Kansai Gaidai University

Hirakata City, Japan

The exchange agreement

The exchange agreement between the University of Lethbridge and Kansai Gaidai University was signed in 2001.

Semester dates

Fall semester
early September–mid December
Orientation: early September
Suggested arrival: late August– early September
Spring semester
early February–late May
Orientation: late January
Suggested arrival: late January

A more detailed academic calendar, including holidays, can be found at the Kansai Gaidai website.

The country

Japan's population is over 126 million. Most Japanese reside in densely populated urban areas. Japan's capital city is Tokyo. The population of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area including the city, some of its suburbs and the surrounding area is approximately 12 million.

Basic English is widely spoken throughout the country, particularly in major cities and tourist centers. Announcements on public transportation are frequently made in both Japanese and English, and signs generally include decipherable roman characters or an English explanation.

In Japan, there are many fascinating places that you can enjoy for free. These include such diverse attractions as beer museums, food galleries, hi-tech consumer electronics showrooms, cosmetics factories and television studios. With so many different places to visit there's bound to be something of interest for everyone.

Traditional cultural pursuits such as sado (Japanese tea ceremony) and ikebana (flower arrangement) are much more than simple pursuits in skills. They embody spiritual ways seeking the traditional values of wabi (elegant stillness) and sabi (antiquated elegance with calm).

For more information about Japan, see sites such as en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan

The city

Kansai Gaidai University is located in Hirakata City (population: 400,000) on the border of Osaka and Kyoto prefectures. This location provides easy access to Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. Osaka is Japan's second largest business centre.

Hirakata is bounded by the Yodo River to the west, and the verdant Ikoma Mountains to the east. The area has been populated since ancient times, and thrived as the hunting grounds of nobles and aristocrats during the Heian period and as a staging post along the main road from Osaka to Kyoto during the Edo period.

With approximately 16,000 students attending the six universities located in Hirakata, the city can now be regarded as a "students' city".

The university

Originally established in 1945 as a small, private language school amid the smouldering ruins of post-war Japan, the school today prospers as a private, non-profit institution with four distinct educational programs. Kansai Gaidai offers a complete range of university courses at undergraduate and post-graduate levels. The university also offers a special program called the Asian Studies Program accommodating international students wishing to pursue Japanese language and Japan/Asian studies.

The two campuses of Kasai Gaidai are located in Hirakata city. As a university devoted to the promotion of international education, Kansai Gaidai recognizes the essential roles that human creativity, intelligence, and initiative play in the development of increased intercultural understanding.

Student life at Kansai Gaidai revolves around a variety of settings: classrooms, clubs, library, cafeterias, and student lounges, any of which can be the starting point for involvement in the Kansai Gaidai community. Over 13,000 Japanese students are here, interested in meeting and interacting with international students. They are willing to enrich your experiences in Japan.

For further information, check out:

Students considering application for exchange to Kansai Gaidai must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.


Courses are offered in English, and all students must register for a Spoken Japanese language class. Four courses, including Spoken Japanese, are the minimum required semester load for recognition by Kansai Gaidai to be a full-time student. Therefore exchange students may register for a maximum of five courses. Also offered is a Written Japanese course with availability depending on the students written Japanese abilities upon arrival.

A full listing of courses, including course descriptions, offered each semester, can be found at the Kansai Gaidai website.


Students have two options for housing while studying at Kansai Gaidai: dormitories or home-stay. The dormitories at Kansai Gaidai are four Seminar houses, most of which have double-occupancy rooms, shared bathrooms for each floor and a huge fully-stocked kitchen for the entire building. Rooms are traditional tatami-style rooms where students sleep on futons. In the back part of the room, there are two desks, chairs, and closets. The dorms also have a computer lab, and are generally very well-run and modern.

Students choosing to live with a Japanese family in a home-stay situation have had excellent experiences, and find that this living environment provides them with an excellent opportunity to learn more about Japanese culture, and especially to significantly improve their Japanese language skills. One drawback of a home-stay is that long commutes are often required from the family home to the university. As student demand for home-stay placements is at times higher than the supply, some students requesting a home-stay may be placed in a dormitory. In such cases, however, they are encouraged to take part in the Kansai Gaidai Home Visit Program.


Within Osaka, the most common mode of transport is train. Various discount cards are available for buses and trains. For example, a pre-paid Kansai Card can be used on all buses and trains within most of the Kansai area. Bus services are operated by numerous bus companies, not only in big cities but also in regional towns. The bus fare varies depending on the bus company but it is usually around $2.50 for an inner-city ride.

Visa requirements

Upon receipt of your confirmation as a participant in the exchange program, Kansai Gaidai will apply to the Osaka Immigration Office for a Certificate of Eligibility, which is the vital document in acquiring a student visa to Japan. For students who participate in the Asian Studies Program from affiliated institutions, the official nomination from the home institution must be received by the Center for International Education prior to/together with the arrival of application documents.

The visa application process may have changed since this page was updated. Please email International Programs (int.programs@uleth.ca) for more information.

For further details about this visa, contact the Consulate General of Japan in Calgary.

Consulate General of Japan in Calgary
2300-450 1 St SW
Calgary AB T2P 5H1
CanadaTel: 1.403.294.0782
Fax: 1.403.294.1645
Email: consular@conjapan.ab.ca
Website: www.calgary.ca.emb-japan.go.jp

Office hours for visa applications are Monday to Friday, 09:00–12:30, 13:30–17:00.

All applicants must call the office to arrange an appointment to apply for a visa and submit all documents in person at the Consulate General of Japan at Calgary. Note: visa application appointments can only be arranged by telephone.


Based on comments from our previous exchange students to Japan, the costs for the exchange are approximately as follows:

  • Housing: C$400/month (dormitory and home-stay)
  • Textbooks: $10–120/class
  • Food: ~$5–15/meal; grocery costs, ~$100–150/month
  • Transportation: $100–200/month depending on amount of personal travel
  • Visa: $30 (photograph and courier costs)

Videos and photos

To view on online video clip of Japanese exchange students and a former U of L exchange student to Japan talk about the Japan exchange at our February 2005 UofL International Program Info Sessions, see: crdcserve.crdc.uleth.ca/movies/exchange/japan.mov.

Student contacts

"Japan is a fantastic place to visit. If you get the chance definitely go. The is the opportunity of a lifetime. I found that I learned much more by actually going out and seeing the country, and talking to the people."

Gleb Shaposhnik, UofL exchange student to Kansai Gaidai

Former and current U of L exchange students to Kansai Gaidai, as well as our current incoming exchange students from Japan are happy to talk to students interested in the exchange. To request their contact information, please email int.programs@uleth.ca.