Approx. Time Difference
Apr - Nov: + 16 hrs
Dec – Mar: + 17 hrs
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, health and safety, and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants
section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
While UCEAP endeavors to keep the information updated and accurate, all program information should be considered in conjunction with program-specific operational correspondence which may contain the most up to date information. There may be times where UCEAP will need to change this information and it will often be updated online. Student is responsible for reviewing all information shared through the program guides and by UCEAP staff in California and abroad, and partners abroad. UCEAP reserves the right to make changes to its programs, whenever, in our sole judgment local conditions so warrant, in response to local circumstances that could substantially change some parts of the program, or if we deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of our program participants.
Click a heading below to see section content.
Local UCEAP Support
Campus EAP Office
The Campus EAP Office coordinates recruitment, student selection, orientations, and academic advising; and serves as your primary contact during the application process.
UCEAP Systemwide Office
The UCEAP Systemwide Office establishes and operates programs and coordinates UCEAP administration for all UC campuses from its headquarters in Goleta, California. You will work closely with the following Systemwide Office staff:
Program Advisors provide academic and operational program information to you and your campus as well as administrative support for all aspects of your participation.
Program Specialists manage the logistics of the program. They coordinate document requirements, visa application instructions, health and safety precautions, acceptance and placement by host institutions, arrival and onsite orientation, and housing arrangements.
Academic Staff advise on academic policies, review courses taken abroad for UC credit, and document your registration, grades, petitions and academic records.
Student Finance Accountants assist primarily with UCEAP statements, program fee collection, and financial aid disbursements (in conjunction with your campus Financial Aid Office).
UCEAP Contact Information
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. This resource lists requirements and policies you need to know before you go abroad, including your Predeparture Checklist, UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, Program Calendar, UCEAP Student Budgets, and payment instructions.
Study Centers Abroad
A UC faculty member appointed as Study Center Director and local staff oversee UCEAP programs in Japan. In addition, local advisors and international student centers or offices are available at your host university. UCEAP staff and the Study Center Director will be available to help you with academic matters, assist with housing, and provide information about cultural activities.
Tokyo Study Center for the University of California
International Christian University
3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka
Tokyo 181-8585, Japan
Phone (calling from the U.S.): (011-81-422) 33-3118
Cell phone (after-hour emergencies): (011-81) 90-9950-9411
Osaka University and the University of California Office
Interdisciplinary Research Building (91 on the map) Room 701
1-2 Machikaneyama-cho, Toyonaka, Osaka 560-0043, Japan
Office phone number: 81-6-6850-6785
Ms. Eriko Nakayama, Program Assistant
Phone Number Codes
U.S. international code . . . . . . . . . . . . . 011 (dial this to call from the U.S.)
Japan country code. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Mitaka (ICU) city code . . . . . . . . . . . . . 422
Tokyo city code . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Approximate Time Difference
Add 17 hours (December–March)
Add 16 hours (April–November)
Hitotsubashi University has both a year-long option which begins in October and a spring semester option which begins in April. Hitotsubashi refers to the spring semester as summer and the fall semester as winter on course listings on their website.
- 21 quarter/14 semester UC units minimum per semester; usually 7 to 10 courses.
- Maximum of 1/3rd (33%) of units on the pass/no pass grading option. This is done in MyEAP only.
- Japanese language study each term unless you are fluent. Language study typically ranges between 3 and 15 UC quarter units. The amount of language study will vary depending on your language level. Japanese language study is available at intermediate and advanced levels. A language placement exam is administered after arrival.
Sample MyEAP Study Lists
UC quarter units are calculated by multiplying Hitotsubashi units by 1.5. (2 Hitotsubashi units equal 3 UC quarter units). Many Hitotsubashi courses have low unit values (3 UC quarter units).
The UC unit value of courses offered in Japanese universities varies widely. Many courses carry low units (2 or 3 UC quarter units). In some cases, courses on a similar theme may be combined to fulfill a UC campus or major requirement. Discuss this possibility with your UC campus academic advisor.
Exchange (UCEAP) students can register for a maximum of 44 Hitotsubashi credits per year (33 quarter/22 semester UC units per semester). Past UCEAP participants have successfully completed 27 quarter units in a semester in this program.
Japan is a country where courtesy and behavioral propriety are extremely important in all social interactions. Be respectful toward teachers at all times and sensitive to the cultural styles and ethics of Japanese society.
Your behavior is a reflection on both UC and the U.S. and may be taken as representative of all Americans. You are expected to make a good impression, enabling UCEAP to provide the program for future UC students.
If you have questions about what is considered acceptable behavior in Japan, talk to the Study Center Director and staff. You cannot assume that Japanese people will correct you for unacceptable or offensive behavior. Japanese professors and acquaintances may not point out inappropriate behavior; however, any actions out of the ordinary will be noticed and can negatively impact you and the program.
In order to be successful academically, you must take the initiative. Take personal responsibility for your education, formulate clear academic goals, and then pursue those goals with determination rather than depending solely on UC or host university requirements for direction. Japanese university courses generally have less structure than UC courses. Professors rarely provide syllabi and, even if they do, may change the content of the course during the term. Check with each professor about specific course requirements, paper deadlines, exam dates, and any other matters related to your academic responsibilities.
Course registration at Hitotsubashi is very different than at UC. You will attend courses before you register. During the first week of the term classes are split into two 40 minute sections. The instructors provide 40-minute long orientations going over the course syllabus, course schedule, assignments, exams, grading criteria, and so on. After the first half, you are dismissed and can sit in on another course that you are interested in. This way, you can try two courses in one slot to see if those courses match your interest. After the first week you will do your registration and start regular classes.
Hitotsubashi allows students to drop courses at any time; however, UCEAP only allows you to drop courses until the general petition deadline. Before you drop a course at Hitotsubashi, you must submit a general petition for approval from UCEAP to drop the course. Fs will be assigned if you drop a course at Hitotsubashi and it is not approved to be dropped by UCEAP.
Additional Course Registration information.
Coursework Taught in English or Japanese
Programs are offered in four faculties for undergraduate exchange (UCEAP) students: Commerce and Management, Economics, Law, and Social Sciences. Students are placed into one of the four faculties; however, courses can be taken from all four faculties. There are three types of courses for UCEAP students. The general education and undergraduate department courses are mainly taught in Japanese. Hitotsubashi Global Education Program (HGP) courses are mainly in taught English.
The syllabus search, Mercas
, has course descriptions that typically provide a brief overview, prerequisites, course schedule, textbook information, assessment information, units, and language of instruction. Log in as a guest to search.
Hitotsubashi also has graduate programs.
