Home > Students > Admitted Students > Student Handbook



Dear JCMU Students:

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Japan Center for Michigan Universities.

Your time studying abroad in Hikone, Japan will be one of the most exciting and challenging experiences of your life. At JCMU, you have the opportunity to build an understanding of the Japanese people, language, culture, and society. JCMU will facilitate this learning through a combination of classroom study, field trips, cultural activities, home stays, internships, and various other activities.

By broadening your understanding of Japanese language, culture, and society, you will deepen your understanding of yourself as an individual, enabling you to grow both as a student and a person. We also want to help you find ways to connect the JCMU experience to your future plans and goals. It is essential to remember, however, that this is an extremely rigorous program. You will be challenged to new levels academically and personally. Though JCMU staff will be there to help you every step of the way, it is essential for you to give your personal best. Your time at JCMU is an investment: the more you put into the program, the more you will get out of it.

This Student Handbook is a general guide for you and your parents on what to do to prepare for the program and what to expect once in Japan. While it is intended to provide current information, it does not supersede any part of the Statement of Responsibility, the Student Health/Emergency Treatment Authorization, or any Michigan State University regulations. If you have any questions or concerns as you prepare for your trip, please don't hesitate to contact us at the East Lansing JCMU office.

Back to Student Handbook

A Brief History of JCMU

In September 1988, on the 20th anniversary of the beginning of their sister-state relationship, the governments of Shiga Prefecture and the State of Michigan signed an agreement to create the “Japan Center for Michigan Universities” (JCMU). In collaboration with the Shiga and Michigan governments, the fifteen state-supported universities in Michigan formed a consortium for the express purpose of administering JCMU and governing its academic programs.  Shiga Prefecture provides the grounds and the buildings of the Japan Center, as well as on-site staff to work closely with JCMU’s staff in designing and carrying out cultural exchange activities. In 1998, the newly created University of Shiga Prefecture also became a JCMU partner.

The creation of JCMU represents a unique commitment on the part of Shiga Prefecture and the State of Michigan to promote international education and to prepare the citizens of both countries to deal with the realities of our changing world. It also represents an unprecedented level of cooperation among the universities in Michigan and elsewhere in an effort to develop and implement programs of mutual interest.

Fundamental to all JCMU activities is a commitment to cultural exchange at the local (state and prefecture) level and to an academic program that upholds the highest academic standards and is accessible to students from all areas of Michigan, the USA, and the world.

Our current programs include:

  • Japanese Language and Culture Program (Fall, Spring/Winter, or Academic Year)
  • Intensive Summer Japanese Language Program
  • Comparative Health Care in Japan Program (Summer)
  • Environmental Science in Japan Program (Summer)
  • Hospitality Business and Tourism in Japan Program (Summer)
  • Internship Program (Summer)
  • May Short Programs

Back to Student Handbook

Hikone, Japan

The Japan Center for Michigan Universities is located in Hikone, a city of approximately 100,000 people situated on the eastern shore of Lake Biwa. Hikone is a castle town, tracing its origins to the early seventeenth century, when a cluster of samurai residences and commercial establishments grew up at the foot of the castle of the local lord. The original castle buildings survive, as do many of the traditional industries. Off the beaten tourist track, Hikone preserves much of its charm and traditional values. At the same time, Hikone is a 45-90 minute train trip from the large cosmopolitan cities of Kyoto, Nagoya, and Osaka. Students will thus have ready access to a wide range of cultural resources.

Hikone and Shiga Prefecture are famous for natural beauty and historic landmarks. Located almost in the center of Honshu, the largest island of the Japanese archipelago, Shiga has long been important strategically and economically. It lays at the crossroads of the major east-west and north-south transportation routes. It is important both culturally and historically as a province immediately adjacent to the ancient capital city of Kyoto. Shiga is the site of innumerable temples and private villas built over the centuries by the court and military aristocracy. Today the prefecture government is positioning Shiga as an important national tourist and high technology region in order to achieve future economic growth, while preserving the natural beauty for which the region is famous.

Back to Student Handbook

JCMU Facilities

JCMU is situated on Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan, with sweeping views of the lake and distant mountains to the north, south, and west.

The center's facilities include:

  • An academic building including faculty and administrative offices, classrooms, library, study areas, and a public restaurant
  • A residential building with furnished apartments (an inventory list is available in the Living in Japan section), as well as a computer room, lounge areas, exercise room, and laundry facilities (free washers and coin-operated dryers)
  • A lakefront garden
  • A roofed bicycle garage - bicycles are available for each student
  • Wheelchair ramps to both the academic and residential building

The student apartments are designed for double occupancy, with a private bedroom-study and a shared kitchen and bath. One student apartment is specially designed to be fully accessible to wheelchair users.

Back to Student Handbook