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Fukuoka/Lifestyle

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Before You Arrive

School

Accommodation

Q. Can I specify conditions for my host family?

A. Yes. We will try to accommodate any requests you have regarding your host family. However, please bear in mind that while we will do our best, it may not be possible to find a family exactly as you requested.

Q. I am planning to come with my girlfriend/boyfriend, and we would like host family accommodation. Can we stay together?

A. To stay in the same room, you must be married, engaged, or family members. As a cultural preference, most host families prefer not to have an unmarried couple staying together with them. It may be possible to rent two rooms in the same host family accommodation.

Q. Can I eat dinner with my home family, not just breakfast?

A. Dinner with your host family is available for 500 yen per night. In many cases, students find that they are often not home at dinner time, being too busy sightseeing, going out with friends, and otherwise enjoying their time in Fukuoka. So, you can request to eat dinner only on the nights you will be home.

Q. What should I call my host family?

A. For your host mother and host father, "Otoosan" (father) and "Okaasan" (mother) are perfectly acceptable. However, if you are close to them in age, or feel otherwise uncomfortable calling them father and mother, using their family name is fine too, for example "Nishihara-san". If they then ask you to call them by their given names, you can start doing so, but it is best to wait to be asked first.

For children, of course, you can call them by their given names straight away, but remember to add "chan" for a girl (e.g., "Emi-chan") and "kun" for a boy (e.g., "Kanta-kun").

Q. Can my friend stay in the accommodation with me for part of the time?

A. In general, for host family, shared apartment or dormitory, you may not have people over to stay the night with you. In a private apartment, there is nominally an extra charge, although if a person is staying for just a night or two, it should be no problem.

Q. Can I access the Internet at my accommodation?

A. It depends. Japan still has a lower rate of PC usage than some Western countries, so it is not guaranteed, but differs depending on the accommodation type. Please note that all students can use computers at school to access the Internet, or bring their own to connect to the wireless network.

Host family: About 50-60% of our host families have Internet access students can use, although you may have to use their computer, and time may be restricted. If Internet access is required, please request it when booking your accommodation.

Dormitory: A PC is available for use, and wireless signal can be received in some rooms.

Private apartment: High speed Internet access is available for 100 yen extra per day. Your own computer is of course required!

Shared apartment: A PC or wireless Internet access may be available (in about 50% of cases). However, it may not be kept in the shared quarters, but in each person's own bedroom.

Q. Can two people share a single room?

A. In some circumstances, yes: two married or engaged people, or siblings, can stay in a single host family or shared apartment room. In this case, the cost is 1.5 times the cost of one person staying in the room.

For a private apartment, there are no restrictions on who can stay. However, there is a surcharge of 8000 yen per week for the second person. These apartments are also quite small, so not perfectly suited to two guests. There are larger apartments available, for a high cost of course! If you would be interested in one of these, please tell us when you book, and we can request a special estimate for you.

For the dormitory, only one person can stay in each room.

Q. What do you recommend to bring as omiyage (presents) for the host family, etc.?

A. Food products from your home country or area are always appreciated, especially semi-sweet items. Japanese people often have less of a taste for very sweet foods than people in other countries, so these should be avoided. Alcohol is also a gamble, as some people do not drink. It can be a good idea to contact your host family before you arrive, and check with them, if you plan to bring something alcoholic.

Tourist products such as cups or calendars from your area are also quite popular.

Q. Should I contact my host family before I arrive?

A. If there is something you want to ask them, or you would like to get a feel for them before you start staying with them, contacting them would be a good idea. Email is often the easiest way. We recommend writing in Japanese, if at all possible! Don't be too upset if they don't reply, though! They may be hosting another student before you arrive, and not have time to get back to you.

Q. Will I be the only student staying with my host family?

A. In most cases, yes. However, a few of our host families can accept more than one student, each of course in their own private room. We try to only place students of different native language in the same host family.

Q. Can I eat lunch with my host family? How much does it cost?

A. Generally, you will be at school at lunchtime on weekdays, so you won't be able to eat with the host family. However, if you want to eat with them on weekends, the cost would be 500 yen, the same as for dinner.

