Oharai at our new Japanese language school building

Posted on June 11, 2015 | evankirby

Before we began classes at our new Japanese school building in Fukuoka, we asked a shinto priest to come and perform an 御祓 (oharai) spiritual cleansing ceremony. This is often done for buildings, and also for people and things too.

oharai at Japanese school

The ceremony took about twenty minutes. Staff stayed to listen, and the effect of the chanting was quite hypnotic - some staff felt a little dizzy partway through!

Video of part of the ceremony is here:

Summer Japanese class availability in Tokyo and Fukuoka

Posted on June 02, 2015 | evankirby

An update on Summer Japanese class availability.
Our Japanese schools are now fully booked for most of summer.
Unavailable periods are as follows:
Fukuoka Japanese school: no availability from July 6 to August 7
Tokyo Japanese school: no availability from July 6 to August 14

We're very sorry to all the people who we couldn't take in this year.
There is still some availability for courses starting the middle of August or later - book early to guarantee yourself a place!

The Japanese custom of giving flowers to newly opened businesses

Posted on June 01, 2015 | evankirby

It's a tradition in Japan that when a company opens, or moves to a new office, the companies they work closely with will send flower bouquets or potted plants as a congratulation present. The closer the connection, the bigger the bouquet. Sometimes this can mean new businesses end up looking like a flower shop, for example this French bakery:
Bakery with flower bouquets

When our Fukuoka Japanese school moved into its new building last month, some of the companies we work with, as well as our host families and other people, were kind enough to send us some beautiful flowers and plants, which helped to create a lovely image for the new school, to greet new students on the first day of classes.

Here, for example, are the flowers we received from Homestay In Japan, who have helped us with our homestay placements in Tokyo since we opened our Tokyo Japanese school two years ago, as well as those from Revibe, who help arrange events for our students, and RMG, who arrange apartments.
Flowers at Genki Japanese School

And an amazing set of white orchids, 胡蝶蘭 (kochouran):
White orchids at Genki Japanese School

Thank you to everyone who gave us such beautiful flowers! We look forward to the next 10 years and more in our new building.
More flowers

AiiA theatre - 2.5-dimensional musical paradise

Posted on June 01, 2015 | genkijacs

Have you ever heard of a "2.5-Dimensional Musical"? This is one of the latest trends to come out of Japan, and the world-wide success of this phenomena should come as no surprise when you hear what it's about: specialized musical adaptions of manga and anime. (2-dimensional media presented on a 3-dimensional stage... 2.5 dimensions!)
Which of us, when watching Prince of Tennis, hasn't thought, "You know what this show needs? A dance-off."

Yes. Now you, too, can experience the magic of a Naruto and Sasuke duet.

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These musicals have become so popular that a theatre dedicated entirely just to them opened in Tokyo this year. The AiiA theatre in Shibyua runs shows on a regular schedule, and has gained so much popularity with foreign tourists that they opened an English language webpage, including capabilities to purchase show tickets from outside Japan.

They have also recently introduced futuristic-looking headsets that display subtitles for the play in your chosen language.

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(They actually look pretty great! Supporters of a live-action Naruto movie should make sure to check this out while it's running....)