ST Star Awards 2018! (Here we go again!)

Posted on September 09, 2018 | genkijacs

Well, we have done it again! We have some incredible news for you! Every September, the Star Awards honour the top language schools worldwide. Think of it as the Oscars of the study travel industry!
This year, once again, by popular vote, we were named Star Language School 2018! There are great many language schools worldwide and we are honoured to be the top one!

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You may be aware that we have been nominated and shortlisted since 2009 and won once before in 2016. To receive this incredible honour again is not something we have expected, but it does make us proud!
Thank you all who voted for us and of course to all of the staff and teachers at our Tokyo and Fukuoka schools. Your hard work and dedication to our students makes it all possible!

Thank you again!

Genki Japanese and Culture School team

Star Awards Shortlist 2018

Posted on July 26, 2018 | genkijacs

We are very proud to say that we have been shortlisted for the very prestigious Study Travel World Language School Star Award yet again this year! This marks the 10th year in a row we've been shortlisted for this award. It's an honor to be considered for this award, which is truly a benchmark of excellence in the language study travel industry.

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From the official website: "The ST Star Awards have honoured top class performance across the study travel industry for 14 years and are the awards that educators, agents and service providers working in the study travel industry want to win, and be associated with. Those who win the award five times are introduced into the StudyTravel Star Awards Hall of Fame as a Super Star."

Typhoon Update: July 3

Posted on July 02, 2018 | evankirby

Typhoon #7 is still on track to pass near to Fukuoka today, July 3. However, it isn't expected to arrive until late afternoon, so classes will be held from the morning as scheduled. If the situation changes throughout the day, we may finish classes early. If you're worried about getting to and from school, it's OK to take the day off. Stay safe!

GDPR and Data Privacy at GenkiJACS

Posted on June 07, 2018 | evankirby

You’ve probably heard about the new European data privacy law GDPR. To make sure that GenkiJACS is doing everything right, we’ve rewritten our privacy policy recently.
However, we also decided to take this as an opportunity to examine the data that we require from students, how we store it, and how long we store it for.

Data We Require
First, we should make a distinction between the two kinds of people we work with:
1) Our students
2) Everyone else

We require quite a bit of information from our students, so that we can provide the best possible service for those students. All the information we request is either for us to use to help students, or to provide to one of our service partners (accommodation provider, internship provider, etc.). We try not to ask for any information that we don’t use.
From everyone else (i.e. people who aren’t yet our students), we don’t require any information at all. We use Google Analytics on our website, to track how many visitors we have and what they do on our site, but this data is only used in aggregate, not to track individuals. We’ve set Analytics so that user data is anonymized. Basically, we don’t need to know much information about anyone who isn’t a customer, and because having personal data is a potential problem, we’d prefer not to have that data!
(For the record, we also don’t sell anyone’s data.)

How We Store Data (And How Long For)
In 2018, we (finally!) switched over to using a full-featured school management software system, which has the added benefit of storing student data very securely. We’ve never had a data breach, and with our new system, the odds of ever having one are even lower.
When we switched over to our new system, we purged all old student data, with the exception of names and study periods for former students (so that we can give discounts to returning students, and send transcripts when required). For new data, we plan to keep student data in our system for two years after study is finished, then to delete all data except names and study periods. There’s one exception: the Japanese government requires us to keep detailed records for everyone who applies for a student visa through us for 3 years from date of application.

Basically, we only want the minimum data possible to provide the best services possible, and we want to keep that data for as little time as possible. We take our responsibility with customer data very seriously.

Genki Scholarship Reward Program

Posted on October 05, 2017 | genkijacs

Exciting news for all!

Most schools reward their students for studying hard, good attendance, behaviour and many other things by rewarding them with kind words and good marks. (“10 points to Gryffindor!”)

This is great, of course - receiving good scores on your tests and coursework is a good feeling. Being praised by your teachers is also very nice. But this is where the rewards usually stop…

Until now.

We here at Genki Japanese school believe that being a good student and trying your best should come with more perks and rewards than just a good record (and the before-mentioned “10 points to Gryffindor”). That is why we have decieded to start our own reward system:

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All of our students currently studying on the 1-year course are eligible to be considered for this scholarship. But before we go any further, let’s look at the small print:

Who is eligible? All our one-year Japanese language course students *both on a student visa or other long-term visa.
Recipients: One hard-working student every 6 months.
How to apply: Simply by studying with us on the 1-year course. No additional application necessary. Easy, right?
Point system: The winner will be chosen based on the below 2 criteria.
1) Attendance rates over the first 3 terms (30 weeks) of your 40-week course.
2) Your grades during the first 3 terms.
Delivery: At the beginning of the final term of your course.
Prize: 50% off the course fees of your final term! That’s a whole lot of spending money :)

Learning a foreign language is hard work, and learning it away from home is even harder. We at GenkiJACS believe that such hard work should be rewarded and encouraged. This is why we have decided to start this scholarship!

