Taro Aso

Posted on February 25, 2009 | clarice

Did you know Japan`s current prime minister, Taro Aso, is from Fukuoka? In office since September 2008, he is noted for being a manga fan, his often-criticized controverisal statements (which you see now and then on the world news, and way more often in Japan), and having a fondness of fine dining.

Yatai (屋台)

Posted on February 23, 2009 | clarice

Yatais are a prominent part of Fukuoka night-life. They are food-stalls that are set up on the street in Japan, usually serving quick Japanese food such as ramen, gyoza, and oden (and don`t forget the alcohol). Since they are quickly set up, the usually setting is a bunch of chairs crammed around the cook and his mobile kitchen. It is a good spot to find salarymen and have a chat with Japanese people as well. Give it a try!

A Japanese Necessity

Posted on February 22, 2009 | clarice

It`s been very rainy in Fukuoka for the past few days, and the forecast calls for plenty more. On average the temperature these days is going from 10C to 20C depending on the hour.

An umbrella is probably one of the first things in Japan you buy as you discover yourself getting caught in a surprise rainshower while everyone else is holding one. Shops make a quick business of selling umbrellas and you can get them starting from 500 yen in any convenience store.

There is also a type of umbrella etiquette performed where you slip your folded umbrella in long plastic bags provided in most places at their entrance. If they don`t have it, they will most likely have a bin where you leave your umbrella. As to whether your umbrella will be there when you come out is another question...

Gen-kun, our new mascot!

Posted on February 21, 2009 | evankirby

We’ve always thought that the one thing our school was missing was a mascot. While Atom-kun is great and all, unfortunately he’s already taken. So, we needed something new. And here he is!


Say hello to Gen-kun! Our Japanese pottery teacher, Mr. Shimozaki, was kind enough to design him for us. Gen-kun is a benevolent demon. He is made up of 12 parts, one for each animal in the Chinese zodiac, and has three faces:
- One face to bring happiness
- One face to ward off evil
- One face that sees the truth

The image above was created by our intern, Clarice, based on drawings by Mr. Shimozaki. Gen-kun should be a prominent part of our new website design, due shortly.

Of course, since Mr. Shimozaki is a potter, Gen-kun isn’t just a logo – he’s also immortalized in clay! 10cm-high Gen-kun sculptures are on display in our gallery, and available for sale through GenkiJACS. Each statue is unique, and it is rumored that rubbing his stomach will bring happiness.

His name comes from the first character of the word 元気 (Genki). 元 means the source or beginning. くん (“kun”) is a cute suffix added to male names.

Gen-kun in his box


Posted on February 19, 2009 | clarice

Age: 20
Length of Study: 3-5 months
Japanese Level: Beginner
From: Innsbruck, Austria

1. Why did you choose GenkiJACS?
I read on the Internet that GenkiJACS was one of the best schools for foreigners in Japan, and especially in Fukuoka.

2. How was your first day of school?
I was confused that they gave me this soup to try (he came on New Years so he got to try a new years dish called zouni)

3. How much have you improved since you arrived?
It`s been a month and I`ve improved a lot. I was a complete beginner but now I can read hiragana, read simple sentences, and have conversations.

4. What will you do with your Japanese after you finish with GenkiJACS?
I don`t know yet exactly, but I`m going to keep studying it in university.

5. What do you do during your free time?
Doing homework at school, Skype with friends and family, and go out on the weekends.

6. What is your favorite Japanese snack/food?
Tonkotsu ramen with gyoza

7. What is your favorite Japanese drink?
Hot sake

8. What is your best school memory (so far)?
Going out to Fubar and having nomihodai (all-you-can-drink)

9. What is something unexpected you found out about Japan?

10. Top 3 tips for future students?
– Learn hiragana
- Try to speak as much Japanese as you can
- Be open to everything

Student Videos

Posted on February 17, 2009 | clarice

From time to time, students at GenkiJACS create videos as part of their lessons.
Here is something filmed earlier this week by a Level 2 class.
Some sort of bank robbery.... I`m not too sure what`s going on :P

On the other hand, here is a more cultural-orientated video of two students participating in a tea ceremony class:

Kitchen Sets for GenkiJACS students!

Posted on February 16, 2009 | clarice

Several students in the past have mentioned that dormitories don’t provide cooking implements for student staying there, or that private apartments don’t have enough cooking tools to do real cooking. To help remedy this, we have started renting kitchen implement sets to GenkiJACs students. The cost is just 1000 yen per month, a lot less than buying the same implements would cost. We have two sets available, a basic one (for students staying at any of the dormitories with a kitchen) and an advanced one, for students who already rented the basic set or students staying at a private apartment. Eating out in Japan isn’t always cheap, so hopefully this will help students to save a little more money!