Each Hitotsubashi faculty categorizes courses differently. For example, the School of Social Sciences categorizes courses as introductory, intermediate, advanced, seminar, and other. The introductory and many intermediate courses are usually assigned lower-division UC credit. The advanced and seminar courses are usually upper-division. The Global Education Program offers general education courses which are typically lower division or specialized courses which are typically upper division.
You are required to attend all classes, mandatory field trips, and other academic events unless you are explicitly excused for a valid reason. Travel, family visits, relationships, and work responsibilities are not valid reasons for missing class. Many faculty members monitor and consider attendance when determining the course grade. In fact, it is common practice for Japanese students to quit attending class as a sign to the professor that they wish to be dropped from the course. This is called houki (renunciation). If you drop a class using the houki system—even if accidental—you will receive a grade of “F” for that course.
A special feature of Hitotsubashi is the zemi (seminar) system which differs from Japanese higher education’s usual focus on mass education. The zemi is a year-long course taken consecutively in the junior and senior years. Most have 10 to 15 students, some popular zemi may hold up to 25 students. Students study under one professor who acts as academic advisor, mentor, and instructor.
To participate, you must have a clear academic focus within the social sciences and Japanese language proficiency at the intermediate level or higher. Seminars encourage individual development and expression as well as foster close and often lifelong personal relationships among students and faculty members.
The zemi goes beyond academic instruction; it often develops into a close-knit, communal group for social life in Japan. The concept that a zemi is a place for personal development as well as academic training has been a tradition over the generations. In addition to academic work, members enjoy a variety of activities together both on and off campus.
If you would like to participate, you will need to indicate this on your Hitotsubashi application.
Discuss questions related to grades or other classroom matters and appropriate plans for handling them with the UCEAP Study Center. It is not the Japanese custom for instructors to give detailed comments on written work and final papers, and exams are not usually returned; the grade itself is generally considered appropriate and adequate feedback. You may inquire about your progress in a class, but do not discuss grades with your professors unless invited to do so; otherwise, it may appear that you are trying to negotiate your grade, which is frowned upon.
Beware of rumors about lenient grading at Japanese institutions. Some universities are similar to UC in their standards and grading system. Language courses in particular can be more demanding than at UC and the grading is often rigorous. In many cases, poor grades are the result of excessive absences, tardiness, missing assignments, and lack of communication between UC students and instructors. Grading is typically conducted by detracting points for errors, rather than rewarding points for correct work. If you experience difficulties with your language courses, inquire with the Study Center for tutoring assistance. Also beware of being influenced by the rigor—or lack thereof—with which Japanese students appear to be engaged in their studies. In contrast to UC students, Japanese students often place less emphasis on letter grades and more on merely passing their courses.
To avoid a failing grade for a dropped course:
- Keep the Study Center informed of any changes in course selection at the host university.
- Follow UCEAP procedures for dropping a course
Final grades for this program are usually available in late October.
For general information about grades, see the Academic Information
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Internships are not common in Japan; however, you may find an opportunity to participate in an internship. Expect to locate an internship on your own, without assistance from UCEAP.
In the past, some students have found teaching internships, as well as corporate and governmental internships.
As the Japanese workplace can be formal, plan to have appropriate attire if you are considering an internship.
You may be able to earn academic credit for various internship and volunteer service activities; however, credit earned during gap periods (between terms, on holiday breaks, etc.) will not count towards minimum unit requirements for any term.
Extending UCEAP Participation
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, are excellent resources.
The bookstore Kinokuniya
is a good source of Japanese literature; it has branches in San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, Costa Mesa, and Los Angeles.
Some programs in Japan do not require previous Japanese language study; expose yourself to learning the language now so that you have an idea of what learning Japanese is like. Students with learning disabilities may find learning another language challenging. If this is the case, provide a letter from your campus Disabled Students Office to document your learning disability.
Recommended Newspapers and Magazines
Keep up with current events by reading articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals:
Become familiar with Japanese culture before arriving in Japan. You may experience behaviors that would be considered discriminatory in the U.S. but are considered acceptable in Japanese society.
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; communicate subtly.
Punctuality is essential in Japan; it is rude to be late.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking
Drugs and Alcohol
Drug use in Japan is serious and laws are stricter than in the US. Drugs like marijuana are not legal in Japan and you can be jailed.
Japanese authorities aggressively pursue drug smugglers with sophisticated detection equipment, "sniffing" dogs, and other methods. When entering Japan, you and your luggage will be screened at ports of entry. Incoming and outgoing mail, as well as international packages sent via DHL or FedEx, are also checked carefully. The Japanese police make arrests for even the smallest amounts of illegal drugs. Several U.S. citizens have been arrested, tried, and convicted after having mailed illegal drugs to themselves from other countries.
Alcohol use is common in Japan. Vending machines sell beer and sake. 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.
Japanese law prohibits minors (under 20 years of age) from drinking alcohol. If you are of legal age, use your own judgment and do not display any intoxicated behavior in public places. Practice low-risk drinking, don’t leave your drink unattended, and use the buddy system to watch out for one another. Many students' risky behaviors are related to drunkenness and an associated lapse in judgment.
Students who abuse/misuse alcohol, behave in a disorderly manner, or cause problems for their housing or host university will face disciplinary action by UCEAP, which can include dismissal.
Anti-smoking campaigns are slowly spreading but smoking in Japan is common. You will see many smokers inside and outside buildings, although many restaurants have nonsmoking sections.
The law prohibits purchase and smoking of cigarettes to minors (under 20 years of age).
Improve Your Language Ability
The more Japanese you know before departure, the more rewarding your time abroad will be. Prior to departure, work to improve your written and spoken Japanese.
Following are some good ways to prepare:
· Read aloud (anything in Japanese); read progressively faster, maintaining correct pronunciation.
· Try a Japanese language computer or video game.
· Keep up-to-date on Japanese current events by reading articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals.
· Practice Japanese phrases picked up from conversations and reading.
· Listen to Japanese language CDs.
· Seek out people fluent in Japanese for conversations and vocabulary practice.
· Keep a journal of Japanese phrases, expressions, whole sentences, and structures to add to your vocabulary.
· Watch Japanese movies. Watch once with the subtitles, then turn the subtitles off and watch again.
· Read Japanese newspapers and magazines, using a dictionary as necessary.
· Read two books in Japanese, one fiction and one non-fiction in your major.
· Practice writing about your major field and other interests in Japanese.
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
You are required to attend all orientation activities, which cover such topics as:
- banking, transportation, health and safety, and housing;
- academic advising including academic requirements, which vary by program; and
- the specifics of your MyEAP course registration, which varies by program. You will register for courses after orientation based on the Study Center instructions.
