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So how long does it take to learn Japanese? Will GenkiJACS help you pass the JLPT? And just what is hiragana, anyway?
What is the JLPT?
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test tests your Japanese leangauge ability according to a set of international standards. Many companies in Japan require you to have passed at least level N2 of the JLPT before they will consider hiring you. There is more information on the JLPT'S official website.
I want to take the JLPT in Japan. Will the school apply for me?
As long as we receive your request early enough, we would be happy to do so! The deadline for applications is generally the start of April and September. We do not charge any additional fees for this, just the actual cost, of roughly ￥6,200.00 per application (including all postage, etc.).
What is hiragana?
One of the three main alphabets used in Japanese. The other two are katakana, and kanji.
Why do I need to learn hiragana before joining your school?
We understand that it seems a little strange to ask people who can’t speak Japanese at all to learn how to read it before we teach you anything. However, the best textbook for beginner learners, Genki: An Integrated Approach to Japanese, uses only hiragana (and later, katakana), not romaji (English letters) to display Japanese words in some parts. And luckily, it's quite easy! As the Japanese alphabet is almost 100% phonetic (i.e., each letter represents a single sound), if you can read all the letters, you can sound out any word written in that alphabet, even if you don’t know what it means. Therefore knowing the alphabet is a vital first step to enable you to start increasing your vocabulary, and learn Japanese.
Finally, there are a total of 46 unique hiragana characters. While this is a lot more than English’s 26 (actually, about 45 if you include both capital and small letters), it is possible to memorize these in 2 days or less (as some of our students have in the past) without a teacher, by using flash cards or software. Spending a weekend to memorize them in advance allows you to spend your time in Japan learning Japanese by focusing on the communicative study that requires a good teacher. Spending half of your first week here memorizing hiragana just so that you can get round to beginning your actual studies would be a waste of your time, and if there’s one thing we hate with a vengeance at GenkiJACS, it’s wasting your time!
Please note that if you do not memorize the hiragana alphabet before you come, we may require you to take an extra class, for a small extra charge, to help memorize the alphabet. We recommend the book Kana Pict-O-Graphix, by Michael Rowley. See our Pre-Arrival Study page for more details.
How can I find out my Japanese ability level?
Japanese classes at our school are divided into seven separate levels: complete beginner, beginner 1, beginner 2, pre-intermediate, intermediate, upper intermediate, and advanced. A little more information on these levels is available here.
On the first day of classes, we will give you a placement test, to allow us to choose the best class for you, and to adapt the materials to fit your needs. This test has speaking, listening, reading and writing components.
My Japanese ability may be different from the level I applied at. Is this a problem?
It’s quite common that the actual class students are placed in is different from the class level they applied at. We ask you to take an online placement test, and then a written and interview test on the first day of classes, and your class placement is decided by the results of these tests. Of course, if you still feel your class placement isn’t right, you can talk to your teacher about changing classes.
I can't answer some of the questions on the spoken portion of the level check test. Is that a problem?
Your answers to the spoken questions don't have to be perfect - on the contrary, if you prepare too much, it won't give us much of an idea of your actual speaking ability, so little preparation is good. We understand it can be awkward to record yourself, but basically we ask for it so that we can prepare classes that are at the right level for your current ability. We also have a written and interview test on the first day of class that contribute to your class placement.
I don’t understand any Japanese at all. Can I attend classes?
Yes! We are happy to accept complete beginner students. The only requirement is that you must be able to read the hiragana alphabet, as described here. Complete beginners can start on the first Monday of each month, and the third Mondays of June, July and August.
Everything you've ever wanted to know about where you will be staying in Japan, including the kitchen sink!
Is it possible to change my accommodation during my stay?
Yes. If you want to change because of a serious problem with your current accommodation, there is no charge. If you would just prefer to try an alternate type of accommodation, there is a ￥5000.00 administrative fee in Fukuoka, and a ￥10000.00 administrative fee in Tokyo.
Can I rent accommodation through the school even if I'm not studying there?
Unfortunately our accommodation is only available to full-time students with us (i.e. students studying for 20 lessons or more per week, every week).
If you would like to stay in the city cheaply for a longer period of time, it is possible to rent monthly apartments through a variety of companies. These are significantly cheaper than hotels.
