Hokkaido and Sapporo
Hokkaido is Japan’s main northernmost island, and Sapporo is the island’s main city. The weather from April through September is very comfortable. Although temperatures may rise above 30ºC on the hottest days of summer, such temperatures only last a few days. From the end of November through the beginning of March is snow season with temperatures falling to around minus 5ºC. The school thoroughly heats its buildings, though, so the cold is not as much of a problem as you might imagine. Commodity prices and particularly housing costs are low compared to Tokyo and Osaka.
Sapporo is home to one of Japan’s eight high courts. The School of Law frequently arranges tours of the Sapporo High Court and District Court. In addition, international students can use the Hokkaido University Library as well as the Hokkaido Prefectural Library (Japanese) (in Ebetsu) and the Sapporo Municipal Central Library. The area also boasts many art and other museums, including some that are free to international students.
Housing and Dormitories
Hokkaido University has dormitories for international students. Students apply to their faculty to reside in one of them. Applications are pooled from all the university faculties and then the rooms are allotted.
(2) Private Apartments and Condominiums
Many international students live in private apartments near the university. Rents vary. Japan has a unique system under which renters are required to pay both a deposit as well as key money. A fee is also paid to the real estate agent. Altogether, this means that renters must pay between two and six months of rent up-front when they move in.
Hokkaido University helps international students find apartments and condominiums. To conclude a housing contract in Japan, renters must have a guarantor. For international students who cannot find a guarantor, the university can serve as an institutional guarantor.
Even though living in Sapporo is less expensive than living in Tokyo or Osaka, it is hard to pursue studies without a scholarship. Hokkaido University has scholarship programs for international students, including the Hokkaido University President’s Fellowship and Special Grant Program for International Students, but only a limited number of each are awarded. We recommend that you have scholarships and other financial means in place before coming to Japan.
Government-Financed International Students
The Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho: MEXT) Scholarships offer both a high disbursement amount and the most secure status of all scholarships. There are three ways to apply: embassy recommendation (application through a Japanese embassy overseas), university recommendation (selection of new applicants before they arrive in Japan), and domestic selection (selection of privately financed students already in Japan). The method of recruiting government-financed international students differs by country and region. Please inquire at your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate. (This does not apply for domestic selection.)
Privately Financed International Students
Government-financed international students generally make up about 20 percent of all international students so most international students are privately financed. Hokkaido University’s School of Law and Graduate School of Law facilitate the scholarships for as many students as possible. With the increase in the number of international students, however, not all applicants can be awarded a scholarship and it is expected that this situation will worsen in the future. Before coming to Japan, please set up a financial plan sufficient for your research or study plans.
To ensure international students transition smoothly to life at the university, we offer a peer mentor program for about two weeks starting from the time the student arrives in Japan. The orientation program includes meeting students at their point of entry into Japan (when necessary), assistance with procedures for moving into a dormitory, university matriculation, various government-related matters, and opening a bank account in Japan, as well as tours of various facilities both on and off campus.
From around the time that the international student has become somewhat accustomed to life at the university, peer mentors are replaced by tutors who support the student in his or her daily life at the university. The type of support (assistance with class preparation and review, Japanese-language instruction, etc.) is decided in consultation with the tutor under the guidance of the faculty advisor. Tutors support international students in the undergraduate program for two years and other international students for one year.
As writing support for non-Japanese students, the Graduate School of Law offers advice and guidance regarding academic Japanese to international graduate students, if they so desire, when writing papers (research papers, master’s theses, and doctoral dissertations).
Updated on August 10, 2017