Back

Japanese language vacation recommendations?

#1
So instead of taking JLPT1 in July in Tokyo, I'm thinking instead of doing a two week "language vacation" where I engage in full immersion and study during my stay. I know a few people have piped in before, but does anyone have recommendations for programs that they've used or enjoyed? 

I'm looking right now at https://www.languagevacation.com/ - anyone have any experience with them?
Reply
#2
I'm not sure if you're looking for something specific, but I've attended the language school GenkiJACS (http://genkijacs.com/) and really enjoyed it. I've only been to the Fukuoka location, but they have one in Tokyo, too. They offer language classes and cultural classes.

It's been a while since I went, and I think they've changed things a bit since then, but if you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them if I can.
Reply
#3
(2017-03-11, 2:05 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: So instead of taking JLPT1 in July in Tokyo, I'm thinking instead of doing a two week "language vacation" where I engage in full immersion and study during my stay.
Good choice. Sorry I don't have any recommendations.
Reply
6-Month Challenge: Get 6-Month Premium for $66 or Premium PLUS for $166 (June 19th - 30th)
JapanesePod101
#4
(2017-03-11, 4:58 pm)Kaede Wrote: I'm not sure if you're looking for something specific, but I've attended the language school GenkiJACS (http://genkijacs.com/) and really enjoyed it. I've only been to the Fukuoka location, but they have one in Tokyo, too. They offer language classes and cultural classes.

It's been a while since I went, and I think they've changed things a bit since then, but if you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them if I can.

Kaede, in your experience, are these courses good at accommodating students of various levels? My fear is booking something and taking this much time off of work/away from family only to find it's not helping me meet my goals. 

Either way, good to hear the positive rec - I'd found them in one of my searches and they looked...let's just say "not as sketchy" as some others. The only hitch is I'd need to do two weeks minimum, which probably means doing it closer to September. Not the end of the world though.
Reply
#5
(2017-03-11, 6:37 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: Kaede, in your experience, are these courses good at accommodating students of various levels? My fear is booking something and taking this much time off of work/away from family only to find it's not helping me meet my goals. 

Either way, good to hear the positive rec - I'd found them in one of my searches and they looked...let's just say "not as sketchy" as some others. The only hitch is I'd need to do two weeks minimum, which probably means doing it closer to September. Not the end of the world though.

Re: levels -- I'd say yes. We were put in (very small) classes based on level, which they check with an online test and an in-person interview your first day. Their highest level is supposed to be equivalent to studying for JLPT N1. And if you're the only person at your level, you get private classes: http://genkijacs.com/class-information.htm 

So I would guess they can accommodate you, but I'd suggest filling out their contact form or emailing them to ask about your specific goals just to be sure. 

Honestly, I loved GenkiJACS. My Japanese level wasn't as high as yours and I wasn't looking to get the exact same things out of attending, but I had a complete blast both times I went (for 6 weeks the first time and 12 the second). I also love Fukuoka, though, so that helped. 

But yes, they're definitely not sketchy. And they win awards, too: http://genkijacs.com/blog/index.php?itemid=1534
Reply
#6
Wow, Is this a sort of viral marketing? Sounds like an online advertisement via forum posting.
Reply
#7
(2017-03-12, 1:33 am)ShotOkan Wrote: Wow, Is this a sort of viral marketing? Sounds like an online advertisement via forum posting.

If you really think that, then you should report the posters for spamming instead of picking fights.

In fact though, everyone involved is a respectable and long-term forum member. It does actually happen sometimes that people have positive experiences with products or services they've purchased, and recommend them to others when someone comes asking for recommendations.
Reply
#8
As a non-spammer, I for one appreciate the recommendations (and any others that forum posters want to make). I've been wanting to do an immersion program in Japan for a long time, but hadn't done the deep research. Programs like Middlebury are out of my reach economically, but the prices listed on on the genkijcas site don't look bad at all considering that some include accommodations for extended periods (plus, you get to spend your off-time hanging out in Japan). Bookmarking, thank you!
Edited: 2017-03-12, 9:59 am
Reply
#9
Yamasa are another language school that offer a similar small group course setup with short minimum duration, and accommodation provided -- it's been some years since I was there and that wasn't the course I was in, but the people who were seemed to like it. So that might be worth comparing. (They're not in Tokyo though; but Okazaki's a cheaper place to live and I liked it...)
Reply
#10
if you're looking for an immersive vacation, why not just go on vacation?
classes seem to be kinda missing the point...
and boring lol.
i went snowboarding in hokkaido for 10 days this winter, had a blast.
Reply
#11
(2017-03-13, 11:53 pm)dtcamero Wrote: if you're looking for an immersive vacation, why not just go on vacation?
classes seem to be kinda missing the point...
and boring lol.
i went snowboarding in hokkaido for 10 days this winter, had a blast.

