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.

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:

null

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.

null

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

null

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!

null

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.

居合道(いあいど)

Posted on August 09, 2017 | genkijacs

We will continue our Japanese 武道 series with a brief introduction of the art called 居合道 (居合道).

※Disclaimer: we do not claim to be experts at any of the martial arts we will be exploring on this blog. This information is to be taken as a guide only.


Etymology

居合道 as the name is a peculiar one as it doesn’t really give us any idea of what the whole martial art is all about. Unlike 剣道 and 弓道discussed in previous posts, where the meanings correspond to the activity: i.e. the way of the sword and the way of the bow respectively, 居合道 does not have a clear meaning. 居 (い、キョ)literally means: to reside; to be; to exist and 合(あい)means: to fit; to join; to meet. So where does the name actually come from? Well according to some sources it comes from the phrase: 常に居て、急に合わす(つねにいて、きゅうにあわす)。It can roughly be translated to mean: One can act (meet the opponent) quickly if constantly present. So we can roughly translate 居合道 to mean: The way of constant vigilance.

20170810-640px-iaido_tournament_2006_-_005.jpg

History

It is a relatively young martial art. Although the practice of drawing the sword has been a part of 剣術(けんじゅつ)and some of the first records of 居合術(いあいじゅつ)can be found all the way back to 1500s, the actual term 居合道 was introduced by 中山 博道 (なかやま・はくどう) in 1932 and an entirely separate martial art was born. It was then recognised by the 大日本武徳会(だいにっぽぶどくかい)or All Japan Society of Martial Virtue, an organisation established at the end of the 19th century with a goal of promoting: culture, world peace and harmony through the rigour of practicing martial arts.

After WWII Japan was occupied by the allied forces and the practice of martial arts was halted until 1950s. However, shortly after the turn of the decade All Japan Kendo and All Japan Iaido Federations were established, and the practices of these martial arts were resumed.

20170810-iaido.jpg

The Practice

居合道 is generally practiced by performing choreographed moves called 型(かた)and they are executed in a very deliberate fashion. The purpose of these moves is not in learning how to defeat an opponent or winning a competition, but rather in learning of how to better oneself as a physical and a spiritual being. One might argue that it is closely related to meditation and there is some truth to that. 居合道encourages a practitioner to strive to developing a no-mind or 無心 (むしん)state of being, where one can react to everything without a moment of hesitation.

A beginner practitioner would start with using a 木刀(ぼくとう)or 木剣(ぼっけん)literally meaning wooden sword/blade, but eventually would move on to using a so called 居合刀(いあいとう)- a dull bladed sword made specifically for the purpose of practicing 居合道。 
Many schools of 居合道actively encourage their students to practice 剣道to remind a practitioner about the fighting aspect of wielding a sword.

20170810-sayuri_iaido.jpg

Competition 試合(しあい)

居合道 competitions are a little different to other, competitive martial arts. Instead of fighting, two 居合道家(いあいどうか) perform prescribed 型(かた)forms in unison, next to each other. They are judged on: form, timing, intention, spirit etc.

Grades

Like in many other 武道, 居合道 ranks are broken down into 級(きゅう)grades and once a practitioner achieves 一級(いっきゅう)they would be eligible to start testing for 段(だん)grades. Depending on the school there could be up to 10 段grades.

The Uniform

During practices 居合道家tend to wear wide traditional trousers and 袴(はかま)a loose durable top called 稽古着(けいこ着)as well as a belt sash called 帯(おび). Depending on the school the colour of the uniform may differ, but generally 道着(どうぎ)tends to be blue, white or black.

Words used in this article:
居合道(いあいど) Aikido
武道 (ぶどう) Martial Arts
剣道(けんどう) Kendo (Way of the Sword)
弓道 (きゅうどう) Kyudo (Way of the Bow)
剣術(けんじゅつ) Kenjutsu (Art of the Sword)
居合術(いあいじゅつ) Iaijutsu (The Art of Iai)
大日本武徳会(だいにっぽぶどくかい) All Japan Society of Martial Virtue
無心 (むしん) A state of no mind
木刀(ぼくとう) Wooden sword
木剣(ぼっけん) Wooden blade
居合刀(いあいとう) A sword with a dull edge
試合(しあい) Competition
型(かた) Kata Form
級(きゅう) Kyu grade (Equivalent to the belt system)
一級(いっきゅう) 1st Kyu (Equivalent to the brown belt)
段(だん) Dan Grade
袴(はかま) Wide traditional Japanese trousers
稽古着(けいこ着) Loose traditional Japanese top
帯(おび) Traditional Japanese sash
道着(どうぎ) lit. Cloth of the way (Practice clothing)

Study Travel Magazine - Star Awards 2017

Posted on July 30, 2017 | genkijacs

After having won the very prestigious Study World Travel Magazine Award in 2016, GenkiJACS has been shortlisted for it once again for the 9th year in a row! We have been going from strength to strength for the past year, and take this nomination as a sign of our continued growth and improvement.