Official UCEAP Start Date
You are responsible for making your own transportation arrangements to and from Japan (even if you will be receiving financial aid) and for arriving on the Official UCEAP Start Date. This includes reserving and purchasing airline tickets (purchase a changeable ticket). Standby tickets are not acceptable.
Program dates and arrival information are posted on the UCEAP website. Failure to appear on the Official Start Date is cause for dismissal from the program (Student Agreement, Student Conduct section). When traveling, always carry your passport, visa, ticket, prescription medications, and money. Never put valuables in your checked luggage.
The Official Arrival and 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. To stay informed of program changes, update MyEAP with any changes to your contact information (mailing address, e-mail, and phone number).
Travel to Your Host Country
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
UCEAP strongly recommends purchasing changeable round trip tickets, which will allow you to make changes to your return flight for a fee. UCEAP discourages purchasing one way tickets, as your Program Budget is based on a changeable round trip student fare, which is generally less expensive. Carefully research airfare rules prior to purchasing a flight. Standby and courier fares are not appropriate. Plan for this expense. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid office will reserve or pay for your ticket. If you are on financial aid, you will need to purchase a plane ticket before you receive a financial aid disbursement.
Most airline tickets are good for one year only. When buying round-trip tickets, purchase tickets that allow changes to the return date. If you do not make round-trip arrangements, be sure to book a return flight with plenty of lead time once abroad. Flights to the U.S. fill up fast and economy-fare seats are booked early.
Financial Aid Students
Your financial aid package is calculated using your specific UCEAP Program Budget. The estimated round-trip airfare amount is based on the cost of a changeable student ticket to your host country. If your independent travel costs are greater than the airfare estimate in the UCEAP Program 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.
It is easier to replace lost or stolen documents if you have scanned copies. Scan all important documents, including passport, visa, student ID, credit cards (front and back), etc.
Students with Japanese citizenship do not need a visa to enter Japan. If you have Japanese citizenship you must enter Japan with your Japanese passport, even if you have dual nationality with another country.
Summer-only program participants: U.S. citizens in possession of a valid U.S. passport can visit Japan without a visa for a duration of up to 90 days or less for study.
For the fall, year, and spring programs, you will obtain a student visa prior to entering Japan. A student visa is an endorsement placed in your passport by the Consulate General of Japan. The visa grants you permission to enter and reside in Japan for the purpose of study. In order to obtain the visa, you will first apply through your host university for a Certificate of Eligibility.
About two to four weeks prior to departure, you will receive the Certificate of Eligibility from the UCEAP Systemwide Office. With this document, apply for a student visa at the Japan consulate as directed in the online UCEAP Predeparture Checklist
Back to Back Participants
If you will attend a summer program followed by a fall/year program, you must leave Japan between the two programs in order to apply for the student visa. You will not be able to obtain a student visa before departure for a summer program. This will affect your ability to obtain a local cell phone and sign up for National Health Insurance.
Japanese Resident Card
A Resident Card will be issued to foreigners who possess a Student Visa at the port of entry. Within two weeks of arrival, you will need to carry out residency registration procedures at the local municipal office where you reside, and most partner universities provide assistance (e.g. volunteer local students escorting international students to the municipal office, and/or arranging a group tour).
Carry your Resident Card (Zairyu Kado) with you at all times so that if questioned by local officials, you can prove your identity, citizenship, and immigration status. Under Japanese law, the police may stop any person on the street at any time and demand to see identification.
Undocumented Students and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Students
Consult with an immigration attorney free of charge on your campus to determine if study abroad is right for you.
If you are currently enrolled as a student at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, or UC Santa Cruz, contact the UC Undocumented Legal Services Center at https://law.ucdavis.edu/uc-undocumented/
The UCEAP Program Budget does not include funds to purchase clothing abroad.
You can find almost everything you need in Japan.
- Dressy outfits (sport coat, tie, dress, etc.) for academic or formal events
- Small gifts (see below)
- Warm clothing for winter
- Shoes that slip on and off easily
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Prescription medications (see the Health chapter of this guide for information on transporting prescriptions abroad)
- Travel guide with a detailed map of your destination
- Plug adapter (outlets in Japan have 2 prongs, not 3)
- Multivitamins, headache medicine, aspirin, and other analgesics
Climate and Dress
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 characterized by overcast skies and frequent drizzle. The tsuyu ends in mid-July when the humid summer heat sets in and the number of mosquitoes increase.
Winter temperatures can fall below freezing with the chill factor from strong winter winds making it seem much colder. The best defense is to layer clothes and wear warm underwear, sweaters, scarves, socks, and slippers. If you are going to Sendai, be prepared for snow and cold conditions. Buildings are often cold, with the exception of major department stores or subways, where it is usually a little too warm for comfort.
Japanese people are generally well dressed, and stylish and formal trends are found particularly in downtown university areas. Women wear skirts and dresses more often than at UC. The typical UC wardrobe is fine for everyday wear on the suburban campuses. Clothing in Japan is often expensive and difficult to find in large and tall sizes. Women taller than 5'7" and men taller than 5'10" may have difficulty finding clothing in stores.
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.
It is customary to take small gifts when visiting people in Japan. In Japanese culture, the quality of a gift’s wrapping is as important as the gift itself. Inexpensive gifts may be balanced out by the special care you take with wrapping and presentation with nice paper, bows, special boxes, or gift bags.
- U.S. and hometown items (state, campus, team/sports)
- Pictures of UC or your hometown
- T-shirts with city, state, campus, or team logos
- Baseball caps with sports logos
- Something edible from California like See’s Candies, almonds, pistachios or dried fruits
- Postcards of California
Voltage in Japan
is different than the US. Three-pin plugs are not used in Japan; two flat-pin plugs are used instead. Purchase a plug adaptor beforehand (if needed).
Insurance for Personal Possessions
Consider having additional protection for your property. In spite of your best efforts, it is still possible to experience loss, theft, or accidents that will damage your belongings while traveling. Talk to your parents and analyze their family homeowners’ insurance to determine whether the items brought or bought while abroad are covered by their policy.
The UCEAP Travel Insurance
policy offers limited personal property coverage. Review the policy carefully before departure to determine if it is adequate coverage for your possessions before you experience a loss.
If you decide to purchase supplemental personal property coverage, do so before departure and make sure that the coverage extends while traveling. The host university does not protect student belongings—even in university accommodations.
You are responsible for your own personal property. Use logical precautions to safeguard valuables from damage or theft by locking your room and securing currency, jewelry, passport, and other possessions.
Understanding Your Finances
It is important that you carefully read all of the information available in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and discuss it with the person who will assist you with your finances while you are abroad.
