Approx. Time Difference
Mar – Oct: + 16 hrs
Nov – Feb: + 17 hrs
Welcome to your program!
This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants
section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
“Japan has genuinely enlightened my understanding of the importance of striving to be a ‘global citizen.’ The learning, experiencing, enjoying, and above all, surprises, will undoubtedly play an important role in my life as an individual as well as in my professional career. The final lesson: learning never ceases…aim higher.”
~ Samy Sadighi, UC Irvine
Click a heading below to see section content.
Your UCEAP Network
Local UCEAP support, UCEAP online & Study Center abroad
Student Finance Accountant
UCEAP Systemwide Office
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200
Goleta, CA 93117-5823
Phone: (805) 893-4762; Fax: (805) 893-2583
Bookmark your Participants
program page; it contains vital resources and requirements you need to know before you go abroad, including the Predeparture Checklist, UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, Program Calendar, UCEAP Student Budgets and Payment Vouchers, and policies.
Connect with us! Join our Facebook network via the UCEAP Japan
Study Center Abroad
Do not contact the International Studies Office before departure.
Once you are abroad, the on-site UC Visiting Professor and the Center for International Cooperation in Education (CICE) office will be your contacts for all matters. Among other things, the UC Visiting Professor provides support with academic matters, program logistics, and personal issues. The Study Center is located in the Faculty of International Studies Office.
Office of the Faculty of International Studies
The Office of the Faculty of International Studies (OFIS) is the main office for UC students. OFIS is responsible for curricular and related academic matters. Notices and messages from professors are posted on the bulletin board in this office. You can borrow textbooks and travel literature.
Location: Building 8 (Hachi-go-kan), second floor (Yokohama campus)
Office hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m.–noon
Ellis Krauss, UC Visiting Professor
Ms. Ayako Takita, UC Program Officer
Meiji Gakuin University
1518 Kamikurata-cho, Totsuka-ku
Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken 244-8539, Japan
Phone (calling from the U.S.): (011-81-45) 863-2200
Phone (calling from Japan): 045-863-2190/2200
Phone Number Codes
U.S. international code: 011 (dial this to call from the U.S.)
Japan country code: 81
Yokohama city code: 45
Approximate Time Difference
Add 16 hours March–October
Add 17 hours November–February
Prior to departure, direct questions or concerns to your UCEAP advisor on campus or to the Systemwide Office.
During the program, direct questions or concerns to the UC Visiting Professor or to the appropriate Meiji Gakuin University Office listed in this section.
Center for International Cooperation in Education Office (CICE)
CICE assists with nonacademic matters related to international students. They work directly with students and act as liaisons with other offices of the university. You will pay for housing at the CICE office.
Location: Building 1, first floor
Office hours: Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. and Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–noon
Phone (in Japan): 045-863-2190
Academic Affairs Office
You must formally register for classes both with the UC Visiting Professor and at the Academic Affairs Office. OFIS will help with the required forms. Student ID cards are also issued at this office.
Location: Building 1, first floor
Phone (in Japan): 045-863-2026
Student Affairs Office
This office provides advice on student activities, clubs, and how to join them. It has a lost-and-found department. In addition, you can apply for a student discount for train tickets at this office.
Location: Building 1, first floor
Phone (in Japan): 045-863-2029
University-specific academic information, internships &
- Minimum of 21 UC quarter units; most UCEAP students take 24 to 27 units
- Weekly participation in the Integrative Program Seminar taught by UC Visiting Faculty; letter grade only
- Attendance on study trips
- Regular attendance at all class meetings and all meetings called by the UC Visiting Professor
- MyEAP Study List registration
- Regular class attendance is mandatory and considered in the final grade along with papers, class participation, and exams. Check with each of your professors about specific requirements, paper deadlines, and exam dates.
If you do not have basic Japanese language skills, you are encouraged to take a Japanese language course. Upper-level (third year and higher) Japanese language study is not always available.
Course registration is completed after arrival.
Integrative Program Seminar
This required weekly seminar integrates the varied subject matter of the program courses and the topics of the guest lecturers. Each student is required to complete a research project, either individually or within a small group.
The seminar is led by the UC Visiting Professor and is enhanced by guest speakers who address various issues. It is designed for UCEAP students; however, it includes Meiji Gakuin students, faculty, and visitors.
Study trips to historic and cultural sites complement classroom instruction and are an integral part of the program. Trips include Hiroshima, which has stood as a reminder to the world of the consequences of failed international relations since August 6, 1945. You have the rare opportunity to explore Hiroshima’s total destruction by a single U.S. nuclear bomb as well as its rebirth as a modern Japanese industrial city.
The academic program may include other required course-related study trips led by individual faculty members. These trips enrich the program’s overall educational experience. Past trips organized outside of normal classroom hours (often on weekends) have included visits to sites of local, national, and international significance.
Program courses vary somewhat from year to year and usually include six to eight courses on various topics. See the MyEAP Course Catalog
for past courses. Program courses are offered by the International Studies Department.
Courses may be available at Meiji Gakuin’s Shirokane campus in Tokyo. Courses that have not previously been taken by UCEAP students require the permission of the UC Visiting Professor. UCEAP students are limited to a maximum of two courses from the Shirokane campus.
Special Study Project
It may be possible to do a Special Study Project (independent study project) in an area of special interest. For projects that include fieldwork, you will need Japanese language skills. After arrival in Japan, discuss the project with the UC Visiting Professor, who may approve the project based on the feasibility of the topic and the availability of a Meiji Gakuin faculty member to supervise the project. Special Study Projects are normally 1 to 4 UC quarter units.
