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Religion and Culture in Japan (Faculty-Led)
Kyoto, Japan; Nikko, Japan; Tokyo, Japan
Program Terms: Summer I
Budget Sheets Summer I
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer I 2016 01/31/2016** Rolling Admission 05/23/2016 06/13/2016

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.
Fact Sheet:
 Program Type:
 Language of Instruction:
 Housing Options:
Hotel (double)
 Minimum GPA:
 Program Specialist:
Sakhi Vyas
 Language experience required:
 Areas of Study:
Arts & Sciences
 Program Length:
Program Description:
Jump To: Photos Overview Location Academics Cost Housing Itinerary Resources

Photo Gallery

Program Overview

Program Dates: May 23, 2016 - June 13, 2016

The program offers students the opportunity to experience the rich religious and cultural life of Japan. Students will visit temples, shrines, lay Buddhist movements and museums, and attend lectures by Dr. Covell, Japanese scholars and others. WMU Professor Dr. Stephen Covell will lead the tour. Dr. Covell lived in Japan for ten years, where he worked as a translator, studied to become a Buddhist priest, and conducted research on contemporary Japanese religions. Dr. Covell has drawn on his experience and contacts in Japan to put together a behind the scenes tour of Japanese religious life for advanced students. Pictures and Comments from Past Trips.

New!  Meet your Faculty - Covell.pdf

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The 2016 Religion and Culture Seminar will take participants to several Japanese locations: Tokyo, one of the world's largest cities and a center of religious and culture life both modern and traditional,Takaozan, Kyoto, Yokohama, and Kamakura.

Taisho University is a major Buddhist university in the Tokyo area. Unlike other Buddhist schools, Taisho is run by four different Buddhist denominations in cooperation (Tendai, Pure Land and two branches Shingon) and, therefore, offers students the chance to interact with a wide variety of traditions. Taisho attracts not only students studying to become priests, but also (primarily) students from every walk of life. In fact, most students at Taisho are drawn to its strong programs in Social Welfare as much as to its great Buddhist Studies programs.

Since ancient times, Nikko has been a place of religious practice.  Located a short trip from Tokyo, today it is a major religious as well as tourist destination.  In 1999 it was made a World Heritage site.  The site today consists of two shrines and one Buddhist temple and their accompanying buildings.  It was constructed to house the spirit of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Regime, which ruled Japan from 1603-1868.  As such, it was constructed by the greatest architects and artisans of the 17th century.  Nine of the buildings in the temple-shrine complex are listed as National Treasures and they house ove 100 objects of art listed as Important Cultural Properties.  Here you can see a giant five-story pagoda, once of the most ornate temple-shrine gates in Japan, and other architecture wonders.  In addition to its artistic beauty and religious history, the Nikko area itself abounds with natural beauty. 

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Academic Eligibility
Good Academic Standing

Academic Program
Participants earn three (3) credit hours from the Department of Comparative Religion, REL 5980. The program includes lectures on Japanese religious history, discussions with students and faculty of Taisho University (a major Buddhist university in the Tokyo area), visits to temples, shrines and museums. Enrollment is for Summer I.

Academic Credit
WMU credit will be awarded for REL 5980 (3 credits) upon successful completion of the program.

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Cost & Financial Aid

Cost: For the full financial aid budget, click here 

The WMU program fee includes: undergraduate tuition, housing, some meals, in-country transportation, administrative fees, international health and emergency assistance insurance, and orientation.

The program fee does not include: airfare, some meals, books, passport, visa, and miscellaneous expenses. For students who prepare their own meals, food costs are inexpensive. Students should plan for extra expenses, such as weekend travel, personal spending money, etc.

Costs not included in the program fee are estimates and may vary according to individual needs and preferences. This budget does not include activities which are not part of the academic program, such as personal travel, entertainment, shopping, etc.

Program fees are subject to adjustment due to changes in actual exchange rates or other factors. In addition, programs may be modified or cancelled in the event of insufficient enrollment. Program dates are subject to slight adjustment by the home/host university.

Note: For tax purposes, the university requires the program fee billing be divided into qualified (expenses and fees related to the class or program) and non-qualified (other costs).  The total program fee equals the program commitment fee plus qualified and non-qualified expenses added together.
   Program commitment fee
+ Qualified (expenses and fees related to the class or program)
+ Non-qualified (other costs)
= Total program fee

Program commitment fee:  This is a portion of the program fee which is billed after the student clicks the "Commit" button to secure their place in the program.  The remainder of the program fee is billed to the WMU student account for the semester of enrollment in study abroad credits. The program commitment fee is due within 30 days once charged to the WMU student account. After 30 days, per university accounts policy, holds will be placed on past-due balances.

Please note: Disbursement of financial aid may not coincide with the start date of the program abroad, so plan ahead!  Some out-of-pocket costs may occur prior to receiving financial aid for the semester, such as the program commitment fee, passport, airfare, immunizations, visa or residence permit fees (if applicable).  These costs vary by program and WMU Study Abroad Specialists are available to answer questions about the program budget.

Financial Aid
Students eligible for federal or state financial aid may use their awards for studying abroad.  After a student has been accepted to the program, they must complete required paperwork with WMU Financial Aid to apply financial aid to the program costs.  It is the student's responsibility to complete the paperwork prior to departure and to maintain compliance with financial aid regulations while studying abroad (i.e., remain enrolled full-time).  Non-WMU students must apply for financial aid through their home university.

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Most accommodations will be in temples and hotels. 

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Tentative Itinerary: May 23 - June 13. Exact details to be determined

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Additional Resources

Host Institution Information (external links)
Dr. Covell's Homepage for the Class

Country Information (external links)
Tokyo Tourism
Country Information
Country Specific Information - Japan
Culturegram - Japan

Program faculty director:
Dr. Stephen Covell
Meet your Faculty - Covell.pdf
Comparative Religion
(269) 387-4365
Dr. Covell's Homepage for the Class

WMU Study Abroad:
Sakhi Vyas
Study Abroad Specialist
(269) 387-5890

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