Japanese Traditions & Psychology of Well-Being

Japanese Traditions & Psychology of Well-Being

  1. Program Details

    Explore lifespan development within the context of the Japanese family, and learn how rituals and traditions may promote emotional issues or well-being.

    Location Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima, Japan
    Term May Session
    Housing Hotel
    Credit Type Resident Credit
    Sponsor Learning Abroad Center

    Program Eligibility

    GPA 2.5
    Student Type UofM Students, Non UofM Students
    Student Year Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors
    Language No Language Prerequisite

    Explore lifespan development within the context of the Japanese family, and learn how rituals and traditions may promote emotional issues or well-being.

  2. About Japanese Traditions & Psychology of Well-Being

    ​​​​​​From the mid-1600s to the mid-1800s, Japan experienced a period of isolation from the outside world that provided an opportunity to firmly establish traditions and rituals within Japanese culture, passing them down from generation to generation. While contemporary modern culture in Japan has readily absorbed influences from other parts of Asia, Europe, and North America, many of these traditions persist as prescriptions for behavior that are well established into society and can be examined in the family and home life.

    In this seminar, immerse yourself in Japanese culture while exploring family-focused topics and examining rituals and traditions, with an emphasis on how Japan promotes well-being or emotional struggles. These topics have important relevance to extending knowledge in the areas of psychology, human development, and cultural studies. 

    Course Description

    There are three main objectives of this course. First, to understand family traditions, it will be critical to more broadly understand the basis of these traditions by learning about Japanese culture. Second, from a lifespan development perspective, we will study some of the common developmental processes that occur, emphasizing individual and family development. Third, we will more fully explore these family traditions and rituals in Japan and how involvement in these traditions may be a risk factor or a protective factor for mental illness.

    Housing & Meals

    Live in shared hotel accommodations with other students on the program. Housing includes daily breakfast and Wi-Fi access. A welcome lunch, farewell, and some additional meals are included in the program fee. Take additional meals at local eateries.


    This program emphasizes experiential learning, and using the city/surroundings as the classroom. Excursions, academic visits, and activities include:


    • Imperial palace
    • Meiji Shrine
    • Sensoji (Asakusa Kannon) Temple
    • Non-profit organization visit
    • Counseling facility visit
    • Hospital visit


    • Sanjusangendo
    • Kinkakuji Temple
    • Fushimi Inari Shrine
    • Kiyomizu Temple
    • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
    • Zen meditation
    • Traditional tea ceremony
    • Gion Corner for traditional art performance 


    • Peace Memorial Park
    • Miyajima island


    All program participants will take the coordinated group flight to and from the program site. The cost of the group flight is included in the program fee that will be posted to your student account. Do not book your own flight; you will receive information from the Learning Abroad Center about your seat on the group flight once your participation has been confirmed.

    It might be possible to deviate your return flight. Inquire with your program contact if interested.

    Learning Outcomes

    • Develop independence by challenging yourself in a new environment
    • Function as an effective team member by utilizing your personal strengths in a group setting
    • Explore a specific topic through experiential and interdisciplinary approaches​​​​​​

    Faculty & Staff

    This seminar is led by Bonnie Klimes-Dougan, Professor and Researcher in the Department of Psychology. She regularly teaches Abnormal Psychology and other courses in psychology on campus. Dr. Klimes-Dougan, who lived in Asia as a child, including four years in Japan, looks forward to sharing her love of Asia with students through this program.

    About the Learning Abroad Center

    Learning Abroad Center programs are:

    • Affordable: our programs are cost effective.
    • Academically strong: many programs have strong University of Minnesota departmental support and offer pre-approved courses for many majors.
    • Culturally rich: regardless of the program you choose, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.
    • Expertly managed: our staff in Minnesota and abroad are trained professionals and are always available to answer your questions from extensive pre-departure advising and online orientations to reentry programming. Your safety and well-being are paramount, and we work hard to ensure you have a rewarding and safe experience abroad.
  3. Program Structure

    Program Type Field Study, Study Abroad Center, Instructor-Led
    Program Level 3000 level coursework

    One 3-credit course

    Global Seminars are 3-week study abroad programs led by University of Minnesota faculty and staff that feature:

    • Intensive learning in a location that illuminates the topic
    • Small groups of 15–25 students
    • No prerequisites or language requirements
    • Included excursions and cultural activities
    • Instruction in English



    1) Broadly understand the basis of family traditions by learning about Japanese culture. Much of this course will enable you to become familiar with Japanese culture, considering changes over time that historically and currently influence modern Japanese culture.

    2) Examine how nuclear and multigenerational families change when they are involved in raising/caring for infants, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly.

    3) Explore Japan's daily rituals and traditions, including (a) the functions they serve and (b) the factors associated with tradition adherence. Some traditions and rituals may promote resilience and are relevant to well-being, while (c) influences outside (e.g., nuclear war, natural disasters) or inside (e.g., parental mental illness) the family may interfere with these well-established traditions. 