There is no way to increase the units of the 3-unit MGU courses; however, there are two mechanisms to add extra-unit courses to the existing courses. Either option is pursued after you have arrived in Japan, enrolled in the 3-unit course, and discussed the project with the instructor of a given course. The options are as follows:
Meiji Gakuin Independent Study
Meiji Gakuin offers an Independent Study option worth 2 UC quarter units to promote study and research beyond what is offered in the regularly offered coursework. These projects take time to organize.
Procedure: Submit to the Vice Dean of the International Studies Faculty a proposal including the reason for wishing to take independent study units, the proposed supervisor (only regular departmental faculty are eligible to offer MGU’s Independent Study), the research theme, the research methods, and overall plan; and written agreement from the proposed supervisor.
Evaluation: Student submits a 6- to 10-page report to the supervisor; supervisor reviews and comments; report and comments are reviewed by the Vice-Dean (or gakka shunin), and a grade is assigned.
UCEAP Special Study
This is a UC-only option, thus, a matter between individual instructors and UC Visiting Professor, as the UC representative at Meiji Gakuin University. Forms are available from the Visiting Professor on site.
You must complete all coursework by the end of the program and before you leave Japan.
Grades are reported by Meiji Gakuin professors to the UC Visiting Professor who assigns the UC grades. You may discuss your progress in a course with the Meiji Gakuin instructor but should not discuss your grades unless invited to do so. Never appear to negotiate for a grade. Questions relating to final grades, program matters, and appropriate plans for handling them should be discussed with the UC Visiting Professor.
Fall grades are usually available late January; spring grades are usually available early to mid-August.
For more information about grades, see the Academic Information
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
Extending UCEAP Participation
Extension information, forms & deadlines
Get acquainted with your new host city, country, and culture before you leave the U.S. Travel guides and travel-related websites, such as Lonely Planet
and Urban Lowdown
, are excellent resources.
The bookstore Kinokuniya
is a good source for Japanese literature.
Japan is a country in which behavioral propriety and formal courtesy are extremely important. Learn about behavior that might be considered offensive, Japanese standards of behavior, and follow the Japanese students’ examples. Japanese people may not correct you for unacceptable behavior, but any actions out of the ordinary will be noticed and could negatively impact UCEAP at Meiji Gakuin.
Japanese students do not eat, drink, chew gum, text, or answer cell phones during class time. Student dress is casual and neat. Faculty are treated with respect at all times. Treat guest speakers and faculty with the dignity and respect appropriate to their position in Japanese society. Your behavior reflects on both UC and the U.S. Make a good impression and continue to make this program possible for future UC students.
Japanese higher education is not designed to be as structured as higher education in the U.S. Japanese university courses do not have the same kind of organization and requirements as courses at UC. You cannot rely solely on your professors and the classroom setting for your educational achievement. For a successful academic experience, be willing to adapt to Japanese educational traditions and methods of communicating with Japanese instructors.
Meiji Gakuin professors expect you to be self-motivated and actively engage in related readings, research projects, and other out-of-class educational endeavors to complement classroom activities. If you rely entirely on the professors’ explicit requirements and the classroom for your intellectual stimulation, you may feel under-challenged and perhaps disappointed. Over the years, UC students have commented that this is a program in which student satisfaction can be very high, but it depends on the effort of each student.
Japanese university instructors do not provide detailed feedback on papers. Final papers and final exams are usually not returned to students. When they are returned, they may not have comments.
Social conduct in Japan is regulated more by custom than by written law. For example, the Japanese have a distinct sense of what is proper to discuss. The Japanese will also ask many personal questions, merely out of curiosity. Do not take it as an insult. If you do not feel comfortable answering questions, politely sidestep them.
Japanese culture is undergoing rapid change that can be seen in the younger generation. However, the more durable traditions include veneration of the elderly, subservience of women, and propriety. You may experience behaviors that would be considered discriminatory in the U.S. but are considered normal and acceptable in Japanese society. Try to observe such behaviors impartially and impersonally to avoid applying American standards and expectations to the Japanese in their culture.
In Japan, American frankness can be interpreted as rude. Japanese are often surprised at the loudness and brusqueness of Westerners. Punctuality is essential in Japan; it is disrespectful to be late. Be conscious of this and respect Japanese social expectations.
The Japanese are a group-oriented society. Whereas the West emphasizes individualism, Japanese activities are often outgrowths of some group, family, profession, school, or community.
Japan is a country with a high population density. To function well in this society, Japanese people show great respect for the personal space of others. Shouting or speaking loudly is considered rude; seek to communicate subtly. A useful guide is that if noise can be heard outside the walls of your room, it is too loud. Japanese culture uses many gestures to communicate, many of which differ in meaning from those used in California.
Drugs and Alcohol
Never feel pressured to drink. The Study Center can help you to devise polite and friendly ways to avoid drinking without avoiding the camaraderie associated with it.
Although drug use among Japanese is low, alcohol use is greatly tolerated. It is common to see intoxicated people in late-night trains and at stations. Vending machines sell beer and sake. Japanese law, however, prohibits minors (those younger than 20 years of age) from drinking alcohol. UC students who are of legal age are advised to use their own judgment and not display any intoxicated behavior in public places. Students who continually abuse alcohol, behave in a disorderly manner, or cause problems for their housing or host university will face disciplinary action by UCEAP.
While the anti-smoking campaign is slowly spreading, Japan is still a smoker’s haven. Recently, some areas in central Tokyo have passed regulation that bans smoking in public places such as roads and parks. It is common to see many smokers inside and outside buildings although many restaurants now have nonsmoking sections. Even if the restaurant does not have one, it may be possible to be seated at a table in an area where there are fewer smokers. Smokers should be aware of areas where they can smoke outside. The law prohibits purchase and smoking of cigarettes by minors (persons under the age of twenty).
