School Pride
Make the most of your time in Japan by learning language, culture and lots more.

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Akamonkai Japanese Language School
Since 1985, this venerable institution has been offering Japanese lessons to students around the globe. Currently over 900 students from 15 countries are learning Japanese with Akamonkai’s curriculum.

Located in a quiet residential district not far from the crowds of central Tokyo, Akamonkai Japanese Language School has several unique features for the discerning Japanese language student. In addition to providing a welcoming environment, classes are suited to each student’s level and abilities. Another extremely popular feature is the study hall—it’s open 24/7. The school also puts on a festival every March that offers lectures and exchanges between students and the locals.

Three-month courses are available for ¥120,000 (including admission fee), and pre-college visas are provided for participants in one- to two-year courses. For students interested in longer-term programs, Akamonkai offers scholarships and discounted enrollment plans, as well as dormitories that are easily reachable from the school by bike or on foot.

6-39-12 Higashi-Nippori, Arakawa-ku. Tel: 03-3806-6102. Nearest stn: Nippori. Email:

ARC Academy

How popular is ARC Academy? How about this: students from more than 40 countries have chosen ARC as their Japanese language school. At first, many new students are worried because the lessons are conducted entirely in Japanese. But soon they find that not only are the classes effective, they are enjoyable as well. You might wonder how this is possible, especially if you are unfamiliar with the Japanese language. But you will see and experience how it works.

ARC instructors are enthusiastic and highly trained, helping students progress through real-life, conversation-based practice in a relaxed atmosphere. Lessons include not only specific words and phrases, but also when and in what manner to use language in different situations.

ARC schools, located in Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Yokohama, are all close to their respective train stations, and they all offer a variety of courses: intensive courses, part-time evening lessons (Shinjuku), JLPT preparation and more. For private lessons and company training sessions, a custom-made curriculum is provided to meet individual schedules and needs.

Whether you’re looking to develop your basic conversational skills or business language, ARC Academy offers the best results. Friendly English-speaking staff welcome your inquiries by email, telephone or in person.

Shibuya Ekimae branch: 4F Shibuya KI Bldg, 1-16-9 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3409-0391. Nearest stn: Shibuya. Email: Open Mon-Thu 10am-7:30pm, Fri 10am-6:30pm, Sat 10am-4pm, closed Sun & hols. Shinjuku branch: Tel: 3-3345-6411. Ikebukuro branch: Tel: 03-3590-4550. Yokohama branch: Tel: 045-312-5759.

Alpha Japanese Language Institute

Alpha was established in 1987 as a Japanese language school for foreign professionals, and over the last two decades has developed a reputation for high-quality lessons taught by instructors from diverse backgrounds. Located in a new building with modern facilities right in the heart of Tokyo, Alpha is situated near a Japanese temple and a public theater, where regular performances of traditional plays are offered.

The school is not only popular with students—diplomats and businesspeople are enrolled there as well. A variety of lessons are available, ranging from one-on-one to group classes, both on- and off-site, to suit even the most hectic schedule. For complete details, call or visit the website.

22F Kotohira Tower, 1-2-8 Toranomon, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3504-8080. Fax: 03-3504-8181. Nearest stn: Toranomon. Email:

Ebisu Japanese Language School

A friendly, informal school for learners of all levels, Ebisu Japanese Language School (EJLS) is conveniently located within walking distance of both Hiroo and Ebisu stations. Current students range from those who have never cracked a language book to those preparing to ace Level 1 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Lessons are taught by upbeat, experienced instructors who adapt their methods to fit each student’s needs. Classes take place in a relaxed environment where the coffee flows freely and improvement can be felt after each lesson.

The lineup of available lessons includes a JLPT course (¥3,000/90min) for all test levels (held in July and December); private tutoring (¥3,800/50min) that’s available to fit any schedule and tailored to focus on specific objectives; a concentrated study course (¥3,800/90min), which involves ten days of intensive private lessons; a “survival course” (¥3,800/90min) that offers two weeks of daily instruction for those needing to pick up Japanese quickly; and group lessons for 2-3 people (¥3,000/50min).