Understanding your finances before, during, and after your program is crucial to having a successful time abroad. The following list outlines just a few of the many things you will need to know before departure.
Detailed information on the following topics can be found in the Money Matters
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
- Contact information for finance questions
- How to estimate the cost of your program
- Budget instructions and information
- Who Can and How to make payments to UCEAP
- UCEAP student account information(what fees do I pay to UCEAP and what fees do I pay out of pocket?)
- Banking before and after arrival
- Fees and penalties
- Loan information
- How financial aid works while abroad (how do I get my financial aid from my home campus and how are my fees paid?)
- Various forms (e.g., direct deposit, etc.)
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Your MyEAP Student Account is similar to your UC campus financial account. It will be available as soon as you are selected for your program in MyEAP. You can make payments through this account using e-checks or credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover). The fees that you owe UCEAP will be applied to your account after your program pre-departure withdrawal date, which is listed in MyEAP. For the amount due to UCEAP prior to fees being posted on your account, refer to the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule located on the second page of your UCEAP Program Budget
. Program fees are subject to change.
Your UCEAP Program Budget lists the fees you will pay to UCEAP and an estimate of the personal expenses you will need to plan for. It does not include the cost of recreational travel or personal entertainment. Review your UCEAP Program Budget frequently. The Payment Schedule is on the second page of the UCEAP Program Budget.
- Download and print your UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule.
- Note the deadlines on the Payment Schedule.
- Give the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule to the person responsible for paying your UCEAP bills. Sign this person up for Third Party Authorization on MyEAP so they can make payments online.
Refund of Credit balances and Financial Aid Disbursements:
If you are signed up for Direct Deposit on your UC campus, it is not linked to your MyEAP account. You must sign up for eRefund with UCEAP to receive direct deposits from your MyEAP account. For more information, see the UCEAP eRefund Instructions
The official currency unit in Japan is the yen (abbreviated ¥ or JPY). You will carry more cash in Japan than you would in the U.S. Checks are not used, and credit cards are not as frequently accepted as in the U.S.
Refer to the Tokyo Study Center information on Money in Japan
. Although an increasing number of shops and restaurants take credit cards, Japan is still a cash-based society. Consider ahead of time how to get cash while you are in Japan. Many students use their US bank ATM card or credit card to withdraw money. You should also refer to the estimated personal expense posted in the Participants page, under Money Matters tab.
Depending on your length of stay and funding type, there are several options available. We encourage you to contact returnees to find out more about their experiences. Some families opt for the Travelex Money Card, a type of prepaid currency card. Summer students will have a temporary visitor visa status in Japan, and thus will not be able to open a bank account in Japan. Since Citibank has offices in the U.S. and Japan, you can access your account in both countries.
ATM Cards from the U.S.
Prior to departure, ask your bank or card company if you can access funds in your U.S. account in Japan using your ATM card and personal identification number (PIN). 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, including Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, American Express, JCB, and UnionPay cards. The service charge differs depending on the card.
Another option would be a Charles Schwab account because they will reimburse you for any ATM fees incurred.
Japanese Bank Account
Most banks have branches throughout the country and issue account holders an ATM card for use at the branches. In addition, you can use another bank’s ATM for a fee.
Most banks are open weekdays and closed on weekends and national holidays. ATM hours vary from bank to bank and branch to branch, but usually from 8:45 a.m. to 6 pm on weekdays, and there is an extra fee outside of those hours and on weekends. Convenience stores have ATMs connected to major banks. Verify this information with your bank when you open an account.
Post Office Accounts
Most campuses have a post office that also serve as a bank with ATMs. including currency exchange. Year students with a local scholarship tend to open an account at a post office so that they can receive money easily.
Transferring Money Overseas
Most Japanese banks and Post Offices do not allow receipt of foreign transfers within the first six months of the account being opened. After this, funds can be cabled from an American bank to your Japanese account in about a week. The basic charge for the procedure is set by the American bank, and an additional handling fee will be charged by the Japanese bank as well. Determine the charges before departure and verify that your American bank can transfer funds in this manner.
Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in Japan at larger stores. The American Express card is seldom accepted by merchants.
Scholarships and Fellowships
The Japanese government and Japanese private foundations offer scholarship support to North American students studying in Japan. Special scholarships and fellowships are available to students nominated by their host university and approved by the Japanese Ministry of Education (Monbukagakusho) and the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO). These awards typically consist of a generous monthly stipend in yen. UCEAP recommends you apply for a scholarship where applicable. These scholarships are not available to students who hold Japanese passports.
JASSO scholarships replace, not supplement, financial aid funding. If you are a financial aid recipient, you must report all outside agency awards to your UC Financial Aid Office. The UC Financial Aid Office will include the outside agency award in your financial aid package and will adjust the original aid accordingly. It is important to understand that aid eligibility does not change, only the source of your aid. For further explanation of your financial aid packaging, contact your UC Financial Aid Office.
Internet access and computer facilities are available at all Japanese host institutions. Take your own laptop if possible.
Some U.S. cell phones work in Japan, but at a cost. Check details with your service provider before departure. A fall 2015 UCEAP student wrote this cell phone information for use by future students.
If you would like to purchase a cell phone, you are required to show your passport, resident card with the address registered with the local government, and student ID card. You can pay monthly charges with a credit card. You can purchase a prepaid phone or get a contract. There will be an explanation about cell phones during the on-site orientation. 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), along with a parental consent form.
If you enter Japan on a tourist visa, you may rent a cell phone from the airport. Below are some resources.
Cell phones in Japan
Internet Access in Japan
Free Wi-Fi in Eastern Japan for Tourists (for 14 days)
Mobile Phone Rentals at Haneda Airport
EAP alumni report getting in touch with friends and family in the US using a variety of resources:
- International calling cards
- MSN or online messenger
Hitotsubashi University Housing
In general, undergraduates stay in International Village
in Kodaira while graduate students stay in International House
on the Kunitachi campus. International House has 54 single rooms for international students with shared showers, kitchen, and lounge area.
The International Village residence complex consists of five dorm buildings, a guest house, research centers, and a spacious cafeteria. It houses both Japanese and international students from local universities in the area. It is located about 30 minutes from the Hitotsubashi campus by bike or train. The single rooms have private toilets; kitchen and shower facilities are shared.
At a Glance
- You cannot choose which dormitory or room you will be placed in. You will live in either the International House (graduates) or the International Village (undergraduates).
- You will open a Japanese bank account after arrival in Japan. The rent will be automatically deducted every month from your Japanese bank account. See the UCEAP Student Budget for estimated housing costs.
