Kōbe, Japan


The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Study Abroad Center offers undergraduate students the opportunity to study for an academic year or spring semester in Kōbe, Japan. On site, the program is coordinated by Kōnan International Exchange Center (KIEC).

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Year-in-Japan Program, Kōnan University has established a new summer internship opportunity for students participating in the year-long program. More details available below. This program is open to all majors, but is particularly ideal for students who are pursuing degrees, minors and/or certificates in Japanese.

Tentative program dates

Year 2017-18: Sep. 6, 2017 – May 19, 2018

Spring 2018: Jan. 6 – May 19

Students may choose from a wide variety of courses offered at Kōnan University.

Informational meetings:

  • Thursday, Feb. 16, 2:30-3:30, Moore 155A
  • Wednesday, Feb. 22, 1:30-2:30, Moore 155A

Application deadlines:

  • Year 2017-18: Wednesday, Mar. 1
  • Spring 2018: Monday, Oct. 2


Host Institution

Kōnan University 甲南大学 is a private institution of approximately 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It was founded in 1951, but its history actually began in 1923 with the founding of Kōnan Gakuen, a private high school. Kōnan University is located in the Okamoto area of Higashinada-ku, in the eastern-most part of Kōbe.


In the U.S., the program is coordinated by a four-university consortium headed by the University of Illinois. The other consortium members are University of Arizona, University of Pittsburgh and University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. In Japan, the program is housed under the Kōnan International Exchange Center (KIEC).

Japanese area studies or culture courses are taught by Kōnan University professors or English-speaking scholars living in the Kōbe area. The Japanese language teachers are native speakers with graduate training in Japanese linguistics or the teaching of Japanese as a second language. In addition to teaching courses, the Resident Director oversees students’ academic progress and mentors all participants.

Stay up-to-date with what’s happening at KIEC by reading their newsletters in Japanese or English.


The UHM Academic Year in Kōbe program provides students an opportunity to fulfill UHM major, minor, elective, focus, foundations, diversification and foreign language requirements for graduation. Students on the program must be enrolled full-time and may earn up to 15 credits.

The primary focus of the curriculum is Japanese language training, with specific emphasis on the development of speaking and reading skills. Each semester course is designed to be the equivalent of a full year of language training at UHM. Students are assigned to language classes on the basis of a placement examination given upon arrival.

Each semester, students take a class in Japanese language (two hours per day), plus two courses taught in English in various aspects of Japanese Studies (religion, art history, business/economics, anthropology/sociology, literature and politics). Independent study courses may also be available, depending on students’ area of interest and the availability of appropriate supervision. Classroom instruction is supplemented by numerous field trips and other extracurricular activities.

Click below for courses available at Kōnan University, with UHM credit equivalencies:

Year 2017-18     Spring 2018

Course offerings are subject to change without prior notice.


A faculty member from one of the consortium schools is appointed Resident Director. The Resident Director teaches two classes, oversees students’ academic progress and mentors all participants. The courses’ focus depends on the Resident Director’s field of expertise.

Year 2017-18: Mariko Karatsu, Associate Professor of Japanese Linguistics, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Arizona. Her courses are listed below.

Courses taken at Kōnan University will appear on UHM transcripts as UHM credits.


Max Lee

Current as of Feb. 2, 2017.


Kōbe, the seventh largest city in Japan with a population of 1.5 million, is a picturesque port city which lies just northwest of Ōsaka. The campus of Kōnan University is 20 minutes by train from downtown Kōbe, 30 minutes by train from downtown Ōsaka, and an hour from Kyōto. The campus is in close proximity of the mountains and the shoreline.


Students live with a Japanese host family in the Kōbe-Ōsaka area and generally take morning and evening meals with the host family throughout their stay in Japan. A major value of the homestay is that it provides students with the opportunity to closely interact with and learn from host country nationals. In addition to taking students beyond the public face of the Japanese people, the everyday speaking and hearing of Japanese in a natural setting facilitates students’ understanding of the culture and enhances language learning.


Included in the cost of the program are a series of program-sponsored field trips designed to enrich classroom activities. These may include excursions to Hiroshima, Miyajima, Matsuyama and Kumamoto. The facilities of Kōnan University are open to participants in the program. All students are encouraged to participate in one or several of the many sports, music, special interest or social clubs at Kōnan University. These activities provide an excellent way to further develop communication skills in Japanese and to participate in the daily flow of Japanese life.

Summer Internship Program (NEW)

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Year-in-Japan Program, Kōnan University has established a new summer internship opportunity for students participating in the year-long program. Administered by the Kōnan International Exchange Center (KIEC), the six-week internship is offered to students who have successfully completed the year program.

