KYOTO Castle in the Sky

Kyoto Consortium Summer: Classical Japanese (KCJS)

Language of Instruction: Japanese
Term: Summer

Learn how to read and translate classical Japanese.

The next application deadline is Feb 17, 2023
See other program dates

This six-week summer program introduces classical Japanese to students with an existing proficiency in modern Japanese, who wish to strengthen their understanding of Japanese culture by immersing themselves in the historical, literary texts.

Program Overview

The KCJS Summer Program in Classical Japanese is designed for students who have proficiency in modern Japanese but usually have not studied classical Japanese before. Taught in English, the course offers a systematic, intensive introduction to the grammar of classical Japanese, which will enable you to read authentic texts with a dictionary by the end of the term. Studying at KCJS for the summer will enable you to:

  • Learn classical Japanese under the guidance of a renowned scholar of Classical Japanese
  • Raise your Japanese language proficiency to a higher level in a short period of time
  • Participate in a variety of cultural activities

The Consortium

Established in September 1989, KCJS is a consortium of 13 American universities which sponsors this rigorous, academic program. Columbia University serves as the lead administrative institution of the consortium and works with the KCJS staff and board of delegates members from each consortium school to oversee all aspects of the program.

Members of the consortium include:

Boston University, Brown University, University of Chicago, Columbia University/Barnard College, Cornell University, Emory University, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Stanford University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Yale University in association with the University of Virginia.

The KCJS welcomes applications from outside of the consortium.

Eligibility and Application

  • Open to undergraduates and graduate students in good academic standing. Recent graduates may also apply.
  • Must have completed three years of college-level Japanese or the equivalent.
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA.
  • Minimum 3.0 average GPA in Japanese language courses.


Want to apply? Click the “Start Your Application" button at the top of this page. If the button doesn't appear above, the program is not yet accepting applications. You will be asked to set up a short profile, which will allow us to send you relevant information about your application. Once you’ve created a profile, you will see a checklist of items that you will need to submit. These generally include:

  • Application questionnaire(s)
  • Personal statement
  • One letter of recommendation
    • Classical Japanese applicants need to submit one academic recommendation, and it may be written in English or Japanese. This recommendation should be completed by someone who has taught you in a class where the focus is not language and who can comment on your academic/critical skills. This may be an upper level literature/culture class taught in another language. You may ask a TA or discussion group leader if you have only taken large lecture classes. You do not need to submit a Japanese language recommendation,
  • Official transcript(s)

Hear from KCJS Faculty, Staff & Alumni!

Learn more about the Classical Japanese curriculum from Professor Matthew Fraleigh, Summer 2021 faculty member:

Staff from the Center for Undergraduate Global Engagement give an overview of the KCJS Fall, Spring, Academic Year and virtual Summer Programs in this recorded information session:


Please note that KCJS reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.

Introduction to Classical Japanese I & II. 8 points.

Instructor: TBD

This course is intended primarily for beginning students who have no prior knowledge of Classical Japanese (bungo 文語 / kobun 古文 / kogo 古語, etc.). It is designed to give students a systematic and intensive introduction to the grammar of classical Japanese. Texts are taken mainly from the Heian and medieval periods, though texts from later periods will also be introduced. It is expected that by the end of the course students will have acquired a firm foundation in classical Japanese grammar and will be able to read classical Japanese texts with the aid of a dictionary. Students will generally find that they also have an improved grasp of modern Japanese grammar and will also gain experience in using Japanese-Japanese dictionaries. The course will also include some instruction in reading cursive Japanese, primarily variant kana (hentaigana).

A sample syllabus is available for reference.


Grading Policy

Click here for the Columbia summer program grading policies.

If you are a Columbia/Barnard student who would like to continue studying Japanese after participating in KCJS, you should review the Japanese Language Program's policies about placing into the next level of Japanese upon your return to campus.


Upon successful completion of the program, grades are entered into Columbia's online grading system and students can request a Columbia University transcript. Non-Columbia students (including Barnard) can request electronic transcripts online through the Columbia University registrar.

No credit is granted to students who do not complete the full program

Financial Considerations

Summer 2023 Tuition and Fees TBD.

*Summer 2022 Tuition and Fees

Please see our cost breakdown for detailed information on additional estimated expenses.

*Tuition and fees are subject to the Board of Trustees' approval and may change.


