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Learn Japanese in Kyoto
Formerly known as Heian-kyo - the Capital of Tranquility and Peace - Kyoto was Japan’s capital city for over 1,000 years before Tokyo took the title in the 19th century. Because ‘traditional’ Japanese culture blossomed during the period of Kyoto’s supremacy, the city is closely linked in local ideology with authentic Japanese customs and traditions. It has a wide selection of important historical sites, including Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, beautiful palaces, and exquisite Japanese gardens. If you want to get a sense of the rich cultural heritage of Japan while you study its language, in a city that still offers all the modern amenities you could possibly require, then you should learn Japanese in Kyoto!
This city really does have something for everyone. Teramachi Street is the place to go for retail therapy, while film fans can head to Toei Uzumasa Eigamura in the Ukyo ward; this studio-cum-theme-park is modelled on the Edo period and allows visitors to experience a life-sized version of historical Japan. Walkers will love Arashiyama on the western outskirts of the city, which boasts striking natural scenery amongst attractions like a bamboo grove, a monkey park, and a Zen Buddhist Temple. Gion, meanwhile, is the place to go for culture. One of the best-known geisha districts in the country, this area is renowned for its traditional architecture, crafts, and entertainment. It’s also home to the Gion Matsuri, one of Kyoto’s Three Great Festivals. On two days in July the downtown area becomes completely pedestrianised and is filled with food stalls serving delicious local fare - for which the city is famed. Because of the amount of Buddhist temples in and around Kyoto, the city’s native cuisine is different from anything you’ll see in the rest of Japan.
The Old Capital is visited almost as much by Japanese tourists as it is by international travellers, who all come to learn about Kyoto’s history and important cultural sites. This means that, even though the city is very much a multicultural metropolis, you’re still guaranteed to interact with other Japanese people and be able to utilise your language skills whilst you’re here. What’s more, because of its cultural significance, the city’s dialect has had a substantial impact on the Japanese language of today. The polite copula ‘dosu’, the honorific ‘-haru’, and the greeting ‘okoshi-yashu’ all come from the Kyoto dialect, so this city is the ideal place in which to learn more about this ancient tongue.
Our school in Kyoto
If you choose to learn Japanese in Kyoto, you’ll study at our language facility in the Shimogyo ward. This bustling area is filled with modern conveniences and amenities, and is a great base for your Japanese experience. It’s also within easy reach of some of the city’s best attractions, including the Imperial Palace complex, which is just 20 minutes from the school by public transport. Other nearby sites of note are the Museum of Kyoto, Nijō Castle, and the city Aquarium. Just 15 minutes away is the charming Nineizaka, a thoroughfare filled with classic teahouses and artisans’ shops. Further away but well worth a visit is the Kinkaku-ji Temple, a striking three-storey building that’s almost completely covered in gold leaf, as it has been for nearly 700 years!
Our language school has 9 air-conditioned classrooms and a student lounge with comfortable seating and a communal games console. There is a cinema room used for watching Japanese films and tea and coffee facilities you can use at break times. You can complement your studies using the textbooks and comics in the student library or make use of the school’s portable CD and DVD players. There is also a selection of computers available for completing schoolwork, getting in touch with friends and family, or browsing the web.
This language centre is part of a group of schools that offers high-quality Japanese tuition to international students of all ages and abilities. As a member of the International Association of Language Centres (IALC) and the Japanese Tourism Agency, it has excellent student services, while its modern facilities make it a sought-after study location. What’s more, its courses are approved for CSN and Bildungsurlaub funding. Its central location in a city which is widely renowned as a cradle of culture means you won’t just get top-notch language classes - you’re also guaranteed to have a fully immersive cultural experience as you learn more about daily life in Kyoto.
Courses in Kyoto
- Intensive (20)
- Intensive + Conversation Lessons (25)
- Intensive + Cultural lessons (26)
- Private Lessons (20)
- Academic Year (20)
The core Intensive course consists of 20 group lessons each week. Classes take place every weekday and may be held in the morning or the afternoon, either between 09:30 and 13:10, between 11:25 and 15:50, or between 14:05 and 17:45. Your timetable varies based on your Japanese ability level and the number of other students of each level; your schedule can therefore only be confirmed on your first day, once all students have arrived and registered. Groups are organised according to starting ability level, which ensures that no one is left behind. Each class has a maximum of just 9 participants, so each pupil benefits from highly personalised attention from the teacher.
Please note: if you have no previous experience with Japanese you will need to start your course on a specific date - contact us for available start dates for beginners.
To get more from your Japanese experience, combine your core tuition with one of two extra courses. The Intensive + Conversation course includes 1 extra group class per day and allows you to cover non-standard topics like slang, dialects, and specialised vocabulary. You’ll also get extra practice with key phrases relating to everyday actions like ordering take-out, calling a company for information, asking for directions, and making a dinner reservation. Please note that this course is only eligible for students with A2 or higher Japanese ability.
Alternatively, combine your core language tuition with activity-based sessions on the Intensive + Culture course. This programme includes an additional 6 lessons per week, which usually take place on a Saturday. These sessions cover topics related to ‘traditional’ Japanese culture and include workshops on meditation, paper-making, and kimono-wearing, amongst others. As well as being able to participate in these activities, you’ll also learn about the history of each activity and its cultural significance. Activities vary each week for a total of 4 weeks. Transportation is included where relevant but other extras (variable based on the cultural activity offered) are not. This programme is suitable for students of all ability levels.
