@yumidesu, My son considered 4 of the schools on your son’s list. He ended up at Williams with Wesleyan, Hamilton and Kenyon as other top choices. (Kenyon, by the way, also offers Japanese language courses and would fit well in your son’s mix.)
Though I wouldn’t characterize my son as shy, he was at the time introspective and more likely to observe than initiate. Socially, Williams’ residential “entry” system, in which a group of firstyears lives together under the guidance of unpaid Junior Advisors, provides a ready made social structure to hang out with, to share meals with, to go to events with. The JAs provide advice both consequential and mundane plus soft shoulders as required.
Academically I would say that Williams is more collaborative than competitive. Though Williams students are serious about academic achievement, my observation is that the most prevalent pressure is internally generated: grades aren’t compared, or even discussed. Williams faculty are there for their students; they offer support and personal relationships that endure long after graduation in the form of graduate school and career recommendations. If a student encounters an academic rough patch, help is there often before it’s asked for.
Williams doesn’t have minors, but double majoring is common as is experimentation across disciplines. The Japanese program is small but vital with many adjuncts in other areas of study, such as art history, theater, history, plus a robust Asian Studies department.
Music performance opportunities for non-majors are a hallmark of Williams with two orchestras and a wide range of ensembles.
In addition to academic and music performance offerings, your son should think about the college’s prevailing culture. Williams insular mountain village environment encourages outdoorsy, nature driven activities which can either be a plus or a minus depending on what students like to do in their spare time.