If you enjoy the food in Japan, why not deepen your appreciation of Japanese cuisine by taking a cooking class? There are good cooking courses available in both Tokyo and Kyoto, and these companies can also arrange market tours:
A Taste of Culture (03-5716-5751; www.tasteofculture.com; courses from ¥5500) Offers cooking courses, and can create custom courses.
WAK Japan (075-212-9993; www.wakjapan.com; 412-506 Iseya-chō, Kamigyō-ku) Offers cooking courses, and can create courses to suit special interests.
A course is a great way to deepen your appreciation of Japanese culture. Kyoto and Tokyo are the best places to find courses taught in English. Cultural activities visas require applicants to attend 20 class-hours per week. Those wishing to work while studying need to apply for permission to do so. For more information on cultural activities visas, visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/04.html).
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While you can study Japanese in most cities in Japan, you’ll find the best selection of schools and courses in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya, Osaka and Kōbe. In Kansai, you’ll find lots of ads for language courses in Kansai Time Out magazine. In Tokyo, any of the many English-language magazines will have ads for courses. Alternatively, ask at any tourist information office.
Costs at full-time private Japanese language schools vary enormously depending on the school’s status and facilities. There is usually an application fee of ¥5000 to ¥30, 000, plus an administration charge of ¥50, 000 to ¥100, 000 and the annual tuition fees of ¥350, 000 to ¥600, 000. Add accommodation and food, and it is easy to see why it may be necessary to work while you study.
Many local cultural centres and tourist offices can arrange short courses in Japanese arts, such as ceramics, washi (Japanese papermaking), aizome (indigo dyeing), wood working, shodō (calligraphy), ink painting and ikebana (flower arranging). The best place to pursue these interests is Kyoto, where the TIC or the International Community Housecan put you in touch with qualified teachers.