令和 - The New Era of Beautiful Harmony

Posted on April 29, 2019 | genkijacs

Tomorrow (1st May 2019) will mark the beginning of an entirely new era, the 令和 or れいわ era of the new emperor. For the last 30 years, Emperor Akihito has been the head of the Japanese Imperial Family and the head of state of Japan. One of the most remarkable things about this family is that the Imperial Family of Japan is the longest reigning (in one way or another) royal family in the world!


The Japanese Imperial Royal Family, but because it is a little too long let's call them the JIRF (we came up with this term as far as we know) was officially established in 660 BCE and has been sitting on the Chrysanthemum throne ever since. The first Emperor was named Jimmu, and the current, 125th monarch is Emperor Akihito. Tomorrow, with the dawn of the new era the current Crown Prince Apparent Naruhito will inherit the throne and become the 126th Emperor of Japan! The second oldest royal family is of the Kingdom of Cambodia (from 68AD)

For the first time the new name of the era was announced to the public before the actual succession; it is also the first time the name was taken from classical work of Japanese literature. It is virtually impossible to translate the meaning of the phrase accurately, but the official interpretation of the saying could sound something like Beautiful Harmony.

We are very excited to be here for this momentous occasion and though you may think that our Kyoto school is opening its doors in the first year of the era of Beautiful Harmony to be a pure coincidence...and it is, but it doesn`t mean that we can`t take a leaf out of their book and enter this brand new era with optimism and an expectation of beauty the name 令和 may suggest.

An alligator wait, no, a crocodile!

Posted on April 18, 2019 | genkijacs

Kanji - this word is enough to put even the most diligent students off studying for quite some time! It is true, these pictographs are a challenge and take years to master.
As some of you may know, Japanese has three distinct writing systems: hiragana, katakana and kanji. It is virtually impossible to study the language without these. Hiragana and katakana are phonetic and, though tricky, can be mastered in a relatively short period of time; kanji, on the other hand, is a different story altogether.

There is a great number of ways of learning these characters. Some are more effective than others; some may be more suited to your way of learning than others. Today we would like to introduce you to a fantastic resource of learning kanji: Wani Kani.

It is a brainchild of a Japanese language and culture web site called Tofugu. What makes Wani Kani different from other SRS (Spaced Repetition System) resources, is that it provides you with helpful and, most of the time, very silly mnemonics to help you create a story of the kanji character and connect to it on an emotional level. The app/web site also forces you to write your answers as well in both Japanese and English (available in English only at the moment) which is a more involved way of recalling the meaning and reading of the character.

The list of kanji characters in Wani Kani is vast and will teach you most characters needed in your everyday life in Japan. There are 60 levels to complete so by gamifying your progress it is way easier to keep motivated! It may take years to complete, but it is a journey worth taking, and Wani Kani is an excellent guide to have in your arsenal of learning materials!
Visit them here: Wani Kani
Best Apps And Tech For Learning Japanese

Japanese courses with native teachers are the best way to learn Japanese quickly and fluently, but it's even better to complement these classes with the use of language gadgets. The market for language learning apps and translators is full with options for students of all levels, and since Japanese is the eighth most used language on the Internet, the availability and variety of tech gadgets and online resources for Japanese is still increasing. Japan has a very rich culture which reflects in the complexity of its language, so the more resources you can gather to better understand its many layers, the more proficient you will be at Japanese. Let's review the best resources for foreign students who are learning Japanese in situ.

The best apps for learning Japanese

There are three main groups of apps you can download on your mobile devices to have complementary classes on the go or for a quick aid in case of need. First, you have translation apps, such as Google Translate, or downloadable dictionaries like JSho which don't require an Internet connection. These will function as dictionaries, getting you out of tight spots when you are confronted with words you don't know but have a limited utility when it comes to learning lessons. Then you have language learning apps. Some of them, like iTalki and HelloTalk, let you connect with native Japanese speakers and perform language exchange while making friends in Japan which is highly advisable. Many let you perform calls and video calls so you can hear the right pronunciation and tone of a native speaker and practice your own pronunciation.

Then you have automated learning apps like Duolingo and Babbel, which function as replacements for basic classes, and as such don't have much to offer if you are already taking a course with a human teacher. Finally, some apps are not meant specifically for language learning but can work as great complements, such as the flashcard app Anki which has a downloadable set of flashcards for all the 2,000+ kanjis as seen in Remembering Kanji.

What about digital translators?

Before smartphones were all over the place, digital translators were the salvation of many. They come with complete databases of Japanese and other languages, with automated voices that read aloud the translation and process audio input for a relatively fluid conversation with a native Japanese speaker. Models such as the Brookstone Passport became very popular, but its main disadvantage is that it only has a preset list of phrases it can translate, which is detrimental to its versatility. The Pulomi TT will translate conversations almost in real time, but it requires an Internet connection. Overall, language apps have equalled and even surpassed digital translators, so most people choose the former over the later.

Nowadays, you can find apps for virtually everything. So, complement your Japanese classes with the right apps and see your proficiency rise in a matter of weeks.


Karol Cook
Freelance Writer

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!


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.


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:


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!


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:


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.


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


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!


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.