4F Hiroo Stone Bldg, 1-3-17 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3441-4713. Nearest stn: Ebisu or Hiroo. Email:

White Rabbit Press

No time for school, but plenty of downtime on the train? The kana and kanji flashcards from White Rabbit Press are designed to turn your in-between time into study time. These attractive, portable and durable learning aids can hold their own against anything else you’ve got in your purse or pocket. The series begins at kana and continues through three stages of kanji study, including what you need to know for each Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Whether your goal is to pass the next level, decipher the newspaper or just read a menu, White Rabbit Press has you covered.

With fans in over 80 countries, the kanji flashcards have achieved international word-of-mouth acclaim. Each intelligently designed card includes all the principle readings, a step-by-step stroke diagram, and six example compound words that show the character in context and serve to dramatically increase one’s vocabulary. The series covers nearly 2,000 characters in total, while introducing over 10,000 new words in the process. The cards also show lookalike characters so that you don’t confuse your new kanji friends with others that look nearly the same.

White Rabbit Press flashcards impress with their ability to anticipate students’ needs, so it isn’t surprising that the Tokyo-based publisher also offers a variety of other useful study aids. See their website for more information on language-learning resources like the eye-catching kanji poster, mp3 audio companions, and specially designed flashcard organizers. Sample flashcards are also available for download.

Azabudai Japanese Language School

Azabudai Japanese Language School offers practical lessons based on real-life situations to help students acquire communicative knowledge, rather than just grammatical structures. Because an ability to use new language skills helps students experience the excitement of learning, class activities are based on developing oral proficiency. And because learners know that their mistakes will be corrected, they gain the confidence to speak freely and naturally. Beginner students at Azabudai are given a three-month starter course that introduces hiragana, katakana and simple sentences.

Instructors at Azabudai Japanese Language School all have over six years of experience, and the students come from various backgrounds and nationalities. Lessons are conducted in large classrooms in a relaxed atmosphere, and because Azabudai is considered an NPO, fees are extremely reasonable.

The school is located just six minutes from Kamiyacho station or ten minutes from Akabane-Bashi, Azabu-Juban, or Roppongi-Itchome stations. For those with a car, there is also a parking lot.

● Entrance fee: ¥5,000. Tuition: ¥44,000 (20 lessons/twice weekly, two hours per lesson). Materials fee: ¥4,000-¥5,000. Class time: twice a week 10:30am-12:30pm, 1:30pm-3:30pm. No classes on Wed. Note: at least two students are required to start a class.

● 1-9-8 Azabudai, Minato-ku. Email: Nearest stn: Kamiyacho.

Evergreen Language School

Evergreen Language School is located in the quiet residential area of Yutenji, just three stops from Shibuya on the Tokyu Toyoko line. This year the school celebrates its 60th anniversary, having seen more than 50,000 students from around the globe pass through its classrooms.

Evergreen constantly strives to create effective, enjoyable classes to help students learn both the language and culture of Japan. There are several different courses to suit your daily life—just choose how many times a week you want to come in and how you want to learn. If there are specific materials you would like to study, private lessons are available. Group lessons offer the opportunity to learn Japanese but at the same time meet people from all over the world. Evergreen also offers an intensive kanji course, as well as classes designed to prepare you for studies at a Japanese university. The school’s friendly, professional and qualified teachers help you build confidence in your Japanese ability and lay the groundwork for continued study. Many students who have completed their courses go on to study higher levels of Japanese. For prospective students from abroad, Evergreen can help you apply for a student visa, allowing you to study in Japan while also working part-time up to four hours a day.

Evergreen also operates two other campuses (both located on the Tokyu Toyoko line), and can even dispatch teachers to your home—which means you have fewer excuses not to make 2009 the year you conquer the Japanese language.

1-21-18 Yutenji, Meguro-ku. Tel: 03-3713-4958. Fax: 03-3719-4383. Nearest stn: Yutenji. Email:

Intercultural Institute of Japan

The Intercultural Institute of Japan is in its third decade, making it one of the longest-established language schools in the country. Nearly 600 students from over 40 nations attend classes at the institute’s two campuses in Akihabara and Iidabashi. Both branches adhere to a philosophy of cross-cultural communications (CCC), which posits that people should live together by understanding and respecting each other’s language and culture. IIJ places tremendous importance on mutual trust between the students and the school. At the Iidabashi Language Center, a new weekly short-term course takes a goal-oriented approach to learning: rather than progressing from the easiest expressions to the more difficult, the focus is on the language that’s most important to communication. Last year, the Iidabashi Language Center started a new course for business Japanese, which is held in the early morning as well as in the evening. The Akihabara main campus offers a long-term course for students who plan to spend 1-2 years studying. This course provides a balance of reading, listening, writing and speaking skills, with lessons structured to emphasize both the practical and theoretical aspects of Japanese. Students can also take private lessons or courses tailored to business needs.
Akihabara Main Campus: 2-20-9 Taito, Taito-ku. Tel: 03-5816-4861.

