Ainu related structure - 663highland/Wikimedia Commons

Community Building Through Meaningful Collaboration

See the dynamic social change of the settler-Indigenous relationship in Japan!

This program encompasses the fields of Social/Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies programs. It provides students with an experiential learning opportunity to learn about the community development undertaken by the Ainu, Indigenous people in Hokkaido, the northern island province of Japan.The program also facilitates understanding of the historical transition of the Ainu-Japanese relationship and meaningful collaborations of Ainu and non-Ainu (Japanese) people to build a vibrant community.

In recent decades there has been gradual, yet dramatic, change in the Japanese government policy from assimilation (since the 19th century) to the protection and revitalization of Ainu culture. Now is the time to visit Ainu communities and see the dynamic social change of the settler-Indigenous relationship in Japan.

More information






Spring 2023

Program type

Group study

Application information

Application status


Application deadline

November 15

Eligibility requirements

This program is open to accepting students from all majors. For additional eligibility requirements, please see below.

Info session

September 27 4-5PM, ES 614

October 18 4-5PM, zoom

Student learning

Ainu Group - Wiki Media - Missouri History Museum

Information session recording

The captions for this video have been auto generated

Have questions?

For program information, please contact Naotaka Hayashi at

For application and registration support, please contact the Group Study Team at

Other useful links:

Travel advisory for Japan
Lonely Planet Guide for Japan

Program details

Questions about these courses should be directed to the program instructor.     

Please note: course descriptions are tentative and subject to change.

  1. Courses offered

    Students on this program are required to enroll in both courses.

    ANTH 399: Applied Anthropology of Development: Community Development in Northern Japan (3 units)

    DEST 301: Political Ecology and Sustainability in the Circumpolar North: Ainu Cultural Revitalization (3 units)

  2. Prerequisites

    Permission of the instructor. See application requirements below.

For a detailed itinerary, click here.

  1. Pre-departure

    April 4 4-6pm, Calgary: Mandatory safety briefing and pre-departure orientation facilitated by Study Abroad

    May 1: Online meeting with Hokkaido communities (2 hours)

    May 8: Lecture and discussion, 9AM – 3 PM (5 hours)

    May 10: Lecture and discussion, 9AM – 3 PM (5 hours)

    May 12: Lecture and discussion, 9AM – 3 PM (5 hours)

  2. In-field

    June 3: Depart from Calgary for Narita (Tokyo).

    June 4: Arrive in Tokyo.

    June 5: Visit the Central Wholesale (fish) Market, Asakusa Buddhist temple, Sky Tree Tower, and other historic sites.

    June 6: Fly to Shin-Chinose, Hokkaido and arrive at Nibutani by bus.

    June 7: Ainu Museum in Nibutani Town tour.

    June 8: Visiting a National Trust forest, Chikornay to learn and experience (Ainu/non-Ainu) people’s activities to maintain the forest and the local culture.

    June 9: Visiting historic sites to explore the town’s history as part of the research Project in Nibutani town.

    June 10: Move to Shiraoi and meet with Community Workers to learn about the town’s community-building activities.

    June 11: Explore town's history, lifestyle, and culture.

    June 12:  Participate in community activities (Edible herbs and plants picking in the hills).

    June 13: Ainu National Museum (including some activities such as traditional craft-making, playing music, and dance) 

    June 14: Move to Sapporo and city tour to learn about the history.

    June 15: Workshop at the Center for Ainu and Indigenous Studies at Hokkaido University.

    June 16: Workshop at Arctic Research Centre at Hokkaido University in the morning, city tour in the afternoon, and a last-day banquet in the evening.

    June 17: Fly to Tokyo and Depart from Tokyo for Canada.

  1. Costs

    The estimated cost of this Group Study Program is $6049. This includes tuition, airfare, field trips, local transportation, accommodations and meals. 

    For the full cost breakdown and payment deadlines, please see the program Student Cost Summary.

    Important information regarding deposit payments: Deposits are non-refundable. Deposits secure your space in the program and allows payment for logistical arrangements to be made in advance.

  2. Funding

    International Study Travel Grant: Students studying abroad may be eligible for the University of Calgary's International Study Travel Grant. For more information on eligibility, application details and deadlines please click here.

    Faculty of Arts Group Study Program (GSP) Scholarships (for GSP participants) and Faculty of Arts Student Study Abroad Scholarships (for other international programs) - up to 10 awards of $1000 each! Application not currently open. Details to come. 

    Student loans: If you qualify for student loans, your program should qualify. We are able to provide you with a letter confirming your participation in the program for funding purposes. Please email to request a letter.

    Please note that eligibility for student loans is determined by your loans provider.

    Click here for more info on funding opportunities!

Students will stay at safe, clean and student appropriate accommodations. 

More details to come. 

This program is open to undergraduate students in good academic standing from all faculties.

Applications will be considered after your application and unofficial transcript have been received by Study Abroad.

  1. Statement of Purpose

    Please tell us why you want to study abroad, why you have selected this particular program (academic reasons, personal interest, career prospects, etc.), how this program will meet your academic objectives and/or complement your degree, how you plan to finance your program and why you should be selected.

    The Statement of Purpose is submitted within your online application (max 500 words).

    Note: Because the online application will time out after one hour, we recommend that you compose your statement of purpose in advance in Word to check for spelling, grammar and word count, and then paste it into the online application.

  2. Additional Documents

    1. Download an unofficial transcript from your Student Centre. Click here for a step-by-step guide to access your unofficial transcript.
    2. Submit your transcript through your online application with your statement of purpose. 

Please ensure that you have read the Group Study Program General FAQs thoroughly before applying.

Getting started

Program-Specific Info Sessions

Info sessions are scheduled for every Group Study Program. Attending an info session is not required to apply, but strongly recommended as it will give you an opportunity to meet the instructor and learn more about the travel experience.

We also recommend watching Global Learning 101 for general information.

Watch Global Learning 101

Global Learning Advising

If you have questions about this program, you can meet with one of our Global Learning Advisors by emailing or booking an appointment through the link below.

1. Select "Advising"
2. Select “Study Abroad”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Select your program advisor to view available times.

Book an appointment

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how a Group Study Program might align with your degree.

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


If I were to tell someone about the study abroad program I would tell them about how much fun they are. While getting credits and seeing the world are definitely perks to a study abroad, what I enjoyed the most was being with the group and enjoying every day.

Past Group Study Program Participant

International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular global learning program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Global Learning Advisors will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

If you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Global Learning Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.

Please note: All participants must adhere to COVID-19 and other vaccination-related requirements for the destinations visited on this program. Failure to do so may have consequences such as being denied access to accommodation/housing, program activities, or to the host country itself.