Is it possible to arrive at my accommodation the day before and leave the day after I end my studies?
Yes, accommodation is arranged that way by default.
Is it possible to arrive at my accommodation early, or leave later?
Generally, yes, if there is availability, we can arrange for you to move into your accommodation early or leave late. In particular, if this means your flights will be cheaper, we recommend you to do it!
What time do I need to arrive at my accommodation?
There's no specific time you need to arrive at the accommodation, as long as we know in advance what time to expect you, so that we can make sure they are waiting for you.
If you are being picked up at the airport, a representative (usually someone from the accommodation) will be waiting at the arrivals gate to meet you at the airport, with a sign with your name and the school name. If for some reason you don't meet that person, please call our emergency number, 090-4993-5365 from a payphone.
How do I get access to my accommodation?
Homestay/shared apartment: Your family will be told what time you’re arriving, and will be home to let you in then. Fukuoka dormitory: The manager will let you in.
Guesthouse, private apartment, Tokyo dormitory: Depending on the specific accommodation you are placed into, you might have to pick up the keys before going to the dorm. About a month to 2 weeks before you arrive, we will send you an information sheet that includes instructions on how to get to the accommodation from the airport/train station. If you have any problems finding it on the day, feel free to give us or them a call, or if you can get close, hop in a taxi and show them the address.
Can my friend stay in the accommodation with me for part of the time?
In general, for host family, shared apartment or dormitory, you may not have people over to stay the night with you. In a private apartment, there is a nominal extra charge, although if a person is staying for just a night or two, it should be no problem.
If you would like to book a hotel for your friends/family, please use our list to help guide you (Fukuoka only, for now).
Can two people share a single room?
In some circumstances, yes: two married or engaged people, or siblings, can stay in a single host family or shared apartment room. In this case, the cost is 1.5 times the cost of one person staying in the room.
For a private apartment, there are no restrictions on who can stay. However, there is a surcharge for the second person. These apartments are also quite small, so not perfectly suited to two guests. There are larger apartments available, for a high cost of course! If you would be interested in one of these, please tell us when you book, and we can request a special estimate for you.
For the dormitory, only one person can stay in each room.
Can I access the Internet at my accommodation?
It depends. Japan still has a lower rate of PC usage than some Western countries, so it is not guaranteed, but differs depending on the accommodation type. Please note that all students can use computers at school to access the Internet for free, or bring their own to connect to the school's wireless network.
Host family/shared apartment: About 65% of our host families have Internet access students can use, although you may have to use their computer, and time may be restricted. If Internet access is required, please request it when booking your accommodation.
Other accommodation: Generally wired or wireless Internet is available, included in the cost.
Can you recommend some hotels in Fukuoka City?
We have a page of recommended hotels here.
Do host families speak English?
Some host families do speak some English. If you need this, you can request it.
Can I specify conditions for my host family/accommodation?
Yes. We will try to accommodate any requests you have regarding your host family. However, please bear in mind that while we will do our best, it may not be possible to find a family exactly as you requested.
I am planning to come with my girlfriend/boyfriend, and we would like host family accommodation. Can we stay together?
To stay in the same room, you must be married, engaged, or family members. As a cultural preference, most host families prefer not to have an unmarried couple staying together with them. In some cases, it may be possible to share a room in a homestay if you and your friend are the same gender. In this case, we would also offer a discount on the accommodation. It may be possible to rent two rooms in the same host family accommodation.
Can I eat dinner with my home family, not just breakfast?
Dinner with your host family is available for ￥600.00 (Fukuoka) or ￥540.00 (Tokyo) per night. In many cases, students find that they are often not home at dinner time, being too busy sightseeing, going out with friends, and otherwise enjoying their time in Japan. So, you can request to eat dinner only on the nights you will be home.
Can I eat lunch with my host family? How much does it cost?
Generally, you will be at school at lunchtime on weekdays, so you won’t be able to eat with the host family. However, if you want to eat with them on weekends, the cost would be the same as for dinner.
What should I call my host family?