Nearest stn: Akihabara. Language Center: 2-20 Agebacho, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3513-5750. Nearest stn: Iidabashi. Email:

JACS Institute

If you’re baffled by the look-alike prospectuses of most Japanese schools and find it hard to distinguish one from another, consider JACS Institute, located just five minutes from the National Azabu supermarket in Hiroo, Minato-ku. Since 2002, JACS has helped instruct students with a range of cutting-edge multimedia tools, including DVDs, CG animations and custom-designed PowerPoint presentations, as well as a variety of audio equipment.

At JACS, students utilize a method called the Individual Review System (IRS). This involves working with instructors to speak and comprehend the language at native speed, in a natural setting. The IRS allows learners to use the language reflexively in relevant situations. Most lessons are conducted one-on-one, although students can bring their friends or family and split the fee. For offsite lessons, teachers use laptop computers with teaching software specially developed by JACS. No matter where the class takes place, students can expect top-quality instruction and plenty of input. JACS uses real-world examples in every lesson to help you speak naturally, and your curriculum will be fine-tuned to your specific needs—see the website for information about a free trial lesson.

Recently, JACS’ web-based classes have become extremely popular. With a screen-share system, chat software and a web cam, you can experience top-quality lessons no matter where you are in Japan or other countries. For more details, contact JACS about the “Webcam Lesson.”

3-9-27-406 Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku. Tel/Fax: 03-5420-0407. Nearest stn: Hiroo. Email:

Kudan Institute of Language and Culture

What do you look for in a Japanese language school? Needless to say, improving your language ability is the bottom line. But that’s not the only thing, is it? At Kudan Institute of Language and Culture, you can…

• …find the course that’s right for you. Kudan offers basic lessons for learners who just need to gain conversation skills; an intensive course for students who want to improve all aspects of their Japanese-language skills; and private lessons for those who have particular goals or want to study at their own pace.

• …make new friends. Not only are there students from nearly 40 countries, but the institute organizes plenty of extracurricular activities and outings with Japanese people.

• …experience Japanese culture and customs. Kudan has over 300 host families waiting to welcome you into their homes. Living with native speakers is the number one shortcut to learning Japanese.
Kudan’s staff and instructors look forward to seeing you!

3F Kudan Royal Bldg, 3-2-5 Jimbocho, Kanda, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3239-7923. Nearest stn: Jimbocho. Email:


The Kumon Japanese Language Program was designed to help students become proficient in their communication skills through the use of worksheets that develop vocabulary, kanji, grammar, reading and writing ability. Listening and speaking skills, meanwhile, are honed through the use of CDs. Students start at a level suited to their current ability, then proceed step-by-step at their own pace. Since the learning materials are composed of small units, students can steadily build the foundation of their Japanese ability and advance step-by-step. In three months, beginners will learn to read and write hiragana and katakana; within six months, they will have become familiar with over 100 kanji and mastered many expressions useful for everyday life.

The program can be started any time at any of the 1,000 Kumon-method schools nationwide. For those unable to attend classes in person, a correspondence course using the same lesson materials is available.

Tel: 0120-49-4625. Email:


What’s the benefit of taking private language lessons? The simple fact is that group lessons at Japanese schools are often a waste of time and money. Most of these learning centers adhere to a “one size fits all” philosophy, and their group lessons minimize speaking time. What’s the point of that? Private lessons, on the other hand, can be tailored to individual needs and give you as much speaking time as you desire. You don’t spend time studying stuff you already know.

Labochi is the largest Japanese teachers’ group in Japan, with over 300 registered and qualified instructors. With so many teachers to choose from, they can offer flexible schedules, convenient locations and teachers with a wide variety of backgrounds and experience—you can even find an instructor familiar with your profession. Labochi also provides Tokyo’s best business-to-business service, with expert, experienced teachers available for company language lessons.