Arrival & Orientation
Travel documents, packing tips, travel to and from
your host country
Per Japanese government regulations, if you have Japanese citizenship you must enter Japan as a Japanese citizen, even if you have dual nationality with another country. Provide the UCEAP Systemwide Office with a copy of your Japanese passport.
Unless otherwise advised, you must obtain a student visa in the U.S. prior to departure. Do not enter Japan without a student visa.
About two to four weeks prior to departure, you will receive a “Certificate of Eligibility” from the UCEAP Systemwide Office. With this document, apply for a student visa at the Japan consulate as directed in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist
An Alien Registration card is required of foreigners who stay in Japan longer than 90 days. After arrival you are required to register with the local city hall and obtain an Alien Registration card. Carry the card at all times as police or other authorities may request to see it. MGU’s Center for International Cooperation in Education (CICE) will assist with this process.
It is easier to replace lost or stolen documents if you have photocopies. Make photocopies of all important documents, including passport photo pages, vaccination certificates, travelers check receipts, airline tickets, student ID, birth certificate, credit cards (front and back), etc., then leave a set of copies at home with a parent or guardian and pack a set in various pieces of luggage. Spending a few moments copying documents now can save time and energy if something is lost or stolen.
You can find almost everything you need in Japan.
- Dressy outfit (sport coat, tie, dress, etc.) for academic or formal events
- Small, lightweight gifts (see Gifts section)<
- Warm clothing for winter
- Shoes that slip on and off easily
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Laptop (highly recommended by past students)
- Plug adaptor if you take a laptop (outlets in Japan are different)
- Photos from home (pictures of family, friends, hometown, or campus)
- Multivitamins, headache medicine, aspirin, and other analgesics
- Paperback novels to read and exchange with friends (English language books are expensive in Japan)
Climate and Dress
The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for the purchase of clothing abroad.
The climate in Japan is hot and humid in the summer and cold in the winter. During the early summer you will experience tsuyu, a rainy season that is characterized by constantly overcast skies and frequent light drizzle. There are many mosquitoes during this time. The tsuyu ends in mid-July when the humid summer heat sets in.
Winter temperatures rarely fall much below freezing, although the chill factor from strong winter winds makes it seem much colder. It is particularly cold indoors, where central heating is either unavailable or limited. The best defense is to layer clothes and wear warm underwear, sweaters, scarves, socks, and slippers.
Japanese people are generally well dressed, and stylish and formal trends are found particularly in downtown university areas. Women wear skirts and dresses far more often than at UC. The typical UC wardrobe is fine for everyday wear on the more suburban campuses such as MGU. Clothing in Japan is generally expensive and it is difficult to find large and tall sizes (women taller than 5'-7" and men taller than 5'-10").
Shoes are very important in Japan. Japanese people take off their shoes every time they enter a home; therefore, it is best to have shoes that slip on and off easily. Take clean socks without holes.
You may find yourself walking a great deal more than you do at home. Take sturdy shoes that will last for your term abroad. Normal Japanese shoes go up to size 7½ for women and 8½ for men. It is difficult, and often more costly, to find larger sizes.
It is customary to take small gifts when visiting people in Japan. Gift suggestions include: U.S. and hometown items; picture book of UC or your hometown; T-shirts with city, state, campus, or team logos; baseball caps with sports logos; decals; something edible from California (like See’s chocolates, almonds, pistachios, or dried fruits); postcards of places in California; and other tourist-type items.
In Japan, the quality of a gift’s wrapping is as important as the gift itself. Inexpensive gifts may be balanced out by special care in their wrapping and presentation with nice paper, bows, special boxes, or gift bags.
Voltage in the Kanto area is 100 volts, 50 cycles AC. The voltage is slightly lower so electric motors (such as hair dryers) run a little slower than in California.
Three-pin plugs are not used in Japan; two flat-pin plugs are used instead. Purchase a plug adaptor beforehand (if needed).
Various brands of saline solution, daily cleaners, enzyme removers, and solutions for the heat method of disinfecting lenses are available in Japan. Take an extra pair of contacts or glasses and the prescription in case you need either while abroad.
Official UCEAP Start Date
You are responsible for making your own transportation arrangements to and from Japan (even if you are on full financial aid) and for arriving on the official UCEAP start date. This responsibility includes reserving and purchasing airline tickets (you are strongly urged to purchase a changeable ticket). Standby tickets are not acceptable.
Program dates and arrival information are published on the UCEAP website’s Participants
portal. Failure to appear on the official start date is cause for dismissal from the program. When traveling, always carry your passport, visa, ticket, prescription medications, and money. Never put valuables in your checked luggage.
The program start date can change due to unforeseen circumstances. You are responsible for making modifications to your travel itinerary to accommodate such changes. UCEAP is not responsible for unrecoverable transportation charges you may incur for travel arrangements. In order to be informed of program changes, update MyEAP with any changes to your contact information (mailing address, e-mail, and phone number).
Financial Aid Students
Your financial aid package is based partly on the UCEAP Student Budget for the program. The estimated round-trip airfare amount is based on the cost of a changeable student fare to Japan. If your travel costs are greater than the airfare estimate in the UCEAP Student Budget, notify your financial aid counselors. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid Office can guarantee that the additional cost will be funded by financial aid.
The fall program begins with two weeks of introductory instruction and a field study trip, directed by the UC Visiting Professor, which serve as an introduction to the program courses. Thereafter, regular Meiji Gakuin classes begin. The spring program does not include the two weeks of introductory instruction; however, it does include the field study trip.