For your host mother and host father, "Otoosan" (father) and "Okaasan" (mother) are perfectly acceptable. However, if you are close to them in age, or feel otherwise uncomfortable calling them father and mother, using their family name is fine too, for example "Nishihara-san". If they then ask you to call them by their given (first) names, you can start doing so, but it is best to wait to be asked first.
For children, you can call them by their given names straight away, but remember to add "chan" for a girl (e.g., "Emi-chan") and "kun" for a boy (e.g., "Kanta-kun").
What do you recommend to bring as omiyage (presents) for the host family, etc.?
Food products from your home country or area are always appreciated, especially semi-sweet items. Japanese people often have less of a taste for very sweet foods than people in other countries, so these should be avoided. Alcohol is also a gamble, as some people do not drink. It can be a good idea to contact your host family before you arrive, and check with them, if you plan to bring something alcoholic.
Tourist products such as cups or calendars from your area are also quite popular.
Should I contact my host family before I arrive?
If there is something you want to ask them, or you would like to get a feel for them before you start staying with them, contacting them would be a good idea. Email is often the easiest way. We recommend writing in Japanese, if at all possible! Don’t be too upset if they don’t reply, though! They may be hosting another student before you arrive, and not have time to get back to you.
Will I be the only student staying with my host family?
In most cases, yes. However, a few of our host families can accept more than one student, each of course in their own private room. We try to only place students of different native language in the same host family.
Can I stay with a host family within walking distance of the school?
Our school is located in the very center of a major city, which while being convenient for most things, means that there are not many families living close by with a spare room. So, there are few to no host families within walking distance of the school itself. However, Japan has a great public transport system, of buses, subways, and trains, so it is quite easy to get from most accommodation to the school.
Homestays in Fukuoka are generally 20-30mins from school by train. In Tokyo, they are generally 45-60mins from school by train.
If being within walking distance of the school is a priority, we recommend a private apartment. While the cost is higher, they are the most convenient option.
Please check the General Accommodation FAQ for any questions that may not be answered in this section.
Can I cook in the dormitory?
Yes, in almost all dormitories you can cook your own food. Some dormitories also have a cafeteria.
Do the dormitories have a manager on duty?
Yes. All of the dorms have a day manager, and an emergency telephone number for after-hours problems.
Is it possible to share a dorm?
In Tokyo, dormitories have shared rooms, and you can request to stay with a friend if you want. In Fukuoka all dorm rooms are private.
What do I need to bring to the dorm?
The dorm includes all bedding (blankets, sheets, pillow) and toilet paper, but you'll need to bring your own towel and toiletries (shampoo, soap, etc.).
Do dormitories have a fridge?
Yes. There will be a fridge available for your use in the kitchen, but it will be a shared kitchen, so make sure you mark anything you put in there as yours! Also, we're sure we don't have to tell you this, but please don't take anything from the fridge that isn't yours. :-)
Please check the General Accommodation FAQ for any questions that may not be answered in this section.
Is it possible to share a private apartment?
Yes. There will be an extra charge for the second person. Most private apartments have only one bed, but it can sometimes be arranged for an extra futon to be brought in for the second person to sleep on, if required.
Please check the General Accommodation FAQ for any questions that may not be answered in this section.
How far are the guesthouses from school?
Usually, guesthouses are about 30mins by train from school.
What is provided at the guesthouse? Do I need to bring anything?
All bedding is provided. There is a fully-equipped kitchen, and usually a washing machine/dryer (unless otherwise specified. Might be a paid system). You only need to bring your own towels and toiletries (toothpaste, soap, etc).
Information on how the application process works, and our policy on cancellation.
How do I apply to your school?
First of all, thanks for thinking of studying with us! We'd love to have you join us here in Japan. Here's how you apply to join our school:
When is the application deadline? How soon can I start classes?
We ask for people to send us their applications at least two months in advance of the requested first day of classes. However, we can accept applications up to a month in advance, in most cases, and less than a month, in very rare cases.
Please contact us by phone if you would like to start very soon.
None! We accept all levels of learners, as your language study with us is not dependent on previous study, either at high school or college. The only requirement we have is that you memorize the hiragana alphabet before you arrive. (Why?)
Please note the student visa has some requirements. See this page for more info.
What is the minimum age limit to study at GenkiJACS?
