The Year-in-Japan Program offers advanced undergraduates the opportunity to spend an academic year developing Japanese language skills and expanding their knowledge of Japan through a variety of courses. Classroom learning is enhanced through living with host families. The program has an on-site Resident Director who teaches one course each semester as well as overseeing academic, student, and administrative matters for the consortium. The Resident Director is a faculty member from one of the American consortium universities. During each 15-week semester, students take an intensive course in Japanese language and two courses in Japanese studies. The Japanese language program emphasizes speaking and reading skills for students with one to four years of prior language training. The Japanese studies courses are taught in English. These courses cover topics such as art history, sociology, anthropology, business, religion, literature, and economics. All courses are taught by Konan University faculty and American scholars residing in Japan. The Fall semester begins in early September and runs through mid-December. Spring semester begins in early January and ends in mid-May. One year of Japanese language study is required before entering the program.
The program was established in 1976 on the campus of Konan University and has served over 600 students from a number of different American universities. The program is administered by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for a consortium of American universities that includes the University of Arizona, the University of Hawaii-Manoa, and the University of Pittsburgh. The program is housed in the Konan International Exchange Center (KIEC) of Konan University, a small liberal arts university of 10,000 students in a suburban district of Kobe. Kobe is located in the Kansai area, the middle part of Japan which includes Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka. The campus of Konan University is 20 minutes from downtown Kobe, an urban port city just 40 minutes from downtown Osaka, and less than an hour and a half from Kyoto. Kobe is the sixth largest city in Japan and home to 1.5 million people. The city is also home to many sites and attractions such as the well known Arima hot springs, the Nada Sakes wineries, famous temples and shrines and the Rokko Mountains. Combining the new and the old, this area of Japan provides a stimulating backdrop for the study of Japan.
All students in the program live with host families in the Kobe-Osaka area. Living with a Japanese family offers students a view of Japan from the inside as well as enhancing the development of Japanese language skills. One student is placed with each family. Students have their own rooms and take morning and evening meals with their host families. Homestay placements are made by the KIEC staff in consultation with the Resident Director. As much as possible, student and host family interests are taken into consideration in placing each student. The staff of the Konan International Exchange Center conducts an in-home interview with all host family applicants. Host families attend a series of orientation meetings prior to the students' arrival in the fall and several during the course of the program. The Resident Director and staff of the Konan International Exchange Center are committed to helping students and host families make this experience a rewarding one for all.