Immerse yourself in the fascinating culture of Japan by studying abroad as a high school student. Living with a host family allows you to fully immerse yourself in Japan and improve your Japanese.
Questions or concerns about the coronavirus? Please read our blog about it here!
Studying abroad with Greenheart Travel’s high school program in Japan will give you a chance to take a glimpse into a culture with a rich history and unique cultural traditions. As an exchange student in Japan, you will also learn first-hand what it’s like to attend high school with your Japanese peers and live with a host family. This is your chance to experience a life-changing adventure during your academic exchange abroad.
Program at a Glance:
In researching a study abroad program, you have already shown you are a leader and open-minded in your academic pursuits. These are just a few of the traits that our exchange students possess. You’re motivated to immerse yourself in another culture and flexible enough to live outside your comfort zone. You should also:
Don’t meet the eligibility requirements? Check out our Teen Summer Language Camp in Japan that takes beginners to study Japan for 1-6 weeks in the summer! You can also learn more about fulfilling the requirements with our online courses for complete beginners here.
*What does it mean to be in good mental health?
Moving to a new culture and staying in unfamiliar surroundings without your normal support structure can be very stressful, even to a well-adjusted student. Sending a student with pre-existing conditions on a long-term exchange program could exacerbate whatever challenges the student was previously facing. In order to ensure the safety of our participants, we must be rigorous in our pre-screening of all high school abroad applicants.
Therefore, we may not be able to accept students who have struggled with any kind of mental illness within the last 2 years and/or are reliant on medication to address their existing mental health condition. Each student will be addressed on a case by case basis.
These include, but are not limited to:
If the student’s mental health issue has been managed (post-medication) for over 2 years, we will ask for a note from his/her relevant practitioner (psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, etc) as part of the application process.
Please note we have a very limited amount of spots for our program in Japan and spots could (and do) fill before the listed deadlines. If you are set on a certain start date please apply early.
Apply early and save! Apply by December 4, 2020 and save $300 off a trimester program and $500 off a semester or academic year program. This discount will be applied to your final program balance, not the deposit.
Final Deadline to Apply: March 15th, 2021
Apply early and save! Apply by May 28, 2021 and save $300 off a trimester program and $500 off a semester or academic year program. This discount will be applied to your final program balance, not the deposit.
Final Deadline to Apply: September 15th, 2021
The above dates are estimated ranges. Exact dates will be provided once they are confirmed!
Not quite ready to commit to a long-term program? Check out our Teen Summer Language Camp in Japan with 2-6 week programs to learn Japanese in the summertime.
Academic Trimester: $11,280
Academic Semester: $14,600
Academic Year: $15,320
Worried about the program fee?
Our goal is to help make travel accessible to everyone and we are here to help when you are deciding if this experience is financially do-able. Each year we offer scholarships for high school study abroad students! We also have a guide to fundraising your program fee, and many high school students fundraise in their hometown ahead of their program.
We also offer discounts for applying early (plus there are many other benefits to applying early!) for each start date and for US families that have hosted an exchange student with Greenheart Exchange.
All participants will get to participate in a 2-day orientation upon arrival, in Tokyo.
You’ll have the opportunity to meet many other new like-minded and adventurous students who have also just arrived! By the end, you’ll have new friends scattered around the entire country. Orientation includes important activities and classes on what to expect on your program, language, and local culture. The accommodation will be at a hotel.
Subject to change.
Thursday – Welcome!
On Thursday you will arrive at the Tokyo Airport and the High School Japan team will greet you there! If you have large luggage, it can be shipped to your host family’s house from the airport directly so that you don’t need to take it to orientation. At the airport, the staff will help the newly arrived students visit an ATM, obtain a Japanese SIM card for their phones, and anything else you might need to take care of.
Then the staff will bring you by shuttle bus to the hotel. In the evening we have dinner together and will give a presentation about the program and the rules of the orientation week.
Friday – Let’s Orientate!
After breakfast, we will do a goal setting worksheet and activity. From there, we will have Japanese language placement tests. This day is then is full of orientation classes, in the morning, afternoon and evening! We’ll cover insurance information, expectations, Japanese culture, school life, earthquake safety, saving energy in your host family home, and more! But don’t worry there are enough breaks in between for tea and also for lunch. After the orientation lectures, we’ll go to a nearby shopping mall to practice our Japanese and have dinner!
Friday – Host Family and Placements!
