Japan Safety Update

Posted on April 26, 2011 | evankirby

The Ministry of Education's website, although in Japanese only, has a great set of data on radiation levels in each prefecture around the country since the 3/11 disaster. In particular, their page on Fukuoka Prefecture shows that levels of radiation here never rose above normal background rates, and Iodine 131 and Caesium 137 have not been detected in Fukuoka at all. We're glad to be able to prove to the world how safe Fukuoka is!
And for comparison, here is a chart showing radiation levels over 10 days of a man who traveled from the US to Asia carrying a geiger counter. The huge peaks on the chart are every time he took a flight. The tiny peak is when he visited close to Fukushima. Note that the background radiation levels in Tokyo seem lower than those in Singapore!


A couple of weeks have passed since our last post about safety in Fukuoka, so we thought it would be good to give an update on the situation here, and round up some detailed information from the web.

Fukuoka never experienced any raised levels of radiation above normal background radiation at all. We have had quite a few extra students who had planned to study in Tokyo, but decided to come to study with us in Fukuoka instead, because it is seen as safe. While the disaster has devastated parts of the north-east of Japan, there has been no change in daily life in Fukuoka at all.

Here is a map of radiation levels as of April 1st.
Here is a current map of radiation levels (in Japanese).
As of today, Fukuoka is marked with a D, meaning a level of 400 microsieverts per year. As the chart points out, this is only two-thirds of the radiation received in a single stomach x-ray, or twice the radiation received on a return flight from Tokyo to New York. So the current level in Fukuoka is normal background radiation levels. 400 microsieverts per year is also the difference between natural background radiation levels in the prefectures in Japan with the highest and lowest normal levels.

Here are daily updated radiation levels in Tokyo.
Tokyo is of course more than 800 km from Fukuoka, and much closer to the affected areas, but even there, current radiation levels are low.

The main reason why radiation levels did not rise in Fukuoka is because the radiation is carried in two ways: by air, and by sea water. Here is a current wind map of Japan.
In general, the winds blow from west to east over Japan. As Fukushima is in the east, and Fukuoka in the west, the wind generally blew the radiation east over the Pacific ocean, away from Fukuoka.
In addition, Fukuoka is on the sea of Japan, so it does not share an ocean with Fukushima. This means that the radiation released into the Pacific Ocean seawater did not affect Fukuoka either.

So, in summary, there have been no problems here, there continue to be no problems here, and it is not foreseen that there will be any problems here.


Update: Here is one more website showing detailed radiation levels by prefecture. Fukuoka isn't listed, because there has been no change in radiation levels here, but you can see that the radiation levels even in areas such as Tokyo have steadily returned to close to previous levels, and well below safety limits.

Here are comments from a couple of students.
Michael:
"I arrived in Japan 4 months ago in early January and quickly got use to life here in Fukuoka. The people were always helpful and friendly, and I've made lots of new friends from all around the world. When the earthquake and tsunami struck the Sendai area I was really shocked, as it was such a huge disaster but life in Fukuoka was seemingly unaffected. With the following radiation scare, a few GenkiJACS students chose to leave but most decided to stay, and some returned later. Life in Fukuoka remains unchanged however, and studying at GenkiJACS has remained an immensely fun experience."

Arnold:
"The long and cold winter is past. T-shirt time in Fukuoka! Finally.
Fukuoka? Sounds Japanese, and everything is contaminated by radiation there. Well... whoever is reading these lines is surely aware that Japan isn't a tiny island on the right side of the map, which consists solely of Fujiyama (wrong transcription intentional) and Sushi. The Tohoku region, momentarily associated with earthquakes, tsunami and radiation is a good distance away from Fukuoka. Here we also learned of the disasters only by the news. I was surprised how (seemingly?) calm the people in Fukuoka dealt with the news. The mood was subdued -. of course – but if one had just landed with a UFO one wouldn't have believed that the country is facing the biggest crisis in a long time. Anyway... life in Fukuoka is like I first experienced it about 2 years ago: friendly people in the streets, tasty Tonkotsu-Ramen and of course entertaining Japanese classes. Ganbatte Nihon!"

Anne Laure:
Je suis arrivée à Genki JACS courant Janvier (cela fait bientot 6 mois que je suis sur le sol japonais \o/), bien avant les catastrophes successives qui ont frappées le Japon en mars dernier.
Lorsque cela est arrivé, nous avons tous bien évidement été très touchés par la détresse des japonais et par les difficultés auxquelles tout un pays doit maintenant faire face.
Bien sûr, durant les semaines qui ont suivies le tremblements de terre, en plein coeur de la catastrophe nucleaire, beaucoup d'entres nous étaient inquiets, et certains ont préférés rentrer. Malgré tout, Fukuoka étant à plus de 800 km de Tokyo, rien n'a vraiment changé ici depuis la catastrophe (nous n'avons même pas eu de coupures de courant !). La vie à Fukuoka est toujours aussi amusante (et sans danger) et étudier à Genki JACS reste toujours une super expérience !

Rebecca:
Bonjour à tous !
Je suis à Fukuoka depuis le mois d’octobre 2010. Je sais qu’à l’étranger, il y a beaucoup d’information comme quoi le Japon est dangereux même en ce moment, du tsunami du 11 mai et de la centrale de Fukushima. Tout le monde était en panique à ce moment là, mais à Fukuoka, nous n’avons eu ni tremblements ni tsunami, la plupart des gens ont apprit ce qui s’était passé par la télé. Je suis vraiment contente d’avoir était à Fukuoka à ce moment là ! C’est vraiment un coin tranquille et sûr.

Changes at GenkiJACS

Posted on April 25, 2011 | evankirby

Spring is a time of change - at the end of April, people in Japan often do 衣替え ("koromogae", wardrobe changing). They put their winter clothes into storage, and get their summer clothes out. Mostly this is due to the lack of closet space in most Japanese houses, but it's also a nice custom to mark the changing of the seasons.

We've also made some changes at GenkiJACS. The big one is mostly internal: whereas previously we had one head teacher who was in charge of all class placements, scheduling, class progression, etc., we now have three:
Tomoe-sensei is in charge of Beginner 1 classes.
Aiko-sensei is in charge of Beginner 2 classes.
Machiko-sensei is in charge of Intermediate classes.
This allows each teacher to focus all of their attention on the progression of the classes they run, and to continuously improve the syllabus and curriculum of that level. It also means they can give a lot more personal attention to the students they are in charge of, so we expect the level of service we provide to you the student to just keep getting better and better!

The other change is to our accommodation options. The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that whereas previously we offered a bunch of different dorms and a bunch of different private apartments, we now offer only three levels of each: Standard, Superior and Deluxe. This greatly simplifies the process of choosing a dorm or apartment, while also allowing us to offer more options internally, so we will always have availability.

We're planning some updates to our course structures in the near future too, so stay tuned!

Partner English School!

Posted on April 14, 2011 | evankirby

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We're happy to announce that we have partnered with Adventure English School, a chain of English conversation schools in Fukuoka. From April, they opened their first Tenjin branch, using our classrooms in afternoons/evenings and on the weekend. We're excited about this because we have often been asked to open an English school, but we didn't feel that we could give it our full attention - managing and improving the programs at GenkiJACS takes up all of our free time! Partnering with Adventure English means they will do all of the hard work of managing the school, while our students reap the benefits! The biggest benefit, of course, is that even more Japanese people will be passing through GenkiJACS, increasing the chances for our students to make friends with local people.

Adventure English currently have schools in Munakata and Iizuka, and a branch in San Diego! We're excited about the benefits for our students of working with them, and hope this'll mean more and more chances for cross-cultural events.