If you are searching for Japanese language schools in Japan, you will probably come across the name GenkiJACS. This language school (called Genki Japanese and Culture School) has locations in four areas of Japan and is a well-equipped school that has helped thousands of students pursue their language learning aspirations.
I attended GenkiJACS in Fukuoka for 1.5 years on their student visa program. The year and a half as a student was so very exciting and a path you might also be interested in embarking on yourself.
This post covers all of the things you’ll want to know about GenkiJACS Japanese language school to help decide if it is the place for you. Now grab a pen and paper and enjoy learning about this Fukuoka language school!
- What is GenkiJACS Language School
- Where is GenkiJACS Located?
- What is the School Itself Like?
- What are Classes Like?
- Does GenkiJACS Help With Housing?
- Does GenkiJACS Help You Get a Job?
- How Do You Apply to GenkiJACS?
- How to Prepare for Japanese Language School?
- Do I Recommend GenkiJACS Langauge School?
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What is GenkiJACS Language School
There are hundreds of language schools throughout Japan for learners of all kinds. One school is GenkiJACS, which has branches in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya, and Fukuoka. While I have seen the Kyoto school (which is located in a great central spot), I have only taken classes at the Fukuoka school. That being said, this post will be about my experiences at GenkiJACS Fukuoka!
As mentioned in the name, Genki Japanese and Culture School is a place that not only teaches communicative Japanese (as opposed to academic Japanese) but also focuses on sharing Japanese culture and creating a community for its students through events and programs.
Although I attended during the heart of COVID-19 when most social activities and gatherings were stopped, I did get to enjoy a few of these activities during my time such as attending a national sumo tournament, wearing a traditional Japanese kimono, and trying my hand at traditional mochi pounding.
Where is GenkiJACS Located?
The Fukuoka branch of GenkiJACS is located in a convenient and central location close to the Mikasa River, in a business district called Hakata.
For those unfamiliar with Fukuoka and Kyushu geography, here’s a brief overview:
Fukuoka is a prefecture located in the north of Kyushu Island. It is the most populous prefecture in Kyushu and is a growing hub for international development and business.
The climate is more mild than in places like Okinawa and Hokkaido, but you should still prepare for brisk winters and hot, humid summers.
Close in proximity to the sea but still near mountains and volcanic spots, Fukuoka boasts splendid nature escapes.
While Fukuoka may not be as well known as Tokyo or Kyoto, this under-the-radar-ness is one of the key points that make the region so great. With much fewer visitors and tourists, living in Fukuoka means you’ll have more chances to connect with the locals and won’t get swept up in crowds of tourists at every turn.
In Fukuoka City, Hakata is one of the most notable business districts. Hakata Station is an invaluable transport hub that connects Fukuoka to other parts of Kyushu and beyond with an intricate network of buses, subways, and Shinkansens.
GenkiJACS is located just a few minutes walk from Hakata Station making it an easy-to-access school surrounded by plenty of shops and restaurants.
Before attending GenkiJACS, I had never been to Fukuoka or Kyushu before. Once I got to the area though, its charms quickly grew on me and I am now a huge fan of Kyushu and Fukuoka over the other big cities.
What is the School Itself Like?
GenkiJACS itself is pretty small and comprises a single 6-floor (small Japanese) building. If you’re imagining a university, or a big, expansive school, this is not it. The most surprising thing to me when I first started was how small the school was compared to my imagination.
Enter the doors of GenkiJACS and you’ll be met with the genkan entrance space where you take off your shoes. (Yes, no shoes allowed here!) After removing your footwear and placing it on the shelves, you can put on a pair of provided slippers and check out the lounge.
This area is made for hanging out with other students before or after classes or during lunch. There is a large whiteboard, a selection of manga you can read, a few tables and seats, and a TV.
Reception and Staff Space
Walk up the narrow stairwell to reach the reception area and different classrooms. The stairs are so narrow that you usually have to stop and make room for others if there is two-way traffic. (Like I said, a small Japanese building!)
On the second floor, you’ll find the reception area where the teachers and administrative staff are located. Here is where you can ask any questions you may have about your studies/ life in Japan or resolve any problems. The space is open and full of people, so it is difficult to have private conversations here.
Many of the staff speak multiple languages, so students of all different nationalities can communicate with ease.
You will find the classrooms on floors 3-6. Though they vary slightly in size, they are all on the small side and are very cozy only fitting around 6-8 students max. A large whiteboard sits in the front and in most rooms, a projector is installed on the ceiling above.
One of the things I disliked about the rooms was the seats. I found many of the seats extremely uncomfortable to sit in, especially for 4 hours at a time.
Around the School
Tall buildings surround the school, so you won’t get much of a view from the windows. The closest conveni is just a walk across the street and is a great place to pick up a quick in-between class snack like Famichiki or onigiri.
Near the conveni there is also a stamina hot plate restaurant that was one of my favorites to visit when craving tasty garlicky meat.
The meal itself is quite simple: just beef and cabbage and spicy miso paste with sides of rice and soup, but it’s delicious!
As mentioned above, the school is close to Hakata Station where you can find stores like Tokyu Hans and Daiso to fill any of your shopping needs.
What Are Classes Like?
GenkiJACS’s courses are geared toward beginner-level students. They offer group lessons as well as private and online classes. You can study at GenkiJacs for as little as one week, and up to 18 months depending on the school.
The long-term course and the availability of a student visa are what brought me to study with GenkiJACS.
On the long-term study course, classes are held Monday to Friday except on national holidays and during school holidays.
