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Summer 2022: Coronavirus Information

Harvard Summer Program in Kyoto, Japan

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

COVID-19 update: The Kyoto program is postponed to Summer 2023. Check back in Fall 2022 for more information.

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. Through individual homestays with Japanese families and engagement with Doshisha University students, participants 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.


(CANCELLED) 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.

(CANCELLED) 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.


You live in dorms on the Doshisha campus. Details regarding dorm facilities will be posted here soon.

Cost & Expenses

Additional Information