Program Description


The eight-week homestay provides you with full immersion in Japanese language and Japanese culture. Host families volunteer to participate in the program not merely to accommodate you but also to help you to practice your Japanese and deepen your understanding of Japanese culture. They are also willing to learn the language(s) and culture of your country. The homework and class topics are expected to reflect your homestay experience.


  • Empathy is the key. Try to understand perspectives of other than your own.
  • Respect others and be open-minded.
  • Reserve judgment on cultural differences.
  • Make extra efforts to understand the non-verbalized assumptions in the context of communication.
  • Do not be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them.

<Advice from Former Participants>

  • Try as many new things as possible, even if they are scary. The more you put yourself out there, the more you will learn. Try everything you can.
  • If you have problems with your host family, please talk to them. They are hosting to also learn about or adapt to your culture; neither side should have to fully give in.
  • Don’t afraid to talk to your host parents. Balance work and fun. Don’t hide in your room all the time.
  • Talk with your host family as much as possible. Share your interests, but also try to find out your host family’s interests, as well.
  • Take advantage of life in Japan! Explore, meet Japanese people, and enjoy the experience.
  • Spend every day as if there is no tomorrow.

<Advice from Host Families>

  • Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.
  • Share one (or more) episode(s) of the day with us. Any event is fine, no matter how small it is. We are happy to hear about it.
  • Be honest about what you can eat and what you cannot eat.
  • Be punctual.
  • Keep your room neat and clean.
  • Forget the Internet. Put your phone away. Let’s enjoy face-to-face interaction at home together!
  • Enjoy your stay in Hakodate!


Start: Saturday, June 8
End: Sunday, August 4

During the homestay period, staying out overnight is prohibited even at another student’s home or at a hotel, except for the semester break. By setting this rule, we strongly believe that you can fully immerse yourself in the homestay experience, which helps to improve your Japanese language skills, deepen your understanding of Japanese culture, build a life-long relationship with your host family, and make wonderful memories of the summer.

<Semester Break (July 5 - July 8)>

Most participants use this break to travel to Sapporo or other areas in Hokkaido/Japan. If you plan a trip by yourself, you may leave after the final examination on July 4th and come back to your host family’s house by the night of Monday, July 8th, at a reasonable time so that you won’t disturb your host family.

HIF prohibits participants from hitchhiking and sleeping outside except under unavoidable circumstances. In any case, HIF accepts no responsibility or liability for any injury or loss resulting from the above-mentioned behaviors.


Each student will be placed with a family who lives in Hakodate City, Hokuto City or Nanae Town where the public transportation is available to commute to/from HIF. Your host family will show you how to get to HIF using public transportation (bus, tram, or JR train) on the first few days of your homestay. HIF works hard to find families who live close to HIF, but please note that there is a chance you will live about 1.5 hours away from HIF. HIF will refund transportation expenses for those who use public transportation to commute between host family’s house and HIF, according to the criteria set by HIF. Further information will be given at the beginning of the program.


The ¥114,000 homestay fee is included in your program fee. It covers 1) accommodation (furnished private room) and 2) two meals a day (breakfast and dinner). HIF will pay the fee to your host family via bank transfer.


Your host family will prepare a room, bedding, desk, and desk light for you. Also they will allow you to use their washing machine, detergent, iron, hair dryer, etc. Please bring/purchase in Japan for your personal use any necessities such as towels, toothpaste, shampoo and any other consumable items you wish to have.
It is a good idea to bring some omiyage (souvenirs) with you for your host family. Anything is fine, but some popular omiyage are cookies, chocolates, tea, coffee, something that has your university name or mascot on it, etc. It’s also recommended that you bring some pictures of your family, friends, hometown, university, etc. to show your host family.


HIF matches students with host families according to food and health preferences. These preferences may include cigarette smoking, pets, alcohol and dietary restrictions. However, sometimes students who dislike cigarette smoke are matched with host families that smoke. In these cases, host family members offer to restrict their smoking to designated areas for your convenience.
Some host families accommodate more than one student and they provide each one with an individual room. Also, there is a chance that a student will live with two host families, one for the first half of the program and the other for the second half.


Comments from Alumni

  • Name:
    Michelle Bechtel
    Colby College
    Michelle Bechtel photo

    I applied to HIF on a whim, not knowing what to expect. Now that I have completed the program, it's safe to say that applying was one of the best decisions ... more

  • Name:
    Kerra Hinrichs
    University of Michigan
    Kerra Hinrichs photo

    HIF was hands down one of the best experiences of my life. I came into the program with the goal of improving my Japanese, and I certainly achieved that ... more

  • Name:
    Hector Melesio
    Franklin & Marshall
    Hector Melesio photo

    For my first time traveling abroad, I do not think I could have picked a better place to be than Hakodate as an HIF student. Whether it be inside the ... more

  • Name:
    Owen Pietsch
    Swarthmore College
    Owen Pietsch photo

    Eight weeks felt like a very short time to spend at HIF. Our teachers and the staff encouraged us to make the most of our time in Hakodate ... more

  • Name:
    Xingruo Sun
    Colby College
    Xingruo Sun photo

    The summer at HIF has been wonderful for me! I'm so glad that I was able to improve my Japanese so much and met so many wonderful instructors ... more

Contact Us
Transcripts for Alumni
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • YouTube