COVID-19 Program Modifications

General Information

This page will be updated with any changes that may occur regarding the possible health and safety precautions AKP may implement during the 2023-2024 academic year. Staff are continuously assessing conditions in Japan and worldwide and may change the contents of this page based on the ever-shifting situation. If you are a student intending to study abroad with us, we ask that you read this page in close detail.

Important Vaccination Update: To better ensure the safety of the entire AKP community, AKP will require all AKP students to be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 in order to participate in the program moving forward (allowing exemptions for medical or religious reasons). This means that students must have completed their original vaccine series and received a booster shot (e.g. a third mRNA shot, an mRNA shot in addition to a “one shot” vaccine such as J & J, etc.) at least two weeks prior to arrival to Japan. Review the question “Will AKP be requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19?” for more information.

If you have any questions, please reach out to the AKP US Office at [email protected].

Last Updated: July 31, 2023

General Questions

The following may change based on Japanese immigration policy, but students are currently expected to…

Monitor health: Students are required to monitor their health for 14 days prior to their departure for Japan. Should a student feel ill within 14 days of departure, they should contact the AKP US Office right away.

Plan personal health and safety equipment: While masks will be optional for students, many in Japan may still choose to wear masks during their day-to-day life. Thus, we recommend that students who prefer a certain type of mask bring their own supply to use upon arrival in Japan, preferably surgical-grade or higher (e.g. disposable surgical masks, N95, KN95, KF94). Masks are available for purchase in Japan, and AKP will provide students with surgical-grade masks upon request or as needed.

Secure technology: All students should be prepared to bring a reliable laptop in the event that classes have to temporarily transition online.

In addition, all students will be required to have a working smart phone with both data and a working Japanese phone number for emergency use. A stipend of $125 per semester (4 months) will be granted to students for a data + voice capable SIM card. WiFi plans for laptops and tablets will not be required, as WiFi will be provided both on campus and in student housing.

In the past, students have used sites like or Sakura Mobile to purchase international SIM cards/phones. Accepted students who are struggling to identify options for themselves should reach out to the AKP US Office.

Yes, AKP requires all AKP students to be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 in order to participate in the program (allowing exemptions for medical or religious reasons). This means that students must have completed their original vaccine series and received a booster shot (e.g. a third shot of a two-shot series such as Pfizer or Moderna, an mRNA shot in addition to a one-shot series such as J & J, etc.) at least two weeks prior to arrival to Japan.

AKP currently allows vaccinations from any vaccine approved by the World Health Organization. Please refer to the WHO website for a list of currently approved vaccines.

The decision to require vaccines and boosters was made to better ensure the safety of the entire AKP community, which includes staff and faculty. If you wish to request an exemption, please reach out to [email protected].

Health and Safety

All AKP students will be enrolled in two forms of insurance by AKP: Japanese National Health Insurance (for coverage within Japan) and Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI)’s Comprehensive Plan for US students studying abroad. Both forms of insurance are paid for by AKP.
Japanese National Health Insurance covers 70% of most medical expenses incurred while in Japan upfront. This includes medicine, screenings, doctor’s visits, and hospital stays. The CISI plan will cover medical expenses on a reimbursement/claims basis while also providing other international insurance essentials such as travel assistance, medical evacuation, etc. This plan covers you in Japan and anywhere outside of Japan except for your home country.

As a general policy, masks will be optional for students and faculty in the classroom during the 2023-2024 academic year. However, students must wear masks in the classroom if requested to by the instructor of that class, and if living with a homestay family, students must wear a mask while with their homestay family if requested to by their family. In addition, AKP highly recommends that all students continue to wear a mask while commuting in crowded trains or buses or while visiting a medical institution . 

If you plan to wear a mask, AKP strongly recommends the use of surgical-grade or higher masks such as disposable surgical masks, N95, KN95, or KF94s. Students should bring their own personal face coverings from home but AKP will also supply masks at no charge upon request.

It is important to note that wearing masks during flu and cold season is seen in Japan as a cultural norm. Many people in Japan consider hygiene and health consciousness as an important social responsibility, and you may see many people still wearing masks even as mask requirements loosen up in Japan.

In addition to any guidelines included in this FAQ, students should follow other guidelines laid out by AKP, Doshisha University, and the Government of Japan. In general, some of these include:

  • Handwashing: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 30 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Symptom Monitoring: Should you feel sick, remain isolated at home to monitor your symptoms and contact AKP Kyoto Center staff right away. Kyoto Center staff will assist in connecting you with medical services.