みんな、がんばりましょう!

North Korea - we're not worried

Posted on August 30, 2017 | genkijacs

You've probably heard a lot on the news recently about North Korea, particularly their missile testing. While it has also been in the news in Japan, it's important to note that North Korea is seen as much less of a threat here in Japan than it seems to be in other countries. Life goes on completely as normal here, whatever normal means in the country that invented these:

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We'll be keeping an eye on the ongoing situation, because we want to make sure all GenkiJACS students stay safe, but we don't anticipate any danger. Like all responsible businesses, we have evacuation plans in place for all major possibilities, from typhoon to Pikachu invasion.

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And we also have our faithful school managers, Tomoe-sensei in Tokyo and Yuuki-san in Fukuoka, to keep everybody in line!

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Important points:

1) North Korea has been test-firing missiles since 1984, and sending them over Japan since 1998. This is not a new problem.

2) North Korea's leadership doesn't want to actually fight other countries, for obvious reasons.

3) North Korea's military capability is intended as a defense against regime change (internal or external).

4) The missile this time (and all the ones before it) was not aimed at Japan at all, it just passed through Japan's air space.



... On the other hand, the Pikachu invasion is a real and imminent threat and people should wake up and realize that we are all in danger!

We should all be scared.

They are coming.





[click here to go back to GenkiJACS' homepage] or [click here to throw caution to the wind and request a free quote for your study in Japan!]

New Book From Hamabe-Sensei

Posted on August 21, 2017 | evankirby

Hamabe-sensei is one of the longest-teaching Japanese teachers at Genki Fukuoka's Japanese school, and he's especially esteemed for his lecture classes, as his extensive life experience makes for exciting discussions. Last month, his new book was published, and it's now available in all good bookshops, and of course on Amazon too!

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The book is called 気づきと感謝で、苦を楽に変える道を学ぶ (roughly, "Learning how to turn suffering into happiness through watchfulness and thankfulness"), and deals with Mr. Hamabe's life experiences, thoughts, advice, and much more. We have to confess that we haven't finished reading it yet, but we started with the chapters about GenkiJACS. The book is of course written in Japanese, but could be a really interesting read for former students of Hamabe-sensei, as well as anyone else with good kanji skills. And congratulations to Mr. Hamabe on publication! It's great to see his hard work pay off.

居合道(いあいど)

Posted on August 09, 2017 | genkijacs

We will continue our Japanese 武道 series with a brief introduction of the art called 居合道 (居合道).

※Disclaimer: we do not claim to be experts at any of the martial arts we will be exploring on this blog. This information is to be taken as a guide only.


Etymology

居合道 as the name is a peculiar one as it doesn’t really give us any idea of what the whole martial art is all about. Unlike 剣道 and 弓道discussed in previous posts, where the meanings correspond to the activity: i.e. the way of the sword and the way of the bow respectively, 居合道 does not have a clear meaning. 居 (い、キョ)literally means: to reside; to be; to exist and 合(あい)means: to fit; to join; to meet. So where does the name actually come from? Well according to some sources it comes from the phrase: 常に居て、急に合わす(つねにいて、きゅうにあわす)。It can roughly be translated to mean: One can act (meet the opponent) quickly if constantly present. So we can roughly translate 居合道 to mean: The way of constant vigilance.

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History

It is a relatively young martial art. Although the practice of drawing the sword has been a part of 剣術(けんじゅつ)and some of the first records of 居合術(いあいじゅつ)can be found all the way back to 1500s, the actual term 居合道 was introduced by 中山 博道 (なかやま・はくどう) in 1932 and an entirely separate martial art was born. It was then recognised by the 大日本武徳会(だいにっぽぶどくかい)or All Japan Society of Martial Virtue, an organisation established at the end of the 19th century with a goal of promoting: culture, world peace and harmony through the rigour of practicing martial arts.

After WWII Japan was occupied by the allied forces and the practice of martial arts was halted until 1950s. However, shortly after the turn of the decade All Japan Kendo and All Japan Iaido Federations were established, and the practices of these martial arts were resumed.

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The Practice

居合道 is generally practiced by performing choreographed moves called 型(かた)and they are executed in a very deliberate fashion. The purpose of these moves is not in learning how to defeat an opponent or winning a competition, but rather in learning of how to better oneself as a physical and a spiritual being. One might argue that it is closely related to meditation and there is some truth to that. 居合道encourages a practitioner to strive to developing a no-mind or 無心 (むしん)state of being, where one can react to everything without a moment of hesitation.

