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Summer 2023: Coronavirus Information

Harvard Summer Program in Kyoto, Japan

  • Date

    June 2, 2023 to July 29, 2023

  • Apply By

    January 26, 2023

  • Cost


  • Housing


Kyoto, Japan

Immerse yourself in Japanese culture and learn about East Asia and the world using Kyoto as a living classroom.

Program Director:

James Robson

The Harvard Summer School Kyoto program has a uniquely crafted curriculum that allows students to spend two months in the heart of Japan’s old capital city. Held on Doshisha University’s Imadegawa Campus, just north of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and led by senior Harvard faculty with deep ties to the region, the program uses Kyoto as a classroom for pursuing cultural engagement and historical inquiry. Ample time is provided for students to discover Kyoto on their own while making new friendships.

Program Structure

Students take two classes during the eight-week program. Field trips to significant historical and cultural sites in the Kansai region promote a deeper cultural and critical engagement with the course content. By living in dormitories and engaging with Doshisha University students on campus, you will have opportunities to form lasting ties to Japan.

EALC S-33 and HSCI S-146 count as two semester-long courses (4 credits each) of degree credit.

Noncredit Japanese language instruction with Doshisha staff is provided for students with no previous exposure to the Japanese language.

EALC S-33 Study Abroad in Kyoto, Japan: East Asian Religions—Traditions and Transformations

James Robson, PhD, James C. Kralik and Yunli Lou Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Harvard College Professor, Harvard University
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

This course is designed as an introduction to the study of East Asian religions. It aims to cover the development and history of Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Shinto, and various forms of popular religions in a cross-cultural setting. The course begins in India, and moves north and east to China and Japan, at the same time we move (in a meandering way) from ancient times down to the present day. Since this course is being taught in the culturally rich city of Kyoto, it takes advantage of that location to link the course material to specific temples, shrines, and other cultural sites in the Kansai region to provide students with a sense of history as well as a hands-on experience of the lived religions of contemporary Japan. All sections of the course are connected to Japan, since even the Indian Buddhist and Chinese religious developments are discussed in an interdisciplinary and transnational context.

HSCI S-146 Study Abroad in Kyoto, Japan: Medicine and the Body in East Asia and in Europe

Shigehisa Kuriyama, PhD, Reischauer Institute Professor of Cultural History, Harvard University
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

The human body and its afflictions were traditionally conceived very differently in East Asia and in Europe. This course will trace the fascinating history of these differences and explore their implications for medicine and health today. Why do notions such as qi and practices such as acupuncture seem so exotic in the West when they were taken for granted for nearly two thousand years in East Asia? Conversely, why did the Western conception of the body come to place such emphasis on muscles, a concept unknown to traditional Chinese medicine? How did contrasting beliefs about food and health shape different culinary practices and gastronomic tastes? Our course will take advantage of being conducted in Japan to teach through direct experience how studying foreign and past conceptions of the body can enable us to inhabit our own bodies in surprising new ways.

Where You'll Live and Study

Kyoto is an ideal city to immerse yourself in Japanese culture and learn about Japan and its global connections.


Students will be housed on a single floor of Doshisha University’s new Keishiryo Dormitory, a Japanese-style living space. Students will have private single rooms with air conditioning. The building has air conditioning, and wi-fi internet is available. An open living room is provided for each unit of five students and is in front of the private rooms. The dormitory also includes smaller lounges and shared living and dining/kitchen spaces equipped with cooking facilities (oven, rice cooker, electric kettle, and microwave). There are women’s and men’s toilets and a shower facility with two separate private showers located on the same floor as students’ rooms. Separate men’s and women’s communal baths are in the building’s lower level. The baths are shared with other students living in the dormitory. Keishiryo Dormitory rules and regulations, including a nightly curfew, apply to Harvard Summer School students.

Keishiryo Dormitory is situated in the Imadegawa area of Kyoto, about a 10-minute walk to Doshisha’s campus. Students are responsible for their own meals. Students have the opportunity to shop at the local markets and frequent the restaurants and cafes that surround campus. The university cafeteria offers low-cost meals, which are another popular option.


To apply, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have completed at least one year of college or be a first-year student
  • Be in good academic standing

Students enrolled at any accredited university are welcome to apply. See the How to Apply page for more information.

The Summer 2023 application is now closed. All admissions decisions will be released on March 3. Each program has unique requirements included in the online application. Beginning your application early is the best way to ensure that you have sufficient time to review and complete the application requirements by the deadline.

You may apply to no more than two programs; if applying to two programs, you will be asked to rank your two applications in order of preference (first and second choice). Any applications submitted in excess of the maximum of two will be automatically withdrawn. You will be notified of your admissions status in each program by early March.

A complete online application includes:

  • Basic personal information
  • A statement of interest
  • Your most recent transcript
  • Program-specific requirements (if applicable; may include letters of recommendation, etc.)

Interviews may be requested at the discretion of the program. Please note that this program requires letter(s) of recommendation as part of the online application process, which must be submitted by the application deadline. Apply early to ensure that your recommender has time to submit your letter(s).

Harvard College students applying for funding from the Office of Career Services (OCS)Please note that the OCS funding application is separate. OCS funding awards are tied to a specific program, and cannot be transferred to another program.

If you have questions about the application, please contact the Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Office by email at

Cost & Expenses

Additional Information