Tea ceremonies, graceful gardens and tranquil temples along with high-speed trains, striking efficiency and hyper-modern skyscrapers are essential to the dynamic Japanese culture.

Social life for teens in Japan mostly happens at school and in extracurricular clubs for sports (baseball, soccer, basketball, judo, kendo or Japanese fencing, karate or track) and culture (English, broadcasting, calligraphy, tea ceremony, drama, orchestra, cooking, science and math). Japanese teens also enjoy  the culture of kawaii (everything cute and lovable), J-Pop (Japanese Pop music), manga and anime. Karaoke (singing) with friends is also very popular. Staying out late at night is not very common for teens.

AFS Youth exchange in Japan

Culture & Community

You can live anywhere in Japan, but most likely in suburban and rural areas. Japanese society also has a strong respect for seniority. Keeping the home clean is also a high priority, so expect to help your host family with daily chores and activities. In most Japanese families, traditional food is important and meals are shared together. Take off your shoes and change into slippers when you enter anyone’s home.


Education and academic achievement are top priorities in Japan. Schools in Japan run from April to March (Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 3.30 pm). You will wear a uniform and commute by bike, bus or train. All students take part in a school cultural festival and a sports festival which are held every year. After the school day ends, you’ll participate in a tradition called souji, when everyone gets together for 30 minutes to help clean the school and grounds. You can also join other extracurricular clubs and activities. 


Food is art in Japan, and your host family will most likely prepare some amazing meals. The Japanese diet consists largely of rice, noodles, fresh vegetables, fruit, meat (mostly pork and chicken) and seafood. Meals are eaten with chopsticks. Rice and green tea are part of almost every meal. For dessert, you can try traditional wagashi, which includes delicious treats like mochi (a kind of rice cake) flavored with sweet red bean paste.


Japanese is the official language of Japan and it will be good to have some prior knowledge of the language before the program. Having a basic knowledge of English will be helpful. Host schools and local AFS chapters will offer Japanese language lessons upon arrival.

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