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Approaching Kyoto

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  • You must arrive in Kyoto on the arrival date indicated on the Key Dates page.
  • The first two nights of the program are spent at a hotel in Kyoto, arranged and paid for by the program, before students move into their permanent housing arrangements.
  • A two-day orientation period at the Kyoto center will prepare students to start their stay in Kyoto. This covers academic orientation, safety, cultural tips, advice for moving into homestays, phones and internet, campus clubs and activities, and a campus tour by Doshisha students. At the end of the orientation, students will be introduced to their homestay families.

NOTE: Students who arrive prior to the required arrival date are responsible for their own accommodations.

Accommodations and Meals

  • All students on the Kyoto program are matched with local families. Program staff match students with homestay families based on living preferences and personal descriptions outlined in the housing preference form, and the homestay aspect of the program is consistently named by students as one of the most rewarding aspects of their time in Japan.
  • In a homestay arrangement students typically eat breakfast and dinner at home with the family. The program provides students with a stipend for lunch, and covers the cost of the commute from the homestay to campus on public transportation.
  • Most homestays require a thirty- to sixty-minute commute — considered short by Japanese standards — by bus, train, or a combination of the two to reach Doshisha University.

Meeting People

From exploring the cobbled alleyways of Kiyomizudera to checking out Kawaramachi ramen shops, there are so many things to do in Kyoto and the surrounding area that students have to balance between the desire to travel and the value of integrating into the local culture. Spending time with host families, investing energy into building friendships with Japanese people, and getting involved in local activities are ways that students tend to put down roots in Kyoto. The staff at the center can help point students toward things to do and ways to pursue some of their hobbies while living in the city.

Campus Life and Activities

The Kyoto center is located within Doshisha University, one of Japan’s largest private universities. Staff at the center help students find Doshisha clubs and societies, and make introductions to them. Doshisha university students also organize a series of social events for Kyoto students – to cultural attractions as well as to restaurants and parties. This is a great way for Stanford students to make friends with Japanese students and explore Kyoto together.

There are a number of reasonably-priced eateries within the campus to suit most tastes, as well as innumerable restaurants of all descriptions in the surrounding area.

City Life

Located in the Kansai region, an area of great cultural diversity that includes Osaka, Kobe, and Nara, Kyoto is surrounded by mountains on three sides and is divided by a major river. Japan's largest lake, Lake Biwa, is a short ride over the Eastern Mountains. The city is approximately forty minutes from Osaka and, by Shinkansen, two and a half hours from Tokyo. One of Japan's largest cities with 1.4 million residents, Kyoto is both traditional and modern. Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and master craftsmen in the traditional arts are interspersed with shopping arcades, pachinko parlors, and corporate research parks specializing in biotechnology, electronics, and the development of new materials.

For centuries the city has been the cultural heart of Japan, boasting magnificent art treasures. The city, established as capital in 794, is known for its cloisonné, bronzes, damascene work, porcelain, and lacquer ware, and its renowned silk industry. Kyoto is home to over 140,000 university students and forty colleges and universities, including Kyoto and Doshisha Universities. It is also headquarters of Nintendo, Horiba and other high-tech firms as well as being one of the world centers for neuroscience research. Among the city's artistic treasures are the Old Imperial Palace, Nijo Castle (former palace of the Tokugawa shoguns), and Kiyomizu Temple. Others are housed in the Kyoto National Museum of Fine Arts, the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, and the city's other numerous museums and galleries.