Prior to students’ departure, AKP will require students to sign an assumption of risk form that lists these expectations in detail. For more information about Doshisha University’s rules, please refer to Doshisha University Guidelines for Preventing Spread of Infection of Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Given the high volume of travel occuring at the beginning of the semester, students will be required to test themselves with home antigen tests both before arrival in Japan. Students who are moving into a homestay for the first time will also be required to test during orientation. This is to ensure the safety of students during orientation as well as homestay families prior to move-in. More information about these procedures will be provided closer to the beginning of the semester.

During the semester, AKP will provide government approved at-home antigen tests for both students and host families to use should they wish to test themselves.

Those with moderate to severe COVID-like symptoms (e.g. fever, difficulty breathing, fatigue, etc.) will be asked to isolate at home and take an antigen test.

Those with mild COVID-like symptoms (e.g. sniffles, sore throat, light and infrequent cough) may continue to come to campus but should monitor themselves for the next 72 hours. If symptoms persist after 72 hours, you will be asked to stay home and take an antigen test.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you must stay in your AKP housing until at least 5 days after symptom onset or positive test result AND at least 1 day has passed after your symptoms resolve. “Symptoms resolve” mean that you are free of fever (without the use of medication) AND your respiratory symptoms have improved. Even if you are symptom-free, you must still wear a well-fitting mask until 10 days after symptom onset or a positive test result.

AKP takes the mental health of its students very seriously. Should you wish to meet with a counselor while in Japan, you may speak with the Resident Director or Office Director to set up an appointment. AKP will normally subsidize any counseling fees with our appointed counselors. The TELL Hotline, a confidential phone counseling service, is also available to students. See the Culture Shock and Counseling page for more information.

Room and Board

During the 2023-2024 academic year, AKP will do its best to place all students in a homestay. However, due to lingering effects from the pandemic, AKP may not be able to provide homestays for everyone. Should this be the case, AKP will house some students in apartments. These apartments will be paid for in full by AKP, and the daily food stipend will be increased to cover the free breakfast and dinner previously provided in the homestay housing model. Cleaning supplies for the students’ apartments will also be provided by AKP at no cost.

On the post-acceptance Homestay Questionnaire, students will have the chance to indicate their preference regarding housing should AKP be unable to provide homestays for everyone.

AKP recognizes the role our host families play in our program’s cultural learning component.  Students who have to be placed in an apartment will be paired with a host family for weekly activities throughout the semester. 

Students must ask their homestay family permission to invite guests to their home and are strictly prohibited from inviting guests over when their host family is not at home. For students in apartments, no overnight guests are allowed, including family and friends from your home country.

Day-to-Day Life

Precautions designated by AKP’s host institution, Doshisha University, include providing hand sanitizer at the entrance of all buildings and keeping doors and windows open to increase ventilation.

Domestic travel within Japan is allowed. However, AKP will strongly encourage students to avoid travel to any prefecture or area that is under a State of Emergency or other restrictions due to COVID-19. 

Travel outside of Japan (except for personal and family emergencies) during the semester will be strictly prohibited until further notice. Any student who chooses to travel outside of Japan during the semester without approval from the Resident Director risks severe disruption to their program, including possible dismissal from the program without refund.

Full year students may travel internationally during the winter break after signing the appropriate release form.


If the in-person program is canceled before the start of the semester: AKP will not charge the student or the student’s home institution any fees related to the program. Similarly, should you choose to withdraw before the semester begins, you will not be charged anything by AKP.

If the in-person program is canceled mid-semester: Should it seem that AKP cannot operate in its intended form due to significant interruptions by COVID-19 or if there will be difficulty in returning students to their home countries at the end of the semester due to border closures or reduction of flights, AKP will consider evacuating students from Japan and continuing any remaining coursework online.

In the event of such a disruption, AKP will refund prorated room and board costs based on the number of days remaining in the program. Unless you paid fees directly to AKP, AKP will issue the refund to your home institution, who will be responsible for dispersing that to you according to its own policies. Tuition will not be refunded unless there are circumstances that prevent AKP from continuing coursework online or elsewhere.

AKP considers meal stipends (as well as the commuter pass, if provided) as part of room and board costs, so refunds for these amounts will be included in the room and board refund. No additional refunds for these will be provided beyond the room and board refund.

Field trips and other group activities are always subject to change, so no refunds will be provided for any such activities that were planned but needed to be canceled due to an evacuation or other disruption related to COVID-19. However, any remaining amounts for the monthly Cultural Activities Grant will be paid in full to students prior to evacuation.

Finally, AKP will also provide assistance with return airfare costs.

Students who choose to withdraw from the program mid-semester will be charged based on the withdrawal policy of their home institution.