The Study Center orientation introduces you to Meiji Gakuin and covers such topics as:
- Contact and safety information
- Course information and registration procedures, including MyEAP Study List registration
- Cultural do’s and don’ts for a better experience in Japan
The orientation by CICE includes:
- Assistance with alien registration
- Establishing bank accounts
- Tours of the campus and library
- Overview of cultural activities
Your attendance at all orientation sessions is mandatory (UCEAP Student Agreement). If you miss the on-site orientation, you may be dismissed from the program.
Travel options & travel sign-out
Travel within Japan
You are required to inform MGU staff, dormitory personnel, and host families about your general travel plans, especially when leaving for more than a weekend. Use the Travel Sign-out form in MyEAP. An emergency may arise at the Study Center or at home that may make it necessary to reach you promptly. This is also important due to tight immigration control.
The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
You may consider extending your stay in Japan following the program. During August, various peace-related activities take place throughout Japan in memory of the Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) bombings in August 1945.
Most Japanese cities have excellent public transportation and you will have no trouble getting around. The Tokyo area has an excellent public transportation system, but it may be confusing initially because of its vastness and complexity. As with most major transportation systems, the biggest problems are the crowds and the expense, which can be minimized by avoiding rush-hour travel and by using subway and private lines.
You are discouraged from driving cars, scooters, or motorcycles while in Japan, due to serious legal and insurance issues. Trains provide exceptional transit in and between most cities. UCEAP assumes no financial or legal aid responsibilities should you be involved in an accident while operating a motor vehicle.
MyEAP student account, UCEAP student budget & handling
Handling Money Abroad
Get used to carrying more cash in Japan than you would in the U.S. Checks are not widely used, and credit cards are not as frequently accepted as in the U.S.
If possible, take money for the semester in the form of travelers checks. You can cash them at any post office or banks that have exchange sections. Travelers checks are safer than cash because identification is required to cash travelers checks. Travelers checks in U.S. dollars are easier to cash than those in yen denominations.
Meiji Gakuin University recommends you bring at least ¥20,000 and $500 in travelers checks to get through the first few weeks. It is best to purchase yen at the airport because you will not have time to go to a bank in Japan to exchange money during the orientation period.
Citibank has offices in the U.S. and Japan. You can access your account regardless of whether you are in the U.S. or Japan.
Banking and financial customs in Japan are different from those in the U.S. Almost all purchases are made in cash, although credit cards are accepted at hotels and some restaurants. You can purchase yen at the airport (either in the U.S. or Japan). Yen checks and yen-denominated travelers checks are negotiable only at the banks through which they are written or through a bank at which you have an account. Personal checks are not accepted by stores, universities, apartments, or dormitories. There are very few American banks in Japan. Avoid depositing U.S. checks into Japanese bank accounts; checks and cashier’s checks may take up to two months to clear and there is a high service fee.
ATM Cards from the U.S.
Prior to departure, inquire with your bank or card companies in the U.S. to see if you can use your ATM card and personal identification number (PIN) while abroad to access funds in your U.S. account. In addition, find out if ATMs are accessible in the area where you will reside in Japan. The cash amount you will be able to withdraw from an ATM in Japan is limited to the amount you can withdraw in America rounded down to the closest ¥10,000.
ATMs at 7-Eleven convenience stores across Japan accept many international debit or credit cards. According to 7-Eleven, most Plus and Cirrus cards should work, including Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, American Express, JCB, and UnionPay cards. The service charge differs depending on the card. This service is available in most regions of Japan, including most of Honshu, all of Hokkaido, and much of Kyushu.
Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in Japan at larger stores. The MasterCard logo is not used in Japan (the logos of affiliated Japanese cards are used instead). The American Express card is seldom accepted by merchants.
You are eligible to receive need-based and other scholarships from UCEAP. See your Campus Financial Aid Office and the UCEAP website
The Japan Student Service Organization
(JASSO) offers government-funded scholarships to a few UCEAP students attending Meiji Gakuin University. The award is ¥80,000 per month.
Criteria for these awards are based on academic achievement and responsiveness of the student in meeting all application and UCEAP deadlines. Details are included in the UCEAP online Predeparture Checklist
. The Japanese government expects that all students offered these scholarships will accept them, so applicants need to carefully consider their financial situation before applying.
Recipients of JASSO scholarships will not receive UCEAP scholarships and they may not accept other scholarships awarded by Japanese-based organizations.
Financial aid students are required to report scholarships and all other funding to their Campus Financial Aid Offices. Grants and loans will be affected, but overall aid will be repackaged to the student’s maximum benefit.
While in Japan, JASSO scholarship recipients need to show their appreciation by devoting themselves to their academic studies, by exercising the appropriate social demeanor with written appreciation, and by responding as indicated by CICE staff at Meiji Gakuin University and the UC Visiting Professor.
Participation in the Meiji Gakuin program cannot be dependent upon receipt of the JASSO scholarship.
Mail, local and international calls & computer access
Mailing Address at MISH
c/o Meiji Gakuin International Student House, [your room number]
657-2 Yoshida-cho, Totsuka-ku
Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa 244-0817, JAPAN
Post offices in Totsuka have an ATM and can provide other services such as sending and receiving money.
Most UC students opt to use cell phones (keitai denwa) during their stay in Japan. U.S. cell phones do not work in Japan. Purchase a phone in Japan when you arrive to ensure compatibility with the Japanese phone system.
To buy a cell phone, you are required to show your passport, student ID card, and a certificate of your address for registration. You will pay monthly charges with a credit card. In recent years, purchasing a cell phone has been expensive; UCEAP returnees recommend purchasing a prepaid one. You will learn about prepaid cell phones during the onsite orientation. The initial cost to sign up is about 10,000 yen. If you are under 20 years old, you will need a copy of a parent’s or guardian’s identification (a passport or state-issued driver’s license).
International Phone Calls
Vending machines next to phone booths and convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Lawson sell prepaid international calling cards.