At our Tokyo school, the minimum age is 18, as we do not think Tokyo is a good environment for very young students to be alone.
At our Fukuoka Japanese school, we accept students over the age of 14 with their parent or guardian's permission.
We can accept students under 14 if they have family members or other pre-existing support network in Fukuoka, or if they come with adult family members.
We accept several different payment methods here at GenkiJACS, including credit card payment and bank transfer. There is more detailed information on our Payment Methods page.
If two people are coming together, can we pay fees together?
Yes! It would be no problem to send your fees together, to save on transfer costs. Make sure you tell us you will do so, though!
You are welcome to cancel your study with us at any time, even if you have already paid for your courses, as long as it is 2 or more weeks before you are scheduled to start with us.
In general, as long as we receive notice of your cancellation 2 or more weeks in advance of your study, we should be able to refund you the full amount you paid (in yen), minus any bank transfer fees incurred. If you cancel less than two weeks in advance of your starting date, there may be a fee involved, especially on the accommodation side, since we contract accommodation externally and may be charged if we cancel with them on short notice. There is more detailed information on our cancellations policy here.
The fields available on Flywire's site don't match all the different things I have to pay for. Help!
Don't worry about the individual fields. As long as the total amount we receive from you matches the amount on the invoice we sent you, it's all good.
I've registered and set up the transaction. Now what?
Once you've set everything up, Flywire will give you the information on their bank account. Please remember to transfer the money from your bank into their account! Until you do, nothing will get taken from you account, and nothing will be paid to GenkiJACS.
Everything you need to know about preparing for the Land of the Rising Sun.
If you're wondering which course is best for you, how long it takes to learn Japanese, which the best school is to study at or want more info about your fellow students, check this section out!
I would like to study your Japanese Plus Pop Culture or Japanese Plus Traditional Culture course, but I would also like to learn standard conversation. Will those courses cover any conversational Japanese?
Yes! Our Japanese Plus Pop Culture and Japanese Plus Traditional Culture courses both have a conversation class component. Of the 25 or 26 lessons a week, 20 focus on standard Japanese skills, and 5-6 are in your chosen subject area.
I'd like to study the Standard Japanese Course, but I'd like to try specific cultural activities as well. Is it possible for me to do both?
Yes, even without taking the Japanese Plus Traditional Culture course, you can attend specific cultural activities. We can arrange many cultural activities to meet your interests. We keep a noticeboard of activities at the school. The standard price for extra activities is ￥3,250.00.
Are there any restrictions on courses?
Japanese Plus Conversation: Not available for low beginners. Students must have studied up to chapter 5 of a beginner's Japanese textbook such as Genki: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese Book 1 (at least 5wks/100 lessons).
Japanese Plus Pop Culture: Maximum length of 5 weeks (only during months with 5 Mondays. Starting dates in all other months will have 4 weeks of study)
Japanese Plus Traditional Culture: Maximum length of 5 weeks (only during months with 5 Mondays. Starting dates in all other months will have 4 weeks of study)
When do courses start?
Every Monday. Note that classes for complete beginners start on the first Monday of each month, or the first and third Mondays in June, July and August.
How long can I study at your school?
There is no limit to the length of time you can study with us. As courses are quite intensive and you work one-to-one with the teacher a lot, students generally find that a half a year of study is enough for them to reach all of their study goals. However, we are always happy to have students stay for longer periods, as long as you have a valid visa.
How many weeks do you recommend I study for?
There isn't really a recommended length, as each person studies based on how long they have available, but the average length of study is about 8 weeks. We recommend three weeks at a minimum, as anything shorter than that means you won't really have time to improve your Japanese ability significantly.
Can I study for a week?
Without a special reason, we prefer not to have students study for just a week or less, as it’s not really long enough to improve your Japanese ability significantly.
How many lessons are there per week?
There are 20 lessons per week in our standard intensive course, and 25 or 26 in our Plus courses. If required, you can add extra classes for even more study.
What is the maximum number of lessons I can take per week?
We recommend no more than 30 total per week (i.e., the standard intensive 20, plus an extra 10), as there is homework and preparation for each class.
How many students are in one class?
