Who is this trip coordinated and sponsored by?
This trip is sponsored by the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and coordinated by the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and the Japan International Coordination Center (JICE).
Can I be a supervisor?
The opportunity to be a Kakehashi supervisors is open to JACL staff and active JACL members. Supervisors must be in good physical condition to keep up with the schedule of the program, as well as be comfortable helping JICE staff in their duties and facilitating group cohesion.
If you would like to be a supervisor, please complete this form by September 29 for the December 2019 trip.
Do I have to have Japanese ancestry to apply?
JACL’s Kakehashi trip is only open to individuals of Japanese ancestry. The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) is administering a trip in March 2020 open to all AAPI students.
Is an adopted child in a JA family considered to have Japanese ancestry?
Yes! Someone who is adopted in a JA family is considered to be of Japanese ancestry for the purposes of the trip.
What expenses are covered by the program?
Flight, accommodations, meals, and activities within the program are covered. However, travel to hub airports and personal items are the responsibility of the participant. Some domestic travel can be provided if financial need exists.
Where are we going?
You’ll be traveling to Japan on a 9-day trip. You’ll visit Tokyo and 1 other city/region: TBA
What if I miss my flight?
You are responsible for meeting with your group at the assigned meet-up location and time at your hub airport. This meet-up time is mandatory for all participants and you will not be permitted to meet at the group at the gate or at a connecting airport. If you are running late, please notify your flight chaperone as soon as possible (we will provide contact information).Even under circumstances outside of your control such as weather delays you remain responsible for meeting at the designated time and location. If you miss your flight to Japan completely, we will provide you with contact information for a US-based travel agent whom you will call as soon as possible while JACL and JICE discuss what actions to take next. We cannot guarantee that alternate arrangements will be made to get you to Japan and rejoin the group. Furthermore, you will be responsible for paying any additional fees or costs associated with making these arrangements.
Where are we staying?
You’ll be staying in hotels for the majority of the trip and will have at least 1 roommate (roommates will be assigned and may not be requested). You will also take part in a homestay experience, where you and at least 1 other student will be hosted by a family and stay overnight at their home. Please ensure that you’ve listed the appropriate food and medical allergies/restrictions on your application (for example, we wouldn’t want you to go to a family with pets if you’re allergic to animals).
What if I get lost or separated from the group?
When you arrive, you’ll be provided with emergency contact information in Japanese that you’ll carry with you for the duration of the trip. In the event that you get separated from the group, you’ll give this card to any Japanese person and they will be able to reach a JICE staff member who will assist you.
Will I have free time? Can I meet my family or friends while I’m there?
You will have a full schedule each day of the trip, from breakfast through dinner. You will not have time to meet with family or friends. You may not miss any scheduled events for any reason, including to see family or friends.
Do I have to be aware of social etiquette in Japan? And what is the social etiquette in Japan?
Japan has strict social etiquette rules that visitors should always be conscious of, especially when interacting with officials and the home stay family. Upon meeting an individual who is older than you or holds a position of authority, bowing is a sign of respect. However, foreigners are not usually expected to know this but please be polite and formal in your introductions. In the home, take off your shoes at the entrance of the home. Remember to bring and exchange your omiyage with the host family. Keep your luggage neat and always be respectful of their home.
Even in larger social settings like on the train be respectful of other people by keeping your voice low and not horsing around.
Always be aware that Japan’s social etiquette is very polite. Be aware of what the natives are doing and act accordingly. This is not your country please be respectful of their customs and their rules.
We will provide instruction on social etiquette during orientation as well.
Will I be able to drink on this trip if I’m of legal age in the US or in Japan?
Consuming alcohol will be strictly prohibited at all times (including the home-stay portion) for all participants regardless of age.
How much money should I bring and in what form (cash, cards, etc.)?
Most major credit cards will be accepted in Japan, though it is important to note that using cash is much more common (and necessary in some cases) in Japan than in the US. Students are encouraged to get at least some cash beforehand, though ATMs are a common and convenient way to get cash in Japan as well.If you do plan on using any ATM, credit or debit cards, please be sure to call your card company to ensure that your card will work in Japan, to put a travel notification on your account, and to ask about any exchange/transaction/ATM usage fees that might be incurred for using your card internationally. Using traveler’s checks or trying to convert US cash is not recommended due to the higher transaction fees.
Lastly, because many expenses will be covered by the trip, most participants can estimate their money needs based on smaller purchases like snacks and souvenirs. Prices for these kinds of items are roughly the same as in the US: a soda or drink costs about 150 JPY, a keychain or small souvenir might be around 500-800 JPY. You should not need more than $10-$20 a day.
