International Exchange through Homestays with Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan Junior & Senior High School

With the goal of deepening the relationship between partner schools through international exchange, the Ritsumeikan University International Center at the Osaka Ibaraki Campus (OIC) arranged a homestay program from Friday, July 7 – Friday, July 9 with international students from Ritsumeikan University and students from Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan Junior & Senior High School (Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture).

Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan Junior & Senior High School is a partner school of the Ritsumeikan Trust and offers a Ritsumeikan course in its curriculum to support students who wish to enroll at Ritsumeikan University or Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in the future through a recommendation-based entrance examination. After the establishment of OIC, exchange between the schools began in FY2016, with Ritsumeikan University sending international students to participate in Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan Junior High School’s English Immersion Camp via the Office of Integrated Primary and Secondary Education and the International Center at OIC.

As a partner school of Ritsumeikan, Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan Junior & Senior High School seeks ways to further international and English education through their partnership with the university. As a part of these efforts, they sought to create new cooperation between Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan and OIC, which is the closest of Ritsumeikan University’s campus in terms of distance and also includes being a “Gateway to Asia” as one if its main concepts. Plans for exchange centered on a field trip, as Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan is located in Sakai City, which is famous for its craftsmanship in the manufacture of things such as knives, and it was decided that it would be a valuable experience for international students at Ritsumeikan to experience such craftsmanship first-hand with Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan students and their families. Additionally, because Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan has experience in welcoming international students of their own, there are many families who are willing to conduct homestays, which led to the final program involving both a field trip and homestay.

Eight international students from Ritsumeikan University participated in the homestay, including degree-seeking students from China and short-term study abroad students from Thai and Indonesia taking part in Ritsumeikan’s Global PBL Program for Innovative Mind and Intelligence, which was accepted as part of the FY2013 Re-Inventing Japan Project. Each student stayed with a junior or senior high school student from Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan Junior & Senior High School and their families.

On Friday, July 7, after a brief meeting at Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan Junior & Senior High School, the students and families departed to begin their homestays. The following day, the participants took a tour of the Sakai HAMONO Museum and learned about the traditional blades made in Sakai City. The rest of the homestay program was free for each family to plan, and activities included cooking takoyaki and other Japanese foods, visiting parks and museums in Sakai City, and playing games together.


When asked about her homestay experience, an international student from Thailand seemed very happy with it, saying, “I felt very welcome and could tell that they were very happy to have me stay at their home. It was a short time, but I felt like part of the family.”

Another student added, “My host family took me to local tourist spots such as a local temple and show. I liked that they took me to local places instead of big tourist attractions because I was able to visit beautiful local spots that I would not have noticed otherwise and learn much more about Japan.”

Comments from the homestay families included, “It was difficult for us to speak in English, but we were happy that we were still able to communicate” and “I’m glad that the international student got along well with the children. We would love to do this again if we have the chance.”

With the success of this homestay program, the International Center at OIC plans to continue coordinating opportunities such as homestays and home visits to facilitate cultural exchange between international students and Japanese families. The International Center also intends to continue seeking new opportunities for exchange with Hatsushiba Ritsumeikan Junior & Senior High School and other partner institutions.