If you are on financial aid, check to see if it can be applied to studying abroad. In general summer financial aid is not available to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering students, but may be available to School of General Studies students. Non-Columbia students should check with their home schools for funding availability.

Funding Your Summer in Kyoto

Eligible students may apply for the following scholarships applicable to this program:

KCJS Scholarship
The KCJS Governing Board has allocated funds for KCJS Scholarships specifically for students participating on the KCJS program. The number and amount of awards vary depending on the pool of applicants, and awards usually range between $500 and $2,000. To apply, please select the "KCJS Summer Scholarship" option in the "UGE Administered Scholarship" questionnaire in your online application. Scholarship deadline: Feb. 18th.

Freeman Awards for Study in Asia
Created to assist U.S. undergraduate students (U.S. citizens or permanent residents only) with demonstrated financial need and limited prior experience in East and Southeast Asia, Freeman-ASIA will fund a select group of U.S. students with awards ranging from $3,000 per student for summer study and $5,000 per semester, to a maximum of $7,000 for a full year abroad. Prospective students should visit the Freeman-ASIA website for eligibility requirements, full application instructions and a list of deadlines. *Only supports virtual programs if there is also an in-country component.

Foreign Language and Area Studies Scholarship (FLAS)
Find out who administers the summer FLAS program at your home school. For Columbia/Barnard students, the FLAS Fellowship competition is open to undergraduates and graduate students, including Ph.D. candidates, who are U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents. Undergraduates must be applying to study the third year level of the language or above.

Columbia students may also be eligible to apply for the following scholarships:

Ishizuka Global Fellowship in East Asian Studies
This grant has been created to provide funding assistance for current Columbia College students on financial aid who wish to study abroad during the summer in Asia. Preference shall be given first to students engaged in the study of Japanese language and culture and second, to students engaged in the study of other East Asian languages and cultures, but whose research and interests include Japan.

Shirato Fund for Japanese Language Study
The Shirato Fund Scholarships will provide two $2,000 scholarships to undergraduates and graduate students accepted to Columbia-approved intensive Japanese-language study programs for the summer. Please note that awardees will be required to take a Japanese course upon their return to Columbia in the fall; to submit a short report on your use of the scholarship; and to give a presentation at the study abroad information session about the language program in which you participate. Contact Fumiko Nazikian for more info.

Weatherhead East Asian Institute Funding
Columbia University's WEAI offers funding for research, language acquisition, unpaid internships, and dissertation write-up during the summer and academic year to selected Columbia students committed to professional and academic engagement with East and Southeast Asia. Eligibility varies depending on the particular funding opportunity.

Theodore de Bary Undergraduate Language Study Fellowship

Provides a maximum award of $10,000 for intensive summer study of an approved language. This award is open only to non-U.S. citizens and non-Permanent Residents. Recipients must be enrolled in a credible program of instruction approved by the Fellowships Committee.

Summer Language Fellowship for International Ph.D. Students
The Summer Language Fellowship for International Students supports international Ph.D. students (who are not permanent residents) in the humanities and social sciences at Columbia who need to study a foreign language (applies to all languages) abroad during the summer. The fellowship award maximum is $3,000. Students can apply online and should contact with questions.

Global Learning Scholarship (GLS)

The Center for Undergraduate Global Engagement is pleased to announce Global Learning Scholarships to help students fund their participation in this program. If awarded, these partial scholarships will be applied toward tuition charges for this program.


  • Open to Columbia University and non-Columbia undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need

  • Recipients must be accepted to this Columbia-led program

To Apply:

After starting a program application, complete the “Global Learning Scholarship” questionnaire in your UGE account.

Scholarship Applications Due:

March 7 (closes at 11:59 pm EST) or program deadline, whichever occurs first.

Read more about the GLS here.

For more general information and resources on financing your time abroad, please see the pages below:


If you decide to withdraw from the program once it has already started, please be aware of the financial consequences and the office policies by clicking here.

Global Columbia Collaboratory

All participants in summer 2022 programs will have access to the Global Columbia Collaboratory, a non-credit virtual exchange experience that helps students learn more about global challenges, enhance their global competencies by connecting and cooperating across a global network, and empower students to make a difference in the world as global citizens. In the Collaboratory, students can engage with fellow students and the broader Columbia network to:

  • Participate in regularly scheduled theme-based global seminars from faculty and experts drawn from Columbia’s global networks;

  • Exchange perspectives and engage together in reflection on the global challenges framed by the global seminars; and

  • Engage in collaboration and ideation on projects and ideas that impact today’s society.



