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  • Locations: Tokyo, Japan
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Costs: Summer
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Click here for a definition of this term Program Type: Faculty-led GPA Requirement: 2.5
Education Abroad Advisor: Holly Wheeler Click here for a definition of this term Language Prerequisite: None
Program Description:


June 6th - June 20, 2021

Faculty Leader: Professors Mary Adachi, MA & Kurt Lancaster, PhD &

Info Sessions

Mary E. Adachi, MA and Kurt Lancaster, PhD will take students to Abiko, Japan to create short cultural film projects. Students will earn six class credits that will count towards their major or as elective credit. The first week of class will meet on the Flagstaff campus and will encompass preparation and planning of projects. The majority of the course will be in Japan, June 6th - June 26th. The final portion of the course will be online. 
After one week at NAU, students will arrive in Abiko, Japan and explore four Japanese traditions, as well as explore two main locations (Tokyo and Chiba), making one documentary per team of 3-4 students.

Following the model of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, students will develop short documentaries through cinéma vérité techniques, interviews, and display cinematography as they collect visual footage and ambient audio in small teams with the goal of creating one short documentary project.

At the same time, they will also be studying the culture of Japan and situational dialogues in order to better communicate with locals in every-day Japanese.

Tokyo BikesThis faculty-led study abroad summer program in Abiko City and Tokyo, Japan, gives students the opportunity to conduct individual research, have hands-on experience with, and be instructed in various elements of, both filmmaking and modern/traditional Japanese culture. Even before students depart for Japan, NAU’s Mary Adachi teaches Japanese situational dialogues and important vocabulary, as well as customs and proper Japanese etiquette so that students will be prepared for the cultural filmmaking and the exploration portions of the program. Japanese experts in each field exhibit and instruct students about certain traditions, such as the following: Chadou (Japanese Tea Ceremony), Shodou (Japanese calligraphy), Ikebana (Japanese Flower Arrangement), Kimono (the way to put on summer Kimono), and Kendou (the “way” of the sword).
Besides learning specific dialogues, during the first week of the program, students learn from each other by viewing and commenting on their peers’ PowerPoints and/or Prezi presentations. Students choose an area of Tokyo or Chiba and one culture of their choice to create these presentations. Not only will students learn about the history of these places and their UNESCO sites, they will also be prepared to use basic Japanese to communicate with locals, as well as their host family in Abiko. This course, Study Abroad in Japan, educates students in traveling and every-day life in Japan.

Students return to the US with a wealth of knowledge about Filmmaking and Japanese culture, as well as modern life in Japan. This program is an excellent opportunity for Film majors, Asian Studies majors and/or Japanese minors, or for those students who have always been interested in experiencing Japan and want to enhance their NAU undergraduate education! Furthermore, staying with a Japanese family enables students to make life-time friends in Japan and implants a hope to go back to Japan one day. This program will undoubtedly be an experience which students will never forget as their eyes open up to the global world we live in today.  

Course Information

This program is a 6-credit program including two courses.

1. CMF 435 Advanced Filmmaking Topics: Cultural Filmmaking in Japan (3.00 units) – pre-requisite waived

In Cultural Filmmaking in Japan, students will apply the filmmaking techniques of Netflix’s Chef’s Table to different cultural events/workshops in Japan. Such filmmaking techniques as cinéma vérité, formal interviews, display cinematography, small lights, and natural lighting will be used to collect visual footage and ambient audio with the goal of creating one short documentary project. Each team of 3-4 students will be responsible for making one 3-5 minutes film project.
Fulfills a CMF am elective requirement in Documentary and Independent Filmmaking.

2. SA 201 Liberal Studies CU: Japan Study Abroad Cultural Understanding (3.00 units) – no pre-requisites

Japanese Money Cat

This course provides students with an introduction to Japanese culture—both modern and traditional); first by learning basic speaking, listening and some reading of every-day Japanese while living and studying in Japan. Students learn proper etiquette, manners, and customs as they study and have real-life experiences in the target language. This course begins in the US, prior to departure, as students learn the Hiragana and Katakana writing systems and learn set phrases to introduce themselves in Japanese. Once students arrive in Japan, they begin pair work in which they practice situational dialogues, including new vocabulary and grammatical structures. Then students use these learned conversations outside the classroom in the “real world” of every-day life in Japan, as they take part in traditional culture classes, create documentaries, travel in and around Tokyo, and stay with a host family. Students, at the same time, will be introduced to Japanese manners and etiquette to help them better understand the Japanese way of life and enable them to follow societal rules and norms during their term of study in Japan. Staying with a Japanese host family will assist with students’ understanding of not only the language, but also the present-day Japanese lifestyle. Students are encouraged to use as much of the language as possible for the duration of this course in Japan and to strive to retain this new knowledge so they can excel in their future Japanese language courses back in the US, if they chose to do so. Furthermore, this course will help prepare students who intend to return to Japan in the future.