20170731-skm_c364e17073113480.jpg

We would like to express our gratitude to everyone who has voted for us this year and promise to keep going, providing you with our best service and spreading our love for the Japanese language throughout the world.

Please visit http://www.studytravel.network/star-awards/ to find out more about the awards.


博多祇園山笠(はかたぎおんやまかさ)Hakata Gion Yamakasa

Posted on July 20, 2017 | genkijacs

山笠 is a two-week long festival celebrated in Hakata, Fukuoka from the 1st to the 15th of July, culminating in a race of exclusively men carrying massive 1-tonne floats called 舁き山(かきやま). It is an incredibly old festival dating back some 750 years, honouring a Buddhist priest named Shouichi Kokushi who was known to be carried on a platform through the streets of Hakata scattering water to purify and banish evil spirits who were thought to be responsible for the plague ravaging the city.

20170721-hakata-gion-yamakasa-oiyama.jpg

In the past, the floats were much taller than they are now, but because of the introduction of power lines in the Meiji Period, the practice had to be adjusted as they kept getting caught in the wires. These floats are called 飾り山(かざりやま)and they now serve as decorations for the festivities. They can be seen around the city during the festival and are put on display at 櫛田神社(くしだじんじゃ)during the rest of the year.

20170721-yamakasa2.jpg

The race starts incredibly early, and most spectators tend to stay up all night to get the best spots available. At 4:59 AM the race commences and will not stop until the last of the seven 山笠 teams arrives safely to their destination about 5km later. It takes each team around 30 minutes to finish the race. It is a Herculean effort, and the participants are doused with water to cool them down as they run through the streets of Fukuoka.

20170721-yamakasa.jpg

20170721-640px-20100720_fukuoka_kushida_3600.jpg

There are some fascinating traditions associated with the festival. One of them is the practice of abstaining from eating cucumbers. It supposed to be observed by the participants of the race only, but some residents of Fukuoka choose to follow this tradition as well. It is said to be because the crest of 櫛田神社looks like a cucumber cut in half.

Enjoy the Festival Season.

Special Lesson: Mr Ishii (石井さん)

Posted on July 06, 2017 | genkijacs

As mentioned in one of our previous posts, we had a special visit from Mr Ishii (石井さん) the former Head of JR Kyushu, one of the main train companies of Japan.

null

Though born in Hiroshima in 1932, his family had soon moved to Tokyo, where he had received his education and eventually graduated from Tokyo University with a degree in mechanical engineering. He was then employed by JNR (Japanese National Railways later Japan Railways) and the rest, as they say, is history.

null

GenkiJACS students had a rare opportunity to talk to Mr Ishii, asking all about his experiences growing up in the pre/post-war Japan and his journey to becoming the head of JR Kyushu in 1987. He was very happy to meet our students and answered every single question in detail and with the diligence we could only expect from a person who has dedicated most of his working life to making Japanese railways work the way they do.

null

Thank you very much 石井さん!

Martial Arts Series 4 - Aikido

Posted on June 25, 2017 | genkijacs

Today we will be looking into one of the more recently developed martial arts or武道(ぶどう)of Japan.

※Disclaimer: we do not claim to be experts at any of the martial arts we will be exploring on this blog. This information is to be taken as a guide only.


Brief History


合気道 was created in 1920s! That’s right, 合気道 is less than a hundred years old. It was developed by 植芝盛平(うえしば・もりへい)who was influenced by a much older Japanese 武道 school called 大東流合気術(だいとうりゅうあいきじゅつ). The school was a predecessor to a number of martial arts and the current version of 合気道 is one of them. The older version was called 合気柔術(あいきじゅうじゅつ). It combined various `soft` and `hard` techniques of fighting.

