Tokyo, Japan

LOCATION: Tokyo, Japan

PROGRAM NAME: Green River Community College Japan Study Abroad Program

SPONSORING ORGANIZATION: Green River Community College


PROGRAM FOCUS: Cultural Studies, Photography, Creative Writing

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: You can be part of a cohort group of 25-30 students from Green River Community College and other Colleges to live and study in Tokyo, Japan in this 10-week study abroad program.  Earn 15 Green River transfer credits in Digital Photography, Creative Writing and Japanese Culture. Experienced Community College faculty members will lead the group and teach the curriculum along with local Japanese faculty members.  Japanese students will assist as language partners and to help with customs and cultural adjustments. 

Japan offers a rich environment of arts, culture and history where centuries-old traditions exist in contrast with ultra-modern life-styles. Experience Sumo wrestling, Kabuki Theater, ancient castles and temples dating back to the days of the Samurai warriors. How about some trendy Tokyo street fashions (wild and crazy?) in the Harajuku district, the latest in high technology, electronics and gadgetry, anime, and a city that never sleeps. Tokyo has many faces and each neighborhood is unique and has its own distinct character. From the elegant Ginza shopping district, historical Asakusa, to the trend-setting Harajuku and Shinjuku wards, the fascination is endless.

Academic Program:
This is a study program. Students must carry a 15-credit load and are expected to fully participate in all class activities.  The courses offered are specially chosen to give participants interesting, valuable and relevant instruction that exposes students to the cultural, history, fauna and geological differences that are unique to Japan.


Beginning Digital Photography
Patrick Navin 5 credits
This course will provide students with an introduction to the aesthetic and technical theories and techniques of digital photo-graphy. While photographing in Japan we will learn about camera and lens operation, memory cards, file formats, white balance, composition, lighting, creativity, image editing software and output options. Our subject matter will include Japanese nature and landscapes, urban and rural environments, historical places, the people and culture of Japan and each student's personal interests.  A portfolio of photographs representing our Japanese experience is our final objective. Digital camera and laptop computer required.

Creative Writing
Avis Adams 5 credits
This course is a creative writing workshop.  Students will study and analyze poetry and short fiction, with particular attention to techniques used by contemporary authors and Japanese authors in translation.  The poetry portion is devoted to the craft of poetry.  Students will cover a broad range of topics:  Japanese poetic forms, rhyme and meter, imagery, metaphor, etc.  Students will be reading selected works as well as experimenting with assigned exercises to stimulate ideas.  Students will also try their hand at travel writing and blogging.  They will sharpen their skills with exercises and journal writing designed to help them discover their own creativity and voice.  The will focus on the elements of fiction such as dialogue, character, setting, plot, theme, and so on.

Peoples of the World-Japanese Language and Culture
Avis Adams/Japanese Faculty 5 credits
This course offers students an introduction to Japanese society and culture by examining its history, people and traditions. Students will engage in critical discussions about the differences between American and Japanese cultures. This course aims to facilitate student orientation to Japan and will provide students with essential conversational Japanese language skills needed to communicate in basic daily life.

Students with a GPA of 2.5 or higher are eligible to apply. Transcripts are required. Minimum age is 18 (17 with parental permission).
You do not need to be a current Green River Community College student to participate in this program.
There is a capacity limit of 30 students on this program. This is on a "first-come, first-serve" basis and there are no guarantees that a student will be able to participate if the program is full. APPLY EARLY TO HOLD YOUR SPACE.
Complete and sign the following forms: Program Application , Agreement and Release, Medical History and Medical Authorization. Participants under the age of 18 must also have their parents/guardians sign the application and accompanying forms. Submit all forms along with a $450 non-refundable deposit to Cindy Card, Study Abroad Programs, Green River Community College, 12401 SE 320th St., Auburn, WA, 98092. Checks should be made payable to "Green River". Incomplete or illegible application packets will not be processed.

Note: Green River students and students attending other sponsoring Washington State community colleges may need approval through their institution to apply for this program.  Please check with your college's Study Abroad Coordinator to see if a preliminary application is required. 