Will I have Internet or Phone/Data Service?
Wi-fi is generally very common at hotels in Japan, though it may not always be available in other public places. You should not expect to have phone or data service with your regular US cell phone, but some carriers do include free data service in Japan as part of some of their service plans (T-mobile for instance), but please check ahead of time.
Do I need plug adapters for my phone/laptop charger or other electronics?
The outlets in Japan are two-pronged and 100V, as opposed to the three-prong, 120V outlets in the US. This means your two-pronged plugs will work just fine in Japanese outlets (so most cell phone and laptop chargers), though a three-pronged plug will need an adapter. The lower voltage is generally only an issue for high-power or heating items (such as a hair dryer), in which case a voltage adapter may also be required.
What will the weather in Japan be like?
Most of the weather in Japan is similar to the Midwest or Northeastern United States. Japan experiences four seasons to varying degrees depending on the region.
The winter can get pretty chilly. There is the possibility of snow and temperatures range from the lower 30s-40s Fahrenheit.
Spring is the time for cherry blossoms and mild weather. It is warm (60-70s F) during the day and can get chilly in the evenings (50s F).
What kinds of clothes will I need? Do I need to bring formal clothes?
Remember you will be representing the United States to business executives and the Japanese government. An itinerary with more specific packing and dress information will be sent out shortly, but generally, you should expect to need business casual clothes for at least 3-4 days. For males, this includes dress shoes, slacks or nice khakis (no jeans), belt, long-sleeved collared shirts, and a sportcoat/blazer or other appropriate jacket (no hoodies or sweatshirts; ties are not required). For females, this includes dress shoes, pants or skirts/dresses that are at least knee-length, and a shirt or blouse with a collar.
Casual clothes should be otherwise neat and presentable. Remember to pack appropriately for cold weather and rain as well.
KAKEHASHI students should wear clothing that is simple, modest, and “appropriate” for more formal environment of a Japanese school. We will also have meetings with high-level executives of Japanese companies, so you will need to bring business/smart casual clothes (this means no jeans, shorts, t-shirts).
The following lists can serve as a guideline as to what is “appropriate”:
What to wear:
- Knit or woven fabric shirts/blouses (short or long sleeves)
- Solid color pants and skirts
- Walking shoes which are easy to slip off and on, but also great for walking on potentially uneven surfaces.
- Socks (clean and without holes) and always carry an extra pair in your bag in case you need to go without shoes inside
- Neat jeans, no shorts.
What NOT to wear:
- Camisoles, halter tops, plunging necklines, sleeveless T-shirts
- See-through fabrics, undergarments showing
- Cut-off jeans or shorts, mini-skirts.
- Body piercings such as tongue, lips, eyebrows, etc. (pierced ears are ok)
- If you have a tattoo they should be covered at all times
- Perfume, unnatural hair color, too much make-up, manicure/pedicure (no sharp or artificial nails)
- No hats indoors
Besides clothes, is there anything else I should bring?
Yes, there a few things you will need:
–PASSPORT! It is absolutely critical that you remember to bring your valid passport. If you do not have it at the time of the flight, you will not be able to board the plane or travel to Japan until you have it. Additionally, your passport will be your only form of valid ID in Japan and you will be required to carry it at all times under Japanese law. Make sure you have it before you leave for your hub airport and also ensure that you have a way to carry it on your person throughout the trip.
– Backpack or overnight bag: There may be times when your luggage will be sent ahead and you will need to pack clothes and other necessities for a night or two.
– Omiyage: This is a small gift or souvenir that you should bring for your host family and possibly for meetings with Japanese students or other people. Omiyage is usually meant to be something representative of your local area and it’s great if it’s something that can be shared. Local food items or even memorabilia from your school or local sports team are common omiyage ideas.
–Laptops: Each group will give a short powerpoint presentation on their trip at the end of the 9-day program (more details will follow once we arrive in Japan). We’re asking at least one person in each group to bring a laptop that the group can use to make their powerpoint slides. Please contact the JACL at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re planning on bringing your computer.
Is my medication legal in Japan? How much medication can I bring in?
Please be aware that certain medications that are legal in the US might be restricted or even banned in Japan (Adderall and Sudafed are two common examples of medications that are not allowed in any quantity in Japan). In many instances, travelers are also limited to bringing in less than one month’s supply of medication. Medications that you’ve noted on your applications should be fine in less than a month’s supply unless we’ve notified you specifically, but please let us know if you have any questions. For more information, please click here.