Program Dates

June 6th - June 20, 2021

Tentative Itinerary (subject to change):

Date Location Activity
April 27, 28 (6-7:30pm) Flagstaff campus Camera gear checkout and initial camera and audio training (evening)
May 24-June 3 Online on Zoom Live Documentary training and asynchronous exercises (day: 10am-12noon)
Live language immersion (6:30AM - 8:00 PM)
Thursday, June 3 Final orientation before departure Complete online work and discuss arrival orientation in Japan (evening Zoom session, 6-8pm)
Friday, June 4 (arrive Saturday, June 5) Depart to Japan On your own fly to Narita Airport and get to hotel: Kashiwa Plaza Hotel Annex (
Saturday, June 5 Abiko, Japan Evening exploration (for those who have arrived early). All students must arrive by the evening.
Sunday, June 6 Abiko, Japan Orientation and walking tour of Abiko.
Camera use refresher with test shoots.
Opening night group dinner.
Monday, June 7 Abiko, Japan First cultural experience: Shodou  (Japanese “calligraphy”). All students participate in the event, then Team 1 shoots the project. Those not in Team 1 are free to explore Tokyo.
Tuesday, June 8 Abiko, Japan Second cultural experience: Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement). All students participate in the event, then Team 2 shoots the project. Those not in Team 1 are free to explore Tokyo
Team 1, working with an interpreter, begins transcribing the interview and conducts a paper edit after transcriptions have been completed. Lancaster must approve the paper edit before proceeding to actual edit.
Wednesday, June 9 Abiko, Japan Third cultural experience: Chadou (Tea Ceremony) All students participate in the event, then Team 3 shoots the project.
Teams 1 and 2, working with an interpreter, begin transcribing the interview and conduct a paper edit after transcriptions have been completed. Lancaster must approve the paper edit before proceeding to actual edit.
Thursday, June 10 Abiko, Japan Team 3, working with an interpreter, begin transcribing the interview and conduct a paper edit after transcriptions have been completed. Lancaster must approve the paper edit before proceeding to actual edit. Teams 1-2 continue to edit.
Friday, June 11 Abiko, Japan All teams edit
Saturday, June 12 Tokyo area Excursion/exploration (Meiji Shrine and Asakusa Kannon Temple)
Sunday, June 13 Abiko, Japan Work on final cuts, sound design, and color correction
Monday, June 14 Abiko, Japan Work on final cuts, sound design, and color correction
Tuesday, June 15 Abiko, Japan Finalize and screen all projects
Wednesday, June 16 Abiko, Japan Excursion into Tokyo (with evening exploration and photography)
Thursday, June 17 Tokyo area Excursion/exploration (Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden during the day and Memory Lane at night)
Friday, June 18 Tokyo area Excursion/exploration (Anato No Warehouse Kawasaki). Farewell dinner
Saturday, June 19 Abiko, Japan Final day.
Final Japanese test (speaking/writing)
Prep for departure on Monday
Sunday, June 20 Travel from Abiko, Japan Return to USA (or other destination)
June 21-30 Online Complete personal self-assessment/reflection paper/recording about the trip with an introduction in Japanese; finalize all edits on documentary.
Activities Designed for Cross-Cultural Experiences
Given the nature of documentary work, students will interact with people living in Japan. They will talk and interview different people as they create a documentary about four different cultural events. Interpreters will be used during filmmaking interviews.
In addition to our fieldwork, we will be visiting such sites as museums, art galleries, films, restaurants, and areas of special interests in and outside of Abiko, Tokyo, among other locations in Japan.
At the end of the program students will be staying with a Japanese family for cross-cultural understanding.


Program Requirements

Minimum 2.5 GPA

Program Fee

See "Costs" above

Application Deadline

February 15, 2021 

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.