LanguageCourse.Net Customer Satisfaction Excellence Award 2014

Posted on March 26, 2014 | genkijacs

GenkiJACS is proud to announce that we've won the Customer Satisfaction Excellence Award for LanguageCourse.Net yet again this year! This makes the seventh year in a row we've won this award. Thanks so much to all our LanguageCourse.Net students who voted for us this year as well. We will keep striving to provide the highest level of service possible.

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Celebration time!

A month of goodbyes..

Posted on March 19, 2014 | genkijacs

March has been a month of goodbyes here at GenkiJACS Fukuoka. Maiko-sensei left for Switzerland earlier this month, and last week we were sad to say goodbye to Natsuko-sensei, who is moving to Tokyo (and joining our Toyko language school!), and Alicia-san at reception. Tsugumi-sensei is also leaving us next week to spend six months in sunny Dominica!

Yesterday we said goodbye to one of our longest students, Felix-san, who studied with us for 30 weeks! Felix-san will be staying on in Japan a while to work part-time at an ice cream parlour, so if any of you see him around in Fukuoka, go say hi!

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We wish all the best to our friends, and while we are sad to see them go, we hope they will be very happy, healthy and successful in their new ventures.

Book early for summer!

Posted on March 15, 2014 | evankirby

We're receiving a very high number of bookings this year, and both our Tokyo and Fukuoka Japanese schools are starting to fill up for summer. If you plan to study with us in July or August, we recommend booking as early as possible to ensure that there is space for you. We'll do our best to meet all requests, but please note that specific accommodation preferences might not be available. If at all possible, we recommend you to schedule your study with us outside of summer, when classes are smaller, and the weather is not so hot!
Looking forward to having you study Japanese with us!

Earthquake near Fukuoka

Posted on March 13, 2014 | genkijacs

An earthquake of about magnitude 6 hit Japan last night at around 2AM. Though news reports state that the epicenter was north of Kyushu, it was felt strongly as far as Hiroshima (with a reported magnitude 5) and even here in Fukuoka (at around magnitude 3). 17 injuries have been reported so far, but no fatalities. No significant damage was incurred, and there have been no tsumani warnings.

Earthquakes are quite rare in Fukuoka, so it came as a surprise to many local residents (and of course, our Japanese language students from countries that don't generally have earthquakes!), but taking the relative tameness of the quake into regard, we are all very thankful that it turned out alright - especially considering that the 3-year anniversary of the disastrous Tohoku quake in 2011 was held just earlier this week.

Most of you should hopefully already know the proper protocol for dealing with an earthquake, but for those who don't, there are some handy tips in English on this website.

Japan has a very effective Earthquake Early Warning (緊急地震速報 - きんきゅうじしんそくほう) system in place. Most TV channels will play an alarm sound, and display the message "緊急地震速報です。強い揺れに警戒して下さい。" (きんきゅうじしんそくほうです。つよいゆれにきえいかいしてください。 - "This is an early earthquake emergency warning. Please prepare for strong tremors.")

Users of Japan's majour cellphone networks (AU KDDI, Softbank and Docomo) will also get an emergency notification. This notification plays an alarm sound, followed by the message "地震です" (じしんです - "Earthquake!"). This mandatory alert system is automatically set to go off even if your phone is on silent, or has the "do not disturb" function turned on, and you can not disable it. If you are using a cellphone from an overseas provider, you can download a free app called "Yurekuru Call", which will do the same as above.

As of the 2011 earthquake, if a tsunami warning is issued, the newly implemented tsunami warning system should turn your TV or radio on automatically to a broadcast of the warning. All Japanese cellphones also issue tsunami warnings.

Please stay safe, everyone!

Inspection Time at GenkiJACS!

Posted on March 13, 2014 | evankirby

As an accredited member of the International Association of Language Centres (IALC), our Japanese schools in Tokyo and Fukuoka are regularly inspected to ensure that they are meeting the high quality standards required of members. We had our most recent inspection last week, at both the Tokyo and Fukuoka schools. Here's a photo of the school directors with the inspector:
Genki Japanese directors with IALC inspector
We're happy to say that we passed, of course! But more importantly, we received some great advice on areas of future improvement for the school, so we'll be able to provide even better classes and services in the coming year.

**Guest blog** Iki Island experience

Posted on March 10, 2014 | genkijacs

A group of our Fukuoka Japanese language students were lucky enough to be asked on an all-expenses paid trip to Iki Island in February. The purpose of the trip was to get feedback on how Iki could improve their marketing and tourism, and so our students were taken to all the most famous tourist spots around the island, then asked to give their impressions on what each place could do or change to attract more tourists.

One of our Iki explorers, Morgan-san, was kind enough to write about the experience! Read about it here...

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Iki Island いきしま
by Morgan Rohrbaugh

Iki island was such an unexpected treasure. Not only was it a much-needed break from studies, but also a hidden pocket of rich culture that was a treat to discover. We were met by the kindest tour guides, and banners that had the words “welcome to Iki,” warmly written on them. Immediately the countryside left everyone intently watching out of the bus windows. Before we even left the port, we could see a beautiful, small waterfall across the street. To top it all off, we all arrived in good health despite the 4 meter high waves that day on the sea!