Prospective students should express interest in sharing their international experience with peers, assisting administrative staff with daily responsibilities, and gaining professional experience working as an English-language assistant at the Kōnan Language LOFT, a newly opened self-access learning center.  Students will join a team of Kōnan students who plan international exchange events and activities in English, to promote global awareness on campus.  They will gain practical experience working as a vital member of the Kōnan Language LOFT, become immersed in a Japanese work culture and gain insight to university administrative procedures.


Interns will work with students, faculty and administrative staff, and contribute largely to the daily operations of the Kōnan Language LOFT and the global vision of the university.

  • Prepare and lead activities that encourage students to use English.
  • Check and monitor students working on worksheet activities.
  • Tutor students who need help with homework and class projects.
  • Assist students by actively engaging in conversation and games.
  • Share personal experiences that give students insights into other cultures and customs, to help them develop international perspectives and global awareness.
  • Work on various marketing projects to advertise LOFT activities, such as posters, bulletin boards, online portals and other materials.
  • Promote student exchange by assisting KIEC during on-campus international events and orientations.
  • Assist in the creation and oversight of language learning materials used in LOFT.
  • Take part in events such as Open Campus & Campus Tours by welcoming visitors and introducing Global Zone Porte.


  • Current participant of the Year-in-Japan program at Kōnan University
  • Passionate about interacting with students in English
  • Enthusiastic about international exchange
  • Excellent English oral and written communication skills
  • Self-starter with attention to detail
  • Experience with planning events
  • Able to work between four and five hours daily (Monday-Friday)

Interns will be provided free room and board at the Shirakawadai campus (sports facilities), located in the countryside, about one hour by bus from the Okamoto campus.  Rooms are double occupancy, and furnished with a desk, chair, bed for each student.  Showers and toilets are shared among residents on each floor.  Meals are provided at the Shirakawadai cafeteria.  A curfew is in effect between 9pm and 8am.  Free university bus service is available between the two campuses.  Interns will receive a stipend from Kōnan University.


Kobe, Japan

Program Cost

2016-17 Year: $24,915

Spring 2017: $13,200

Above cost includes Kōnan University tuition and housing fees, all meals, books, ground transportation, excursions, health insurance, UHM Study Abroad and other fees.

Roundtrip airfare between Honolulu and Ōsaka is not included; students have the option of taking the flight arranged by Third Eye Travel or making their own travel arrangements and arrive at Kansai International Airport on the designated arrival date and time.


FOR UHM STUDENTS ONLY: In order to receive financial aid, please ensure that either: a) you are receiving financial aid during the current semester, or b) that you complete the Financial Aid application during the current semester for the next academic year. www.hawaii.edu/fas

NON-UHM STUDENTS (those attending other colleges and universities during the regular school year) must apply for financial aid at their home institutions.


Students accepted to the program are for the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) scholarship, awarded by the Japanese Ministry of Education. The JASSO scholarship is approximately $6,000 per student. Students who are not awarded the JASSO scholarship will receive the Kōnan University Consortium Scholarship, which amounts to about $2,000 per student.

See also the Resources page for a list of possible scholarships.


Student participants of the Year-in-Kōbe program are required to obtain a student visa through the Consulate General of Japan.

Admission Requirements

The program is designed primarily for undergraduate students interested in studying Japanese culture and language from beginning to advanced levels. The minimum requirement is a cumulative GPA of 3.0; however, students with a lower GPA may be considered. Non-native English-speaking students must have taken the TOEFL exam within the last two years and earned a composite score of 600+ or have taken the UHM ELI placement exam.

Admission to the program is selective. All applicants for the program will be judged on their academic performance, reasons for wishing to attend the program, flexibility and sensitivity to other cultures, and ability to adjust to a new cultural setting.

Immediately upon acceptance to the program, students are required to pay a $500.00 non-refundable initial payment to ensure a place in the program. The initial payment will be applied toward the cost of the program.

Please note that students accepted to the program are required to attend three mandatory pre-departure class sessions totaling 12 hours. Failure to attend will result in students being withdrawn from the program.


A completed UHM Study Abroad Center “Year-In-Japan” application, $30 application fee, and three academic references must be received by (Spring, Oct. 1; Year, Mar. 1)* in order to receive consideration. Non-UHM students must also submit official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.

Non-University of Hawai‘i applicants, please note: Completed applications will be forwarded to the University of Illinois by the UHM Study Abroad Center.

*The Study Abroad Center is closed on weekends, and Federal and State holidays.