Q. Can I stay with a host family within walking distance of the school?

A. Our school is located in the very center of a major city, which while being convenient for most things, means that there are not many families living close by with a spare room. So, there are few to no host families within walking distance of the school itself. However, Japan has a great public transport system, of buses, subways, and trains, so it is quite easy to get from most accommodation to the school.

If being within walking distance of the school is a priority, we recommend a private apartment. While the cost is higher, they are the most convenient option.

Q. Can you recommend some hotels in Fukuoka City?

A. We have a list of hotels hear the school. We will send you recommended list after we receive your application.

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Classes

Q: How many students are in one class?

A: Usually there are 2~4 students per class, but during high season there can be up to 6 students. As a general rule, we have no more than 6 students per class, to preserve a study atmosphere where you can learn Japanese closely with the teacher.

Q: How many lessons are there per week?

A: There are 20 lessons per week in each of our standard intensive courses. If required, you can add extra classes for even more study.

Q: What is the maximum number of lessons I can take per week?

A: We recommend no more than 30 total per week (i.e., the standard intensive 20, plus an extra 10), as there is homework and preparation for each class.

Q: I would like to study your Japanese through Pop Culture or Japanese and Traditional Culture course, but I would also like to have learn standard conversation. Is this possible?

A: Yes! Our Japanese through Pop Culture and Japanese and Traditional Culture courses both have a conversation class component. Of the 20 lessons a week, 10 are in your chosen subject area, and 10 are conversational Japanese courses.

Q: I'd like to study Conversational Japanese, but I'd like to experience Japanese tea ceremony as well. Is it possible for me to do both?

A: Yes, even without taking the Japanese and Traditional Culture course, you can attend specific cultural activities. We can arrange many cultural activities to meet your interests. We keep a noticeboard of activities at the school. The price for activities starts from 500 yen.

Q: I'm a complete beginner, but I love Japanese anime. Can I still join your Japanese Through Pop Culture course?

A: To study the Japanese Through Pop Culture course, you must be Beginner 2 level or above. The natural materials used in the course are not suitable for complete beginners.

Q: When do classes start?

A: Every Monday, depending on the level of students.

Q: Are you open on national holidays?

A: There are no classes on national holidays. When Monday is a national holiday, there will be no classes, but level check test and orientation for new students will still be performed. You can find a list of the holidays on the Dates and Fees page. There is no refund for the missed classes.

Q. What time do classes start and finish every day?

A. The schedule depends on other classes that are going on at the same time, but is generally from 10am to 3pm, with a one-hour break in the middle.

Q. Do minor students and adult students have mixed or separate classes?

A. All ages of students are mixed together. Rather than separating by age, we separate by Japanese ability level, to ensure that students are in classes where they learn the most new material.

Q. Can I add classes, or change my schedule, after I start studying?
Can I extend my course after starting my study?

A. Yes! As far as possible, we try to allow students to add, remove or change classes. However, since teachers must be found, etc., we can only make adjustments from one week after the request. So, if on Tuesday you requested to add extra classes, they could start from the next Tuesday. (In a few cases, if the class can be added without changing the schedule at all, we can waive this rule, but in general one week is required.)

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Fukuoka/Lifestyle

Q: I've heard that Tokyo is very expensive. How expensive is Fukuoka?

A: Fukuoka is a very popular tourist destination for Japanese people, and a great place to learn Japanese, because it is fairly large, and has a fantastic location, but prices are a lot cheaper than other cities like Tokyo. For example lunch at a cafe in Tokyo would cost about 1000 yen, but in Fukuoka can cost from 600 yen.

Q: What can I do after school?

A: There are many temples, museums, parks and so on that you can visit. In addition, the closest beach to the school is only 10 mins by bus or bicycle, so from late Spring to early Autumn, you can relax at the beach.

If you stay with a host family, they will often have activities for you in the evenings. There are also a variety of after-school activities at the school. A high-speed boat can take you to South Korea in only 3 and a half hours, perfect for a weekend vacation from study!