What occurred after our arrival at the port was a number of bus stops at various cultural center locations on Iki. The schedule was full, but not overwhelming. It was paced perfectly, and no one ever went hungry for too long. The tour guides spoke 90% in Japanese, and if anyone had questions, we asked each other to translate. It was such a unique experience to have people of all different language levels enjoying it all the same together. Also, the attention to detail that the people who organized the trip had was touching. We were each given a name tag with our own country’s flag printed on it. Everyone was so delighted, and I later found out that our tour guide friend had made them herself.

The first day we did lunch, candle making, a museum, a shrine, and then returned to the hotel. Lunch was incredible. I believe the place was called うめしま(umeshima). There was delicious cook-it-yourself meat and veggies, and a special sauce that we all lovingly called the “magic sauce” because it was so good. After our bellies were filled, we proceeded to see a shrine called つきよみ(tsukiyomi) which was the birthplace of Shintoism. I bought my Iki おみやげ(omiyage) there, which was a pretty charm that sounds like water when you shake it. We departed and headed toward the museum where there were staff waiting for us to make candles. We enjoyed having a creative outlet for a while by perfectly arranging various colorful sands and shells from Iki’s shores in thin candle glasses. The staff poured hot goo into the glasses, and while they dried we went downstairs to go through the museum. That, too, was an incredible experience. We first watched a movie telling the history of Iki, and when it was done the screen rolled up into the ceiling to reveal large glass windows overlooking expansive countryside. Outside of the museum were the very old houses we had just learned about in the movie. The museum tour was the most well organized, detailed museum I’d ever seen. It was organized by date, getting more recent as it went along. At the end, there were incredibly detailed sculptured islands and peoples that reenacted the past. As we left the museum, we were given our candles, beautifully wrapped by the staff in various colorful tissue papers. Everyone was surprised by the rich culture of such a small place, and really enjoyed the whole tour. Our last stop of the day before our inn was a building where we got to see Iki かぐら(kagura), which is Iki’s traditional dance. The dancers were incredibly disciplined, the instruments were mysterious, and the people were kind. We were given gifts of rice from Iki.

That night everyone enjoyed an exotic meal with food stuffed into various shells. The presentation was so unique. Everyone quickly discovered the yukatas in our rooms and the hot baths. Afterwards, us girls sat together and wrote our critiques and comments about each day. At night, we all got together as a group and played games and relaxed. We made plans to get up early the next morning (most of us followed through) and enjoyed a sunrise on the beach together. (Some watched the sunrise from the hot baths overlooking the beach).

The final day was less rushed, but probably even more impactful. After our early sunrise excursions, we loaded back onto the bus and headed for the temple. At the temple we were warmly welcomed. We met an incredible monk and his wife, who taught us a little of the art of ざぜん(zazen) meditation. We were all stunned by his kindness, warm smile, and wisdom. He spoke all in Japanese, but it was simple enough for me to understand. I enjoyed his thoughts about some of the things he was taught as he grew up: 「悪い事をしない、いい事をしましょう」(Simply: Don’t do bad things, let’s do good things)、and, “Let our bodies settle so we can become clean… like dirty water that remains unstirred becomes clean.” After meditating for what seemed like seconds, we proceeded to enjoy some maccha tea ceremonies and copying calligraphy. The tea we made was delicious. The teachers were kind old ladies with extremely strong mixing-tea muscles. I ate sakura mochi and a sakura leaf for the first time. It was so sweet and the perfect compliment to the tea. After that we tried our hand at some calligraphy before we explored the nature around the temple. We were called back in to enjoy a special vegan monk-style meal called しょうじんりょうり(shyojin ryori). That was the first time I’d ever seen brown tofu. The strawberries were made on Iki too. The rest of the day seemed extremely relaxed. We went to see the monkey rock, さるいわ, which was a giant cliff of a rock shaped like a monkey. Many of us “kissed” the monkey (fun picture perspectives!). We hit up the souvenir shop after that (where I enjoyed some ice cream that I had been searching for since I entered the island), and headed back into town.

What followed was our part of the deal on Iki island. This whole trip was an incredible, all-expenses-paid trip for us to come and experience Iki so that we could give our feedback on what could be improved. We were each given an orange and hot tea, and then sat at a huge oval table and met the mayor of Iki and other representatives. We exchanged ideas, saw new brochures being released about Iki, and gave feedback. At the end, a man who had been with us the whole time taking photographs gave us a CD of all of the pictures from the weekend. We loaded the bus one more time, and were pleasantly surprised after we boarded the boat to go home… every staff member from the weekend was at the dock waving goodbye until we couldn’t see them anymore. It was a touching sight, and we probably all felt that it was a beautiful close to an incredible stay on Iki island.