It looks like that's what I'll end up doing. I actually have three work trips planned to japan this year, but will also have a ton of miles and points by then, so thought I'd get some more time in. But the wife wasn't quite keen on me taking a FOURTH trip to Japan this year, and instead suggested I プラスα one of my existing business trips and tack a few days of vacation on. I'll probably just do that and hone my Japanese skills by drinking with my friends.

But people should keep recommending language schools. Smile
Edited: 2017-03-14, 12:43 am
Reply
#12
(2017-03-12, 1:33 am)ShotOkan Wrote: Wow, Is this a sort of viral marketing? Sounds like an online advertisement via forum posting.

If you wish, I can hook you up with some Viagra, to help get rid of any pent up frustration.

The health information contained herein is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with a healthcare provider. All decisions regarding patient care must be made with a healthcare provider, considering the unique characteristics of the patient. You may report an adverse event related to Pfizer products by calling 1-800-438-1985.

(2017-03-13, 11:53 pm)dtcamero Wrote: if you're looking for an immersive vacation, why not just go on vacation?
classes seem to be kinda missing the point.

That will work if you have friends in Japan, but if you don't know anyone, you can end up spending most of the time in hotel rooms, or walking around by yourself, never speaking to anyone. It can happen in any country, but especially in Japan, which is not exactly the best place for striking up conversations with random strangers.

A "language school" won't teach you that much Japanese, but it will hook you up with people who are in a similar situation to yours.
Edited: 2017-03-14, 6:22 am
Reply
#13
(2017-03-14, 6:14 am)Stansfield123 Wrote:
(2017-03-13, 11:53 pm)dtcamero Wrote: if you're looking for an immersive vacation, why not just go on vacation?
classes seem to be kinda missing the point.

That will work if you have friends in Japan, but if you don't know anyone, you can end up spending most of the time in hotel rooms, or walking around by yourself, never speaking to anyone. It can happen in any country, but especially in Japan, which is not exactly the best place for striking up conversations with random strangers.

A "language school" won't teach you that much Japanese, but it will hook you up with people who are in a similar situation to yours.

This! I go to Japan for two weeks every couple of years. Granted, I go with English speaking friends, which is great for company but not great for language immersion, but even so, the amount of interaction I get to do in Japanese is limited to shop clerks and such. I would love to be in a situation where I'm not only alone in the country, but obligated to do large amounts of active practice every day, with native-speaking teachers. My next trip in a few months will be with friends again, but I'll try to look at doing immersion language school for the next opportunity.
Reply
#14
Yes. Things I've gotten out of long and short stays at language schools:
* the time and space to concentrate just on learning Japanese
* interaction with a group of people who are there basically for the same thing
* the opportunity to just live somewhere (going to local supermarkets, etc) rather than touristing through it
* a legal reason to be in the country (student visa, for longer than 3 month stays)
* the psychological nudge from having to turn up every day to actually work on my Japanese rather than putting it off
* ditto, from having paid actual money to be there
* an environment where you're regularly expected to speak Japanese
* a structured course of learning

As with private lessons, I think that you get the most out of them if you figure out in advance what you want to get out of the experience.
Reply
#15
The prospect of having reasonably priced accommodations for a month or more is especially attractive. If I can save up enough money, I have time off from teaching in the summers, and my next sabbatical is a couple of years away.