Fukuoka also has many bars and night clubs. The cheapest night clubs cost only 1000 yen. You'll meet many Japanese people there. Have fun!

Q: I don't like Japanese food very much. Are there alternatives?

A: Fukuoka has more restaurants per person than anywhere else in Japan. There are many restaurants serving international cuisine. You'll never get bored with the food in Fukuoka!

However, we definitely recommend trying some of the local cuisine too - Fukuoka is renowned for the freshness of its seafood, and there are many unique local delicacies. Fukuoka is also the home of ramen, the Japanese noodle soup!

Q: What is the weather like in Fukuoka?

A: The weather, while fairly temperate, does vary according to the season. Summers can be hot and somewhat humid. Snow is not at all uncommon in winter. We recommend this website to give you an idea of what sort of weather to expect.

Q. Can I rent a bicycle?

A. Yes! We rent bicycles at the school, for 500 yen per week. These can be very useful for traveling around the central area of the city, or for people whose accommodation is very close to the school. For people staying with a host family further away, your host family may provide a bicycle for your use. If borrowing a bicycle, be sure not to park it anywhere except official bicycle parking, as the city periodically sweeps up illegally parked bicycles, and impounds them. Also, be sure to put a lock on it! While rare, students have had bicycles stolen in the past.

Q. Can I rent a cellphone?

A. Yes! The school rents cellphones for 1000 yen per week. Nothing more is required to receive phone calls, even from abroad, as receiving calls is free in Japan. However, to make calls, you need to buy prepaid "airtime", available from Softbank shops. There is one near the school.

Please note that the school will not buy back any airtime you have remaining when you leave.
If you want to buy your own cellphone, Softbank is the only company still offering prepaid phones in Japan.

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Applications

Q. What visa do I need to study at the school in Fukuoka?

A. Many countries have a visa waiver arrangement with Japan, allowing you to visit for a certain period (usually, 3 or 6 months) to learn Japanese without any visa at all. A list of countries is available on the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. In addition, you can study with us for up to three months (in some cases, six months) on a standard tourist visa. It is possible to renew tourist visas, either from within Japan, or by visiting Korea (a short boat ride away). No special student visa is required, even for full-time study.

Q. What is the minimum age limit to study at Japanese Language school in Fukuoka?

A. We accept all students over the age of 14 to study with us. However, students under the age of 18 who wish to come from abroad to study at the school in Fukuoka must also send their parent or guardian's signature when applying as proof of parental approval. We reserve the right to reject applicants who we believe would be too young to homestay independent of their family.

We can accept students under 14 if they have family members or other pre-existing support network in Japan.

Q. Do you accept large groups of students?

A. Yes! We are always happy to accept groups for study. As we are not a huge school, we accept groups of up to 40 people in size only. In addition, groups planning to come in summer, especially if you also require us to prepare accommodation, should contact us early.

We provide some special services for groups (over 10 students):

  • custom courses (study exactly what you want!)
  • students split into multiple classes depending on ability level (i.e., students need not all be at the same level)
  • 2 students in a single homestay, with cost reduction, if preferred
  • English-speaking tour guides for travel within Japan
  • airport meet-and-greet service
  • many cultural events

If you are leading a group interested in studying with us, please contact us with details of your plan, and we'll be happy to make a customized estimate for you.

Q. How can I find out my Japanese ability level?

A. Japanese classes at our school are divided into seven separate levels: complete beginner, beginner 1, beginner 2, pre-intermediate, intermediate, upper intermediate, and advanced.

On the first day of classes, we will give you a placement test, to allow us to choose the best class for you, and to adapt the materials to fit your needs. This test has speaking, listening, reading and writing components.

Q. How long can I study at your school?

A. There is no limit to the length of time you can study with us. As courses are quite intensive and you work one-to-one with the teacher a lot, students generally find that a half a year of study is enough for them to reach all of their study goals. However, we are always happy to have students stay for longer periods.