The people of Iki were so kind and sincere, especially our tour guide friend. We had many fun moments that we won’t forget… including riding “superman” bikes for the first time (bikes with special motors that enabled people to get up the hilly terrain), “planking” on monuments near the monkey rock, playing mad libs (an American word game) at midnight, and discovering that Iki has blue power lines from the top of an old war look-out post. Most of us have decided to return some day, and bring people with us! We all hope that more people will brave the short, cheap 1-2 hour ferry ride to experience Iki Island themselves.


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Check out our Facebook for some photos of the trip!

Farewell to Maiko-sensei

Posted on March 04, 2014 | genkijacs

Yesterday was Maiko-sensei's last day as a teacher at GenkiJACS. She will be moving to Switzerland tomorrow to get married to her husband, whom she met at GenkiJACS!

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We hope she will have a great time in Switzerland, and wish her all the best in her new marriage and new life.
She will still be helping out with Skype lessons, so some of our online Japanese language students might get lucky enough to have a lesson with her!

If any of our students living in Swizterland want to catch up, we're sure she would love to hear from you! Drop us a line, and we'll let her know where you're at!

Valentine's Day and White Day

Posted on February 24, 2014 | genkijacs

One of our Japanese language students recently asked us what the appropriate way was to give return gifts on White Day. This is an interesting question indeed, and one we think a lot of foreign guys probably wonder about around this time of year.

First, it's important to note that Valentine's Day is split into two parts in Japan - Valentine's Day on February 14 and White Day on March 14.

In Japan, only girls are supposed to give gifts to guys* on Valentine's Day. The kind of gift - size, cost, etc - you give depends on who the guy is in relation to you. For example, you can give inexpensive 義理チョコ (ぎりちょこ "obligation chocolate"/"appreciation candy") to your co-workers and friends, but expensive or handmade chocolate is reserved only for that special someone. Or, your dad. Or brother. But definitely not your teacher.

Sound complicated? Like a lot of social interactions in Japanese society, there are a few "rules"** that have to be kept in mind when buying or returning gifts for your loved ones. As if the stress of giving a gift to your crush on Valentine's Day wasn't already bad enough!

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So what is White Day?

White Day is celebrated one month after Valentine's Day, on March 14. On this day, men are supposed to return gifts to the women who gave them gifts on Valentine's Day.

The same gift "rules" apply for the men - "appreciation chocolate" for co-workers or friends, expensive candy (or jewellery, flowers, etc) for that special someone. Guys are technically only supposed to return gifts to girls they received gifts from - and we know all the girls reading this are shouting "that's not fair!" right now, but bear in mind that the guys are also supposed to return a gift 3 times the monetary value of what they were given. This is called 3倍返し (さんばいがえし - sanbai-gaeshi).

(Relatedly, here is some interesting Japanese: the practice of 3倍返し is often said to be similar to "海老で鯛を釣る" ("えびでたいをつる" - ebi de tai wo tsuru). Literally meaning "to throw in a shrimp and pull out a whale", the idiom of a small gift bringing a great reward has never been more accurate...)

Good luck to everyone trying to find a gift for White Day... We won't be giving any advice on what exactly to give as we think it best you give a gift from the heart. And that's all for today's blog post of entirely unuseful information by people who are not helpful at all!




*We're not sure how the "rules"** work where people who identify outside of the heteronormative binary are concerned. We assume they can receive gifts on both days... Lucky!!

**The term "rules" is used only loosely here. First and foremost, it's the thought that counts - any gift you want to give is sure to be appreciated a lot by whomever you give it to! As a famous pirate once said... "They're more like 'guidelines' anyway!"


"Berry" tasty and "berry" sweet!

Posted on February 16, 2014 | genkijacs

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Strawberry-picking is a much-loved activity in Japan from December to May, but it is especially nice during the spring months, when the strawberries are ripe and sweet and the weather is not too cold or too hot to spend the day outside.

3 of the best 5 strawberry-growing regions in Japan are in Kyushu, with Fukuoka coming in second overall, so our Fukuoka Japanese language students who love strawberries should definitely make a point of going strawberry-picking while in Japan!

A lot of sites have special guides on strawberry-picking, with tips on how to find the tastiest berries, but here are two that have some good information in English, along with a list and map of famous strawberry-picking spots around Fukuoka:

- Japan Hot Now!
- Fukuoka Now.

Cherry blossoms 2014

Posted on January 29, 2014 | genkijacs

The first sakura (cherry blossom) forecasts for 2014 are in. 花見(はなみ - cherry blossom viewing) heralds the coming of warmer spring weather in Japan, and is such a big deal over here that people have whole parties dedicated to just sitting under the flowering sakura trees and looking at the pretty blossoms.

Just like there are weather forecasts overseas, in Japan, there are sakura forecasts predicting when the first flowers will start blooming, and this year, the first forecasts have started coming in as early as the second week of January.

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Early forecasts are available on sites like Weathermap and Otenki.

As you can see by the differing dates, no one is 100% sure yet when exactly the first blossoms will appear, but it's looking like Fukuoka will start seeing sakura from the 20th~24th of March, and Tokyo between the 24th~30th of March.

More accurate forecasts are expected starting from the first week of March. We'll keep you updated!