Tel: 03-5433-0714. Email:

Matsudo International School

Matsudo International School has been offering Japanese lessons to foreign students for over 20 years. Their well-qualified instructors bring a high level of professionalism and care to teaching the language using Matsudo’s methods. The goal is to immerse students in Japanese for a positive—and practical—learning experience. Classes feature materials that highlight Japan’s visual culture, including films and anime, as well as news articles for discussions about current affairs.

Matsudo’s lessons place a strong emphasis on communication, but the support that students receive doesn’t end when class is finished. Guidance is provided in areas related to daily life, from finding employment to applying to college, to help students have a stress-free experience while living in Japan.

Matsudo firmly believes in creating a conducive, friendly and enjoyable atmosphere for students so they can maximize their learning potential. The staff look forward to seeing you soon.

3F Yuasa Bldg, 1-1-6 Higurashi, Matsudo, Chiba. Tel: 047-389-0901. Located one minute from Yabashira stn on the Shin Keisei line or Shinyahashira stn on the JR Musashino line. Email:

Mejiro University

From Mejiro University’s Shinjuku campus, you can see both Mt. Fuji and the skyscrapers of Tokyo’s business district. And whether it’s spring or autumn, the seasonal colors are in full bloom. Translation: while the campus is located downtown, the views are fantastic, and the nearly 4,000 students enrolled in the junior college, university and graduate school can enjoy plenty of green spaces.

Mejiro University has two programs: JALP (Intensive Japanese Language Program for Foreign Students) and JASP (Japanese and Asian Studies Program in English). JASP enrollees are mainly from Europe and America, while JALP students hail from more than ten countries, mainly throughout Asia. Students of both programs are allowed to participate in university events.

With these two programs, Mejiro University continues to offer high-quality education and an optimum learning environment for its foreign students.

JALP classes take place Monday-Friday from 9am to 2pm, depending on the student’s level.
4-31-1 Nakaochiai, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5996-3201. Fax: 03-5996-3202. Nearest stn: Nakai. Email:

Meros Language School

Does a lack of Japanese-language skills cause problems in your daily life? Do you find that you can’t say what you need to say, or read what you want to read? Whether you are a university student, English teacher, company employee or homemaker, you’ll find the solution at Meros.

Located near Ikebukuro’s Sunshine Building, Meros was established in 1985. The school offers both group and private lessons, and 600 students from all over the globe are currently in attendance. They all have their own reason for studying Japanese—and for studying it at Meros.

More than just a language school, Meros offers an array of courses that not only help students build their Japanese ability, but also allow them to get the most out of their time in Japan. Professional, experienced teachers identify students’ needs so that each can receive lessons that best suit their aims and interests. Meros students have gone on to enter prestigious Japanese colleges, including Waseda and Tokyo University, while others enjoy careers using their knowledge of Japan and its language.

For those too busy to join a full-time course, Meros also provides private lessons, semi-private lessons and group lessons starting from just ¥2,500 for 90 minutes. Corporate classes can also be arranged for the workplace. See the website for more info.

2-45-7 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku. Tel: 03-3980-0068. Fax: 03-3987-5231. Nearest stn: Ikebukuro. Email:

NIC (Nihongo Instructor Club)

Just 30 paces from Azabu-Juban station, NIC offers private and group lessons with friendly teachers, all of whom hold a Japanese teaching certificate and have, on average, almost a decade of experience. Beginner-level students will be happy to know that all teachers speak English. NIC also supports learning beyond the classroom through its website, which features a “study room” of quizzes for beginners, advanced and business students, as well as articles introducing aspects of Japanese culture. For students who can’t make it to Azabu-Juban, NIC can send instructors to your office or home in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba or Saitama. NIC caters to all levels of Japanese and offers classes to prep you for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and Business Japanese Test (BJT). Fees are reasonable, with 90-minute classes for only ¥2,980 and private lessons from ¥4,200/hr. The school also offers tax-free D.S. (Designated School) certificates to diplomats.

205 Grand Maison Azabu Ichinohashi, 2-20-10 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3454-5002. Email:

Nichibei Kaiwa Gakuin – Japanese Language Institute (JLI)

Founded in 1967 by the non-profit International Education Center (IEC), the Tokyo-based Japanese Language Institute (JLI) offers a wide variety of programs and courses to meet the needs of all learners. Students can choose from intensive daytime programs that focus on speaking, listening, reading and writing; early morning, afternoon, night and Saturday courses; and private lessons that cater to specific goals. Among the subjects and skills taught are daily/business conversation, TV news, reading newspapers, thesis preparation and Business Japanese Proficiency Test (BJT) preparation.