The Meiji Gakuin International Student House (MISH) has a phone in each room. Your phone number will be available after arrival.
You can make and receive domestic calls from your room, and you can receive international phone calls in your room. To make an international call from your room, there are three options:
- BRASTEL Smart Phone Card (prepaid chargeable international phone card) is economical. After system activation (online registration), you can recharge the card at most convenience stores for the following amounts: ¥2,000; ¥3,000; ¥5,000; ¥10,000.
- KDDI Super World Card (prepaid international phone card) is the most popular phone card in Japan. There is no need to register. You purchase the card at most convenience stores in amounts of ¥1,000; ¥3,000; ¥5,000; ¥7,000.
- Verizon International Prepaid Calling Card (rechargeable) is available at Lawson’s near Totsuka station.
You can make international calls from green or gray public telephones that are covered with a gold-colored plate. Gray phones are located in Hachi-go-kan (Building 8) on the first floor and at the telephone booth near the bridge on the Yokohama campus. Dial 0051 to contact an international operator.
Computer Access and Use
Individual e-mail accounts are available through the CICE Office.
If you take a laptop, you will be able to access the Internet from your dorm room. In the dining hall, there are two computers with free Internet service, four connectors for free Internet service from your laptop, and one printer. You cannot install any software or save any personal documents on the two computers in the dining hall. You cannot print from your laptop in the dorm room; however, you can print from your laptop in the dining hall.
Computers on Campus
You can use the computers and Internet for free in the PC rooms in Building 4 on campus from 9:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every weekday, and from 9:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The PC rooms are closed on Sunday and national holidays. With your own laptop, you can access free Internet service at some points on campus, and you will need your own cable (same cable as at MISH).
Housing & Meals
Program housing options, supplies needed & meals
You will live at the Meiji Gakuin University International Student House (MISH) located in downtown Totsuka. It is a 25- to 30-minute walk to campus (or a ten-minute walk plus a ten-minute bus or taxi ride). Since the dorm is downhill from the campus, a walk home may be preferable. MISH has four floors and is located near a supermarket and train station. Only UC students live at MISH.
Rooms are furnished, air-conditioned, and single-occupancy. Each single room has six tatami mats, desk, desk light, chair, telephone, LAN access port, large pillow, sheets, blanket, futon, and futon cover. There is a common shower. Washing machines and dryers are available on each floor. An iron and a vacuum are available for your use.
There is a large shared kitchen and dining hall on the first floor where you can prepare meals. There are pots and pans, dishes, glasses, cutlery, dining tables and chairs, gas stoves, microwave ovens, rice cookers, small toaster ovens, refrigerators, and a television.
There is also a small lounge near the entrance hall with sofas, a television, and a DVD and video player.
Fall students must vacate their dorm rooms by the end of December. Spring students must vacate their dorm rooms by the end of July. If you would like to stay in Japan longer, you must find your own accommodations.
In addition, a few two-month homestays may be available to students who have at least one year of Japanese language instruction. See the Homestay Option section in this chapter.
MISH Contact Information
Dorm managers: Mr. & Mrs. Kobayashi
Phone (from the U.S.; in case of emergency): 011-81-45-866-8600
Meiji Gakuin University arranges subsidized housing. Rental cost is expected to be approximately ¥200,000 plus a security deposit of ¥25,000. Gas and electricity are included. The deposit will be returned if your room and the kitchen are left clean. You are responsible for meeting all terms of your rental agreement.
Full rent and deposit are due at the CICE Office at Meiji Gakuin University within two weeks of arrival. You must make your own housing payments, even if you are on financial aid.
You are expected to treat the dorm managers and all residents at MISH with courtesy and respect, living in harmony with one another. Speak, study, and socialize so that noise is not heard beyond the walls of your room or other shared quarters. You are expected to be quiet after the curfew.
You are responsible for the care, cleaning, and upkeep of your room and the shared kitchen. All items in both living quarters and the shared kitchen should be returned in good order whenever you use them. Always wash your dishes after cooking in the kitchen; otherwise, the deposit fee will not be refunded.
Family and friends are advised against visiting during the semester, and they may not stay overnight at MISH.
Guests must leave by 10 p.m. They can make a reservation at a hotel or youth hostel. UCEAP recommends visitors come at the end of your semester program.
Meals at MISH
You are responsible for your own meals during the program in Yokohama and during field trips. Meiji Gakuin has a cafeteria-style dining hall, which is open to all students. The menu typically includes inexpensive and nutritious Japanese and Western dishes.
Many restaurants and markets are located near the Totsuka Station (25‑minute walk from campus). Food is expensive in Japan, but you can manage to eat simply at reasonable prices.
MISH Dormitory Schematic
Japanese Apartment Culture
The entrance to each apartment, as with most Japanese homes, contains a genkan, a sort of entry vestibule. Remove your shoes in the genkan. Shoes are not worn in the apartment and the genkan is the only place in the Japanese home where shoes are worn.
Usually people lounge on the floor of a tatami room, either on cushions called zabuton around a low table or on specially constructed chairs without legs. These chairs are called zaisu and can be obtained at a furniture or department store.
In the tatami mat rooms, no shoes or inside slippers are worn as the mats are intended to be walked on in bare feet or socks. This custom ensures that the mats remain fresh, unworn, and clean since they are where one sleeps and lounges. Tatami is a reed-like mat about three feet by six feet in dimension, about two and a half to three inches thick, and somewhat fragile. The interior of the mat is a layer of bundled straw held together with a woven rush matting.
A futon is Japanese-style bedding. During the night, the bedding is laid out on the tatami mats. During the day, the bedding is folded and placed in the closet.
