Rikuzen Takata Project


Program Dates: August 30 - September 9, 2020
Open to: US university students
Location: Tokyo and Rikuzen Takata, Japan
Application Deadline: May 31, 2020 @ 11:59 PM PDT

University students from the US, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore build cross-cultural understanding, communication, and collaboration skills by working in teams to design and implement a community project in Rikuzen Takata, which was devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about Japanese culture through pre-departure training, on-site orientation, and project-based collaboration with Japanese counterparts.
  • Understand social issues in Japan through the lens of disaster recovery.
  • Develop skills in design-thinking, leadership, and cross-cultural communication through hands-on project-based learning.
  • Develop a global perspective on community implications of disaster recovery and natural disaster preparedness.
  • Build empathy and connections with peers from Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore


Trip Details

  • When: August 31 – September 9, 2020
  • Where: Tokyo and Tohoku (northern Japan, the area affected by the March 2011 earthquake & tsunami)
  • Who: US students, Japanese students, and students from other universities in Asia


  • August 30 (US time) – Depart US for Tokyo
  • Tokyo
    • August 31 – Arrive in Tokyo, short orientation to Ikebukuro area of Tokyo
    • September 1-2 – Ikebukuro, pre-departure workshop with Rikkyo University; prep for project, form teams, enjoy Tokyo!
  • Rikuzen Takata, Tohoku Region
    • September 3-7 – Field work in teams, initial presentations to community
  • Tokyo
    • September 8 – Return to Tokyo, final project presentations at Rikkyo University
    • September 9 – Program wrap-up and departure to US

Get a glimpse into the program from past participants!

The program fee includes:

  • Housing in Tokyo and Rikuzen Takata
  • Breakfast and dinner in Rikuzen Takata
  • Bullet train transportation between Tokyo and Rikuzen Takata
  • Cultural activities
  • 24-hour support from on-site VIA staff

Total: $1,900 (estimated)

The program fee does NOT include:

  • International airfare
  • Local transportation in Tokyo
  • Meals in Tokyo and lunches in Rikuzen Takata

  • 100% of US participants strongly agreed that the program was a good way to practice cross-cultural communication skills.
  • US student response to question about how student groups can contribute to community revitalization:
    • I think that student groups like this can best contribute to Rikuzen Takata’s community recovery/revitalization efforts by sharing their experiences with friends/family.
  • Testimonial:
    • These kinds of programs are absolutely amazing. Just being able to leave the country is a blessing, but having the opportunity to give back to the community makes you feel great about yourself. It also lets you see a part of the world that maybe you have never been before and in that case, makes you see the different lifestyles and cultures.