- All rooms are equipped for Internet access. To access Internet in the room, you must sign a private contract with a service provider. You are responsible for your own Internet bill. It may take a few weeks to set up the Internet service for your room.
- There are phones in the rooms that can be used free of charge to make room to room calls within the dormitory. You are responsible for the cost of all outside calls.
- Cooking is not permitted in individual rooms, but there are shared kitchens. You can also eat at the university cafeteria and in nearby restaurants.
- You will need to purchase bedding after you move into the dorm. There will be local volunteer students there to assist in buying necessary items.
Japanese universities have cafeteria-style dining halls on campus that are open to all students. Overall, the price of eating out in Japan can be as much as twice the cost of eating out in California. Major cities have numerous restaurants and fast-food establishments, including many American fast-food restaurants. Tipping is not expected.
The price of groceries tends to be high in Japan, especially for imported foods, meats, and fruits.
See the UCEAP Student Budget for estimated costs.
Some universities arrange dormitory accommodations prior to your arrival, while others assist with off-campus apartment searches after arrival. You may also arrange a private apartment or homestay. UCEAP does not provide assistance with securing a private apartment or homestay. Japanese prices for rent are among the highest in the world. Program-specific housing budget allocations are provided in the UCEAP Student Budget.
The shortage of space and the high cost of land have made housing a major problem for most urban Japanese universities. Be prepared for life in an urban environment, different from many UC campus settings. The commute from the off campus dorm to the university can be more than an hour each way.
The UC academic calendar does not correspond to the Japanese academic year, which begins in April, making it difficult to be assigned Japanese roommates.
Married student housing at most universities is difficult to arrange and is often nonexistent. If you plan on taking your spouse to Japan, arrange to live in a private apartment.
Apartments offer more privacy, independence, and flexibility than dormitories. Students on short-term programs (six months or less) will have difficulty finding apartments as most leases are long-term only. Local students usually rent a one bedroom flat on a two-year lease.
Private apartments require a large initial cash payment (about half to two-thirds of which is nonrefundable). Apartments are unfurnished.
When you rent an apartment, you will pay the rent, deposits, real estate agent’s commission, and so on. In all, the deposits and fees total about five or six times the monthly rent, as outlined below.
- Nonrefundable key deposit (reikin), paid to the landlord for renting the apartment, equal to one to two months’ rent in Tokyo/Northern Japan and three to four months’ rent in western parts of Japan, including Kyoto or Osaka.
- A damage deposit (shikikin) is paid to the landlord as a security against unpaid rent. This deposit is refunded when the tenant vacates the premises after all costs of repairs have been subtracted. However, this money is often used for repairs (e.g., recovering the tatami and sliding doors or cleaning), and it is likely that there will be no refund. The usual amount is two months’ rent.
- A nonrefundable realtor’s fee equal to one month of rent (if you use a realtor, which is often unavoidable).
Even if an apartment is sublet from someone else, these fees must be paid anew. Also consider utility fees.
Homestays offer a great opportunity to practice Japanese language skills and learn firsthand about home life in Japan. Homestays are not arranged by the Tokyo Study Center or by your partner institution. Homestay in Japan
is often referred by partners and past UC students.
A homestay family may speak little or no English. Be prepared to abide by the host family’s rules and customs and to participate in family activities as appropriate. Make every effort to fit in with your family. It is appropriate to bring a gift to the host family.
Many homestay students cultivate close relationships with their host families and return throughout the year to visit with them. Past participants have been enthusiastic about the experience and its benefits to their language acquisition.
Whether for a week, a weekend, or longer, participants in homestay programs usually help with English instruction.
International houses are similar to apartments; you are free to come and go as you please and will have your own room. Some have shared kitchens and bathrooms and others have accommodations that are like studio apartments, with a small cooking area, refrigerator, and private bath. Living in an international house is a good compromise between living in a dorm and having an apartment; you have your freedom without the higher costs of an apartment. Most international houses have regulations and some have curfews.
We do not recommend using Airbnb as an alternative to university housing.
All participants are required to register their local living address at the local City Hall, and Airbnb is considered temporary accommodations for temporary visitors to Japan. You must have permanent housing in order to register correctly for the National Health Insurance system. Additionally, the accommodation might be misrepresented on the Airbnb site, be located in a bad neighborhood, or be a long and complicated commute to your university. Utility and commuting costs tend to add up very quickly in Japan. It is your responsibility to choose a housing option that meets the registration requirements for the National Health Insurance system.
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
The Hitotsubashi campus is in Kunitachi, located in a western suburb of Tokyo. Kunitachi is on the rapid train line to go to the East side of Tokyo. The campus is about a 7 minute walk from the station and in a lively area. There are many restaurants including various international cuisines like Mexican, French and Nepalese food. The main road to campus is lined with cherry and oak trees and is extremely beautiful. The campus itself has a lot of trees and a pond. Many movies are filmed there.
Participating in extracurricular cultural and social activities is an excellent way to meet people, improve your language skills, and integrate more fully into the university. Join 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.
Extra efforts to socialize will greatly enhance your time in Japan. This is a one-time opportunity, so make the most of it.
Campus Club Activities
Club activity is an important part of student life in Japan. Club participation is taken seriously and regular attendance is expected. Each university offers a rich variety of student club activities. UCEAP participants have joined martial arts clubs (karate, judo, aikido, and kendo), sports clubs, sport teams, and clubs for tea ceremony, drama, music, dance, flower arranging, and international relations. While each club varies, most students find clubs to be friendly and feel that membership provides an excellent way to meet Japanese students and practice Japanese.
Whatever club you join, remember to respect the sempai/kohai relationship. You can learn more about this in online resources about Japanese culture.
Operating Motor Vehicles
You are strongly discouraged from driving cars, scooters, or motorcycles 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. Some UCEAP partners in Japan do not allow you to operate motor vehicles; it is discussed in the on-site orientation for each partner.
Students with Disabilities
Japan’s accessibility laws mandate that new construction projects for public use include provisions for persons with disabilities. However, not all older buildings may be retrofitted for accessibility.
Accommodations and services cannot be guaranteed. Accommodations are individualized, based upon the student's documentation provided through the UC campus Disability Services Office (DSO). The letter must be on UC DSO letterhead and issued for the specific term and UCEAP program/country. Accommodations and services can be revisited as needed, but they are not retroactive and cannot be facilitated if procedures are not followed with reasonable, advanced notice. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that any funding required for special services abroad is arranged in advance.
For more information:
Leaving your host city for more than 24 hours?
You are required to complete the online sign out through your MyEAP account.
Click on Travel Signout and complete all required fields. During an emergency (abroad or in the US), it is important for UCEAP officials to know how to reach you so we can help you.