On dry days, futons are often exposed to sunlight and air to keep them fresh and soft. Futons are put away each morning as a matter of hygiene. After arrival, you will attend an apartment orientation that will cover things like how to make a Japanese bed and how to use the washer and dryer (directions are written in Japanese).
Meiji Gakuin University may offer a few family homestays to students who have completed one year of university-level Japanese and who have Japanese language skills. You must be willing to live according to Japanese norms, which may be more restrictive than those in the U.S. Eligible students are encouraged to apply but are not guaranteed the homestay option.
Homestays are generally two months in length. The remaining time you are housed in a single-occupancy dormitory room at MISH. Sometimes homestays can be extended to four months, provided there is agreement between the host family and student.
The homestay cost is approximately ¥50,000 per month plus a ¥25,000 deposit. In addition, commuting will cost approximately ¥10,000 per month. Refer to the Student Budget Worksheet
for estimated room and meal costs.
There is probably no better way to become immersed in the host culture than to share everyday life with a family. The downside of this is that you probably have not lived with your own family in a few years. Conforming to someone else’s rules, especially if they appear strict, may be a strain. Homestay families may require that you be home by a certain hour each night, restrict your guests to the house, or have different rules governing use of the phone, food, and utilities.
During a homestay, you will have a room in a family’s house and eat breakfast and dinner with the family. You are expected to act as a member of the family. Be sure to ask your host parents how they prefer to be addressed (i.e., mother, father, other). You must abide by family rules, such as curfew, overnight guests, etc.
If you participate in a homestay, you need to be flexible. The burden of adapting is on you, not on the host family. The homestay is intended to be a mutually convenient social arrangement and a cultural experience between you and the host family. The matching between family and student is accomplished carefully. While the program has attempted to place one student per household, occasionally a student might be present from another program.
The primary purpose of being with a host family is to interact socially and culturally and to improve Japanese language proficiency. It is expected that everyone, including other guests in the home, will speak Japanese at all times. If a host family requests you to speak English, you may want to work out a reciprocal arrangement to occasionally speak English in order to help them with their language acquisition.
There may be some unspoken conditions and responsibilities to a homestay involving everything from use of the kitchen to possible curfews. To avoid any confusion, communicate with your host family early on about the following:
- Keys: Will keys be issued to the house? Do families expect you to be home at a certain time of night?
- Bathroom privileges: What are your responsibilities concerning the bathroom facilities? If possible, set up a schedule, especially for the morning. There is usually a hierarchical order to using the ofuro (bathtub/shower) at night.
- Meals: Breakfast and dinner are included during the week. On the weekend, lunch is usually included. Since homestay families are volunteers, they serve you homemade dishes not as a burden but as a token of hospitality. Do not expect that every meal will be served at home; sometimes they might ask you to eat out due to special circumstances but they will inform you in advance. If you miss an occasional meal due to special circumstances, be sure to inform the family in advance. What should you do if you miss a meal unintentionally? Discuss the schedule of meals as well as any special dietary needs and meal times with your family. Inquire about access to the kitchen and the household’s food. Vegetarians should be flexible.
- Your room: Who is to clean the room? Make the bed? Change the linens? Assume it will be you.
- Laundry: Who is responsible for doing the laundry and what laundry will be done? Ask your host family how laundry will be done.
- Guests: Are you allowed to have guests, including overnight guests? What about parties and social gatherings in the home?
- Remember: Always inform the host family about any out-of-town trips and times when you may expect to arrive home late, in case of an emergency.
- Payment: Payment of room, breakfast, and dinner is due monthly at the CICE Office at Meiji Gakuin University.
- Telephone: Most students buy cell phones, and this is advised. Telephone charges are expensive, so if you do not purchase a cell phone, ask your host family about the use of their phone, how to reimburse them for phone bills, and then follow the set guidelines.
- Other utilities: Do not leave lights, computers, or other electrical items running when not in use. Check with the host family regarding use of heat, etc.
- Commuting: In addition to room and board, the likelihood of a 60-minute (approximate) commute will cost approximately ¥10,000 per month.
Do not hesitate to report difficulties to the UC Visiting Professor and the CICE staff if problems arise with the host family. Concerns should be aired immediately so that small instances will not build up into major problems. Something that is bothersome may be the result of a cultural misunderstanding. UCEAP staff may be able to help explain the misunderstandings and assist in resolving problems.
Social activities, excursions & working in your host
Although Japanese students generally are reserved by American standards, students in the Faculty of International Studies are likely to be more accepting of international visitors. Also, the Meiji Gakuin (Meigaku) exchange students coming to UC will be interested in getting acquainted with UC students.
Take Japanese language instruction; your efforts will be rewarded. Having even basic Japanese language skills will help you feel more a part of the Japanese culture. It will open doors of opportunity to discuss ideas and issues with local students and make lifelong friendships with them. Don’t miss out.
Past UCEAP students with no Japanese language skills reported feeling lonely, frustrated, or isolated since they could communicate only with other English-speaking students. It is up to you to get the most from this experience. Extra effort will bring satisfying results in intercultural sharing and will greatly enhance your time in Japan. This is a one-time opportunity so make the most of it.
You will complete a weekend homestay application with your application for MGU admission. It will be for two nights and three days at no additional cost. All students do this and enjoy it. Do not worry about your Japanese language ability; just be friendly and a good family member. The host family will welcome you as a volunteer. Prepare a gift for your host family—something for the entire family, not for each member (usually food like fruit or candy). Also, bring some photos to explain your home country, family, or friends.
The CICE Office at Meigaku arranges a Meigaku “buddy” volunteer to support UCEAP students. UC students greatly appreciate this support and the resulting friendships. You will complete a “Buddy Application” with your application for MGU admission.