Friday is a very exciting day: you will meet your host family! The program staff will take everyone to Tokyo station on a chartered bus where you will board a train with program staff. All students will be chaperoned to their homestay area, where their host families will meet them and pick them up at the train station! This is such a great part of the week as now the adventure really starts and all of the students will go to their new Japanese home with their new Japanese family!
So, what about credits?
Neither Greenheart Travel nor the host school abroad provides high school credit. All credit must be granted through your home school in the U.S. or Canada. All U.S./Canadian schools have different policies. Here’s a blog post to read more about how some alumni have transferred credits.
In Japan, we cannot guarantee your host school will provide you an official transcript. If your school will not, some host schools will provide documentation, letters, and any other materials you require upon request. You must have good behavior, attendance, and performance in order for the school to fulfill this request.
Then, you should take this documentation back to your home school as proof of your participation in the program. Your home school is responsible for awarding you credit for this program or not.
You should meet with your U.S./Canadian high school before you leave and share the general curriculum guidelines for Japan with your guidance counselor and/or teachers.
Because the curriculum will vary by school and we cannot guarantee you’ll take any specific classes, it is important that you arrange the required classes required for your graduation, such as U.S. History, before or after your time abroad.
Greenheart Travel will be able to provide information about the general curriculum for your age level in Japan, but you will not know your course schedule until after you arrive in country and start attending school.
Access your High School Curriculum Guidelines for Japan here!
Please keep in mind that the grading system in other countries is different than the US. Most host schools will not grant grades or transcripts as it is too difficult to evaluate your work due to the language barrier. If your host school is able to award you grades, they won’t be an exact match to what you would get in the US.
“I would love to thank Greenheart Travel for making this awesome experience happen for me! The staff is really nice and easy going. And of course, the Japanese group who took care of me during my five months, from my arrival to Narita airport in August to the moment when I walked into the security section – thank you guys so much!!” – Manou Liu
The best way to learn about a new culture and language is to be fully immersed in it which is why all Greenheart Travel high school abroad students live with local host families. All of our host families are volunteers and will treat you as a member of their family. By being a part of your family’s daily life, you will learn to live and speak like a local.
Prospective host families undergo a rigorous screening process. Participants can rest assured that only suitable host families will be selected. In fact, many of our current host families have hosted students in the past, showing what an impactful experience it was.
In order to qualify as a host family, the prospective hosts must:
We will connect you with your host family prior to your arrival in your host country. By e-mailing and speaking with them before arriving, it will help break the ice when you finally meet in person. It will also show that you are as excited to live with them as they are to host you!
Host families have many reasons why they want to welcome you! Our host families are volunteers, meaning they don’t receive compensation for housing and feeding students during their program. Many host families love the experience of cultural exchange – they learn just as much about your country as you do theirs. Many are also former exchange students and want to return the favor, or they have children who have gone or will go to study in the U.S. Having an exchange student exposes their children to new languages and cultures.
We place students throughout the country of Japan in small to medium-sized cities. Keep in mind a medium-sized city in Japan might be considered a big city by your standards. Most Japanese homes are very small, so homestays in the big cities like Tokyo are not as common. Our top 5 most common placements are in the following cities: Yokohama, Kobe, Fushimi (Kyoto), Yamaguchi, and Fuji.
We make it a priority to place students with host families that closely match your interests and personality, for example, if you like music, we’ll do our best to find a family that also loves music! For this reason, we work first to find a suitable family rather than a destination preference.
Greenheart Travel welcomes travelers identifying as LGTBQ+, and is committed to helping you find the best program for you. We can provide information on the cultural norms of our destination countries and are prepared to advise you on the best programs based on your needs and interests.
No. You must be flexible about where you are placed within Japan. We make it a priority to place students with host families that closely match your interests and personality. For this reason, we work first to find a suitable family rather than a destination preference. We can never guarantee placements in any specific city or region, and we match based on compatibility with the host family.
I know a family in my program country that would like to host me. Is this possible?
This is possible as long as we have a support network in the family’s host community and there is an available nearby host school.
No. We do not change host families based on preferences or location. However, if issues arise once you are on the program, we will handle them on a case-by-case basis and may make changes if necessary.
It is very unlikely you will be placed in a major city. A majority of our families live in small to medium-sized towns outside of major cities, and it is important you be open-minded. Japan is very urban and well connected, so even smaller cities have extensive public transportation and can feel like the best of both worlds!
There is no guarantee that you will have a host sibling your age. Your host family may have young children, teenage children, or grown children who no longer live at home. Regardless of the age of your host siblings, they’ll be excited to welcome into the family!