Since its foundation, JLI has accepted some 7,000 Japanese learners from 90 countries. Classes are taught in Japanese using JLI-published textbooks that target a range of learners, from beginner to advanced. Lessons proceed through a four-step process of introduction, practice, development and reinforcement. Advanced learners use TV programs, magazines and other media to practice presenting their own opinions in discussions and debates.

In addition to Japanese lessons, IEC also provides a variety of English-language education programs and engages in international exchange activities, including The International Speech Contest in Japanese broadcast on NHK, The Japan-America Student Conference initiated in 1934, and a variety of cultural forums and other activities.

1-21 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3359-9600. Nearest stn: JR Yotsuya (3min walk). Email:

OFIN Japanese Language School

OFIN Japanese Language School was founded over a decade ago with a single Japanese instructor teaching at an IT company, and has quickly grown thanks to its reputation for effective, skillful teaching. It now boasts a student body hailing from Europe, Asia and the US. OFIN is proud that many of its graduate students find jobs using their Japanese in professional fields as diverse as diplomatic services, banks, brokerage firms, IT and engineering.

OFIN’s professional and experienced instructors have all completed 420 hours of teacher training. Classes are tailored to individual needs: students can start lessons at any time, all year round, and they can take lessons once or twice weekly or choose an intensive course. For those who need to make the most use of their busy schedules, classes are available at companies or home for no extra charge. OFIN specializes in Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) preparation, business courses (especially for the IT industry), and everyday Japanese communication. There are also special programs for students who wish to experience Japanese culture through activities related to kimono, calligraphy (shodo) and ink painting (sumie).

Lessons are ¥5,250/hour for private classes; ¥3,675/hour per person for two students; and ¥3,150/90min for groups of three to five. The one-time enrollment fee is ¥5,250. To get started, OFIN offers a 30-minute free trial lesson, and if you sign up with friends, you can enjoy a group discount.

7F Plaza Mikado Bldg, 2-14-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3560-2066. Fax: 03-3560-2069. Nearest stn: Akasaka/Tameike-Sanno. Email:

Sendagaya Japanese Institute

During Sendagaya Japanese Institute’s 35-year history, more than 18,000 students have passed through its doors, and over 8,000 Japanese teachers have graduated from its teacher training course. That’s easier said than done—instructors must master linguistic theories as well as practical teaching techniques, so students can be assured of quality lessons.

SJI offers free level checks, trial lessons and a variety of lesson options, including the Every Day Course (Mon-Fri, 9:30am-12:50pm, four-week minimum), Evening Course (Tue & Thu or Mon & Wed, 6:45pm-8:30pm), private lessons, company classes and JLPT Level 1 and Level 2 prep courses. For regular group lessons, Sendagaya Japanese Institute has developed an original textbook series, Communication Nichigo, which is designed to introduce the Japanese language systematically through vocabulary, grammar and step-by-step sentence patterns. Classes are almost exclusively in Japanese, using pictures and gestures to convey the meanings effectively and naturally. With classmates from many different countries and professional backgrounds, students can enjoy learning in a relaxed, multicultural atmosphere, as well as meet Japanese teacher trainees and share experiences and learning ideas.

1-31-18 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3232-6181. Nearest stn: Takadanobaba. Email:

Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute

Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute (a.k.a Shinjuku Nihongo Gakko, or SNG) uses the Ezoe Method, a unique teaching system that makes grammar easier to learn by employing color codes to engage students’ visual memorization. (This code comes in handy because the institute has students from 45 different countries, and they have many different native languages!) Another cutting-edge feature of the Ezoe Method is the Sound Reader, a state-of-the-art, mouse-like machine that can “read” aloud a code that’s printed on normal paper. This high-tech equipment, used only at SNG, saves teachers from having to carry around heavy CD players or unwieldy cassettes. The institute has also created an image-based software system that helps students learn kanji in a playful and constructive way.

But the innovation doesn't end here. SNG strives to make students comfortable in their daily lives, not just to teach them how to pass an exam. And since the school aims for long-term proficiency for its students, Japanese is the only language spoken during classes.