Usually there are 3~4 students per class, but during high season there can be up to 8 or occasionally 9 students. We keep student numbers low, to preserve a study atmosphere where you can learn Japanese closely with the teacher.
Are the teachers native speakers?
All teachers are native speakers of Japanese, and all are graduates of a 420-hour official Japanese teacher training course from recognized institutions.
When do classes start?
If you are a complete beginner, the start dates would be the first Monday of each month, and the third Mondays of June, July and August. If you have studied previously, you can start any Monday throughout the year.
Student visa holders may start on the first Mondays of April and October.
Can I take private classes?
We offer one-to-one classes year-round except for July and August.
Can I take private classes in addition to group classes?
Absolutely! Our application form has a section to indicate how many private Japanese classes (1-to-1 with the teacher) you would like to take each week.
The content of private lessons depends entirely on you - you can study whatever you want in them. Note that private classes are not available in July and August.
Can I change my class level if I've already booked?
Yes. Our courses are very flexible, so it's not exactly run like a university with classes at specific levels starting at specific times. Rather, we have a variety of levels of classes running continuously, and you join whichever class is most suitable for you when you arrive. If no class is suitable for you, we create a new one for you.
What time do classes start and finish every day?
We work somewhat like a university in that, depending on the class you get placed in, you may have morning classes on some days and afternoon classes on some other days. Your schedule can also change weekly. The schedule may be different in during off-peak and peak seasons.
We are not able to guarantee any set class times.
Do minor students and adult students have mixed or separate classes?
All ages of students are mixed together. Rather than separating by age, we separate by Japanese ability level, to ensure that students are in classes where they learn the most new material.
Can I add classes, or change my schedule, after I start studying? Can I extend my course after starting my study?
Yes! As far as possible, we try to allow students to add, remove or change classes. However, since teachers must be arranged, etc., we can only make adjustments from two weeks after the request. So, if on Tuesday you requested to add extra classes, they could start from Tuesday in two weeks. (In a few cases, if the class can be added without changing the schedule at all, we can waive this rule, but in general two weeks is required.)
Do you teach reading and writing in classes?
Yes! Our classes focus on communication skills first and foremost, but we also include reading and writing skills as they are necessary for daily life.
How much homework do I get each day?
On average you will have about two hours of homework each day, Monday through Friday.
How do you place me in a class?
We ask you to take an online placement test about two weeks before you arrive, and then on the first day of classes you have a written and interview test. Your class placement depends on the results of these tests.
What's the difference between Tokyo and Fukuoka schools?
Our Fukuoka school is our main branch, so it is larger. Both schools are right in the center of their respective cities. As Fukuoka is a much smaller city, it's more easy to get around, and has better beaches, etc. But of course Tokyo has a lot of exciting attractions that Fukuoka doesn't! In terms of students, both schools basically have a very similar student body.
Living costs are slightly cheaper in Fukuoka than in Tokyo, but there is not a huge difference. The biggest difference is accommodation cost. Food and most other daily expenses are quite similar.
Student visas are only available at our Fukuoka school.
Will there be classes on public holidays?
There are no classes on public holidays. When there is a public holiday that falls on a school day, we usually organise an event for our students, such as a bus tour to a nearby prefecture, to see the local attractions or visit shrines or onsen. If no event will be organised on that day, we will refund students taking group courses ￥1,000.00 per canceled class.
When Monday is a holiday, there will be no classes, but level check test and orientation for new students will often still be performed.
There is a list of days the school will be closed here.
Does the school organize weekend trips and excursions?
Yes, we do! Depending on the requests of students, we offer a variety of excursions, including an overnight stay on a farm, a day trip tour of Nagasaki, a weekend trip to the world’s biggest caldera. We also run barbecues, visits to local festivals, and more, depending on the season. All weekend trips have an extra charge; most other activities are offered at or near cost.
Does your school have a uniform or dress code?
No. We are a language school, and we try to keep an informal atmosphere, so we do not require any specific clothing.
Is GenkiJACS wheelchair-accessible?
Both of our schools are wheelchair accessible.
Will minors be supervised?
Generally about a third of our students during summer are minors, so we have very good procedures in place to take care of them. We provide supervision the whole time they are in school, of course, and the host family provides supervision outside of that time.