Depending on your host family, you may be expected to share a room with a host sibling of the same gender.
You will have breakfast and dinner provided for you by the host family. Though my might think of ramen, sushi, and teriyaki as Japanese food, these will not be common in your homestay. You’ll eat a lot of rice and noodles accompanied by meat, fish, and vegetables. Many home-cooked meals will also have soy sauce and soup stock from fish and kelp as a seasoning. Please be as open-minded about food as possible, as this is important to show respect and appreciation to your host family!
Round trip airfare from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo is included in the cost of the program. If LAX is not convenient for you and you wish to book flights on your own we will deduct the flight from your total fee.
Yes! Our in-country partner staff will be eagerly waiting for you when you arrive! They’ll then take you to the on-site arrival orientation site.
After orientation, most students will take a train and their host family will pick them up from the station in their new host town.
You may have a commute up to 90 minutes to school. Most students take trains, but you may also take a bus, walk, or ride a bike (or a combination of all of them!) depending on your location.
Most Japanese high schools will also hold classes on Saturdays, usually from 8:45am-12:45am.
Your first and last date of school will depend on your placement. Most students start at the end of August or early September and end in early January (semester programs) or early mid-June (academic year). Spring semester students will start in late March and end early August.
Most exchange students will be placed in the 1st and 2nd year of high school (15-16 years old) regardless of the exchange students’ age.
All students are required to take physical education at their school. You will be required to purchase designated physical education gear (uniform, bag, shoes) for around $75.
You will be required to wear a uniform to school. If your school has a second-hand uniform in your size, the uniform will be provided to you. However, if there is no uniform of your size, you will be expected to pay $500-900 for a uniform.
It’s possible that teachers and students at your school will speak English. However, remember that you’re there to learn Japanese!
All classes will be taught in Japanese as this is a full immersion program.
There are many activities you can get involved in at your Japanese high school, and we encourage you to do so! It’s a great way to make friends. You will be able to join clubs that play sports (soccer, basketball, etc.), practice photography, drama, dance, and many others.
Students who are placed in the second year of high school (11th grade) will be able to travel with their classmates on a 3-5 day trip, sometimes internationally. The cost is typically around $700-$1,400.
You are not permitted to travel on your own during the program. There will be opportunities to travel through the program and/or through your school, but you are must be accompanied by an approved chaperone to travel.
We follow the CDC’s guidelines for travelers to Japan: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/japan
You are required to submit a record of immunizations during the application process.
Comprehensive medical and accident insurance will be included in the cost of your program. This will cover you for most medical expenses you might incur, like prescriptions, ER visits, doctor visits, dental accidents, and hospitalizations.
Depending on your placement location you may be required to also purchase Japanese insurance for around $15/month. You will receive more details upon placement.
If you get sick, your host family or local coordinator will help you go to the doctor.
If you have an emergency on program, we have a 24/7 emergency number you can call. Our in-country partner staff and your host family will be there to assist you. Greenheart will be in touch with your parents regarding your emergency.
All students will be required to obtain a student visa to Japan, regardless of their program length. It is the students’ responsibility to apply for this visa, but Greenheart will provide you guidance and the proper documents you’ll need to apply with your local consulate or with the embassy.
No. There are language requirements for this program, you must have at least 1 year of Japanese language instruction OR a level 4 on the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). However, you are not expected to be fluent in Japanese.
One of the main goals of studying abroad is to become fluent in another language while living overseas. The host family and school will not expect you to be fluent when you first arrive and will help you improve your language skills. As long as you try your best, you’ll pick up the language sooner than you might think!
No. Visits are not allowed during the high school program. If your family wishes to visit, they should plan to meet you after your program is completed. In this instance, Greenheart Travel’s National office and international partner office should be informed of your family’s plans.
We give you tips and advice for communication while abroad during your program. Students are not required to get a local Japanese phone number. They usually rent a pocket Wi-Fi and get in touch with each other via email or applications using that Wi-Fi.
All host families (and most every person) in Japan have internet in their homes. There is also 4G internet widely available throughout the country.
If you have a laptop we recommend bringing it, as it will be helpful for school and for communicating with home.
Our programs are based on a full, cultural immersion experience so friends are not allowed to study abroad together in the same host town. You’re welcome to both go to Japan at the same time but you would not be placed together. Don’t worry though; making friends in your new host town will happen quickly!
