If you’ve ever flirted with the idea of brushing up on your Japanese skills or taking a break from city life to recharge and reconnect with the language, there’s no better time to start than fall. The weather is the perfect temperature, pumpkins spice lattes are back on sale and koyo (autumn leaves) are on full fiery display across the country.
There’s no more scenic place to study than at Akita Inaka School in Japan’s northern Akita Prefecture. The school is now accepting applications for its autumn course which runs from October 21 to November 1. Over two weeks, Japanese lessons will take place in the mornings, while afternoons are filled with a ton of awesome activities from kayaking to farm stays to playing with adorable Akita dogs.
Study in class, then take it outside
Akita Inaka School is a language school situated in the picturesque town of Kosaka, just south of Lake Towada and the Towada Hachmantai National Park. Sitting in the northern corner of the Tohoku region, Akita is a region overflowing with incredible natural attractions, vibrant festivals, and plenty of onsen baths to soak in after a stint hitting the books.
Another thing Akita is known for? Only the cutest breed of dog ever!
While Akita Inaka School is an accredited Japanese language school, don’t expect just to be sitting in a classroom staring at kanji all day. The curriculum is divided into three main focus areas: language, culture, and experience—all of which will help you improve your communication skills in Japanese.
Learn real, useful Japanese
The language component focusses on learning practical conversational Japanese in an authentic Japanese classroom. To make sure that what you’re learning doesn’t feel like it’s happening in a vacuum, the school organizes regular cultural experiences so you can learn about local Japanese life, and put your language skills to practice.
While living in a smaller regional pocket of Japan, like Akita, you’ll have far more exposure to the local lifestyle. Even in a short time, you’ll be able to become part of the community thanks to the intensive exchange activities that come as part of the course. You’ll get to put your Japanese skills to practice in an immersive, non-English environment every day.
Study in the morning, play in the afternoon
When it comes to the nitty-gritty breakdown of the course structure, it’s not overly intensive and leaves you with plenty of time to explore this corner of Japan during its most stunning season. Japanese lessons run from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday to Friday during which the class content is based around building the conversational Japanese skills that will prepare you for real-life situations.
After classes and on weekends the schools organize activities for students to practice what they have learned in class in real life. So you could say it’s 50% theory and 50% practical.
This structure breakdown is one that students have raved about, with comments like these filling up the school’s Facebook page.
“I’ve been to Japan a few times before, but Akita Inaka School felt like a completely fresh experience that enabled me to discover a different side of Japan that not many foreigners get to see.”
“What an adventure unlike any other! This is an authentic experience of living within a very welcoming community, interacting with friendly locals, learning about the culture and language, and exploring all the beauty that is Japan.”
“I really recommend this school if you want to learn and practice Japanese with locals! This school organized events where I could meet and build connections with the locals. It was also an amazing experience to meet and make friendships with students from many different countries.”
Check out these other reviews from previous students.
Can’t make the autumn course? There are summer and winter options, too
Three seasonal courses run throughout the Akita Inaka School year. There are two one-month-long courses in winter and spring, and a two-week course in autumn.
There are still spots available for the autumn course out of a limited number, so get applying quick if you’re interested! However, if the places do fill up, applications for the winter and spring courses are also open now.
Course cost and how to apply
The autumn course at Akita Inaka School costs ¥160,000 ($1480), with all activities included. The school can also help with arranging accommodation in its sharehouse for ¥13,000 (shared room) or ¥20,000 (single room) per week, or organizing a hotel if you prefer.
If you’re worried about daily expenses, even for a countryside town Kosaka is very budget-friendly. With bento boxes jam-packed with local delights that can be ordered at the school for ¥500, a safe estimate for your day’s spend is around ¥1500. The school also provides free bicycle rental.