Working while on the program is not recommended. However, you may work up to 14 hours per week provided you receive the proper employment permits from the Japanese Immigration Office, the host university, and the UC Visiting Professor. It is illegal for foreign students in Japan on a student visa to work without this permit, even tutoring English. It is not permissible to miss a class, field trip, or other academic activity because of a job. Any student who does take a job must inform the employer that there will be times when he or she will miss work due to classes, field trips, etc.
Extracurricular Activities and Clubs
Participating in extracurricular cultural and social activities in Japan is an excellent way to meet people, improve your language skills, and integrate more fully into the community. Join a club, sports, musical, theater, or arts groups; volunteer at local organizations, attend lectures and receptions held in academic and community circles, and get the most out of your time abroad.
Many past students participated in activities such as basketball, volleyball, aikido, swimming, hiking, water skiing, scuba, windsurfing, tea ceremony, fencing, and karate. There are many diverse student clubs; for example, Japanese arts, tennis, kendo, skiing, and the English-Speaking Society. The Student Affairs Office can introduce you to clubs that you might like to observe or join.
Whatever club you join, it is imperative that the sempai-kohai (teacher-student) relationship be respected. You must accept the role of a kohai. Although you may be tempted to suggest a better way of doing something in a club, this is a social and intercultural blunder. Such a suggestion (especially if correct) will embarrass the sempai because he or she will have been corrected by a kohai. However, once you have established yourself as a team player, a diplomatic suggestion of trying something different for a change might work.
Meiji Gakuin has a chapel open to all students and staff. A 20-minute chapel period is also held on class days at 12:40 p.m.
Physical health, medications, counseling & student
Stay healthy and avoid lowering your body’s resistance. The change in diet and climate may cause an upset stomach and possibly diarrhea until you adjust to the new environment. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. If you suffer from allergies, be prepared for sinus illnesses and allergies, which may be worse than in the U.S.
If you feel sick or have a medical emergency, seek medical attention and contact MGU staff and the UC Visiting Professor immediately. MGU staff can recommend a clinic to visit, provide the necessary medical insurance claim forms to complete, and assist if arrangements need to be made with your professors due to extended absence from class.
UCEAP continually reviews information from the CDC
and World Health Organization, works closely with medical experts on the UC campuses, and monitors local host university and country health resources. Although there have been no human deaths from the virus, it is important that you exercise care while abroad and avoid poultry farms, contact with animals in live food markets, any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces or fluids from poultry or other animals, and eat only thoroughly cooked poultry products.
In the event of a pandemic, UCEAP’s ability to assist you may be severely limited by restrictions on local and international movement imposed by foreign governments or the United States for public health reasons.
There is an on-campus clinic at Meiji Gakuin that is equipped to handle minor ailments. For anything serious, however, visit an outside doctor. The Meiji Gakuin clinic can provide a referral to an appropriate specialist. In general, medical practices and facilities in Japan are the same as those in the U.S. and costs are comparable.
During university hours the Meiji Gakuin University Health Clinic Center can be reached at 045-863-2020. In Totsuka, the Yokohama Emergency Medical Care Information Center can provide information about the nearest hospital or clinic depending on the ailment. This contact can be reached 24 hours a day at 045- 201-1199 (limited English). For non-emergency medical problems, the program office has a list of English-speaking doctors in the Yokohama area.
Refer to the Health
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
If you require prescription medications, contact the UCEAP Assistance provider, Europ Assistance, at (866) 451-7606 before departure to ensure that your medication is available and legal in Japan. According to the U.S. Department of State, certain medications, including some commonly prescribed for depression and Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD), are not widely available. Decisions on what medications may be imported legally into Japan are made by the Japanese Government. It is illegal to enter Japan with some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers), or codeine are prohibited. Up to a two-month supply of allowable over-the-counter medication and up to a four-month supply of allowable vitamins can be taken into Japan duty-free.
Some U.S. prescription medications can be mailed to Japan. Be sure to research in advance whether your specific medication can be mailed. Generally, you may take up to one month’s supply of allowable prescription medicine into Japan. Carry a copy of your doctor’s prescription and a letter stating the purpose of the drug. If you must carry more than one month’s supply, or if you are carrying syringes, you may be required to fill out a customs declaration form before entering Japan.
Some popular medications legal in the U.S., such as Prozac, are sold illegally in Japan on the black market. You are subject to arrest and imprisonment if you purchase such drugs illegally while in Japan.
You must pay for medical services at the time they are rendered and submit a claim form and receipts for reimbursement (see the Insurance tab of your Participants
program page for more information, claim forms and instructions).
Mandatory Japanese National Health Insurance
After arrival in Japan, you are required to purchase the mandatory Japanese national health insurance (Kokumin Kenko Hoken), which will give you access to the best medical treatment available in Japan. During orientation, the UCEAP Study Center will provide more information about national health insurance and assist you in this process. The cost of the Japanese national health insurance is included in the “incidentals” line of the UCEAP Student Budget Worksheet. You will need to pay for this insurance out of pocket in yen soon after arrival. Payments may be made in lump sum or monthly installments and typically cost about 2,000 yen per month for students.
Speak with returnees and gather as much information as possible before you leave for Japan.
When you arrive, do not be surprised to think, “It’s not what I expected.” Expect the unexpected. Life in Japan is fast-paced with large crowds, noise, and long commuting times. Entertainment and other costs can be high. For diversion, students find that some sort of regular activity, whether with an interest group like a chorus or hiking club, or study of traditional dance, archery, or calligraphy, offers opportunities to practice using Japanese and to get a break from textbooks. Ask for insight from locals and acknowledge that this as a valuable learning experience.
