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Kokoka Kyoto Information and Recreation Hotspot

Center for information, pesky searches, interpreter and advisement services, visa assistance, Japanese lessons, some relaxation and charging stations for those infernally dying devices.

By 4 min read

I would like to introduce to you Kokoka Kyoto International Community House. Here’s a funfact about Kyoto International Community House: it is commonly known as Kokoka, short for “Kokusai Koryu Kaikan,” which is just too much of a mouthful to say every time. Not only is it located next to some interesting Kyoto attractions – such as Heian Jingu and Kyoto Zoo – but it also contains a multitude of things to help and interest everyone. At Kokoka, you will find many services to assist you while you are in Kyoto.

The building has wi-fi and electrical outlets to recharge your infernally dying devices, the two things that seem to always be in a deficit. Perhaps the most important feature is the English speaking staff. The lobby has the information desk, where many of your questions may be answered, including directing you to sources recommended for all those pesky searches as in apartment searches, job searches and the rest. Off to the side from here is an entire corner devoted to brochures and a large message board, where everything from jobs, to lessons, to language partners, to things for sale and even rental listing are posted, and everyone is free to post. In the center of the lobby is a circle of couches around a TV, which broadcasts NBC and BBC news programs. Lastly, cubicles where you may study or work, adjacent to the café with seating, overlooking the traditional Japanese gardens. With a cup of tea in hand the view of the garden is really quite lovely and relaxing. You can meet with friends, groups or do lessons in this area.

The rest of the building contains a library with dictionaries of 120 languages and publications from around the world, a volunteer room, the sister city corner and an exhibition room may be found. There are classrooms, halls, a traditional Japanese room and even an auditorium available for rent if you would like to hold an event here.

Kokoka-2

Moving on from there, Kokoka offers many important services where, dare I say, English is preferable to Japanese, especially while dealing with difficulties. English interpreters and advisory services are available here for free and appointments are via telephone. Unlike quite a number of places you may have heard of, consultations here are confidential. You may seek advice regarding any of your worries. Some of the most common topics are: legal advice, visa related questions, tax consultations, social insurance, pension, labor conditions, mental services. Thankfully, this covers most of the issues we run headfirst into as non-Japanese people. However, in order to provide better assistance there are 4 counseling days per year, where specialists attempt to answer and address an even larger variety of questions. These events are being called ‘Counseling Days,’ and there is usually one each in February, June, September and December. Exact dates change yearly and thus need to be checked on the website. Incidentally, the next Counseling day is February 20, 2016 from 1-5pm.

Another great thing about Kokoka is not only do they help you with Japanese by translating, but they also help you learn it. Two-hour beginner Japanese lessons are offered on Fridays for 7000 yen for 12 meetings. Two levels are available: the first is ‘Basic’ for people with no knowledge of Japanese, the second is ‘Everyday Japanese’ for those with some previous knowledge and wish to improve upon it. On the other hand, there are the volunteer taught lessons available which you may attend regardless of your level of Japanese. The contents of the lessons will vary between classes however. The fee for these lessons are 50 yen per meeting, where all you need to do is show up at the correct time.

Now for the fun part! Kokoka has ‘Open Day,’ an event to introduce its services and Kyoto businesses while giving everyone a chance to enjoy the fair. There are food stalls with dishes from around the world, a costume corner, Japanese traditional activities –Karuta, tea ceremony, kimono– a language café, a flea market, and a variety of performances. I particularly enjoyed a music performance by one group who had a harmonium –or a tiny piano-like object as we see it– cymbals, a drum and a string instrument. Though I could not understand the words being sung, I found the music quite beautiful.

Access:

Kokoka – Kyoto International Community House
2-1 Torii-cho, Awataguchi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8536

Keage Station (Tozai Line)
From Kyoto Station take the Karasuma line, at Karasuma Oike transfer to Tozai line, exit at Keage Station.

If you are taking Keihan Line, at Sanjo Keihan transfer to Tozai line, exit at Keage Station.

Website: http://www.kcif.or.jp/en

Telephone: 075-752-3511

Hours of Operation:
Tuesday-Sunday 9am-9pm
Closed: Mondays, unless it is a holiday, then closing is on Tuesday

English Interpreters and Advisement services
Tuesdays and Thursdays 9am-5pm.
Telephone: 075-752-1166

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