SNG offers a wide range of courses, from beginner to advanced levels, with business classes and even Japanese teacher training lessons. Each of these eight levels can be completed in three months.
Additional classes include weekday mornings (9:10am-12:40pm), afternoons (1:30-5pm), evenings (Tue & Thu, 6:30-8:10pm) and Sundays (10am-12:45pm). In order for everyone to learn Japanese in a conducive atmosphere, class sizes never exceed 20 students.

2-9-7 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03- 5273-0044. Nearest stn: Takadanobaba. Email:

Tokyo Kokusai Koryu Gakuin

Students come from all over the world to study and have fun at Tokyo Kokusai Koryu Gakuin (a.k.a. Tokyo International Exchange School), which is conveniently located on the Chuo line in the educational hotbed of Hachioji. The school not only provides language education but also special courses for college admission and job hunting. For international students who must work to supplement their income, Tokyo Kokusai Koryu Gakuin will sponsor a pre-college visa that allows 28 hours of part-time employment per week.

Education policies, resource development and curriculum—all are tailored for the level of the individual student. At Tokyo Kokusai Koryu Gakuin, the focus is on acquiring language ability through carefully chosen vocabulary; a concentration on listening, speaking and reading; writing in small classes; and special supplementary courses. The school also offers prep courses for the EJU (Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students) and the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test), as well as providing assistance for college applications and guidance for graduate and vocational schools.

In addition to language classes, Tokyo Kokusai Koryu Gakuin organizes extracurricular events like Mt. Fuji climbs, trips to the beach, and ski excursions. These outings help students connect with the locals and develop an appreciation and understanding of Japanese culture.

2-3-16 Sennin-cho, Hachioji City. Tel: 0426-69-4250. Nearest stn: Nishihachioji. Email:

Tokyo Nichigo Gakuin

Tokyo Nichigo Gakuin is located in a pleasant, quiet neighborhood in Saitama, just 30 minutes from Shinjuku. With readily accessible public transportation and a peaceful vibe, it offers the perfect environment to study Japanese.

Tokyo Nichigo Gakuin prides itself on its thorough teaching style, and its ranking amongst Japanese language schools has continued to climb over the years. With the motto “A Japanese School Trusted by its Students,” it aims to provide an “at-home feeling” while offering a challenging curriculum.

All of the teachers are caring, enthusiastic and thoughtful, and since the school is small, students can receive the individual care and attention they deserve. Teachers and staff are always willing to assist students in matters pertaining to school or daily life—just as any family member would do.

Besides studying Japanese, students at Tokyo Nichigo Gakuin will also be exposed to Japanese culture and customs, as well as have the opportunity to go on trips to famous sites around the country.

5-4-11 Shimo-ochiai, Chuo-ku, Saitama-shi,Saitama-ken. Nearest stn: Yonohonmachi. Tel:048-857-9801. Email:


Founded in 1983 by the Teikyo University Group, UNITAS Japanese language school is just a 10-minute walk from Shin-Okubo station or a three-minute walk from Higashi-Shinjuku station. All levels of students are welcome, from beginner to advanced, for group classes (15 students maximum; Mon-Fri 9am-12:50pm or 1:30-5:20pm), private lessons and corporate classes. Terms start four times a year—in January, April, July and October—but students can join any time. (Those who have never studied the Japanese language before are encouraged to start at the beginning of a new term.)

In addition to friendly instructors who create a cozy and comfortable learning environment, UNITAS has competitive class fees—one-month group lessons start from just ¥43,500 and private lessons from ¥3,300/hr. A six-month pre-college visa course is available for ¥370,000.

22 Sankyo Bldg 2F 2-2-9 Okubo, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5287-5636. Nearest stn: Shin-Okubo station or Higashi-Shinjuku. Email:

Waseda EDU Language School

Since 1988, Waseda EDU Language School has been providing students with an original curriculum and excellent instructors. Its programs provide the attention that each student needs. Waseda EDU focuses on helping each student reach their target by formulating lessons that match their abilities.

For those who plan to enter a Japanese university to study manga or anime (for either a BA or MA), Waseda EDU provides valuable support with its free lesson for pre-college students called the EJU (Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students). If you’re just seeking a conversation class, Waseda EDU also offers a free lesson based on your level.

Since the school organizes many extracurricular activities each term, students are encouraged not only to do coursework, but to develop friendships with their classmates and participate in events to make their lives in Japan enjoyable.