My time off teaching is generally devoted to research but I'm using Japanese in my research more and more, so it's a business investment, kind of...
Reply
#16
(2017-03-14, 9:57 am)pm215 Wrote: Yes. Things I've gotten out of long and short stays at language schools:
* the time and space to concentrate just on learning Japanese
* the opportunity to just live somewhere (going to local supermarkets, etc) rather than touristing through it
* ditto, from having paid actual money to be there
* an environment where you're regularly expected to speak Japanese


These are the largest incentives for me. I have a zillion kids at home, so having that dedicated time in an environment where I'm decoupled from my daily grind and can easily immerse myself is a huge benefit. One of my favorite things to do on my month-long stay in 2015 was just to turn on the TV at night and zone out with a few hours of Japanese TV programming.
Reply
#17
As anyone who has ever asked me will know, I will shill for Yamasa on command. I've gone twice, once for 2 weeks, and once for 3 months, and both times I got a lot out of it. The two-week trip was just enough to get my Japanese jump-started again, and the 3-month trip got me comfortable with speaking/writing.

Okazaki isn't the most happenin' town in Aichi Prefecture, but it's a quiet-ish place to study that's not too expensive. Also, the staff and at Yamasa will do just about anything to make sure your stay is reasonably pleasant. (And the pricing wasn't bad, either.)

Crap, now I want to go back for a bit. I had fun studying there... I also had fun hanging out there, too.
Reply
#18
You might try to find a cheap ryokan or minshuku where you can just study and then practice conversation during meals. In small places everybody eats in the same room, so you can try talking to some other guests (hopefully Japanese ones!). However they sometimes stagger the serving times.
Reply
#19
(2017-03-17, 3:20 pm)ChestnutMouse Wrote: You might try to find a cheap ryokan or minshuku where you can just study and then practice conversation during meals. In small places everybody eats in the same room, so you can try talking to some other guests (hopefully Japanese ones!). However they sometimes stagger the serving times.

Thanks for the suggestion. I live with a Japanese woman and have a lot of Japanese friends, so I get plenty of convo practice. It's more about concentrated study time + some time to hang with said friends. 

I did the 民泊 option (AirBnB) when I first came to Japan and highly recommend it. I'll probably do that again for the next time I come back to Japan and have a few extra days to just chill out before work begins.
Reply
#20
(2017-03-17, 3:31 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: It's more about concentrated study time + some time to hang with said friends. 

Maybe try staying in a gasshozukuri in Shirakawa-go? Very quiet during the week, except when the tour buses come through midday. Hard to reach without a car though.
Reply
#21
(2017-03-17, 4:29 pm)ChestnutMouse Wrote:
(2017-03-17, 3:31 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: It's more about concentrated study time + some time to hang with said friends. 

Maybe try staying in a gasshozukuri in Shirakawa-go? Very quiet during the week, except when the tour buses come through midday. Hard to reach without a car though.

+1 on this.  Nice place if you are in that part of Japan.  

When I stayed there, the owner had a little meet-up for all of the guests.   Each of us had to give a short speech about ourselves, where we come from, and what we were doing in Japan.  I would have enjoyed that part more had I known as much Japanese as I know now.
Reply
#22
(2017-03-17, 4:57 pm)yogert909 Wrote:
(2017-03-17, 4:29 pm)ChestnutMouse Wrote:
(2017-03-17, 3:31 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: It's more about concentrated study time + some time to hang with said friends. 

Maybe try staying in a gasshozukuri in Shirakawa-go? Very quiet during the week, except when the tour buses come through midday. Hard to reach without a car though.

+1 on this.  Nice place if you are in that part of Japan.  

When I stayed there, the owner had a little meet-up for all of the guests.   Each of us had to give a short speech about ourselves, where we come from, and what we were doing in Japan.  I would have enjoyed that part more had I known as much Japanese as I know now.

Do you remember which house that was?

I had some nice conversations with the owners of the places I stayed. One of them said he preferred solo travelers and couples because the dantai kind of rampage through the town.

It was foggy almost the whole time I was there, kind of a magical atmosphere.
Reply
#23
(2017-03-17, 5:20 pm)ChestnutMouse Wrote: Do you remember which house that was?

I had some nice conversations with the owners of the places I stayed. One of them said he preferred solo travelers and couples because the dantai kind of rampage through the town.

It was foggy almost the whole time I was there, kind of a magical atmosphere.

I can't believe I found it, but this is where we stayed.  Yea it wasn't thick fog when we were there, but more like "misty".  It definitely felt like I'd stepped into a historical drama or sumi-e painting being there.
Reply