So, you’re keen to study Japanese but haven’t figured out where exactly. Do you go for the neon and noise of big cities like Tokyo and Osaka or the lantern-lit history and tradition of somewhere like Kyoto? You know what, maybe it’s time to think outside of the hako (that’s Japanese for box — get it?). Good news. There are language schools all over the country, including in places that are so scenic it might actually prove a challenge to concentrate on all those kanji.
ISI Nagano is just that kind of school, located just a Japanese-English dictionary’s throw away from the Japan Alps and all of the spectacular natural scenery, local produce and outdoor adventures that they offer.
If advantages like cheaper tuition and accommodation, opportunities to make Japanese friends, plenty of outdoor activities and an authentic rural lifestyle sound like the kind of study experience you’re after, then you probably don’t need to read the rest of this article and should just go ahead and apply here. But just in case you did need more convincing, here are five reasons to study Japanese in Nagano.
1. Learn Japanese in one of Japan’s most beautiful prefectures
Welcome to Nagano Prefecture, nicknamed the “roof of Japan” thanks to its not-too-shabby array of majestic mountains. Known for hosting the Winter Olympics in 1998, Nagano is a skiing and snowboarding mecca; one of the largest and most popular ski areas, Shiga Kogen, is less than a two-hour ride from the school. And where there are ski resorts, there’s also onsen (hot springs)—700 of them in fact, including the famous Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park where you can spot languid monkeys enjoying a nice, hot soak. In the warmer months, there’s hiking, cycling, camping, rafting, canyoning and more around the Kogen, Minami-Alps and the Chubu Sangaku areas. Meanwhile, Kamikochi offers over 13,000 square kilometers of natural parks.
ISI Nagano is located in the town of Ueda, just a short walk from its main train station, which anime aficionados may have heard of thanks to the blockbuster animated science fiction film, Summer Wars.
The fifth-largest city in Nagano—aside from its proximity to all of the above—has all you need in terms of stores, restaurants, clubs and activities, museums, parks, and a castle. Still, if you do feel like taking a break from all that natural beauty, you can hop on the bullet train and reach Tokyo in under two hours.
2. Benefit from lower accommodation and living fees
Compared to major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, Ueda offers much cheaper accommodation and living costs. Whether staying at the student dormitory, a share house or getting your own place, you’ll find way more affordable options that offer a decent amount of space. Compare this to the tiny shoebox you could be stuck within Tokyo and it’s kind of a no-brainer. Students who apply through the GaijinPot Student Placement Program can get support finding a home in the area if needed.
Living costs in the countryside are generally lower than in the city, too. Nagano is all about agriculture, which means lots of fresh, readily available produce, in particular, lettuce, cabbage, apples, grapes and, of course, rice. Students at ISI Nagano can also take advantage of a sweet discount on public transportation.
3. Study on an integrated university campus
ISI is integrated with the Nagano Business and Language College campus, providing a fantastic chance to make friends with local Japanese students from the vocational courses as well as your language school classmates while you study.
Another unique aspect of this campus-sharing scheme is the four-year diploma plan, in which international students who are considering pursuing higher education or working in Japan can combine two years of Japanese learning with another two years of vocational study. Within four years, you could transform into a fluent Japanese-speaking whizz with a degree in international communications or global business to boot.
4. Study a course that will take you somewhere
Beginners will first go through the standard Japanese course that gives a solid foundation from which to develop more complex language skills and abilities. Once you’ve reached the higher intermediate level, you’re able to choose from courses such as business Japanese, JLPT preparation, practical conversation, and college or university preparation.
Within four years, you could transform into a fluent Japanese-speaking whizz with a degree in international communications or global business…
As we mentioned, it’s possible to study for up to four years by transferring to the adjacent vocational school to pursue a further degree. Students are also given guidance for entering other universities in Japan through the school’s academic career counseling. For more detailed information on the specific courses, see our dedicated school page.
5. Find interesting work opportunities during and after the course
Nagano’s natural environment is a gold mine of interesting job opportunities for foreigners. Want to teach lessons at a ski resort? Gain hospitality experience in a hotel? Teach English to senior citizens at city hall or help out in a craft beer bar? You’ll be able to immerse yourself in the local community, practice your Japanese and earn some yen at the same time. Plus, as Japan’s labor shortage is increasing, more part-time job opportunities for foreigners are opening up. The Nagano region is no exception to the trend and here you’ll find fewer people to compete with for positions.
ISI Nagano also supports students with finding work after their course is finished. As well as hosting regular career counseling sessions on campus, the school offers students the chance to attend company briefings, vocational experiences and workplace tours. Their growing recruitment internship also has a high success rate, with many students going on to be directly hired by companies connected to the school.
Applications for the April 2020 term close soon—so you’ll need to get form filling right away if you want to start studying this year! For any questions, or if you need more information, contact our GaijinPot Study Coordinators.