Cooking implements page here

Seeing Hakata Bay

Posted on February 15, 2009 | clarice

For those who want to go on a date or see the nice seaside view of Fukuoka, the Nishitetsu/Marinoa company offers a series of 90 minute cruises around Hakata Bay. There are a variety of prices to match your budget, lunch cruises starting from ¥3000 and dinner ones starting from ¥5000 per person. These cruises are run nearly every day in the year and you can reserve them at the Nishitetsu Grand Hotel (a 3 minute walk from GenkiJACS.

I went on a dinner cruise for Valentine`s Day. There are lots of lights in the city at night so you can pinpoint the major landmarks along the coast. Highly recommended!


Posted on February 12, 2009 | clarice

Evan-san sent me a useful link yesterday, which many people should find useful if they want to plan their trips in Japan but are unfamiliar with Kanji. The online tool is called Diddlefinger, and allows you to search for Japanese addresses in romanji/English.

By the way, tomorrow is Valentine`s Day. The department stores are very crowded with girls buying chocolate for their boys. I wonder how many couples I will see tomorrow...


Posted on February 11, 2009 | clarice

Right now I`m sitting at my desk at school eating breakfast, which happens to be the very disgusting Soyjoy. I have no idea how they can advertise it to look so good because trust me, it tastes worse than Caloriemate. So if you ever see it in Japan and are tempted to try it, my advice is- don`t!

Hideaki Tokunaga (徳永英明)

Posted on February 09, 2009 | clarice

Fukuoka is the birthplace of many famous people, and some of my favorite Japanese music artists are from here. I would like to introduce some of them from time to time.

Hideaki Tokunaga, born 1961, has been in the music scene since the mid-80`s, most famous for his light melancholic voice coupled with soulful love ballads. I think he might be rather shy, because he doesn`t say much on music shows, even when the hosts are trying to rile him up. He is originally from Yanagawa in the Fukuoka prefecture.

In 2006 he debuted in NHK`s Kouhaku, singing his most famous song, 壊れかけのRadio. Incidentally, that`s when I first noticed him, and I fell in love with the song instantly. It`s a song about reminiscing one`s youth, and I think it matches perfectly with his voice.

Some of his other famous songs include Rainy Blue and 輝きながら…. He released a couple of singles last year as well. For more information, here is his official website.

He was actually in Fukuoka performing this last Sunday, but it was sold out :(


Posted on February 08, 2009 | clarice

This week`s interview is from Ben, also a friend from when I was a student here last year. He`s leaving in a few weeks, unfortunately, because he`s one of the funniest guys I have ever met. I`m thinking of making every Monday an interview post. If you`re arriving soon or are already at school, prepared to be interviewed!! (or offer it to me because that makes my life easier ;D)

Age: 29
Length of Study: 5 months
Japanese Level: Beginner->Advanced Beginner
From: Germany


1. Why did you choose GenkiJACS?
I searched the Internet, read some online reviews, and got some information from my travel agency.

2. How was your first day of school?
I couldn`t remember anything and couldn`t write any hiragana. I was very shocked.

3. How much have you improved since you arrived?
100%. I started at 0 but now I can speak it.

4. What will you do with your Japanese after you finish with GenkiJACS?
I plan to use Japanese in my work in the future, either in Japan or back at home.

5. What do you do during your free time?
STARBUCKS! Spending money! Getting poor!

6. What is your favorite Japanese snack/food?
89¥ snacks from Daiei (supermarket)

7. What is your favorite Japanese drink?

8. What is your best school memory (so far)?
Going out with friends

9. What is something unexpected you found out about Japan?
Japanese people speak less English than I thought

10. Top 3 tips for future students?
– Bring your own central heating (it`s cold in the winter)
- Get used to showering in the evening
- Be prepared to dodge dangerous bicyclers

Eating out and going about

Posted on February 05, 2009 | clarice

Japan has no shortage of restaurants in the city. Sometimes I wonder how so many places can be opened and still stay in places. And, it`s really hard to choose a place to eat sometimes because there is too much choice. To help people such as me, and to promote restaurants, there is a monthly magazine called Hot Pepper that is freely distributed throughout Japan which includes Fukuoka. You can find them in convenience stores and GenkiJACS always has a couple lying in the student lounge. Inside the magazine, you can find restaurants, bars, cafes, etc. listed by several categories, such as all-you-can-eat, places to eat by yourself, etc. Many of the places advertised also include coupons. The book has so many pictures of food you`re bound to get hungry just reading through it!

