Japanese-Language Program for Specialists in Cultural and Academic Fields (2-month course)
June 6-August 1, 2018
1. Japanese Language Classes
The top selling point of this program is the variety of classes it offers. Once you've taken your placement test, you will have access to classes (catered to your level) that cover a wide range of topics, including grammar, conversation, news, discussion, and more. Most of the classes are optional, allowing you to customize your schedule. Don't feel like you need another grammar class? You can use that time to do your own research. Feel like your Japanese computer literacy is lacking? You can take a computer course in which you learn how to write formal emails, use the Japanese library system, and the like. Have some specific articles, books, or research papers you want to read? You can take a one-on-one course in which an instructor helps you work through readings (that you choose!) in your specialization.
It's very clear that the teachers in staff in charge of this program have put a lot of time and effort into creating a program in which learners from all different backgrounds and levels can thrive. You will leave this program not only with a better understanding of Japanese, but also with a lot more confidence in your abilities (and with lots of new friends!)
The small but well-stocked library of The Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Kansai(hereinafter referred to as the Kansai Center) is full of books in many languages, including fiction and guidebooks. If the library doesn't have what you need, you can borrow books from other libraries through an interlibrary loan. Japan has an incredibly organized national library system that makes borrowing books quite intuitive. If you have any trouble, the librarians are always there to help you with your search and are very patient and kind.
Before you arrive in Japan, you will be asked to choose two culture classes: tea ceremony, calligraphy or yukata. In the tea ceremony class, you'll learn about the history of this long-standing tradition and plunge into the mysterious aura of sado. If you fancy challenging your inner artist, try calligraphy (and get a hand-made present to bring to your loved ones). If you have been dreaming about trying on a Japanese kimono, now's your chance!
You can also elect to be paired with a host family. For many of us, it was our first time visiting a Japanese home and was an unforgettable experience of getting the taste of the Japanese everyday life. This experience also provides a great opportunity to make some local connections outside of the center.
You will also get to see bunraku, the traditional Japanese puppet theatre, which is particularly popular in Osaka. You'll also have the opportunity to participate in other organized cultural events, though these aren't required. For example, some of us met with students at Kobe University, while others took a tour of the Osaka Gas facilities, while still others took a yacht cruise on Ocean Day.
4. Life at the Kansai Center
Living at the center is like living in a hotel. Your meals are taken care of by a combination of cafeteria points and a cash stipend given at the beginning of each month. The cafeteria makes a variety of healthy, tasty dishes each day and caters to most dietary needs (i.e. halal, vegetarian, etc). If you prefer to cook yourself, there's a full kitchen available (stocked with basic cookware like knives, cutting boards pans, etc.) and there are smaller kitchenettes with microwaves on every other floor that you can use when you're craving a hot snack. Rooms are cleaned once a week, but it's up to you to do your own laundry. Don't worry! There are washers and dryers that you can use for free on every other floor. Some other perks include free bike rentals, a study room where you can print, copy, and scan and lounges for hanging out on every other floor.
The Kansai Center is located in the quiet-but-beautiful Tajiricho area of Osaka. The Center itself is about a 5-minute walk away from a harbor, where there's a tasty fish market on Sundays. It's about equidistant from Marble Beach, where you can take a walk in the sea breeze or have a BBQ. Oh, and the sunsets are great there too!
Quiet as it is, the Kansai Center has all of modern conveniences you could ask for. Two grocery stores and two convenience stores are within walking distance and there's a nice park nearby. If you want to do some shopping or go out to eat, there's a bus that goes to the nearby outlets and AEON mall, where there are lots of restaurants and stores to choose from. There are also some izakaya(Japanese-style bars) about a 15-minute walk from the center if you're interested in Japanese nightlife. When you want to get out of Tajiricho, you can get to downtown Osaka via the Nankai and JR Lines in about 40 minutes.
Chloe Marie, WILLIS(America)