One of the best experiences anyone can do is studying Japanese in Japan. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a week or two, a month, a year, or more. If you’re interested in learning Japanese and Japan then going to the country is the best way to do it.
The following are tips and some suggestions for going to Japan for different periods of time. These are for all ages, whether you’re in your teens in school or in your 40s and working, it’s never too late to go out to Japan for any length of time.
How to Choose a School
Which school you pick depends very much on you, your funds, dedication and what you want out of the experience.
Here are few questions you should ask yourself:
- How long do you want to be in Japan for?
Obviously the longer you spend in Japan the better your language ability will get. But remember, anything longer than 3 months and you’ll need to pick a school that can provide a student visa (anything less than 3 months and you can stay on a tourist visa, which is free!). If you can just afford a few weeks holiday then there are plenty of schools that cater to short trips.
- Do you want to focus on language or culture?
Language schools will often provide morning classes only, leaving your afternoon free for exploration. Some even offer afternoon cultural experiences such as kimono wearing, trips to famous locations etc.
If you want to focus on the language however, there are some schools which provide intensive all day Japanese lessons.
- Where would you like to live?
Have you always wanted to see the iconic tourist attractions of Japan? Then Kyoto, Osaka or Tokyo are your top choices. If you’d rather a more laid back and unique experience of Japan, then it’s worth investigating other areas such as Fukuoka and Sapporo. The time of year and weather will also have an impact on where you want to go, as Japan can range from heavy snow in the north to the tropics in the south.
- Do you want to stay with a Japanese family or do you need your own space?
Doing home stay with a Japanese family can be an amazing experience and great at boosting your Japanese ability. However, if you’re the kind of person that prefers their own space and doing your own thing then living in a dorm or an apartment might be better for you, otherwise you will need to be flexible to suit the family’s routine.
- What are your funds?
This is the big question. Combining all the above questions it’s time to research how much schools which fit what you want will cost. You don’t need to have the funds right away but it helps to have an idea of how much money you’ll need and how you can save up the funds.
Japanese Language Schools
Once you’ve got an idea of what you want it’s time to do some research. The following are some schools I’ve found but you will need to do your own research to find the perfect school for
Kai Japanese Language School
Japan Tokyo International School
Sendagaya Japanese School
Kudan Institute of Japanese Language and Culture
Tokyo Central Japanese Language School
We Japanese Language School
If you’d rather spend longer than a few weeks in Japan and are looking to study at university there are a few options.
1. Pick a university in your home country that offers a year abroad in Japan.
2. Pick a university in Japan and to do your degree in Japan.
3. Pick intensive 1-2 year long Japanese course in Japan (rather than University).
These will need a lot more research than the schools, but if you want to be fluent at Japanese and haven’t picked a university yet then it’s worth investigating. If you’re low on funds then option 3, finding a 1-2 year intensive language course in Japan, might be a lot better for you and your goals.
Why Do You Keep Putting It Off? (Ideas for Making Time and Money)
A lot of the time people put off going to Japan is because of time and money. If studying Japanese and visiting Japan is something you’re serious about then you will regret not going.
When I did a year abroad in Japan I spent 2 years putting at least £50 a week aside for the trip. Once I had graduated I went to study in Fukuoka for another 6 months, I did temping for 6 months to save up the funds.
It’s all about careful planning and restraint. It might mean that you won’t be going out drinking for the next few months, but it will be worth it in the end. Try not to splurge on objects you don’t need and put that aside for your trip.
Planning time to put aside will also need planning. If you’re at school then holidays might be your only choice. If you work then you will have to accumulate the vacation time, or perhaps if you want a change in career and longer study it’s time to think about leaving your job?
Each person if different and you will need to think about what you want and how you can get it. Don’t be afraid of planning your trip a year or two in advance, you don’t need to go right away.
Do you have your own suggestions for studying in Japan? Have you been? What school did you go to and how did you save the funds? Any tips for others?
Feel free to leave a comment!