Tokyo, Japan - beautiful, peaceful, collegiate, metropolitan, suburb
Living in a homestay with an elderly, conservatively-minded couple for 10 months was a trial at times, but ultimately a good experience as my language and cultural experience improved immensely. I really enjoyed my stay there, although I did face a bit of a problem when a change in teaching took place half-way through the course, which badly affected my study at the International Christian University. There's loads to do and see in Tokyo, so you'll never be bored and with the great transport system, you can get around easily and efficiently, even if you want to go further afield from the town centre.
Useful local words: 'Are', 'becha becha'.
What not to pack: Dictionaries (too heavy and you can get some electronic ones there).
What to pack: A good camera.
Couldn't have done without: My laptop.
Word of advice: It's often hard to know where to start when choosing between cities – I advise that you collect as much information as you can (even if it's not much) and look at the characteristics of each place, basing your final decision on what you want to achieve and learn about while you’re there (culture, history, tourism, language skills, socialising...)
Stewart, Japanese and Cultural Studies, Newcastle University