    Participate in lectures, discussions, and excursions. Submit a portfolio of daily observations, reflections, an illustrative journal (e.g., photo journal), and a capstone project reflecting on cultural practices related to (1) family development, (2) rituals/traditions, and (3) wellness/risk. At the close of the course, participate in a group discussion, sharing some of the ways you have chronicled the study abroad experience and highlighting changes in your own understanding of Japanese culture.

    Receive credit for: PSY 3621

    Draft Syllabus: May 2019 Syllabus Draft

  4. Dates & Deadlines

    Submit the online application and complete the assigned application checklist according to the appropriate deadline:
    Term Program Dates Priority Application Deadline* Final Application Deadline
    May Session 2021 May 15 – Jun 6, 2021 February 1, 2021 March 1, 2021

    Program dates are subject to change.

    If the deadline falls on a weekend, submit your materials on the following business day.

    Important Note: Enrollment on this program is limited to 16 students. Admission is granted on a rolling basis and applications are reviewed in the order they are completed. Some programs may fill to capacity prior to the application deadline, therefore applying early is recommended. Additionally, applying early will allow for more time to plan ahead and prepare for the program.

    Orientation Dates & Locations

    Orientation will be conducted in 2 parts: an online orientation, which is mandatory for all students, and an in-person, program-specific session. You will receive more information about the online orientation via email. Failure to complete the online orientation will impact your ability to go abroad.

    See below for tentative dates and times for your in-person session. You will be notified of the official date and time via email. Participants will receive applicable orientation materials via email approximately 1 week prior to the in-person session.

    Term Abroad Date/Time Location
    May Session 2021 TBD TBD
  5. Priority Deadline

    If you apply by the priority deadline and confirm within the allotted time you will receive the published program fee. Applying after the priority deadline and/or not confirming within the allotted time means you may be subject to an airfare increase.

    Fees for Japanese Traditions & Psychology of Well-Being

    May 2021 Cost of Participation Forthcoming

    Program fees can vary widely due to location, cost of living, airfare, and program inclusions. The program fee generally includes tuition, group flight airfare, airport transfers, in-country program related transportation, housing, some meals, entrances to course-related excursions and site visits, program administration, and international health insurance. Generally, the program fees range from $5,500–$7,500. You must also budget for passport and passport photos, some meals, textbooks, independent travel, and miscellaneous living expenses.

    If you do not see a budget estimate for the term you intend to go abroad, the fee has not yet been finalized. We strive to post fees for this program at least 30 days prior to the application deadline. The Learning Abroad Center will delay the posting of some fees until enrollments, inflation and exchange rates are determined. Note the average increase in fees will be 3–10%. Program fees are based on estimates and may change depending on international economic factors.

    Billing & Payments

    Visit Billing for information about the billing process for application fees, deposits, and program fees.

    Financial Aid & Scholarships

    Visit Financial Information for information on using financial aid and scholarships for study abroad.

    Cancellation Policy

    Before you apply to or confirm your participation on this program, review the Learning Abroad Center's Cancellation Policy to inform yourself of the timeline and financial obligations for canceling.
  6. Prepare

    Complete pre-application advising.

    Be aware: All programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.

    To complete the online application for this program, you will need to select or provide the following information on the online application:

    Center Name TC Learning Abroad Ctr
    Education Abroad Term May Session 2021
    Program Name Global Seminar: Japanese Traditions & Psychology of Well-Being
    Track Name Japanese Traditions & Psychology of Well-Being
    Country Japan


    University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Use your University of Minnesota internet ID and password to log into the Education Abroad application system. Your student account will be charged a $50 application fee.

    Non-University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Once you submit your application, Learning Abroad Center staff will create a University of Minnesota student internet account for you. You will use this account to access the Education Abroad Application System, and other University of Minnesota services. You will be charged a $50 application fee for this program.

    Our staff will contact you within 2–3 business days with your internet account information, and additional application instructions.


    After you submit your application, you will receive an email notification confirming that your application was received. Submitted applications are assigned an application checklist, which will include the following items:

    • Application Essay

    Detailed descriptions and instructions for submitting each checklist item are included on the application checklist assigned to you.

    If you do not meet the GPA requirement for this program you will be required to submit two additional application items—the Low GPA Essay and Special Circumstances Recommendation. Both items will be added to your checklist after you start your application, and you will be notified when they have been added.

    Next Steps

    After your application checklist is complete, your application is reviewed by our program team. You will be notified of an acceptance decision by email. If accepted, you will be assigned a confirmation checklist, which you will complete to confirm your participation in the program. If you decide not to continue with the application process, log into the online application system and submit a Cancel Request.
  7. Program Contact

    For further information or questions about this program, send an email to

    Amy Garwood-Diaz or call at 612.624.1537.

Passport Information

If you do not currently have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months past your return date, or are still needing to apply for a new one, start the process as soon as possible. Visit the UofM Passport Office website for more information.

Virtual Info Session

Learn more about this program and other Learning Abroad Center May & summer seminars through this virtual info session.

Tuesday, December 15th 2:30–3:30p.m.

More info & registration