A small place for Gothic Lolitas

Posted on February 04, 2009 | clarice

If for some small chance you are part of the Gothic Lolita subculture, you might be pleased to know that Fukuoka has a small collection of Gothic/Lolita clothing stores including a Kera! Heaven Shop in Tenjin Core on the top floor. In truth, I used to really adore this subculture, and whenever I got the chance to visit Tokyo for holidays I would spend hours at the shops. Goths are pretty rare in Fukuoka though, and you`ll be hard-pressed to see any that aren`t in their teens. However, even if you are not a fan, you can always always drop by the stores and see the freaks :)


Posted on February 03, 2009 | clarice

When I first came to Fukuoka in September, I had had a summer of exercising every day, and I was freaking out over the possibility that I would be a lazy bum again. One of the first things I asked the students was where I could find a good, cheap gym. The answer is the Chuuou-ku Taiikukan in Akasaka, about a 10-15 minute walk from GenkiJACS. They have a variety of facilities that I don`t know about too well (I`ve seen people doing kendo, karate, archery, ping-pong, etc) because the main thing I do is just normal gym training. Entry is 260 yen for 2 hours, and you can also rent running shoes there (although the biggest size is 28cm). A locker costs 30 yen. There are a lot of foreigners who train there too. If you can, try to go before the after-work rush.

Chuuou-ku Taiikukan

Besides that gym, there are several other public ones that people at school use, especially Momochi Taiikukan, where some students go to play badminton a few times a week. In the summer, many people go jogging in the huge park Ohori Kouen (although since I don`t have a car I have no idea where I would put my stuff). Other activities people do are jiu-jitsu, bouldering, and hiking. It`s best to ask students around and see what they do and join their activities. Or you can ask your Japanese friends. It`s a great way to meet new people!


Posted on February 02, 2009 | clarice

Everyone knows that Japan has an ever-changing vocabulary of slang. It`s probably impossible to keep up-to-date on them all. I would like to introduce one that was popular maybe 2 years ago, which is KY, or 空気読めない. Basically, a KY person is someone who doesn`t `get it` or has no clue can`t read the signs from the current situation. For example, if a guy likes a girl and the girl is totally not into him, but he still thinks he has a chance and is persistent, he can be called a 空気読めないヤツ. When you type it, you just say he is KY. Or if that person already knows what that is, you can write SKY (SUPER 空気読めない) <-- kind of sad, isn`t it, haha.

If you want to know all the new slang, here is a Japanese urbandictionary-like site: http://zokugo-dict.com/

Andrew-san and Michal-san

Posted on February 01, 2009 | clarice

Last Friday, three GenkiJACS students finished their stay at the school: Andrew-san, Michal-san, and Alan-san. I had the opportunity to interview Andrew and Michal before they left.

1. Why did you choose GenkiJACS?
2. How was your first day of school?
3. How much have you improved since you arrived?
4. What will you do with your Japanese after you finish with GenkiJACS?
5. What do you do during your free time?
6. What is your favorite Japanese snack/food?
7. What is your favorite Japanese drink?
8. What is your best school memory (so far)?
9. What is something unexpected you found out about Japan?
10. Top 3 tips for future students?

Age: 18
Length of Study: 5 months
Japanese Level: Intermediate
From: Chicago, USA

1. I`ve been interested in Japanese since I took it in high school. I went on an exchange to Japan in my senior year and I really l liked it. I didn`t get into the universities I wanted to, so after graduating I decided to take a year off. My mom found a consulting company for gap-year students, which then recommended a few schools in Japan to me. I chose GenkiJACS because it is aimed for westerners and I had never been to Kyushu before.
2. I was nervous and I didn`t know anyone. But I came during the summer and there were lots of young people so it was easy to make friends.
3. A LOT. Most of all, I`ve gained confidence in speaking to people in various social situations.
4. I`m going to continue to study and hopefully take some courses when I go to America, since I`ll be going to international business studies.
5. Badminton (3x a week), hang out with friends, kendama
(Note: Andrew practiced every day in the student lounge.)
6. Chocoflakes, senbei
7. Lemon water
8. Christmas time- seeing the teachers singing Christmas carols in Japanese
9. That Kendama is awesome
10. – Head to Rainbow Plaza(1) right away
- Get a cellphone
- DO STUFF: don`t sit in your room all day

Age: 23
Length of Study: 3 months
Japanese Level: Intermediate
From: Cracow, Poland

1. I wanted small classes in a lively city.
2. A bit terrified. But when I met the other students it was alright.
3. A bit. (Note: it`s more than just a bit ;) )
4. My major is Japanese, so I`ll keep studying.
5. Hang out, go out with friends
6. Unagi
7. Ume-shu
8. Christmas time- seeing the teachers singing Christmas carols in Japanese
9. All the different types of restaurants – for example, ordering by ticket-machine, kaiten sushi, etc.
10. – Go to Fubar(2)
- Make lots of Japanese friends
- Make friends with the teachers

I met Andrew during my first week of classes last year, and all of us lived at the Cour de Reve dorm, so I got to hang out with both of them. Best of luck to them, and to Alan-san, in their future endevours!

(1) Rainbow Plaza
(2) Fubar (on facebook)