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  • Locations: Hikone, Japan
  • Program Terms: May Term
  • Program Sponsor: Japan Center for Michigan Universities 
  • Budget Sheets: May Term
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Field Study, Study Abroad Areas of Study: Japanese History, Japanese Religions
Housing Type: Residence Hall Language of Instruction: English
Minimum GPA: 2.5 Minimum Language Requirement: None
Program Description:

JCMU - Crossroads of Japan


Immerse yourself in Japan's rich history on this short travel-oriented program!



Length: 2 weeks (Mid-May through the end of May)

Credits: 3

Location: Shiga Prefecture, Japan

Housing: JCMU Residence Hall

Eligibility: Minimum 2.5 GPA. Open to college students of all majors.

Language of instruction: English

Program fees: Crossroads of Japan budget sheet



Summary: The area around Lake Biwa traditionally known as Ominokuni (modern day Shiga Prefecture) is one of the most historically, economically, and culturally significant regions in Japan. This travel-oriented program utilizes the rich resources of the region to achieve a broad understanding of 1,000 years of Japanese history (ca. 600-1600).

Learning in the Field: Why learn about Japanese history from just textbooks, when you can actually visit the historical sites in question? The instructor will actually take you to many of the sites in your readings, and will lecture on-site while you are there. This includes site visits around the Omi region, including tours of an original 17th century castle, an 18th century ninja dwelling, a major premodern Japanese merchant village that harbored medieval pirates, and an island in the middle of Lake Biwa containing an ancient temple and shrine side-by-side, in addition to many other fascinating and beautiful sites.

Field trips & other benefits: You will be provided with your own bike to use while on the program. In addition, you will have the chance to go on a field excursion with your classmates! The location & date of the excursion are subject to change on a yearly basis, but past students have been taken to Kyoto, Nara, Uji, and more.

Course objectives:
  1. To reach a broad understanding of premodern Japanese history through visiting local historical sites in Shiga;
  2. To develop skills of historical analysis by examining and discussing a variety of sources (primary documents in translation and material culture) and some scholarship;
  3. To pursue intellectual interests and individual research relevant to each student’s course of study;
  4. To have an amazing, transformative experience in a foreign country, away from major population centers, while enjoying gorgeous wooded mountains and stunning lake views.
Program Leader: E. Taylor Atkins is a Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of History at Northern Illinois University. In addition to teaching general education surveys in modern Asian and world history, and a three-semester, 300-level sequence in Japanese history, Professor Atkins enjoys learning and teaching new material outside of his comfort zone. He has developed thematic courses on the Korean War, the Japanese empire, and Asian women's history.


Want to learn what past students have said about their time in Hikone on the "Crossroads of Japan" program?  Or do you want to read about what our recent students have been up to? Then visit the Alumni Testimonials and Events sections of the JCMU Official Blog!

Exploring historical sitesVisiting ChikubushimaJapanese temples & shrinesTodai-ji in Nara

This program is currently not accepting applications.