Each day was broken up into 4 different classes, each 50 minutes long. There were three different blocks of classes. Starting in the morning from 9:30 to 1:10 pm, starting in the mid-morning from 11:25 to 3:50 pm (with an hour and five-minute lunch break in between), and starting in the late afternoon from 2:05 to 5:45).
Students don’t have control over which of these blocks they are assigned to and the schedule is not regular, sometimes changing day to day or week to week with notification only sent out the Friday before.
This changing schedule was one of my biggest pain points with school as it made it difficult to develop a regular schedule and rhythm. It also made it difficult to schedule things during the week including a part-time job.
In class, we focused on the four skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. We used a variety of textbooks depending on the class level as well as other materials such as news clippings, and handouts from other books.
Each day had two different teachers. It was good to be exposed to different teaching styles and Japanese, but there were times when the lack of communication between teachers created confusion with assignments and the day’s learning material.
As GenkiJACS is a communication-based school, we did lots of role-playing and conversation practice. There was very light homework, usually, just a page a day reviewing the material we had learned.
If you attend a school where the homework is light, I highly recommend putting a bit more time into self-study to help build your foundation quicker. For self-study resources outside of the classroom, check out this blog post!.
We had mini vocab tests and occasional larger tests that included speaking and writing. As long as you participated in class, did the homework, and understood what was being taught, the tests were not a problem.
The classes aren’t specifically taught to pass the JLPT, but by going through the course and putting in extra time on the side, I was able to pass the JLPT N3 after 1 year and JLPT N2 six months later. Learn more about the JLPT and how I studied for it, check out here!
Does GenkiJACS Help With Housing?
If you want the school to help you with your housing, then yes, they can definitely help! GenkiJACS has connections with different housing options around the city, so they can set you up with housing based on your preferences.
Housing options include homestays, shared houses, single-person apartments, and multiple-person apartments.
Getting housing through the school is the simplest choice, but you are given limited choices regarding location and room layout.
I stayed with a host family for the first three months and then moved to my own space in an apartment-like building. Both of my experiences were relatively positive so I can recommend going with school housing since it took all the difficulty out of that process.
Does GenkiJACS Help You Get a Job?
While students are allowed to work part-time part-time on a student visa, I felt like it was relatively not encouraged by the school. In the past, many students ended up prioritizing work over school and missed classes which led to problems with immigration and the school.
I was pretty intent on getting a job after graduating and staying in Japan, so the school tried to assist, but I wouldn’t say it was that helpful. They put me in touch with a recruiter and I had contact with a Japanese company. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it was a great match and felt like my Japanese level wasn’t high enough to work in an all-Japanese company. (Those who are looking for a job as an English teacher or have skills in popular fields like computer science and marketing will probably have an easier time than I did).
One of my teachers did help me write my Japanese resume and CV though which I was very thankful for. (The Japanese format for these documents is very rigid so having someone guide me through the process was very helpful).
The school’s focus is on getting students to learn Japanese and come to class, not helping them find a job to continue living in Japan post-graduation. For this, you will need to put in a lot of extra effort yourself.
How to Apply To The School
If you decide to apply to GenkiJACS, the process is relatively straightforward, though it takes quite a while.
You can apply to the school from the website, and from there you will need to fill out a form to receive an estimate. Once you have the estimate, you will be able to contact the school via email and they will guide you through the rest of the application steps. To learn about the entire process of getting the visa after applying check out the post here.
If you have some Japanese background, you will take a “placement” test to figure out which class to join. For me, this was a video call with one of the teachers. It was pretty casual and nothing to stress about. If you find when you start classes that the level isn’t right for you, talk with the teachers and it can be adjusted as necessary.
How to Prepare for Japanese Language School?
Once you decide to go to language school in Japan, there are a few ways you can prepare before you leave your home country to get a jump start with your studies.
GenkiJACS also requires students to know hiragana and katakana before starting, so make sure you are very comfortable with these. To practice, use simple quiz sites like Tofugu’s Learn Kana Quiz, and make sure you can read the beginner textbooks.
For more intermediate learners, I encourage getting practice speaking Japanese as much as possible. Even when you are not in Japan, there are great language tools to connect with teachers and native speakers online.
I’m a big fan of Italki and used it before moving to Japan to get used to speaking to natives and force myself to practice Japanese as nervous as I was.
Tip: search for teachers in the prefecture where you will be studying and maybe you can get some insider recommendations! Check out Italki and get $10 off your first lessons!
If you are looking to brush up on your listening skills, Japanesepod 101 is a great resource for beginner and intermediate podcast lessons. These bite-sized, multilingual lessons are fun, and a great way to practice listening to Japanese especially if you have a long commute or a lot of downtime.
Finally, WaniKani is the resource I have most used for learning Japanese kanji. You can try out this spaced repetition system flashcard app for the first 3 levels before deciding if it is right for you. If you can get into the habit of reviewing and learning a few new cards each day, I guarantee that it will help your language learning journey so much.
Want even more learning resources? Check out this post for even more tips for starting your language learning.
Do I Recommend GenkiJACS Langauge School?
Overall, if you are looking to come to Japan to immerse yourself in the language, are prepared to put in the work needed to get a grasp on this difficult language, and are keen on discovering a part of Japan away from the overpacked tourist hotspots, then GenkiJACS in Fukuoka may be a great fit for you!
While no school is perfect and I did have critiques about the way some of the classes were run and organized, overall the school was a good place that I recommend to others. I did get burnt out of the school system by the end of my first year though, but I’ll talk about that more in a more detailed review coming soon. Say posted and subscribe to not miss out!
Now what are you waiting for, it’s time to learn Japanese in Japan!
Check out these other posts to learn more about Japan and studying abroad!