Did you know that students from Asian countries can study abroad in a high school in Japan for free? The Asia Kakehashi Scholarship is a great opportunity for outstanding students who are interested in experiencing high school life in Japan for six to ten months. 

The Asia Kakehashi Scholarship is a project by the Japanese Government through the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology (MEXT). “Kakehashi” means “bridge,” with the scholarship aiming to bridge and strengthen the relationship of Japan with the rest of Asia by providing opportunities for high school students to study abroad in Japan. Since its launch in 2017,  up to 300 scholars have been awarded. 

Why should you study abroad at a high school in Japan?

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While “studying abroad in Japan” is usually associated with studying in universities for college education, spending time abroad during high school also has its benefits. In this globalized world, educational institutions of all levels must consider “Global Citizenship Education” as an essential skill in 21st Century Learning.

UNESCO explains that global citizenship refers to “a sense of belonging to a broader community and common humanity, promoting a ‘global gaze’ that links the local to the global and the national to the international.”

Programs to study abroad in Japan are opportunities for students to socialize and make friends with people from all over the world. These kinds of interactions are valuable because they teach students about openness and the importance of dialogue and collaboration. Students learn about different cultures and histories and gain a deeper understanding of the different facets of the problems that the world is facing.

Study abroad at a Japanese high school: The Asia Kakehashi Project

AFS Intercultural Programs Japan, the Non-Profit Organization assigned to facilitate the Asia Kakehashi Project, is a proponent of global citizenship education. They have outlined this in their AFS Global Citizenship Agenda, aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Global citizenship education is a transformative, lifelong pursuit that involves both formal learning and practical experience. Global citizenship education helps people of all ages:

– Respect cultural, gender, faith and other differences

– Become more aware of the world beyond our own

– Understand our responsibilities as members of the global community

– Embrace our roles in protecting our planet for a sustainable future

– Be mindful about how our local actions impact the greater world.

Students who receive the Asia Kakehashi Scholarship are sponsored by the Japanese Government and will be provided the following: Airfare ticket from their home country to Japan; pick-up from the airport to their accommodations, housing in a dormitory or home-stay with a Japanese family, host family placement, meals, school placement, medical insurance, 24/7 emergency support, pre-departure orientation, orientations during their study abroad in Japan, and re-entry orientation upon returning to their home country.  

Students who participate in the Asia Kakehashi Project are given various opportunities to exercise leadership and learn beyond the classroom during their study abroad in Japan. Students who experience homestay with Japanese host families improve their Japanese communication skills while learning about Japanese daily family life. Some students also get to visit different museums and natural attractions in Japan, depending on which area or prefecture in Japan they are in. 

Some of the previous students visited local kindergarten and children centers in their areas, participating in activities like storytelling in Japanese and sharing their own cultures through show and tell activities. Another set of students in Tokyo participated in a volunteer summit where high school students held various activities and discussions around the topic of volunteerism and volunteer opportunities for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Students who get to experience home stay with a host family also have the chance to participate in cultural activities still practiced in Japan today, such as New Year activities like visiting shrines and making rice-cakes.

With many new experiences await the high school students who get chosen, the sky’s the limit with the Asia Kakehashi Scholarship.

How to Apply for the Asia Kakehashi Scholarship

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The Asia Kakehashi Scholarship is open to citizens of the following Asian countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam.

Students must be between 15 to 18 years of age, able and willing to study abroad in Japan unaccompanied, and high-achieving students who are already studying Japanese. 

Note that the scholarship does not cover the following: vaccinations and other medical examinations and documentation; travel expenses to the regional Japanese consulate to obtain a visa, additional spending money, and fees for additional or oversized luggage.

The application process is conducted by different partner organizations in each of the countries. Application requirements and deadlines vary. You need to check the official organization in your country for the latest information about specific application requirements  that applies to you. 

Here is a sample Asia Kakehashi Application Form from the Philippines in 2019. This is only for you to see what the application form was like in a specific country so you can prepare. Make sure that you check with your local organization to get the LATEST version of the application form. In the 2019 Application Form from the Philippines, applicants were asked to write three essays. Some of the essay prompts on the 2019 Application Form in the Philippines include discussing the characteristics of a Youth Ambassador, introducing yourself and your hobbies, explaining your expectations from the Asia Kakehashi Project, and expounding on “The Role of Intercultural Learning in connecting communities across regions.” Again, remember that this was the 2019 Application Form and the essay questions may change every year and also changes depending on where you’re from. We hope this gives you a general idea of what kinds of students they are looking for based on their application questions. 

Here is a list of the organizations that handle the applications per country:

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Going to study abroad in Japan is not is a fun opportunity to develop one’s self and prepare for a global future. Don’t be afraid to follow your dream to study abroad at a high school in Japan and apply for the Asia Kakehashi Scholarship!