Just ten minutes from Takadanobaba station, Waseda EDU Japanese School is located near four famous private universities, so it is a student-friendly area and a fantastic environment to improve your Japanese skills.

New Life Nishi-Waseda Bldg, 3-31-11 Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5287-3822. Nearest stn: Nishi-Waseda. Email:

We Japanese Language School

We Japanese Language School believes that students learn best from a combination of classroom instruction and real-life language experience. To that end, We offers not only fundamental courses for grammar practice, but also a variety of unique single lessons, such as We’s “Conversation Session,” a teacher-led chat where grammar and vocabulary are emphasized without a textbook. We is further distinguished by its Calligraphy, Glass Art and TV sessions to help build language and culture skills. The school also has an English-language division in the same building, and, together with ESL students, holds parties and events to encourage the exchange of language and ideas.

We also offers a “Student Partner System” in which a pair of learners support each other in group and private study. Your partner will ensure that you receive relevant feedback to help you improve.

We’s private lessons are customizable programs designed to suit each student’s unique style and objectives. Group lessons are taught by professional teachers who use time-proven methods and original materials, ensuring that students learn effectively.

We Japanese Language School boasts a stylish, sophisticated interior and ambience that creates a low-pressure learning environment. The school also offers flexible scheduling, seven days a week, and is conveniently located three minutes from Shibuya station. Off-site services are also available for those who need to make the most of their busy schedules. Contact We to schedule a free trial lesson today.

4F Higashi Nihon Bldg, 1-22-8 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5489-6480. Nearest stn: Shibuya. Email:

Kiki Driving School

Whether you are a beginner driver, need a new license (because yours is expired or has been revoked), or just need to learn how to operate a car in Japan, Kiki Driving School can help—with lessons and support in English. Classes take place at Samezu examination center, which is centrally located, and on the road with an instructor. To ensure you that you acquire skills quickly and comfortably, all lessons are private. In no time at all, your driving ability will improve and you’ll feel confident navigating Japan’s roads.

If you have no driving experience or need to apply for a driver’s license, Kiki offers a Beginner’s Program that costs ¥239,900 for 25 lessons. The Exchange License Lesson is a one-time class for those who need to switch over their license from their home country (¥8,490). If you’d like to get acclimated to driving in Japan, Kiki also offers Road Practice Sessions for ¥8,490.

4-7-55 Kounan, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5460-3262. Nearest stn: Shinagawa

Columbia University, Teachers College

The Japan Campus of Teachers College, Columbia University was officially designated by the Monbukagaku-sho as a foreign graduate school in 2006. The university currently offers an MA in TESOL program, providing opportunities to study the theory and practice of teaching EFL in Japan. All courses are held on weekends, so working teachers can take full advantage of the program. Applications are accepted throughout the year, allowing students to start in the fall, spring or summer semesters.

Taught by an international faculty, the program is designed to help teachers integrate theory and practice in ways that best serve their students and their institutional contexts. Instructors introduce teachers to the latest developments in English language teaching and encourage them to interact with their peers to consider how these ideas can support positive changes in their practices. Participants will then be able to relate current practices and theories in TESOL to their day-to-day teaching.

4F Leaf Square Bldg, 2-21-2 Misaki-cho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3221-9771. Email:

Graduate School of Management, Globis University

Located in the heart of Tokyo, Globis University began with just a single marketing course in 1992. Since then, it has gone on to become the largest management educational institution in Japan. With the launch of an International MBA program (IMBA) this year, Globis University is well on its way of to achieving its goal of being the No.1 business school in Asia.

The IMBA is a two year, part-time program (with the flexibility to extend to five years), offering classes on weekday evenings and weekends. Classes are taught entirely in English.

Globis University stands apart from other business schools in various ways:
• A “venture spirit” is shared by all of Globis’ faculty and staff. By cutting to the heart of business issues, students can immediately apply what they’ve learned to their jobs.

• Practicality is infused in the curriculum and faculty members. Faculty bring their extensive real world experience so that the students’ learning experience extends beyond theories.

• Enrolling in the IMBA allows students to enjoy access to the Globis MBA programs (one of the largest in Japan), as well as its school’s venture capital fund and corporate training division—forming a unique combination of people, capital and knowledge.

