Kōbe, Japan

Alert: COVID – 19 Information from US Embassy and Consulates in Japan

Local Resources in Japan:

  • The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has a dedicated page on COVID-19.
  • The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has a dedicated COVID-19 page with additional information, including information on how to seek medical care in Japan. JNTO also operates a 24-hour hotline for visitors.
  • If you are currently in Japan and believe that you may have symptoms of COVID-19, please call JNTO’s hotline at 050-3816-2787.
  • The Tokyo Metropolitan Government published a chart on what to do if you’re worried you might be infected with COVID-19: (English)(Japanese)


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).

Approximate program dates:

  • Year 2021-22: Sep. 1, 2021 – May 13, 2022
  • Spring 2022: Jan. 6 – May 13, 2022

Informational meetings: TBA, September

Application deadlines:

  • Spring 2022: Friday, Oct. 1
  • Year 2022-23: Mar. 1


Host Institution

Kōnan University 甲南大学 (Kōnan Daigaku) 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 city.


In the U.S., the program is coordinated by a three-university consortium headed by the University of Illinois. The other consortium members are University of Pittsburgh and University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. In Japan, the program is housed under the Kōnan International Exchange Center (KIEC) 甲南国際交流センター.

Japanese area studies or culture courses are taught by Kōnan University professors or Japan-based, English-speaking scholars. 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.


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 Japanese language classes, 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 Kōnan University courses, with UHM credit equivalencies (when available):

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 one class each term, oversees students’ academic progress and mentors all participants. The courses’ focus depends on the Resident Director’s field of expertise.

2021-22: Prof. Hiroshi Nara, University of Pittsburgh, East Asian Languages & Literatures. His course, with UHM equivalency in parenthesis, is below:

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

Current as of July 21, 2021.


Kōbe (神戸), the seventh largest city in Japan with a population of 1.5 million and capital of Hyōgo Prefecture, is a picturesque port city in the Kansai region, just northwest of Ōsaka. Kōnan University’s main Okamoto campus 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.


Spring 2022: Students will be in dormitory accommodation.

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 is a series of program-sponsored field trips designed to enrich classroom activities. These may include excursions to Mt. Kōya, 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.


Kobe, Japan

Program Cost

  • Year, based on 2021-22: $25,860
  • Spring, based on 2020: $12,343

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 (KIX) on the designated arrival date and time.


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 will be considered for the Kōnan University Consortium Scholarship, which may range up to $2,000 per student.

UHM Study Abroad Center Scholarship

For Hawaii High School Graduates: Yoshihiro & Tamah Nakamura Memorial Scholarship

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


Student participants of the Kōbe spring or year 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 application, $30 application fee, and three academic references must be received by the deadline (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.

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