How safe is Japan?

Posted on December 15, 2005 | evankirby

Very very safe! A few examples we've noticed recently, from in and around Fukuoka:

- When you get large amounts of change from the subway vending machine, a loud recorded voice announces "big spender here!" (or something close to it)
- A local tv show interviews people on the street, asking them how much money they have in their wallets. Most people carry way more than 50,000 yen ($500) at any time
- Rice theft makes the local evening news for 3 nights in a row
- The Japanese version of Cops has a section on the Fukuoka Police force. The two featured crimes? Violence against a vending machine, and unauthorized posters.
- A non-fatal stabbing makes national tv news. Number of deaths: 0

GenkiJACS Getting Cheaper?

Posted on December 08, 2005 | evankirby

Well, if you're American at least. Our highly placed sources in the international finance community tell us that the yen to dollar rate hasn't been better for a long time now. At the start of this year, it was 103 yen to the dollar; this week we're at 120 yen per greenback! What does this mean to you, the American consumer? Study at GenkiJACS (and, logically, all other Japanese language schools that accept payment in yen) is now only 86% of the cost that it was in January! A 14% discount, just for waiting a year...
Of course, who knows what the future will hold, so if you're considering coming to GenkiJACS next year, even next summer, it might be for your own benefit to book early and pay early! Of course, we're not exactly disinterested observers, so take our advice with a pinch of salt.
By the way, here are the same graphs for some other beloved currencies:
British pound to yen (7.5% reduction in cost of GenkiJACS study)
Euro to yen (4.5% reduction)
Canadian dollar to yen (19% reduction!)
Australian dollar to yen (12% reduction)
New Zealand dollar to yen (15% reduction)

Now we really wish we'd listened during high school economics classes.

Rikishis at Hakata station!?

Posted on December 08, 2005 | mariko

Have you ever seen Rikishis (Sumo wrestlers) in Fukuoka except at Kokugikan (the sumo ring)? I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who has never seen Rikishis, even though they come to Fukuoka every year and stay for two weeks! Where are they? What are they doing when they are free?
I happened to hear a rumor about the one place you're guaranteed to see Rikishis: If you want to see and take pictures with Rikishis, go to the shinkansen (bullet train) platform at Hakata station! Yes, since they come to Fukuoka and leave by bullet train, you won’t miss them!! It may be a little troublesome, but check the time schedule of the day before the Basho (competition) starts and the day after it ends, and buy the cheapest ticket just to get to the train platforms. Then, you're sure to see Rikishis right in front of you (and there's no way you can miss them...)! Unfortunately, the Kyushu Basho is finished for this year, so I suppose this information won't be useful until next year, and if you do this, you'd be a big Sumo fan! Send us your photos!

WWOOF and GenkiJACS: Farmstay course!

Posted on December 05, 2005 | evankirby

Finally we can tell the world! We are proud to announce a partnership with WWOOF, Willing Workers On Organic Farms. We will shortly start offering a course of two parts: Japanese study at GenkiJACS to prepare you for farm life, followed by placement on a traditional farm in the Kyushu area, to experience a way of life very different from what you know. The details won't be finalized for a while yet, but if you're interested, send us an email!

Fukuoka public transport

Posted on December 04, 2005 | evankirby

Electric car
These nifty hybrid electric/pedal-powered taxis have sprung up on the streets of Fukuoka recently. Modern versions of the rickshaw, or in Japanese "jinrikisha" ("man-powered vehicle"), these cars are designed to show up the city's ecological side.
Natural-gas-powered buses seem to be all the rage with the local bus company, Nishitetsu Bus (Japanese site), which has also invested recently in an expensive new GPS system. This lets you track approaching buses using your cellphone, to find out exactly how late the next bus will be...