Greenheart Travel is proud to offer the Greenheart Club for all of our students. The Greenheart Club challenges our participants to pursue a deeper level of immersion through volunteerism. As a member of the Greenheart Club, you will receive guidance in strategizing creative ways to give back to your community, have access to tools for tracking your impact and receive incentives for your efforts as a global leader. This is a great chance for you to get to know the local community outside of the classroom while you study abroad.
You will not be able to take the SAT’s while abroad. We highly recommend taking the SAT’s prior to or after the program.
We recommend you apply a minimum of 6 months prior to your desired semester.
The sooner you can apply the better, as acceptance, gathering documents, etc. can take a long time. Read more about why applying early is a good idea.
Our final deadlines for fall start dates are February 15, and August 15 for spring departures.
We cannot take already graduated student’s on our High School Study Abroad in Japan program. Please look into our Teen Summer Language Camp program in Tokyo, Kyoto, or Fukuoka for a short term Japanese program that can take Gap Year students.
On a case by case basis, we can accept already graduated students for High School programs in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, and England.
We also have a list of mentors (teens and parents) that are past participants open to chatting about their experience with potential new participants. Please inquire here if you want to be put in touch with a mentor.
Greenheart Travel has been working with high schoolers for many years, and there are advantages of applying for this program through us:
We also have some unique offerings to our Greenheart Travel students and alumni!
Greenheart Global Impact Grants (GIGs)
Greenheart GIG Grants are funds awarded to Greenheart Travel participants to use for community development projects in their host or home country. A GIG is the opportunity to create, improve, or maintain an impactful, community-focused project abroad or at home. Grant funds could be applied to supporting women’s cooperatives, schools, community centers, or health clinics, for example. Grant winners will be featured on our website, social media, and blog. You can see our past winners on our blog here.
Greenheart Alumni Program
We created the Greenheart Travel Alumni Program to provide resources and a community to support alumni in their advancement as global leaders, and a way to celebrate and reward our participants for being ambitious, inspiring catalysts of cultural exchange!
Junior Greenheart Global Leaders Conference
Each May Greenheart offers full-ride scholarships to around 10 teen alumni to attend our annual conference in Chicago. You can see more about what Jr. GGLC is and what you could do at the conference here.
Greenheart Travel will support you before, during, and after your program. From the very first question you have, all the way to when you get home, you’ll be working with either Jessica or Allison to coordinate everything for your successful program.
Once you arrive in Japan the program staff there will be there to support you on the ground for your entire program. Your Local Coordinator (or “counselor” as they are referred to in Japan) will be your main point of contact if you need anything and they will do their best to support you and make sure you are having a great program. Here are some of our local coordinators in Japan!
Ms. Megumi Morino
I have been working as a counselor for exchange students for over 15 years. It is such a joy to welcome new students every time. Young people are the one with hopes and dreams for the future; I am more than happy to do my best to be by your side and support you in any way I can. I hope all students to study not only the Japanese language but also Japanese culture and customs, and learn about the positive and negative aspects of Japan. We counselors also have a lot to learn from you. Your time in Japan would fly, faster than you think; I hope to spend every possible special moment with you, as your counselor.
Ms. Chiharu Nomura
When I found myself being able to have my own time after raising a daughter for years, I started to think about doing something global and international. I studied abroad when I was a student and thought this would be a great opportunity to make use of the knowledge I have. Then I found this organization was looking for volunteer counselors to take care of young high school students who come to Japan to learn about our country. I had no experiences as a counselor then, but decided to give it a try since I just love communicating with people! Here I am continuing to enjoy working as a counselor for many years now.
Ms. Keiko Nakagawa
As far as I remember, I have always been interested in foreign countries and dreamed of visiting them since I was a little girl. My dream came true when I became a college student and was able to do homestay; full of wonderful memories. I do remember about some difficulties I had during my time overseas, like homesickness and culture shock as well, and when I was offered an opportunity to become a counselor, I said to myself “this is my chance to make use of my experience and support young students!” I am always happy to be by your side and help you as your counselor, and support you to make best out of your time here in Japan!
After our alumni complete their programs they do some amazing things! Read some stories of what our High School in Japan former exchange students are up to now!
When I came to Japan, something clicked with me. I loved how easy it was living here and discovered new things every day. I knew I had to come back someday, so I continued to study with a Japanese tutor throughout high school until college, where I eventually studied abroad again. Now, I work as a coordinator for international relations in Kyushu, Japan. I hope to one day become an advisor for exchange students in Japan or America, helping them to enjoy their time abroad as much as I did mine. I am still close with my host sisters from my exchange year and try to meet up when possible! We originally met almost 8 years ago.
