Japanese Traditions & Psychology of Well-Being
Explore lifespan development within the context of the Japanese family, and learn how rituals and traditions may promote emotional issues or 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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
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
- 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.
- Examine how nuclear and multigenerational families change when they are involved in raising/caring for infants, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly.
- 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
Course approved for Psychology Distribution Area B course OR as Psychology Elective credit for the Psychology Majors or General Psychology Minor
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 2022||May 14 – June 5, 2022||February 1, 2022||March 1, 2022|
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 25 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.
|May Session 2022||TBD||TBD|
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.
May 2022 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. The fees for this program 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.
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.
Be aware: Learning Abroad Center programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.
Due to shared housing, the program provider in Japan requires visitors to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination. You'll receive more information at pre-departure orientation.
You will be charged a $50 application fee for each application you submit.
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 an additional essay. It will be added to your checklist after you start your application, and you will be notified when it has been added.
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.
For further information or questions about this program, send an email to