Q. How many weeks should I study?

A. Our courses of study can be taken for as many weeks as you like. Of course, to improve your Japanese, the longer you stay in Japan the better! We don't recommend stays of 1 week (as it is too short to really learn anything) and even two weeks doesn't give you much time to improve significantly. The average length of study with us is about 5 weeks, but your own length of study must depend on your goals, and of course your budget!

Q. I don't understand any Japanese at all. Can I attend classes?

A. Yes! We are happy to accept complete beginner students. The only requirement is that you must be able to read the hiragana alphabet.

Q. I want to take the JLPT in Fukuoka. Will the school apply for me?

A. As long as we receive your request early enough, we would be happy to do so! The deadline for applications is generally the start of September. We do not charge any additional fees for this, just the actual cost, of 6,200 yen per application (including all postage, etc.).

Q. Are there any qualifications required to study at the school in Fukuoka, such as having a high school diploma or university degree?

A. No! We accept all levels of learners, as your language study with us is not dependent on previous study, either at high school or college.


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Before You Arrive

Q. When should I book my ticket to arrive in Fukuoka/leave Fukuoka?

A. You should book your travel so that you arrive in Fukuoka at least the day before the start of classes. As classes usually start on Monday, this would mean arriving on Sunday. However, if you think that you would need extra time to recover from jetlag, it might be a good idea to arrive a day or so earlier.

Bear in mind that homestay accommodation is from Sunday until Saturday. Therefore, if you arrive earlier than Sunday, you will need to pay an additional fee for the extra nights’ accommodation.

When scheduling flights, we recommend trying to arrive in Fukuoka by 9pm at the latest, if possible. If your host family has small children, it can be hard for them to pick you up late at night. Or, if you will travel to the accommodation yourself, it is a good idea to try to get there as quickly as possible, so someone is still awake when you arrive. For example, if your flight arrives at 9:30pm, it will usually be close to 10pm by the time your luggage comes to you and you leave the airport. If it takes an hour to get to the accommodation from there, you can arrive no earlier than 11pm, which can cause problems for your host!

If only late-arriving flights are available, we recommend booking a hotel in the city for your first night, and going to the accommodation in the morning of the next day. In particular, the dormitory cannot accept check-in after 9 pm, so if your flight will arrive later than about 8 pm, you must book a hotel. We can help you with this. We can send you a list of some hotels we often recommend to students.

Q. How can I get to Fukuoka?

A. Fukuoka has an international airport, Fukuoka International Airport (airport code FUK). It is usually cheaper to fly first to Nagoya, Kansai, or Tokyo Narita, then transfer to a domestic flight to arrive in Fukuoka. Flying domestically is generally cheaper and much faster than taking the train. Another often cheap alternative is to fly to Seoul or Hong Kong, and then transfer to another flight to Fukuoka.

Q. How much money should I bring with me?

A. How much spending money you should bring depends largely on what you plan to do during your time here. At a minimum, we would recommend the following:

  • 1500 yen per day for food (lunch and dinner) and drinks
  • 500 yen per day for transportation
  • Extra for activities/shopping, etc.

It's often hard to judge how much you will need, so here are the prices of some common things to give you an idea (bear in mind that the prices are very approximate):

  • dinner with drinks in a restaurant: about 2000~3000 yen
  • a movie (late show): 1000 yen
  • a 10-minute taxi ride: about 1200 yen
  • a beer: about 500 yen
  • dinner at McDonalds: about 600 yen
  • entry to an art gallery: about 800 yen
  • an anime DVD: about 2000 yen (You can watch anime dvd at school if a room is free!)
  • a ride on the subway: about 250 yen
  • a concert by a famous musician: about 7000 yen

Q. Why do I need to memorize hiragana before I start my study with you?

A. We understand that it seems a little strange to ask people who can't speak Japanese at all to learn how to read it before we teach you anything. However, the best textbook for beginner learners, Genki: An Integrated Approach to Japanese, uses only hiragana (and later, katakana), not romaji (English letters) to display Japanese words in some parts.

As the Japanese alphabet is almost 100% phonetic (i.e., each letter represents a single sound), if you can read all the letters, you can sound out any word written in that alphabet, even if you don't know what it means. Therefore knowing the alphabet is a vital first step to enable you to start increasing your vocabulary, and learn Japanese.