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Working while on the program is not recommended. Follow each host institution's instructions. For example, Tsuru University and the lab research programs do not allow international students to work. ICU does not allow students to work during the first term of your program.
In other locations, you may work up to 28 hours per week, provided you receive the proper employment permits from the Japanese Immigration Office. It is illegal for foreign students 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. Remember that Japanese language courses, club activities, and dormitory activities are time-consuming and demanding.
No law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and there are no penalties associated with such discrimination. Acceptance can vary from place to place, but overall, the country tends to be tolerant.
Traditional Japanese society may still discourage an open expression of identity. Despite some occasional social discomfort, the LGBT community enjoys a high degree of freedom and increasing levels of support from communities and the government.
For more information,
Know Before You Go
While abroad you are automatically covered by the UCEAP Travel Insurance Policy
. Coverage begins 14 days before the official start date of your UCEAP program term. Coverage ends 31 days after the official end of the UCEAP program term.
The UCEAP Travel Insurance policy is not the same as your campus or private insurance. Inform yourself before seeking care. Your UCEAP Travel Insurance does not include coverage for preventative care, checkups, and vaccinations.
Read details in Benefits at a Glance
. Familiarize yourself with the coverage, exclusions, and eligibility criteria. You will be financially responsible for any charges for medical services that are not included benefits in the policy and for any charges over an above the “maximum allowable amount”. Your travel insurance policy number is ADD N04834823. It is underwritten by Chubb Insurance Company.
The travel insurance works on a reimbursement basis. There is no deductible or co-insurance.
You can submit a claim for a refund consideration of covered expenses. For more information about the medical claim process
or about non-medical claims
Do not assume that if you seek medical care abroad for a covered illness or injury that the local hospital will bill your insurance. Generally, hospitals around the world, including the US, do not bill insurance companies (unless there is a special arrangement with a local hospital in your UCEAP country). It is the patient's responsibility to inquire with the hospital, at the time of service, and make arrangements to pay any outstanding bills. Payment for medical services abroad is ultimately your responsibility.
For more information refer to your Pre-Departure Checklist, Insurance tab, or the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Insurance chapter
For Questions about Coverage, Benefits, and Claims Status
Contact ACI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mandatory Japanese National Health Insurance
After arrival in Japan, all students (except summer only program participants) are required to apply for mandatory Japanese National Health Insurance (Kokumin Kenko Hoken). This insurance will give you access to the best medical treatment available in Japan and cover 70% of your medical costs on site. You can submit a claim to the UCEAP insurance for reimbursement consideration of the remaining 30%. 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. A few weeks after you apply, you will receive a bill in the mail and you will need to pay for this insurance out of pocket in yen. You may pay for this insurance in either a lump sum or monthly payments. The National Health Insurance is administered by each local prefecture.
When you visit a clinic or a hospital for the first time, you will need to fill out a registration form, present your Japan National Health Insurance card and sometimes pay a fee for the initial visit. Ask the Study Center or International Office staff for help.
If you feel sick or have a medical emergency, seek medical attention and contact the Study Center immediately. Study Center staff can recommend a clinic to visit, guide you through the UCEAP claims process, and assist if arrangements need to be made with your professors due to extended absence from class.
The Tokyo Study Center recommends the Sanno Hospital
for students in the Tokyo Area. This hospital is located relatively close to the Keio University campus, and professional English interpreters are available at no additional cost.
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 to provide timely and current information, as needed. In the event of a pandemic, UCEAP’s ability to assist students abroad may be severely limited by restrictions on local and international movement imposed by foreign governments or the United States for public health reasons.
Know Before You Go
Inform yourself before you travel. Just as language and currency vary around the world, so does medical care. Know what to do if you get sick.
Read the Health chapter
of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
and your Program Guide for important information to plan for a healthy stay abroad.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler's Health
web page has important information about health risks present in the country where you will be studying.
Prescription & Over-the-Counter Medications
Japan does not honor US prescriptions, and some over-the-counter medications routinely used in the US are illegal in Japan.
First, find out if your prescription or over-the-counter medicine is legal to bring with you. The Japanese government decides which medications and medical devices are allowed into the country. Read the US Embassy's information on Bringing Medication into Japan
Up to one month's supply of allowable prescription medicine can be brought into Japan. You must bring a letter on letterhead stating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regime, as well as a copy of your doctor's prescription. If you need more than one month’s supply, you are required to obtain in advance a "Yakkan Shoumei
" (an import certificate), and show the "Yakkan Shoumei" certificate with your prescription medicines to Customs. For more information, and a link to the application form to obtain a Yakkan Shoumei, please see Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare’s page on Bringing Medicines for Personal Use into Japan
Note that certain medications in the US, including some commonly prescribed for depression and Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), are not widely available in Japan.
- While on UCEAP you are covered by the UCEAP travel insurance. Inform yourself, UCEAP travel insurance terms of coverage.
- If you need a refill while abroad, you must see a local doctor. US prescriptions are not valid in other countries. You must travel with a letter from your prescribing physician explaining your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic name.
Note: If the visit to the local doctor is considered preventive care, it will not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance; your campus or private insurance plan may cover it.
- If you need to find out if an appointment would be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance, contact ACI at email@example.com. For more information about the UCEAP travel insurance, refer to your UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, or your pre-departure checklist, Insurance tab.
- Two classes of medicines – narcotics and psychotropics – are under the control of international law. This covers any medicine that can have an effect on the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the potential to be abused. The narcotic class mostly relates to analgesic opioids and their derivatives (e.g. morphine and codeine) which tend to be highly regulated. Psychotropics are all those medications likely to be used to treat mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and psychotic conditions.
- If you plan to purchase medication using the UCEAP Travel Insurance coverage, you must fill and pay for medication when coverage is effective (14 days before the official start of the program). Do not assume that your local pharmacy knows about the UCEAP travel insurance policy. It is not the same as your campus health insurance coverage. You will need to pay for the medication and submit a claim to the UCEAP insurance.
- Find out whether your medication is legal in your UCEAP country.
- If traveling with a prescription containing controlled substances, check the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) website. The INCB is responsible for international drug control. If traveling with controlled substances, you must have a letter from your doctor. Generally, amphetamines (e.g., Adderall, Vyvanse) are illegal or unlicensed in other countries. Talk with your doctor to switch you to another medication.
- Talk to your doctor to see whether he/she can prescribe an adequate supply of your prescription medication to last through the end of the program. Ask your doctor how to adjust your dosage depending on time zone changes.
- Get a letter from the prescribing physician, on letterhead, indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic name as brand names vary considerably around the world.