• Globis’ popular Pre-IMBA program lets students try only courses that interest them before deciding to invest in an MBA. The program not only offers flexibility, but many networking opportunities with a diverse group.

See website for more details.

Sumitomo Fudosan Kojimachi Bldg, 5-1 Niban-cho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 0120-501-921. Fax: 03-5275-3787. Email:

Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC)

The Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC) is a training program centered around a competition to write the best business plan. JMEC begins each fall with a series of Saturday lectures covering basic business topics, plan writing and doing business in Japan. In January, participants are placed in teams of five-to-six people and paired with a company seeking to enter or expand into the Japanese market. Teams spend the next four months preparing a business plan for their client and for a panel of JMEC judges, who choose the top three teams. Members of the winning teams receive prizes like laptop computers and airline tickets.

There are many reasons to take part in the JMEC—the chance to network, find new jobs or be promoted at your current job. And quite a few JMEC participants have gone on to start their own businesses.

The application deadline to participate in this year’s JMEC is October 23. Those interested are encouraged to attend an information session.

For session dates and more information about JMEC, see

Early Risers
Tokyoites are finding that the crack of dawn is the best time to study

On a rainy morning that makes August in Tokyo seem like a gloomy November, Teppei Tagaya arrives for his English lesson bleary-eyed and looking less than enthusiastic. 

At 7:30am, the 30-something trading company employee explains his reasons for taking such an early class. “I don’t have time to do lessons in the evening, because of overtime, drinking and socializing,” he says. “I’m really tired in the morning. If I had time at night, it would be a better time to be studying, but I find I’m always too busy.”

These sentiments are echoed by an increasing number of people. In spite of the current financial crisis, one product seems to be booming right now: morning lessons. Be it yoga, farming, fitness or English, Tokyoites are getting up early and heading out in their droves to learn before work begins.

Gaba, where Tagaya is currently studying, offers early-morning classes at 16 of its schools in commercial areas around the city. “Between 7am and 8:30am the lessons are usually full,” says Madoka Oniki, a PR representative for Gaba. “Most of our students are working for global companies, where English is essential, but don’t have any time to study other than early in the morning or late at night.”

Other courses are taken more for pleasure than out of necessity. At Marunouchi Morning University, the curriculum tends towards lifestyle courses rather than more rigorously academic pursuits. When it opened earlier this year, the school was an immediate success, both in terms of media coverage and the number of students attending.

“Before we opened the school, we had a morning lifestyle event, ‘Morning Expo in Marunouchi,’ which generated a lot of interest,” says organizer Yuki Hatta. “But even so, we were surprised by the response we’ve had.” 

The Morning University now has 250 students, with an extra 100 expected to enroll in time for the autumn term. Hatta says that while the students come from a wide range of industries, they all seem willing to get up early rather than risk having to cancel lessons on a regular basis because of overtime and socializing in the evenings.

“A lot of students say that once they get over the hurdle of having to wake up so early, they have a much better lifestyle,” she says. “Many also want to continue to study their subjects and improve in the skills they have developed.”

Popular options include an agriculture course run by the nonprofit organization Network of Farmers’ Sons and a series of classes on responsible business practices. “Both of the courses are exclusive to Marunouchi Morning University,” says Hatta. “You cannot do them anywhere else.”

Meanwhile, in the shadow of Roppongi Hills, students arrive for lessons at Studio Yoggy at 7:30am looking surprisingly lively. 

“I’ve been doing yoga in the morning for around two years now, so I’m used to getting up early,” says regular visitor Miyuki Morikawa, 37. “I don’t only do yoga here, but also at other studios when this one is closed in the morning.”

Like Tagaya at the English school, Morikawa, who works in Daikanyama, says she has no time at night. “My work means I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to go to evening yoga classes.”

“Before I started doing yoga every morning, I used to smoke, drink and get up later every day,” she continues. “My lifestyle has completely changed for the better.”

John Robertson, a 44-year-old who works for a bank in Roppongi Hills, admits that his schedule is the main reason for choosing the morning lessons. “If I didn’t have to work, I wouldn’t take such an early class,” he says. “They are just the most convenient for me.”

Then again, starting early can have benefits of its own. As yoga instructor Aki points out, “I prefer to do yoga in the morning because it means I have to get up early, and also go to bed early, which is in tune with the human body’s natural rhythm.”

Maybe it’s worth setting that alarm clock after all.