Culture shock and homesick feelings are normal. It is easy to become worn down from physical and mental stress due to the vastly different environment. Culture shock feelings shouldn’t last more than 2–3 weeks. To counter this, eat well, stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, share concerns with the Study Center, and be open and accepting of the differences you encounter. It will make your stay more enjoyable as you adapt to the new environment.
If at any time you need support to cope, contact the Tokyo Study Center or the UCEAP travel assistance provider, Europ Assistance. In the United States, you can call Europ Assistance collect for medical referrals and help facilitating payment directly to medical providers, particularly if you face an emergency or are in need of counseling.
Theft, intolerance, fire safety & emergency contacts
The crime threat level throughout Japan is considered low. However, the U.S. Embassy advises that low-threat does not mean no-threat. Violent crimes, while rare, do exist. In general, if you exercise the same caution that you would in any large urban area in the U.S., you may have an incident-free stay. Recently, there have been increased incidents of stalking in Japan, and local police and neighborhood groups have become more involved. Be aware of your surroundings, practice good personal safety habits, go out with friends, and immediately contact the Study Center if you are the focus of any unwanted attention.
Use common sense and follow precautions against theft, robbery, and assault. Lock your apartment door and windows, and keep valuable items in a bank safe deposit box. Observe normal precautions when returning home late in the evening. The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
also posts updates on safety precautions in Japan.
U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-8420 JAPAN
Phone (general switchboard): (03) 3224-5000
Phone (visa information): (03) 5354-4033
Fax: (03) 3505-1862
The police may be reached by telephone at 110 (hyaku touban). Emergency medical care, the fire department, the life squad, and ambulance services can be reached by dialing 119.
While in Japan, as in any foreign country, you are subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States. Americans are not protected by U.S. laws while in Japan. Penalties for breaking the law abroad can be more severe than those enforced in the U.S. for similar offenses. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe, and convicted offenders can expect severe jail sentences and fines. If you are charged with such offenses, UCEAP would not be able to intervene on your behalf.
Sexual assaults do not happen often but do occur, and females may be randomly targeted. Some U.S. citizens report that Japanese police procedures appear to be less sensitive and responsive to a victim’s concerns compared to the procedures in the United States, particularly in cases of sexual assault or when both the victim and the perpetrator are foreigners. Few victim assistance resources exist in major urban areas, and they are generally unavailable in rural areas. Investigations of sexual assault crimes are often conducted without female police officers present, and police typically ask about the victim’s sexual history and previous relationships.
Drink-spiking has routinely led to robbery and has also resulted in physical and sexual assaults. In most drink-spiking reports, the victim unknowingly drinks a beverage that has been mixed with a drug, which renders the victim unconscious or dazed for several hours. During this time the victim’s credit card is used for large purchases or the card is stolen. Some victims regain consciousness in the bar or club; other victims may awaken on the street. Intercourse constitutes rape when a person is under the influence of any intoxicating or controlled substance and is thereby prevented from giving informed consent. Be aware that alcohol and other drugs can impair your judgment, and make you slow or unable to react to unwanted sexual contact or escape from a dangerous situation.
Japan is in a very seismically active region. Each year, there are more than 1,500 earthquakes in Japan. Be aware and be prepared. Earthquakes are not limited to any particular area of the country; most go unnoticed but the probability of a severe and damaging earthquake is high. The Tokyo metropolitan area experiences daily tremors of varying intensities. In the event of a major earthquake, the government will issue a declaration of warning (state of emergency). Everyone within range of the warning is advised to refrain from the use of cars and telephones. Additional emergency actions include:
- Turn off the stove and other heat sources.
- Open doors to ensure an exit; this is particularly important in a multi-level building.
- DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
- Stay indoors during the initial tremor until it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave. Once outside, protect your head
If trapped under debris:
- Do not light a match.
- Do not move about or kick up dust.
- Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
- Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
More details on self-preparedness are available through the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.
Refer to the Fire Safety
section of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Road and Traffic Safety
All roads in Japan are paved and marked.
Most intercity and overland travel in Japan is by train and there is an adequate police presence at the stations and on the trains to ensure passenger security.
Buses and trains are usually very crowded, especially during rush hours. To maximize the number of riders, white-gloved attendants physically push passengers into rail cars.
Crowded trains provide ample opportunity for pickpockets and other thieves to commit crimes. Safeguard valuables and remain aware of your surroundings and personal belongings to avoid becoming a victim of petty crime.
Women may encounter chikan (perverts/molesters), who tend to be most active on public transit during the evening commute. To mitigate the problem, some trains now have female-only cars. See the following tips for more information.
Tips for Women
Occasionally women (and sometimes men) are inappropriately touched by men (called chikan, or “pervert”) on crowded trains. This is a crime. The best way to avoid this is to avoid riding on crowded trains or seek out the “women only” train cars. If you encounter these criminals on the trains, firmly say yamete kudasai (stop it!) to the suspected chikan loud enough that other passengers may hear. Men are advised to hold on to the handles of crowded trains with both hands and keep them in plain view to avoid accusations of being a chikan. Follow Study Center instructions on safety and security and take precautions as if you were in the U.S.
What Constitutes an Emergency?
An emergency is a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. The following are considered emergencies:
- Any life/death situation
- A traumatic event requiring immediate assistance
- An arrest
- Civil unrest or a natural disaster in the host country
In an Emergency
Contact local emergency services first and then contact the following:
If you are in the U.S.:
- During office hours (8 a.m.–5 p.m. Pacific Time): Contact the Operations Specialist at the UCEAP Systemwide Office
- After office hours: Call the 24-hour emergency phone number at (805) 893-4762
If you are abroad:
Carry the local emergency contact information at all times. If you have a health, travel, or safety emergency and do not have access to local or UCEAP representative emergency information, contact the UCEAP travel assistance provider, Europ Assistance, available 24/7:
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