TRAVELING WITH PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS
- Keep the medication in its original packaging clearly labelled with your name, doctor’s name, generic and brand name, and exact dosage. Carry it in your carry-on luggage, provided it is in pill or solid form. For more information, particularly if your medication is a liquid, consult the US Transportation Security Administration, Traveling with Medications.
- Carry copies of all original US prescriptions.
- Carry the letter on letterhead from the prescribing physician for all prescribed medications, indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic names. This is extremely important in case you need treatment or a medication refill abroad.
Why is a letter from your treating physician necessary?
If your particular medication cannot be taken into the country, talk to your doctor. If you need to switch prescriptions, your doctor may need to make changes to your medication at least 3-6 months before departure to monitor side effects and dosage. The letter from your doctor indicating condition, treatment and medication regimen, can help a local physician to assess you and to consider reissuing your prescription provided it is licensed in your UCEAP country. Note that the local doctor's appointment for medication refill may not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance.
Consult with ACI about the UCEAP travel insurance coverage for prescriptions, firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Health section.
Plan for Your Well-being
Culture shock is a normal developmental phase of adjustment to a new cultural environment. Culture shock reactions are usually transitory, lasting a couple of weeks, and do not imply mental illness or an inability to cope. Eat balanced meals, stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, build strong relationships, share concerns with the Study Center, and be open and accepting of the differences you encounter. Mild or pre-existing health conditions can become serious as you transition into an unfamiliar culture and environment. US-style and standard psychiatric care can be difficult to locate in major urban centers in Japan and generally is not available outside of Japan's major cities.
Schools that offer english-speaking counseling on campus include:
- International Christian University
- Osaka University
- Tohoku University
- Waseda University
Get in touch with the Study Center staff if you need assistance.
The UCEAP travel insurance policy covers outpatient visits as any other illness up to $500,000; there is no co-pay or deductible, and you can make an appointment with any doctor. Doctors, hospitals, and clinics will require you to pay bills at the time of treatment. You must then submit receipts to the UCEAP insurance company for reimbursement. If you have questions about your UCEAP travel insurance benefits contact ACI at email@example.com
. For information about the claims process, read the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Insurance chapter
Students with severe food allergies should take precautions, as the cuisine may include ingredients that can cause anaphylaxis. A language barrier increases the risks associated with severe food allergies.
- Research the local cuisine.
- Learn the words for foods to which you are allergic in the local language. Write your allergy on an index card in both English and Japanese. Make several copies in case you lose one. Have a native speaker verify that you have written everything correctly.
- Talk with your doctor six to eight weeks before departure to discuss risks and your treatment plan while abroad.
- Carry symptom-reducing medications at all times, including epinephrine. Pack it in your carry-on, not your checked luggage. Your medication must be in its original packaging, with your name.
- Have a letter from your physician to present to airport security that states your need to have the epinephrine auto injector with you at all times.
- Wear at all times a medical alert bracelet or tag with instructions for assistance in both English and the local language.
Air pollution routinely exceeds recommended thresholds in urban areas. Individuals with asthma or chronic cardiorespiratory conditions should consult with a healthcare provider and carry necessary medications. On days when air quality is particularly poor, affected individuals should take personal precautions to reduce respiratory stress.
Safety is our concern but it is your responsibility. Be proactive in protecting your personal health, safety, and well-being. Have an action plan.
With the right information - and by thinking ahead - everyone can play a part in minimizing or preventing personal risks. Observe and assess the risks, plan ahead to reduce them, and think how you would lessen the consequences if things go wrong. Start by outlining activities you plan to engage in through your program and/or during independent travel; label the risk and rate it based on the likelihood of harm and the severity of consequences. Consider measures you can take to reduce the severity and chance. Plan your itinerary carefully, let your friends and relatives know where you will be, and research the safest way to travel.
The University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) has established policies and procedures and has contracted with emergency assistance and security providers, to help you minimize your risk exposure and enhance your safety.
Be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate and unpredictable terrorist attacks, which make it impossible to protect yourself from. Remain vigilant in all public areas in your UCEAP city and country and wherever you travel. Many terrorist groups, seeking publicity for political causes within their own country or region, are not looking for student or higher education targets.
Terrorist attacks using vehicles are very hard to prevent and appear to be on the rise. If you are in a crowded public place, know how you can exit quickly, identify barriers or safe places where you can shelter-in-place, and watch out for any vehicles that appear to be going at very high speed.
Report anything suspicious to local authorities. Read all security-related correspondence and advice from local staff. Schedule direct flights, if possible. Avoid stops in high-risk airports or areas. Minimize time spent in the public area of an airport, which is a less protected area. Keep a mental note of safe havens, such as police stations, hotels, and hospitals. Have a plan for what you will do in the case of an emergency. If you are ever caught in a situation where somebody starts shooting, follow the active shooter guidelines: drop to the floor, get down as low as possible, and hide if possible. Cover yourself behind a solid object. Silence your phone. Do not move until the danger has passed.
Steps to manage or minimize risk and enhance your personal safety
- Familiarize yourself with all UCEAP resources and emergency support services while on UCEAP.
- Research potential risks you can encounter before you travel.
- Assess your surroundings. Observe and learn to recognize danger.
- Be attentive to what is unusual or threatening. Assess reasonable and safe options. Trust your feelings; if you feel threatened, act if safe to do so and leave the area immediately. Find somewhere more secure.
- Remain aware at all times. Do not walk around talking on the phone or listening to music on your headphones.
- When entering larger venues, always decide on a meeting place with those you are with in case you get separated. Always identify possible exits.
- Increase your safety and reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime by staying on top of your drinking. Know your limits. In many countries beer, wine and liquor in some countries contains a higher alcohol content than similar products in the US. Know what you are drinking and how much alcohol it contains.
- Practice the buddy system, which promotes safety. This system helps ensure that you, and a partner, will look out for each other. Choose your buddy wisely. If you are having a problem, your buddy can help to alert others and get you to safety.
- Have a communication plan. Who will you call locally if you are in an emergency? Do your friends and relatives know how to reach you when you are traveling?
Register online with the US embassy through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
(STEP), a free service provided by the US Government to US citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.
Read the UCEAP the Guide to Study Abroad, Safety Chapter
for more information on how to prepare to have a safe experience and access the US Department of State Students Abroad website for updated travel information.
Be aware of your surroundings, understand how your conduct and actions may be perceived, and be sensitive to the impact that your behavior could have on your personal safety. Lock your apartment and keep valuable items secured. Use the buddy system when out late at night.
While the crime rate in Japan is considered low, crime is on the rise. Refer to the OSAC Crime & Safety report
for Tokyo. Common forms of crime are credit card fraud/extortion, drink spiking, and illegal drugs. Petty theft can occur in crowded areas such as train stations, nightclubs, and tourist attractions.