Additionally 植芝先生(うえしばせんせい)was also influenced by the Shinto religion, which promotes peace, harmony and compassion towards others. So 合気道 became a `soft` martial art where instead of harming an opponent, the energy of the attack is redirected and used to resolve conflict without harming anyone. The ultimate pursuit of an 合気道 practitioner is not to become technically perfect or even in their physical development, but in working towards improving her/himself as a person.

null

The Practice

As in many of the martial arts, the practice of 合気道 can only be done in pairs. An attacker or 受け(うけ)and a receiver or 取り(とり) will typically perform practiced movements together in order to learn different aspects of one or another technique. There are a great number of throwing and falling techniques a practitioner has to be introduced to and master before moving on to the `multiple attacker` practice.

There are slight variations in the way each particular school of 合気道 approaches the basic teachings of 植芝先生, but they all follow the same principles which makes 合気道 an ever evolving 武道 that appeals to millions of people world-wide.

合気道着 (あいきどうぎ)- uniform

As in other Japanese Martial Arts, a practitioner of 合気道 will normally progress through the 級(きゅう)grades before being tested for the so-called 初段(しょだん)level. At 級 level they wear a white tunic and loose pants, with a colored belt according to their level, very similar to the standard karate uniform. When they reach 段 level a pair of black, wide trousers or 袴(はかま) may be permitted to be worn by the 1st Dan practitioner, though this may vary on a school-by-school basis.

null

大会(たいかい)

Because 合気道 promotes peace and harmony, most schools do not support the idea of competitions. That being said, there are some branches of 合気道that do hold competitive events. Their argument is: competing is not the same as fighting, but just another way of learning about oneself.

If you would like to find out more about this particular martial art, please follow some of the links below:

• https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aikido
• http://www.blackbeltmag.com/daily/traditional-martial-arts-training/aikijujutsu/daito-ryu-aikijujutsu-vs-aikido/
• http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/

null

Words used in this Article:

• 合気道(あいきどう)→ Aikido
• 武道(ぶどう)→ Martial Arts
• 合気柔術 (あいきじゅうじゅつ)→ Aikijutsu
• 受け(うけ)→ An Attacker (In this instance this particular word has a number of meanings)
• 取り(とり)→ A Defender (as above in this instance)
• 合気道着 (あいきどうぎ)→ Aikido Uniform
• 級(きゅう)→ Level or Grade
• 初段(しょだん)→ First Dan Grade
• 袴(はかま)→ Wide trousers
• 大会(たいかい)→ Competition

A better, more Genki school

Posted on June 20, 2017 | genkijacs

One of the very special things about GenkiJACS compared to other Japanese schools is that we're always actively improving. This month alone, we've added projectors and a digital teaching system to all our Fukuoka classrooms, added a reading library in our Fukuoka lounge, and replaced most of the desks and chairs with much more comfortable ones.

null null

null null

But today we want to highlight another special thing we do: bringing in guest teachers for special lessons. Since we began offering long-term student visa courses a couple of years ago, we've tried to bring in guest teachers every so often, to give students a bit of extra excitement. In recent weeks, we've had special lessons from some very exciting people:

1. A former sumo wrestler!
Mr. Takahashi Keiji (高橋圭二) came to school to talk about his former life as a sumo wrestler, how he got into the sport, his training regimen, and how eventually he got out. He has since been running a restaurant in Fukuoka called Hakata Tomoki 博多とも喜 (はかたともき). Mr Takahashi also treated our students to Chanko-Nabe (ちゃんこ鍋), the main dish of sumo wrestlers!

null null

2. A famous TV chef!

Ms. Mako Araki, who appears regularly on the NHK show "はっけんTV", and on RKB's "たべごころ", taught our students how to make some of the most basic and most important of Japan foods, including miso soup and onigiri. After all the cooking was done, our students had a chance to ask her about her journey to becoming a master chef. Ever since she was little, she has been striving to create beautiful and delicious dishes, and the students witnessed her passion for the craft of cooking first-hand! Fun fact: Mako-San`s favourite dish is Tamagoyaki 卵焼き(たまごやき).

null null

null null

3. The former president of JR Kyushu!
That's right, in a couple of weeks, Mr. Ishii (石井), the former head of JR Kyushu, one of the main train companies of Japan, will visit the school to tell students all about his former job, and about the business world in Japan. It should be extremely informative! We will make sure to update you as soon as we can!

These lessons are an incredibly rare opportunity for our students to meet Japanese people from very different walks of life, learn using real Japanese, and hear about experiences they otherwise might never come across. It's just one more way that Genki Japanese School is different from and, dare we say it, better than most other schools!