If you think you may need extra support with your studies, or if you want to cover specialist themes, we recommend that you book private tuition. On the standard programme you’ll receive 20 one-to-one lessons per week, though you can book more if you prefer. Since you’ll have the undivided attention of the teacher, you’ll receive bespoke tuition and get lots of language practice. We regret that private lessons are not available in summer due to high demand for classroom space.
Though private lessons are extremely beneficial in terms of language progression, they’re not for everyone. Fortunately, you can combine the best parts of both programmes with an Intensive + Private package! You can add up to 5 one-to-one classes per week to your core Intensive course, allowing you to make significant progress whilst still being able to experience the social side of a group language course.
For an extensive Japanese experience, why not try our Discover Japan package? This programme allows you to study for a week or more in each of our Japanese schools, one after the other. Attending courses in all three locations gives you a well-rounded understanding of life in each city, as well as exposure to the different history, dialects, and culture in each area. This package can be customised to your wants and needs - get in touch for more information.
On the first day of lessons, you should arrive at the school at 09:20. You will have already submitted a level test prior to arrival, which is used to assess your starting language ability and place you in a group that’s most suitable for that skill level. This provides you with the best possible opportunity to improve your Japanese knowledge, regardless of your starting level. You will have a short oral assessment on your first day to verify the results of this test.
In the afternoon/evening, you will have the opportunity to take part in the school’s activity programme. At the end of your course, you’ll receive a certificate of achievement. This can be used to demonstrate the language ability level you have reached during your time at the school.
Don’t see what you’re looking for? Contact us today to see if we can arrange a bespoke package for you!
- Host Family
- Student Residence
- Studio Apartment
To really benefit from your time in Kyoto, you should stay with a local homestay host! Hosts are native Japanese speakers, so you’ll be able to practice your language skills with them and maintain your language immersion. All hosts live up to 90 minutes from the school by public transport; they offer single or twin* rooms and 1 or 2 meals per day as part of your accommodation package (half-board = breakfast and dinner). You will share the living and bathroom facilities with your host(s) and any other students living in the home. Bed linens are included but towels are not, so you should bring your own. Laundry facilities are usually available in the home, though you may need to use a local laundrette (please let us know if access to a washing machine is important for you). Wi-Fi access is common but cannot be guaranteed. If this is a requirement for you, you can borrow or buy a router from the school on your first day. You will have your own key to come and go as you please, but you must respect house rules and schedules.
NOTE: you must ensure that your arrival flight lands before 18:00; if you cannot get a flight before this time, you will need to check-in to your accommodation on the following day.
If you’d prefer to stay with other school students, why not select a shared apartment? This cost-effective option is ideal for young students travelling on a budget and offers a highly social experience. You’ll have a private single bedroom on a self-catering basis, giving you the freedom to cook for yourself or eat in local restaurants as you prefer. Communal spaces like the kitchen, bathroom(s), and lounge are shared with the other apartment residents. Ben linens are provided but towels are not, so you should bring your own. You can do your laundry using the on-site facilities - in some cases, available machines are pay-per-use. Wi-Fi access is common but cannot be guaranteed. If this is a requirement for you, you can borrow or buy a router from the school on your first day.
For complete privacy and independence, you can select a private apartment and have a fully furnished flat with a fully equipped kitchen, a seating area, and a television. Apartments are offered on a self-catering basis, giving you the freedom to cook for yourself or eat in local restaurants as you prefer. Wi-Fi access is common but cannot be guaranteed. If this is a requirement for you, you can borrow or buy a router from the school on your first day. Bed linens are provided but towels are not, so you should bring your own. You can use the on-site facilities to do your laundry - in some cases, available machines are pay-per-use. Available apartments vary in size and location; you may need to travel up to 50 minutes by public transport to get to the school.
All accommodation is available from the Sunday before your course starts until the Saturday after your course finishes. We may be able to arrange extra nights in your accommodation for you if needed - please contact us about this prior to making your booking.
Please note that private and shared apartments must be booked for a minimum of 2 weeks in this location. Homestay lodging is the only option available for a 1-week stay
*Twin rooms are only available to students travelling together. If you select a shared room but are travelling alone, you will be swapped to a single room.
To get the most out of your experience in Kyoto, we recommend that you take part in the school’s social and cultural activity programme. As well as helping you to get to know your fellow students, the activities are designed to be educational and entertaining. Each session is held in Japanese, allowing you to maintain your language immersion and helping you to continue to learn through experience in real-life scenarios.
Many activities are available free of charge, though some may incur an additional fee to cover entrance and/or transportation costs. The exact schedule changes throughout the year but may include:
- Guided walking tours of the city
- Visits to local museums, temples, and shrines
- Free language lessons with local volunteers
- Visiting local markets
- Japanese film screenings
- Group meals and/or karaoke nights
- Playing traditional board games with local volunteers
- Lectures on topics like Japanese history and culture
- Plus seasonal activities available in the city
How to get there
The nearest airports to Kyoto are Osaka (Itami) International Airport (50 km) and Kansai International Airport (98 km). Osaka/Itami Airport is mainly used for internal flights, while Kansai Airport is accessible from many worldwide destinations.
From here, you can either take public transport to your accommodation or we can arrange an airport transfer service for you for an additional charge. If you book this service, a driver will be waiting for you when you land and will take you directly to your accommodation. If you select this service on departure as well, you will be collected from your lodging on your last day and taken back to the airport in time for your departing flight. A transfer service is also available from Kyoto train station.
You should arrange to arrive in Kyoto on the Sunday before your course starts and depart on the Saturday after your programme finishes. We may be able to arrange extra nights on arrival and/or departure for you if needed.