Nightclubs and Concerts
Be cautious when attending bars or nightclubs, especially in the Roppongi and Kabuki-cho entertainments districts of Tokyo. The US Embassy reports that crimes such as robberies, credit card fraud and drink spiking targeting foreigners are increasing in bars and nightclubs. The Embassy recommends to be cautious in all entertainment and nightlife districts throughout Japan. For safety precautions in Japan, refer to the US Embassy in Tokyo
crime and safety page.
Personal attacks, including sexual assault and rape, are rare, but do happen. Japanese law places a high burden of proof on the victim to demonstrate that the assault was not consensual and committed through assault, intimidation or force. Past UC students were physically assaulted and inappropriately touched at concerts and night clubs in the Tokyo area of Shin-Kiba.
Drink and Food Spiking
Drink spiking has routinely led to robbery and physical/sexual assaults. Do not accept food or drinks from strangers or new acquaintances. Do not leave food or drinks unattended.
Possession of a knife with a locking blade, or a folding blade that is longer than 5.5 cm (a little more than two inches), is illegal in Japan. US citizens have been arrested and detained for carrying pocket knives that are legal in the US but illegal in Japan.
You are subject to Japan’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States. American citizens are not protected by US laws while in Japan. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than those enforced in the US 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 strict, 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.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Japan is a left-hand traffic country. All roads are paved and marked. There are many reliable transport options available in Japan. Mass transit is most accessible in urban areas, and rail lines reach remote areas of the country.
Operating Motor Vehicles
Do not drive cars, scooters, or motorcycles 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. Some UCEAP partners in Japan do not allow you to operate motor vehicles.
Subway networks and privately run commuter trains serve Tokyo and Osaka. Subways, with the rail system, are the most convenient and inexpensive means for traveling throughout Japan. Subways are often very crowded. The Tokyo subway system has color-coded lines clearly marked with signs in English.
To maximize the number of riders, white-gloved attendants physically push passengers into rail cars. While there is adequate police presence at the stations and on the trains to ensure passenger security, crowded trains can provide opportunities for thieves.
- Cross streets at a corner using traffic signals and crosswalks.
- Take overhead and underground pedestrian walkways.
- When going out at night, wear brightly colored or reflective clothing.
- Do not cross where there is a “Pedestrian Crossing Forbidden” sign.
Sexual Violence & Sexual Harassment
Sexual assaults are not frequent but do occur, and females may be randomly targeted. Some US citizens report that Japanese police procedures appear to be less sensitive and responsive to a survivor's concerns compared to the procedures in the United States, particularly in cases of sexual assault or when both the survivor and the perpetrator are foreigners. Few 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. If you are sexually assaulted, first, go to a safe place immediately. This is not the time to be alone. Call the 24/7 UCEAP Study Center staff who will help and support you.
Every member of the UCEAP community should be aware that the University prohibits sexual violence and sexual harassment, retaliation, and other prohibited behavior (“Prohibited Conduct”) that violates law and/or University policy. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of Prohibited Conduct and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and when necessary, to discipline behavior that violates this Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. Report to the local
UCEAP staff and/or partners if you suspect one of these behaviors has occurred.
Japan is subject to earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons. Minor tremors occur regularly throughout the islands. Familiarize yourself with earthquake and disaster preparedness.
Have a Plan
Develop a personal emergency plan. Know the location of evacuation sites.
Telephone services will be severely overloaded and the Japanese Government will restrict phone use to priority users. The Japan Meteorological Agency
(JMA) provides residents with earthquake early warnings. These are new rapid earthquake alerts issued immediately after the occurrence of early tremors, in order to secure time to protect yourself before strong tremors arrive. When accurate, these warnings may just give you a couple of seconds advance notice. Preparation is of critical importance. The JMA provides earthquake early warnings through several means such as TV and radio.
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.
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. HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there are no tables or desks 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. 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 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.
Most college-related fires in the US are due to a general lack of knowledge about fire safety and prevention. Educate yourself about fire safety standards in your UCEAP country. Fire safety standards differ drastically around the world.
- Know where emergency exists are located and check whether exits are passable.
- Know how to call the local fire department.
Do not stay in housing above the sixth floor so you are within range of most fire department rescue ladders.
- Print and take with you the UCEAP brochure, Fire Safety 101 for Students.
- Purchase and use a smoke detector. Before departure contact the Fire Safety Foundation. Choose from a variety of battery-powered smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, including models with sealed, 10-year batteries. Once purchased, the alarms and a multilingual installation manual – written in English and the host country’s native language - will be shipped to the address where you are residing.
- Have an escape plan and practice it.
- Treat every smoke alarm activation as a likely fire and react quickly and safely to the alarm.
- Check for fire hazards. Make sure exit routes are not blocked.
- If you have a disability, alert others of the type of assistance you need to leave the building.
- Refer to the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Fire Safety section for life-saving information.
Fire - Dial 119
UCEAP Contingency Planning
If a local situation requires increased caution or a program suspension and evacuation of participants, UCEAP will activate contingency plans. For security reasons, contingency plans are not public and cannot be shared with anyone except UCEAP officials.
Program Suspension Policy
If the US Department of State or CDC issues a Travel Advisory after the start date of the program term, UCEAP may suspend the program. If time and local security conditions permit, UCEAP will consult with the UC Study Center Director, UC security providers, US Embassy, US Department of State regional and security analysts, other organizations that offer programs in the same country, and area experts to determine the appropriate timeframe for suspending the program and/or for the evacuation of the students from the host country.
The UCEAP required security evacuation will override any host institution, or local US Embassy evacuation on US government-arranged flights, that require US citizens to sign a promissory note with the government. The safe evacuation of UCEAP students, managed by UCEAP and its experienced security providers, is covered by UCEAP insurance. UC students are required to follow UC safety directives in the event of an evacuation.
What Is 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 natural disaster in the host country
In an Emergency
Contact local emergency services first and then contact the following:
If you are in the US
- During office hours (8 a.m.–5 p.m. Pacific Time): Contact your Program Specialist at the UCEAP Systemwide Office at (805) 893-4762.
- After office hours: Call the 24-hour emergency phone numbers at (805) 893-4762 or (805) 882-2086.
If you are abroad
Local Emergency Numbers Police are reliable and widely respected. Police boxes (koban) exist throughout the country at transport hubs and in residential and commercial areas.
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.
US Embassy 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 University of California, in accordance with applicable
Federal and State law and University policy, does not
discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion,
sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical
condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status,
citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era
veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also
prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy
covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs
and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s
student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to
the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action
* Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical
conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.