Fusako Shore is the KCJS Senior Associate Director, handling office management, student services, academic reporting, scheduling, planning of enrichment programs, faculty relations, alumni affairs, and cooperative arrangements with Kyoto-area universities and organizations. She is a native of Kyoto and has been at KCJS since the first class in 1989-90.

Yoshiko Hollstein is the KCJS Financial Officer and oversees all financial matters. She manages the payment of bills, the movement of funds, and regular financial reporting.

Keiko Toda is the KCJS Program Coordinator. She coordinates housing, plans and manages extracurricular activities and maintains the KCJS website and social media. She joined KCJS in 2015.


Summer 2022 faculty:

Gian Piero Persiani (Ph.D. Columbia University) is an Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He is currently completing a manuscript on the great thriving of waka poetry in the tenth century (ca. 890-970). Other projects include a study of the uses of Sinitic culture in Heian Japan and a history of the reception of the 36 Immortal Poets. Before coming to Illinois, he taught at Oxford University and was Resident Foreign Researcher at the National Institute of Japanese Literature (NIJL) in Tokyo.

Summer 2021 faculty:

Matthew Fraleigh is Associate Professor of East Asian Literature and Culture and co-chair of the Program in East Asian Studies at Brandeis University. His research concerns the literature of early modern and modern Japan, especially kanshibun (Sinitic poetry and prose). His work has appeared in journals such as Japan Forum, Japanese Studies, Monumenta Nipponica, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Kokugo kokubun, and the London Review of Books. He has published two books: Plucking Chrysanthemums: Narushima Ryūhoku and Sinitic Literary Traditions in Modern Japan (Harvard, 2016) and New Chronicles of Yanagibashi and Diary of a Journey to the West: Narushima Ryūhoku Reports From Home and Abroad (Cornell, 2010). The latter, an annotated translation, was awarded the Japan-US Friendship Commission Prize, and in 2012, he received the Sibley Prize for his translation of Ryūhoku's prison essay, "Super Secret Tales From the Slammer". He is currently working on two book projects. The first concerns literary and cultural interaction between Japan and Taiwan. The second examines theoretical discourse concerning Sinitic poetry published in the 17th to 19th century.

Student Testimonials

“Professor Fraleigh is one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever met in my life. He demonstrated unquestionable mastery of the content of the course and was able to explicate the nuances embedded within the lines. He always gives time for students to think and points out the mistakes in a gentle yet uncompromising way. In addition, it is very encouraging to see someone who has so much passion and love for the subject of his study. I think he had not only taught me knowledge of classical Japanese but had also impacted me positively as a scholar.”

“I have never expected to learn so much in a language program. I think reading classical Japanese is an important skill to have for anyone who is serious about pursuing advanced fluency in this language. Learning classical Japanese would help you transition from a foreign Japanese language learner (by this I mean someone who’s able to carry out basic text-book conversations in Japanese) to a person that can gradually use and appreciate the Japanese language and Japanese culture as a native speaker.”

“Kyoto is a very suitable place to learn Classical Japanese since there are a lot of places and activities closely relevant to the materials we’ve covered in class. It’s much more helpful to visit these places/museums to get a better sense of the materials. And the language environment in Japan really helps to improve my spoken language skills.”

“I’ve learned a lot throughout the program, and meeting with other people who share the same academic interest with me (especially many of them are more experienced than me) is really helpful.”

“I feel like I learned a lot, and was able to accomplish what I had set out to do: read classical Japanese with the aid of a dictionary. Coursework was well-balanced and I felt challenged without being overwhelmed.”

Fact Sheet

Foreign Language Learning
Barnard College, Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Columbia General Studies, Columbia Graduate Students, Columbia Undergraduates, Columbia-Led Programs, Consortium Member School Students
Language of Instruction:
Language Requirement:
3 years of college-level Japanese, or the equivalent

Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline: 
Friday, March 25, 2022
Admissions Decision Date: 
Friday, April 1, 2022
Program Dates: 
Monday, June 13, 2022 to Monday, July 25, 2022
Application Deadline: 
Friday, February 17, 2023
Program Dates: 
Thursday, June 15, 2023 to Friday, July 28, 2023
Summer 2023 dates are subject to change.