LAND-ONLY OPTION: Participants wishing to make their own travel arrangements separate from the group must request these arrangements at the time of application. Airport transfers are not included in the land-only option. Students must arrive in Tokyo, Japan at the beginning of the program.

FLIGHTS: The presenters and supporters of the program cannot guarantee non-stop flights, service on any particular carrier or date/time changes in the itinerary. Airline tickets will be e-tickets or paper tickets that will be passed out at the airport on the day of departure to participants who have paid in full. Program participants are responsible for securing their own travel documents (passports, visas). Passports must be valid a minimum of 6 months from the date of departure on the program. A photocopy of your passport must be given to Cindy Card as soon as you have it to secure air travel. If you do not currently have a valid passport, apply right away!


Program costs include airfare and transfers to/from Narita airport.  
Land-only option TBD (excludes airfare and airport transfers)
A $450 (non-refundable) deposit is required to be paid with your application to hold your place in the program.


  • Round trip group airfare on program dates from Seattle/Tokyo/Seattle
  • Group transfers to/from Narita airport
  • Student housing accommodations while at Kogakuin University (Hachioji Campus)
  • Some cultural activities and excursions
  • Pre-departure and arrival orientations
  • Welcome and farewell parties
  • Student basic medical insurance

Not Included:

  • College tuition and books
  • Passport and visa fees
  • Local transportation
  • Meals
  • Curriculum activities admissions
  • Personal and entertainment expenses
  • Independent travel and expenses 
  • US and Japanese airport fees and taxes
  • Anything not specified as included in the program

Financial Aid:
If you are a Green River Community College student or a student at a sponsoring Washington State Community College, you may be able to use their financial aid to pay program fees. Students wishing to use financial aid must be able to register through their home college for these classes in order to use the money toward the program.  Please check with your Study Abroad Coordinator to determine if you are attending a participating school.

The program includes cultural activities and several organized field trips which may include:

  • Harajuko: Meiji Shinto-Jingu (Shrine), Yoyogi Park, Takeshita-Dori (Avenue) and Omotesando Street
  • Shibuya
  • Shinjuku, Shinjuku Koen, Photgraphy galleries
  • Asakua:  Senso-Ji (Shrine), Asakusa-Jinja (Temple) and strolling Nakamise-dori (Avenue)
  • Ueno:  Ueno-Koen, Tokyo National Museum and teh Ameya-Yokocho
  • Ebisu:  Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Dainen-Ji
  • Roppongi:  Roppongi Hills, Mori Art Museum
  • Akihabara Electric Town
  • Mt. Takao, Kamakura

Additional Optional Activities: Other field trips are optional and may require an additional fee.  There will also be plenty of opportunity to do your own exploring using convenient public transport or tour specialists


While at Kogakuin University, students will be accommodated in shared apartments contracted by the university.  These are small Japanese-style lodgings with futons, a kitchenette and bathroom.  Students will generally share an apartment with other students in the group.  Housing accommodations are subject to change depending on availability (alternate arrangements provided).
Students can find many food choices right at the Hachioji campus, while the town of Jachioji offers many additional food options, including grocery stores and familiar chains such as Starbucks and Burger King.  Pizza is widely available, or try a French-style pastry shop for delicious baked goods.  While Japan has the reputation of being expensive, one can make the same inexpensive and everyday food choices that are enjoyed by the local population.  Small noodle shops offer delicious and very reasonably priced dishes while others offer Tempura, Sushi and Bento-box lunches.


Patrick Navin - Green River Community College Faculty - Fine Arts Division
Avis Adams - Green River Community College Faculty - English Division

While in Japan, the group will be hosted by Kogakuin University, at the Hachioji campus, a university focused on teaching engineering and architecture to first and second year students.
Hachioji is known as a college town, boasting many large colleges and universities.  It is a scenic area surrounded on three sides by mountains, forming the Hachioji Basin.  It's about 40 minutes west of downtown Tokyo and is easily accessible by bus or train, providing an ideal location for student life and exploration.

Cindy Card, Program Coordinator 
Green River Community College 
Phone: (253) 833-9111, ext. 2160 
Fax: (253) 288-3419