A beginner practitioner would start with using a 木刀(ぼくとう)or 木剣(ぼっけん)literally meaning wooden sword/blade, but eventually would move on to using a so called 居合刀(いあいとう)- a dull bladed sword made specifically for the purpose of practicing 居合道。 
Many schools of 居合道actively encourage their students to practice 剣道to remind a practitioner about the fighting aspect of wielding a sword.

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Competition 試合(しあい)

居合道 competitions are a little different to other, competitive martial arts. Instead of fighting, two 居合道家(いあいどうか) perform prescribed 型(かた)forms in unison, next to each other. They are judged on: form, timing, intention, spirit etc.

Grades

Like in many other 武道, 居合道 ranks are broken down into 級(きゅう)grades and once a practitioner achieves 一級(いっきゅう)they would be eligible to start testing for 段(だん)grades. Depending on the school there could be up to 10 段grades.

The Uniform

During practices 居合道家tend to wear wide traditional trousers and 袴(はかま)a loose durable top called 稽古着(けいこ着)as well as a belt sash called 帯(おび). Depending on the school the colour of the uniform may differ, but generally 道着(どうぎ)tends to be blue, white or black.

Words used in this article:
居合道(いあいど) Aikido
武道 (ぶどう) Martial Arts
剣道(けんどう) Kendo (Way of the Sword)
弓道 (きゅうどう) Kyudo (Way of the Bow)
剣術(けんじゅつ) Kenjutsu (Art of the Sword)
居合術(いあいじゅつ) Iaijutsu (The Art of Iai)
大日本武徳会(だいにっぽぶどくかい) All Japan Society of Martial Virtue
無心 (むしん) A state of no mind
木刀(ぼくとう) Wooden sword
木剣(ぼっけん) Wooden blade
居合刀(いあいとう) A sword with a dull edge
試合(しあい) Competition
型(かた) Kata Form
級(きゅう) Kyu grade (Equivalent to the belt system)
一級(いっきゅう) 1st Kyu (Equivalent to the brown belt)
段(だん) Dan Grade
袴(はかま) Wide traditional Japanese trousers
稽古着(けいこ着) Loose traditional Japanese top
帯(おび) Traditional Japanese sash
道着(どうぎ) lit. Cloth of the way (Practice clothing)

Study Travel Magazine - Star Awards 2017

Posted on July 30, 2017 | genkijacs

After having won the very prestigious Study World Travel Magazine Award in 2016, GenkiJACS has been shortlisted for it once again for the 9th year in a row! We have been going from strength to strength for the past year, and take this nomination as a sign of our continued growth and improvement.

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We would like to express our gratitude to everyone who has voted for us this year and promise to keep going, providing you with our best service and spreading our love for the Japanese language throughout the world.

Please visit http://www.studytravel.network/star-awards/ to find out more about the awards.


博多祇園山笠(はかたぎおんやまかさ)Hakata Gion Yamakasa

Posted on July 20, 2017 | genkijacs

山笠 is a two-week long festival celebrated in Hakata, Fukuoka from the 1st to the 15th of July, culminating in a race of exclusively men carrying massive 1-tonne floats called 舁き山(かきやま). It is an incredibly old festival dating back some 750 years, honouring a Buddhist priest named Shouichi Kokushi who was known to be carried on a platform through the streets of Hakata scattering water to purify and banish evil spirits who were thought to be responsible for the plague ravaging the city.

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In the past, the floats were much taller than they are now, but because of the introduction of power lines in the Meiji Period, the practice had to be adjusted as they kept getting caught in the wires. These floats are called 飾り山(かざりやま)and they now serve as decorations for the festivities. They can be seen around the city during the festival and are put on display at 櫛田神社(くしだじんじゃ)during the rest of the year.

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The race starts incredibly early, and most spectators tend to stay up all night to get the best spots available. At 4:59 AM the race commences and will not stop until the last of the seven 山笠 teams arrives safely to their destination about 5km later. It takes each team around 30 minutes to finish the race. It is a Herculean effort, and the participants are doused with water to cool them down as they run through the streets of Fukuoka.

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There are some fascinating traditions associated with the festival. One of them is the practice of abstaining from eating cucumbers. It supposed to be observed by the participants of the race only, but some residents of Fukuoka choose to follow this tradition as well. It is said to be because the crest of 櫛田神社looks like a cucumber cut in half.

Enjoy the Festival Season.