Many people want to learn Japanese, but find that it’s a difficult language to learn. The popularity of Japan as a country, the unique and at times strange culture as well interest in the language has grown a lot during the last few years.
It’s becoming more and more common to travel abroad to study. However, if you’re thinking about studying Japanese in Japan, there are some things you need to keep in mind.
In today’s show our host Anthony Joh gives us his opinion on the best three options to make it happen!
Apply directly to a Japanese language school
This would seem to be the easiest option as the schools’ primary custom base are foreigners from overseas and so you’d think this would mean that they’re very good at handling overseas inquiries – but NOPE!
As mentioned in the previous episode, Japanese companies aren’t very good at dealing with international students or clients. They focus their attention mainly on Japanese, so if you don’t have a pretty good level of Japanese already, this option isn’t for you. (Of course if you have a pretty good level of Japanese already you wouldn’t need to apply to a Japanese language school but that irony is totally lost on the Japanese.)
Many Japanese language schools in Japan do not have an English speaking person on staff which could mean that they don’t even know how to answer your emails. The language barrier makes it very difficult to contact and communicate efficiently with the schools, so I’d only recommend this choice if it’s your only one, or if you have a sufficient level of Japanese to make yourself understood.
Also the schools are run in a similar way to a Japanese company so don’t expect a lot of support from the school once you arrive in Japan. If you are looking for full support for both living and studying in Japan then you should consider a service like Go Go Nihon.
GoGo Nihon vs GaijinPot Study
GoGo Nihon and GaijinPot both offer very similar services, in that they act as the middleman between you and the school. Because the schools can’t communicate in English they are more than happy to pass that responsibility to a third party. Both GaijinPot and Go Go Nihon have Japanese speaking staff so they are able to help you get all the necessary paperwork and documents ready.
The difference between the two companies is that Go! Go! Nihon is a customer service focussed company while GaijinPot is a sales based company. These differences won’t matter too much in the details of getting your paperwork but matter more once you get to Japan.
Go! Go! Nihon offers welcome parties and fun student activities and works hard to build a strong community among their students.
Go Go Nihon offers welcome parties and fun student activities and works hard to build a strong community among their students. Since GaijinPot focusses more on sales, they view these activities as unnecessary expenses.
If you’re not interested in participating in meetings and activities, then GaijinPot might be the better option as their student support staff are better qualified than the GoGo Nihon staff when it comes to Japanese student visa regulations.
Getting your visa application right is essential when applying for the Japanese student visa. If it is anything but perfect, chances are that you will be denied entry. As mentioned in the previous episode, the Japanese people aren’t too happy about having foreigners in Japan anyway, so they won’t make it easy for you to come.
If you’re coming from a Western country then your visa application is fairly straight forward and either GoGo Nihon or GaijinPot can help your process that easily. If your application is complicated in that you might not have the required funds, references, work history, etc than the GaijinPot staff are the ones I would contact.
Remember, you have to apply approximately six months before you want to start your studies, to get everything ready on time. During those months, it’s a good idea to get a head-start on your Japanese. The lessons start on your first day at the school so learning the basics of hiragana and katakana beforehand will go a long way when you start classes
The cost to study at a Japanese language school
The cost of studying in Japan varies, depending on the tuition of the school, transportation, rent, phone bills and much more. Usually, the tuition costs around ¥700,000 ~ ¥100,000 per year. Not exactly a small amount.
Even if you’re planning on working part-time while you’re studying, you still need to bring enough money to cover the first six months of rent and costs. Helping their students in the first few months when you arrive in Japan is one of the key services that GoGo Nihon offers.
As for finding a job, you can find a long list of part-time jobs on GaijinPot’s job board. Most students find work as English teachers or in restaurants. An important thing to keep in mind is that you’re only allowed to work 28 hours per week in Japan. This is not a rule you want to break since the Japanese adhere to their rules very strictly.
Study options other than Tokyo
Tokyo is the most well-known and popular city to study in, but many other parts of Japan have a lot to offer, like for example Fukuoka. It’s a smaller city which has beautiful nature, mountains, beaches and it doesn’t feel crowded or busy. It’s also not as expensive as Tokyo.
Most students want to study in Tokyo but I would highly encourage you to look at the other cities in Japan as well.