Students in the Japanese Studies Program at MU are fortunate to have a wide range of opportunities to study in Japan for a summer, a semester, an academic year, or longer. MU students may study in semester and academic-year programs at several institutions in Japan through special exchange relationships with MU, including Kansei Gakuin University in the city of Nishinomiya, near Osaka and Kyoto in central western Japan; Nanzan University, located city of Nagoya in central Japan; Sophia University in Tokyo; and Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies in the western Japanese city of Nagasaki, on the southwestern island of Kyushu. Other semester and academic-year programs are also open to MU students, including the Japan Center for Michigan Universities near Kyoto.
Students may also choose from a range of summer study programs and internship opportunities in Japan, either alone or in addition to a semester or academic-year program. MU students have spent summers studying at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities near Kyoto, Sophia University in Tokyo, Hokkaido International Foundation in northern Japan, and in summer programs in Japan led by MU Japanese Studies faculty.
Every summer MU students have the opportunity to participate in a two-month program in which students live with Japanese host families in the city of Iida in Nagano Prefecture (site of the 1998 Winter Olympics) in central Japan. The program includes field trips to sites of cultural significance and participation in community activities. The focus of the program is the training that students receive in the traditional form of Japanese puppetry commonly known as Bunraku.Students are taught by members of a traditional puppet troupe that traces its history back more than 300 years. They also receive instruction in traditional taiko drumming and other aspects of Japanese music, as well as martials arts. Students train through the summer and demonstrate their newly-acquired skills by performing during the last week of the program at the Iida International Puppetry Festival, which welcomes more than 250 puppet troupes from around the world and attracts more than 40,000 spectators over a four-day period, the largest such event in Japan.