Hokkai-Gakuen University

Sapporo, Japan

Important Information:

  • Semester Dates
    • Session I: Mid-April - mid-July
    • Session II: Mid-September - mid-December
      • Intake is in session I only. Students must attend for two semesters.
  • Language of Instruction:
    • ​ Japanese. It is strongly recommended that applicants have completed JAPA 2000 or equivalent prior to departure.
  • ​Website:
  • For further information, visit the International Centre for Students at the University of Lethbridge in SU060 or email us at outgoing@uleth.ca 

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).

Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido and Japan’s fifth largest city. Sapporo is also one of the nation’s youngest major cities. In 1857, the city’s population stood at just seven people. Today it has about 1.8 million residents. In the beginning of the Meiji Period, when the development of Hokkaido was started on a large scale, Sapporo was chosen as the island’s administrative center and enlarged according to the advice of foreign specialists. Consequently, Sapporo was built based on a North American style rectangular street system.  Sapporo's climate is characterized by refreshing summers and cold, snowy winters. There are four distinct seasons, and cumulative snowfall reaches five meters in winter. Few cities at this latitude see such heavy snowfall.

Sapporo became world famous in 1972 when the Olympic Winter Games were held there. Today, the city is well known for its ramen, beer, and the annual snow festival held in February.


The University of Lethbridge has enjoyed a reciprocal relationship with Hokkai Gakuen University for the past 20 years. In true Japanese fashion, our exchange students are treated extremely well, and experience a broad range of Japanese traditional cultural activities during their stay in Japan. The university has faculties in Humanities, Economics, Law, Business Administration, and Engineering. The university boasts an enjoyable campus life where students may develop lasting friendships with other students and professors of diverse backgrounds and specialties.

Since 1986, students from Hokkai-Gakuen and the U of L have visited in alternating years for a month in the summer.

This exchange is believed to be the longest running Japanese-Canadian exchange program of its kind. While in Lethbridge, Japanese students receive English language training and experience Canadian culture and heritage.

In Japan, Canadian students spend the morning in Japanese language training and lectures on various topics of Japanese life. In the afternoon the students are exposed to Japanese cultural exploration activities ranging from crafts like origami, calligraphy, pottery to judo and kendo demonstrations.

There are currently about 2,100 students enrolled at Hokkai-Gakuen University.

  • The name Sapporo comes from the Ainu language words Sat Poro Pet, translated as “dry, great river”.
  • With moderately warm summers, Sapporo is known for its heavy winter snowfalls, receiving an average of 630 cm or 248 inches of snow per year, one of the few cities worldwide with this much snow.
  • Sapporo hosts the annual Sapporo Snow Festival, bringing in more than 2 million tourists worldwide.
  • The city held the 1972 Winter Olympics, the first ever held in Asia.
  • Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan, is an active volcano.
  • There are over 1,500 earthquakes in Japan each year, though most of them are very minor.
  • Japan consists of approximately 6,800 islands.
  • The Japanese constitution includes an article completely renouncing war and aggression.

1.     Shiretoko: A UNESCO World Heritage Site that is so well-preserved, far from civilization, as well as exceedingly important in biodiversity and ecosystem, that it seems to be a frontier of the Earth is Shiretoko National Park. This park is one of the most isolated parts of Japan, accessible only by foot, boat, and several days of hiking. Because it is remote, it has become a home to large populations of bears, foxes, and deer.

2.     Rishiri and Rebun: The two islands dotting the northern tip of Hokkaido are peaceful fishing villages with breathtaking sceneries. In these islands, visitors can go hiking, see wildflowers, and be at awe with slow-paced life near nature. The striking dormant volcano Mt. Rishiri is found in Rishiri Island or Rishiri-to. Rolling slopes filled with alpine flowers, on the other hand, are found in Rebun Island or Rebun-to.

3.     Lake Toya: Lake Toya or Toyako is part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park that is so scenic it was chosen as the venue of the 2008 G8 Summit, a meeting of the leaders of the world’s most industrialized countries. The lake itself is picturesque but when combined with the nearby hot springs and the active volcano Mt. Usu, it becomes even more beautiful. In the park, visitors can go kayaking, fishing, trekking, and camping. They can also relax in the park’s several hot springs.

4.     Noboribetsu: Noboribetsu is a hot spring resort town that is part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Locals and many Japanese people believe that the town’s 11 kinds of thermal waters are the most soothing and healing in the whole country. Many of the hot springs in Noboribetsu are in the ryokan, Japanese-style inns appointed with traditional amenities and services.

5.     Asahikawa: Asahikawa is the second largest city in Hokkaido that is well-known for its local zoo called Asahiyama Zoo and scrumptious ramen aptly named Asahikawa Ramen. Asahiyama Zoo allows people to watch many kinds of animals up-close and enjoy certain attractions like the famous penguin walks during the winter season and the underwater flights of penguins placed in large glass tunnels

For detailed information about vaccination recommendations when going abroad, please visit the Government of Canada's website.

Rent is paid for by the student and is approximately $360.00/month for shared accommodations.

Students are assisted with finding accommodations, usually a shared apartment with other students. In some circumstances, exchange students may be eligible for subsidized housing.


The Tuition fee is paid to the University of Lethbridge according to the current fee schedule which can be found in the academic calandar. 

Health Insurance

Non-Japanese students with a Visa are allowed to become members of the National Health Insurance system while they reside in Japan and are strongly advised to do so. After you have joined the system, initial charges for treatment and medication will be reduced to 30% of the amount due at the clinic or pharmacy after you have presented your proof of coverage. Monthly premiums are about 1,000 yen. (ca. 12.5 CAD)

Please note: The insurance incidental to the International Student Card is not widely known in Japan and will not be accepted at hospitals in Japan.

For a detailed description of the Japanese Health Care System, please click here

Summary of Approximate Expenses


CAD 1,500-2,000


U of L Tuition

CAD 2,045.67

per semester, for three courses


shared accommodation: CAD 360

per month

Canadian Citizens require a visa to study in Japan.

Visit the Embassy of Japan in Canada website for information about the criteria for visa issuance as well as the application process.