Finally, there are a total of 46 unique hiragana characters. While this is a lot more than English's 26 (actually, about 45 if you include both capital and small letters), it is still possible to memorize these in 2 days or less (as some of our students have in the past) without a teacher, by using flash cards or software. Spending a weekend to memorize them in advance allows you to spend your time in Japan learning Japanese by focusing on the communicative study that requires a good teacher. Spending half of your first week here memorizing hiragana just so that you can get round to beginning your actual studies would be a waste of your time, and if there's one thing we hate with a vengeance at the school in Fukuoka, it's wasting your time!

Please note that if you do not memorize the hiragana alphabet before you come, we may require you to take an extra class, for a small extra charge, to help memorize the alphabet.

Q. What should I study before I arrive?

A. We recommend of course studying as much as you can before you arrive, as the more you know before you get here, the higher your level will be when your study finishes. However, basic greetings and simple vocabulary would definitely help you in your stay in Japan.

There are two types of study: the things for which a teacher is required, and the things not requiring a teacher. In general, for example, memorizing vocabulary does not really require a teacher, so the more vocabulary you can memorize before you arrive in Japan, the better! We ask people to memorize the hiragana (and, if possible, katakana) alphabets before arriving, for the same reason.

Q. What is the best travel insurance to buy?

A. We don't recommend any particular travel insurance, as each person's requirements and budget, and indeed home country, vary. However, former students have reported that the website squaremouth.com offers information on a good variety of different packages, and makes it easy to compare.

When buying insurance, there are a couple of points to consider:

  • What is the deductible, i.e. the amount you have to pay each time you use the insurance? The smaller the cash amount you have to pay before the insurance starts to cover you, the better.
  • Does the insurance cover damage you cause to third-party property? This is important because the second most common reason for our students to actually use their travel insurance is when they broke or damaged something expensive at their accommodation.

Q. Can I pay school fees in cash when I arrive at the school?

A. We don't accept payment in cash for students coming from overseas. We require full payment at least a month in advance of the start of classes, as there are some costs that must be paid before a student arrives, including accommodation.

Q. If I already own the relevant textbook, should I bring it with me?

A. Please do! As the cost of your textbook is included in your tuition, if you bring the textbook used at your class level, you can either receive the wholesale price of the book as a refund, or opt to receive a different textbook instead. For beginner students, if you already have the Genki 1 or 2 textbooks, bring them with you, as you will be able to use them in your classes. For intermediate students, bring "J-Bridge", if you own it.

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School

Q. Does your school have a uniform or dress code?

A. No. We are a language school, and we try to keep an informal atmosphere, so we do not require any specific clothing.

Q. Is the school in Fukuoka wheelchair-accessible?

A. Unfortunately not. We are on the second floor of a building that only has stair access, so students who must use wheelchairs will not be able to get to the school. We are very sorry about this, but as the building is owned by another company, there is nothing we can do at present.

Q. Does the school organize weekend trips and excursions?

A. Yes, we do! Depending on the requests of students, we offer a variety of excursions, including an overnight stay on a farm, a day trip tour of Nagasaki, a weekend trip to the world's biggest caldera. We also run barbecues, visits to local festivals, and more, depending on the season. All weekend trips have an extra charge, though most of them are offered at or near cost.

Q. Can I work while I attend the school in Fukuoka?

A. Only students who come to us with a Working Holiday visa can work while studying.
Note that Japan is very strict about working illegally, and if you are found doing it, you will be thrown out of the country!

Q. Are the teachers Japanese or foreigners?

A. All teachers are Japanese, and all are graduates of a 420-hour official Japanese teacher training course from recognized institutions.

Q. What days is the school closed for holidays?

A. We are closed for all Japanese national holidays. You can find the list of the holidays on the Dates and Fees page. However, please note that if Monday is a national holiday, there will still be level check tests and orientation for new students on that day.

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We are looking forward to welcoming you to the Japanese Language School in Fukuoka, Japan!

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