What does the "JACS" in GenkiJACS mean?
It's an acronym for "Japanese and Culture School".
Can I work while I attend GenkiJACS?
Only students who study with us on a Student visa or Working Holiday visa can work while studying. There is more information on visas here.
Note that Japan is very strict about working illegally, and if you are found doing it, you will be thrown out of the country and most likely barred from returning!
Japan isn't only anime and giant robots... find out more about how to survive in the Land of the Rising Sun.
I don't like Japanese food very much. Are there alternatives?
Yes! Dining in Japan is very international. There are many restaurants serving cuisine from around the world. You'll never get bored with the food here!
However, we definitely recommend trying some of the local cuisine too - Japan is renowned for the freshness of its seafood, and there are many unique local delicacies
I am vegetarian. How can I eat out in Japan?
Please refer to our page on being vegetarian in Japan.
I've heard that Tokyo is very expensive. How expensive is Fukuoka?
Fukuoka is a very popular tourist destination for Japanese people, and a great place to learn Japanese, because it is fairly large, and has a fantastic location, but prices are a lot cheaper than other cities like Tokyo. For example lunch at a cafe in Tokyo often costs ￥800, but in Fukuoka can cost from ￥500.
How much money should I bring with me?
How much spending money you should bring depends largely on what you plan to do during your time here. At a minimum, we would recommend the following:
￥1500 per day for food (lunch and dinner) and drinks
￥500 per day for transportation
Extra for activities/shopping, etc.
It's often hard to judge how much you will need, so here are the prices of some common things to give you an idea (bear in mind that the prices are very approximate):
1) dinner with drinks in a restaurant: about ￥2000~￥3000
2) a movie (late show): ￥1000
3) a 10-minute taxi ride: about ￥1200
4) a beer: about ￥500
5) dinner at McDonalds: about ￥600
6) entry to an art gallery: about ￥800
7) an anime DVD: about ￥2000 (You can watch anime DVDs at school if a room is free!)
8) a ride on the subway: about ￥250
9) a concert by a famous musician: about ￥7000
Can I travel to other parts of Japan on the weekend? Yes! In fact, we recommend our students to do so, as the more you see of Japan, the more you'll love it!
How easy is it to get around?
It's very easy to get around Fukuoka, for a few reasons: First, the transport network is very good, with trains, subway and buses, and also quite simple. Transport stops are generally labelled in English as well as Japanese. In addition, Fukuoka itself is very centralized, and the school is located at the center of the city, so most transport links come very close to the school location.
Tokyo is more complex to get around, as there are many train lines. But our school is located very close to Shinjuku Station, the most central station in the city, so most destinations are a single train away.
How much is there to do around school?
In Tokyo, there is more to do than you could ever finish!
Fukuoka is a city of more than 1.5 million people, so there are also many fun things to do here. Lots and lots of details are on our Fukuoka info pages!
I'm kinda bored over the weekends...
(Fukuoka info only for now. We are working on getting Tokyo info up here... in the meantime, please ask our friendly staff at reception for some tips on where to go and what to see!)
There are many temples, museums, parks and so on that you can visit. In addition, the closest beach to the school is only 10 mins by bus or bicycle, so from late Spring to early Autumn, you can relax at the beach.
If you stay with a host family, they will often have activities for you in the evenings. There are also a variety of after-school activities at the school.
From Fukuoka, a high-speed boat can take you to South Korea in only 3 and a half hours, perfect for a weekend vacation from study!
Fukuoka also has many bars and night clubs. The cheapest night clubs cost only ￥1000.00. You'll meet many Japanese people there. Have fun!
Okay, but none of those things will help me learn Japanese! You're in luck! We also offer some free kanji and conversation classes after school, run by volunteers from Japanese universities. These classes are free, and anyone is welcome to join! (As long as they don't conflict with your normal lesson times).
Info for current/future university student who would like to get credit for their courses with us, or people who want to join a Japanese university.
Can you get a student visa at GenkiJACS? Do you need a visa to enter Japan? What kind of unspeakable horrors await holders of the wrong kind of visa? Find out here!
If you have any questions that aren't answered on this page, please feel free to contact us at any time!