Nestled between the mountains and the ocean, the beautiful city of Kobe is part of the Osaka Metro Area, the second largest metro area in Japan. It’s also just a short train-ride away from the home of traditional Japanese culture in Kyoto and the historic ancient capital of Nara. Completely rebuilt after the 1995 earthquake, Kobe is a modern city famous for its fashion, food (Kobe beef!) and cosmopolitan flavor. Expatriates consistently rank it as one of the best places to live in Japan. As a major port city, Kobe also has a long history as a launching point for missionaries to the rest of the island. In fact, the kanji (Chinese characters) for Kobe literally mean “God’s House.”
On the surface, Japan seems to have it all: economic prosperity, cutting-edge technology, and cultural refinement. Its influence extends far beyond East Asia to the entire world. But scratch beneath the surface and you see the true spiritual reality: epidemic depression, emptiness, and apathy. The only hope for Japan is Jesus Christ. Yet most Japanese have never even met a Christian. Less than 1% of Japan’s 127 million people claim to follow Jesus.
To reach Japan for Christ, we must first reach its college students. College students are the leaders who will shape the future of Japanese society. They also happen to be the most open to the gospel. You could be the first Christian your Japanese friends have ever met and very likely the first to talk with them personally about who Christ is and what He has done for us. God can use you to impact many lives for eternity as you befriend Japanese students and share Christ’s love in the context of meaningful relationships.
We recommmend you study at Kwansei Gakuin University (KGU). KGU is a top private university that boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in all of Japan. It is also conveniently located halfway between the major cities of Osaka and Kobe, and is a short train ride away from Kyoto. Founded in 1889 by Methodist missionaries, KGU still maintains a school of theology and daily chapel hours. This Christian heritage often makes it easier to initiate spiritual conversations with students here than at other Japanese universities.
Other local universities with study abroad programs include Kobe University, Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, and Konan University. Please check with your study abroad office to see what opportunities might be available to you.
We suggest you enroll in the Japan and East Asia Studies Program (JEASP). The program requires that students take 10-16 credits per semester, at least 3-6 of which must be in Japanese language. (One credit equals 1-2 hours of weekly class time.) Students can choose their remaining credits from among JEASP electives and International Studies courses taught in English. Click here for more information on the JEASP program and course offerings.
Students can apply for the year-long program beginning in fall, or for the one-semester program beginning in fall or spring. The fall program runs from September 11 to January 13. The spring program runs from approximately March 25 to July 15.
Japanese students can be suspicious of religious involvement, but open up to people they trust. They long for the sense of belonging and self-worth that only Jesus Christ can give. Your ministry will involve intentionally building relationships with Japanese students and sharing the gospel. You will also meet with Cru staff at least once every other week for personal development and ministry coaching. We will connect you to a local church where you can get involved and grow spiritually. Every Monday, our team hosts an “International Friends Time” with Japanese students during lunch. Friday night is our citywide “Acts 29” gathering, where you can plug in to the larger Cru movement and introduce your friends to other Japanese Christian students. Our desire is to see multiplying student leaders raised up and sent out from Kobe to impact the world for Christ.
You can expect about 12-15 hours of ministry involvement per week. Apart from our weekly activities on Mondays and Fridays and church on Sundays, the schedule is flexible to fit your needs and schedule and be most effective for ministry. It is our prayer that your presence would be a catalyst to start new spiritual movements at KGU and throughout the Kobe area.
The university provides housing for international students via homestay with a Japanese family or an international dormitory (limited availability). Make the most of your living situation to learn more of the language and culture and share Christ!
Most likely, no. Your courses will be in English and most students will have some command of English. Some of your classes will be Japanese language studies.
For students from non-partner schools who apply through the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), prices are $19,209 for the year-long program or $9,604 for a semester. This includes all program fees and housing costs (homestay with two meals/day). It does NOT include settling-in, insurance, textbooks, and personal expenses, which KGU estimates to cost an additional $2,200 per semester. Airfare is also not included in the program price.
For students who attend one of KGU’s 23 partner schools in the United States, program prices are about half of USAC’s. Students considering the year-long program may also be eligible to apply through Dedman College at Southern Methodist University. Please check with your study abroad office. Japan Student Service Organization (JASSO) scholarships of up to ¥80,000 ($700) per month are also available for qualified applicants.
For Kwansei Gakuin University: applications for the year-long program or fall semester are due to USAC by March 15. The application deadline for spring is November 1. Students from partnering schools may have additional deadlines. Your university’s study abroad office can give you assistance in applying to Kwansei Gakuin University.
For applying to Cru Study Abroad: