language offerings, coursework on aspects of Japanese contemporary culture, arts and society, as well as from access to summer internships. The Kyoto Program permits students having limited prior knowledge of Japan the opportunity to explore how a deeper appreciation of Japanese culture can create new dimensions in their academic and professional development.

Academic Prerequisites

Please see the Language Prerequisite page for more detailed information.

Related On-Campus Courses

Gateway Course: JapanGen 121, Winter - "Translating Japan, Translating the West" -  Indra Levy.
Additional consideration during the application process for this program will be given to students taking this course.

Please see the list of other related on-campus courses for more detailed information.

Directed Readings

Students studying in Kyoto can arrange a directed reading guided by a mentor who is a Stanford faculty member.

  • Those interested in pursuing a directed reading should work closely with their academic advisor, the appropriate Stanford faculty member, and the Kyoto Program Director in developing these projects. Students planning to work with a Stanford faculty member should also consult with this mentor as well.
  • Directed Reading Proposal (PDF) must be submitted to the Bing Overseas Studies Program office at least one month prior to the quarter of intended study.
  • Students who are having difficulty planning around sequence courses, particularly those majoring in scientific and technical fields, may be able to fulfill one of these courses through a directed reading.

Course Credit

The Stanford in Kyoto Program offers courses that provide credit toward Stanford graduation and most classes also count toward an undergraduate major. Students must enroll in a minimum of twelve units from the courses offered through the program. For a list of all BOSP courses offered in the current academic year and planned for the next, and for information on which courses earn departmental credit or fulfill General Education Requirements, please refer to the BOSP course database. For information on courses scheduled for the current academic year and for enrollment, please refer to Axess.

Academic Field Trips

The academic courses of the Kyoto Program have a heavy emphasis on experiential learning – taking students out of the classroom and into the surrounding city – where they gain first-hand insights into Japanese culture which they would not be able to attain anywhere else. All costs associated with these field trips are covered by the program. Specific field trips vary by quarter but past examples include:

  • “Religion and Japanese Culture” class attended an outdoor Noh performance at Heian Shrine, meditated at Tofukuji Temple, and visited other important shrines and temples such as Kiyomizu-dera, Daitokuji, and Kitano Tenmangu.
  • “Japanese Political Economy” class visited Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute (ATR) in Kansai’s new science city to observe cutting edge research on human-computer interaction and telecommunications technology.
  • “Popular Culture in Japan” class visited a wide range of contemporary cultural attractions such as a Neko (cat) Café in Kyoto, a Maid Café in Osaka, and the Kyoto International Manga Museum – analyzing these modern phenomena through an anthropological lens.
  • “City and Sounds” class visited sites in and around Kyoto, including busy commercial centers, temples, parks, and the Arashiyama bamboo grove, recording the diverse sounds encountered and incorporating them into a ‘sound map’ of the city with the aid of GPS devices.
  • “Japan in Contemporary International Affairs” class visited Osaka’s multi-ethnic communities and peace museum and discussed the rise of China and U.S.-Japan relations with Japanese university students.

Cultural Excursions

In addition to academic field trips, students on the Kyoto Program are further exposed to the riches of Japanese culture through a number of Stanford Japan Center-organized events and excursions. The costs of travel, accommodation and food are covered by the program. Recent examples the program’s cultural trips include:

  • “Bing Trip to Tokyo” – an overnight visit to Tokyo, travelling by Shinkansen bullet train and staying at the International House of Japan. Highlights included a special briefing on U.S.–Japan relations from political officers inside the U.S. Embassy, a tour of the famous Toei Animation Studios (creators of hits such as Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon) with a chance to see the animators in action as well as a screening of an unreleased production, followed by a visit to the controversial Yasakuni shrine and revisionist Yūshūkan museum.
  • “Bing Trip to Hiroshima” – a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum followed by a chance to meet and hear the extraordinarily powerful personal testimony of a survivor of the atomic bombing. Students then travelled to the island of Miyajima by boat, staying overnight in a traditional ryōkan inn, dipping in the onsen hot spas, and enjoying an evening of traditional food and less traditional karaoke. The next day students visited Itsukushima Shrine and the great Torii gate in the sea - the boundary between the spirit and the human worlds, and one of the classic sights of Japan.
  • Additional organized events include a social mixer event with students of Doshisha Women’s College, the Bing Friendly Meal at Myoshin-ji Temple, and a visit to a kyo-machiya (traditional town house) to experience a rakugo performance.

Students in the Spring quarter also have an extended period of time during Golden Week to explore Japan independently, and past students have organized their own trips to as far away as Okinawa to the south and Hokkaido to the north, with others taking on Mount Fuji.