First, unfortunately Fukuoka’s indoor snowboarding arena, Big Air, closed down a few weeks ago. We have taken students there a few times, so we were sad to see it go. Their website somewhat ironically still proclaims “Yes, we always have snow”.
Next, the turbulent English conversation market. This week we heard that both Geos (one of the major schools in Japan) and Berlitz were closing their Fukuoka schools. This follows the pattern of a massive drop-off in student numbers since the bankruptcy of the Nova chain a couple of years ago, but is still a sad development. And of course ECC combined their three Fukuoka school locations into a single one earlier this year.
Which brings us to the third economic indicator: the GenkiJACS building, Grand Building, has seen a big turnover of businesses this year. At the start of the year, the second floor (where GenkiJACS is) had 5 offices, but now it has only two. The three that disappeared are ECC (as mentioned), Nagino Tree (a restaurant chain and school management company), and the offices of Democratic Party candidate and current Fukuoka representative Mr. Inatomi. We hope some new neighbors will come in soon, but in this economic climate it might be a while. A Japanese friend mentions that his pay was cut by 25% recently, so it doesn’t seem as if we’re quite on the upswing yet…
But don’t worry – your favorite Japanese school is doing OK!