My year on exchange in Tokyo was indescribably wonderful and helped me form a deep and passionate love for the country, the language, its people, and the possibilities it could offer me in the future. Japan taught me so many lessons that have greatly aided me in my position serving as the 2020 Rose Queen of the Tournament of Roses: my ability to act independently and confidently has skyrocketed, I have become more open to the unknown and trying new things, and my unique love of Japan and its culture has become one of my most valuable points of connection within my new platform. I have been fortunate enough to meet many local Japanese business owners within my community of Pasadena, interview with a local Japanese-American magazine, and connect with many individuals (both Japanese and not) who also have ties to the country that has given me so much to be grateful for. I am currently in the midst of completing my college applications to several Japanese universities where I hope to return to further my education in linguistics and culture/media studies! Japan offered me a glimpse of what my future could look like two years ago, and now I’m hoping to make that vision a reality.
Committing to studying abroad can feel daunting, but we are here every step of the way to make the application process as simple as possible! Below are the various steps you’ll need to take to be accepted on a high school abroad program.
Please note: Your spot is not reserved until you complete all of the steps below. You must submit all questionnaires and documents and have completed all interviews before we can process your application and save your spot.
1. Understand the Program: It is extremely important that you are professional, detailed, and serious during this application process. You must show your best self and prove that you have the maturity and dedication to Japanese that schools and host families require. (Examples: no typos, dress professionally in your self-introduction video, submit all materials in a timely manner)
1. Start Your Application Here. You will be sent more information as well as the link to our application portal to begin your formal application. Once the initial form is complete, you will be connected to a High School Abroad program manager who will speak with you and a parent to go over the details of the program.
2. Submit Basic Program Information: The first step in our application portal will be basic things like your chosen start date, etc.
3. Submit your application fee: A $1,500 application fee is required in order to apply for the program. This is subtracted from your total program fee, it’s not additional.
4. Complete Application & Documents: Provide more detailed information about yourself in Part 2 of the application. In this section, you’ll tell us more information like your work history, motivations for joining the program, travel history, and emergency contacts. You will also submit your documents (below) within your portal account.
5. Zoom Interview: After submitting your deposit, you will schedule an interview with Allison. During this interview, Allison will ask you questions about living with a host family, adjusting to new situations and homesickness, among other things. She will also explain the overview of the next few months and what you can expect. This is done via Zoom, and at least one parent should also be in attendance.
6. Secondary Skype Interview with Japan staff: The final step is to Skype with in-country Japanese staff. Allison will organize this with you after you finish all the prior steps. Note: This is sometimes on a case by case basis.
7. You’re Accepted! Once you’ve completed all the steps, Greenheart Travel will thoroughly review your application and will contact you within 2-3 weeks about your acceptance. Then, you’ll get more information about preparation, visas, and placement.
8.Commitment Payment: Once you are accepted to the program, you will need to submit a $5,000 commitment payment within 14 days to confirm your spot on the program. We cannot start the host family matching process until we have this payment. Once you submit your commitment payment you will unlock the acceptance portion of your portal, which includes things like pre-departure videos, travel and arrival information, the Greenheart Travel Atlas, and more.
9. Book your flights, and get ready for your adventure to Japan!
In addition to completing an application, you will also be required to submit documents. You can be collecting the documents during the application process, but all documents will be due 14 days after you submit your deposit.
The following documents will be required:
*Indicates that these forms must be downloaded from document upload link, completed, scanned and uploaded to the document link again.
There may be additional paperwork following your completed application before your official acceptance. Your program manager will inform you of what those documents are during the application process.
For payments, a $1,500 non-refundable fee will be due with your submitted application. This will be deducted from your overall program cost. If we are able to take a last-minute application submitted after the deadline, the deposit will be $2,000.
Once you are accepted onto the program, a $5,000 commitment payment will be due within 14 days of acceptance. The remaining balance is due 16 weeks prior to your start date, or at the same time as your commitment payment, whichever comes first.
Start getting ready for your adventure! Your program manager will be in regular communication with you to make sure that you are on track in your preparations to go abroad.
Have questions or want to talk to one of the program coordinators? Set up a time to have a phone call below.
Take a glimpse into life in Japan through some student’s photos. Make sure to also check out #greenhearttravel on Instagram for more!