This post is not only a huge travel diary from Tokyo but I’ll also explain how to get two weeks more holidays. I’ve recently been to Tokyo with EF Education First for a language holidayand took an educational leave. “Educational leave?” Yes, I didn’t even know that something like this existed. In Germany you can submit educational leave, which of course your employer has to approve. In collaboration with EF Germanyand my darling Julia we flew to Japan. Not only did we paint the town but also went to school half-time. Many of you followed our trip on Instagram. Here comes an extended post with all the required information from you.
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Two weeks more holiday W/ EDUCATIONAL LEAVE
Educational leave allows employees in Germany to take a certain amount of working days off for an individual further training. Every two years you’re entitled to take 10 working days of educational leave(full-time / 5 days for part-time). Of course, this needs to be approved by your employer.
I’m sure this is also possible in your country. So best is to check on government websites.
Japanese intensive course with EF TOKYO
I always point out that I still have enough time to learn a lot of new languages. The more languages you speak the easier it will get to learn new ones. Well then – let’s jump into Japanese! Moreover, it’s a sign of respect and kindness towards the local people if you speak at least a little bit of their language.
During my last visit in Japan I already felt that Japanese is leaning a bit on Italian having the rolling “r”. A huge advantage for us because the Japanese language is very accentuated. Different as in Chinese or Vietnamese where you’ll say a complete different word if mispronouncing it. Still, Japanese is very komplex.
The Japanese writing system is using the Chinese signs (Kanji) but also the syllables writing system Hiragana and Katakana. We took a spin-class at EF Tokyo, where we studied Hiragana and Katakana (in a spin class you can choose which class you want to attend – learn more about culture or learn how to write in Japanese and more). You should’ve given us one, two more weeks and we would’ve already been a pro in writing. Then reading the signs wouldn’t have been a problem. Only did we have to know the translation.
The language holiday was a lot of fun. Our teacher was very strict and only tried to speak Japanese. Once in a while she was gracious with us and translated into English.
We usually had two classes à 80 minutes at EF Tokyo. Our course was either in the morning from 9am – 2:50pm followed from a spin class from 12:20pm – 1:40pm. Or we had class in the afternoon from 3:20pm – 6:10pm.
On our last day we had our “graduation”. We got our diploma and had to hold a little speech for saying goodbye.
せんせい EF Tokyo staff ありがとう ございます
Sensei EF Tokyo staff arigatou gozaimasu
After us the longterm students were farewelled and held a much longer speech than us. It was a very nice and funny ending!
The language course of EF Tokyo and the headquarter of EF Japan is located in the best possible location in the middle of Shibuya. High up on the 27th floor of the Shibuya Cross Tower you have an amazing view onto the city. But don’t get distracted by it during your class!
LANGUAGE COURSE-DAILY ROUTINE in Tokyo!
Either before or after our class we explored the city as much as we could. Luckily I’d already been to Tokyo for two days last yearand I got the “big picture” of it. Together with Julia, who was in the city for the first time, I revisited the one or other attraction. Since she’s been fine with everything I was responsible for our responsible for our leisure program: lots of food and a lot of architecture!
We met some cute Japanese kids who were queuing in front of a store for a special release.
Every neighborhood is so diverse – not only the people but the architecture and the restaurants. Two weeks are absolutely perfect to live the city to the fullest: checking out cool breakfast places, work a little bit in between and stroll through the neighborhoods.For lunch we usually ended up in a fast food noodle restaurant (Udon soups for the win!). In the evening we met up with some of my Japanese acquaintances. They brought us to traditional “Izakayas” (Japanese pub, i=sitting sakaya=sake joint, translated to sake joint to sit) where we could use our learnt Japanese for ordering. First things first, a cold Sake had to be ordered. „かんぱいkanpai“
We stayed at the students’ hall near Tama Plaza station which is located a 20 minutes train ride from Shibuya station. Tokyo isn’t the smallest city and you’ll have to count in a lot of time. Most of the times we needed 50 minutes until we got home. Therefore, most of the times we arrived late at 11pm to our room. Of course, the days wasn’t over then as we started editing all the pictures and posted for the European time.
Luckily, I didn’t feel any jet-lag but going to bed at around 2am and getting up at 7am again was not beneficial to our rhythm. You can imagine how exhausted we were after the first five school days. Next time I’ll book an educational leave at the beach on Okinawa, in the South of Japan (been there last year too!),
My TOKYO HIGHLIGHTS
Tokyo is literally CRAZY! In Shibuya you’ll find owl cafés, robot shows and cat cafés. However, these activities were far from our interests. I love Tokyo for it’s diversity of design, architecture mixed up with historical sights. I’ve seen most of the classic sights in Tokyo, which are definitely worth paying a visit.
- My highlight was the view onto the city from the 54th floor of the Mori Tower. From here you’ll have a 360° panorama view onto the Tokyo City View And Sky Deck.
- Tsujiki-fish market – best is to go there right at 10 am since they won’t allow access before. I’ve already been three times to the fish market but most of the times to buy porcelain(more in my shopping guide!)
- See the Shibuya Crossing from above. There are not many places where you can see the famous crossing from above. Little hint: find the tallest tower at the square and try to get up the highest possible.
- Architecture-Tour through the residential areas of Tokyo with highlights from Soj Fujimoto, Atelier Tekuto and many more
- Have a classic of modern tea-tasting. More in my Food-Guide
- Souvenir Shopping in Tokyo. This meant buying lots of Japanese food (more in the following Shopping Guide)
- Take some time out in an Onsen, a Japanese thermal bath. This is a great activity for a rainy day in Tokyo!
HOW MUCH COSTS TOKYO?
Last but not least I want to speak about our expenses in Tokyo. I got a lot questions regarding how much such a language course would cost. This always depends which kind of class you’re taking and where you’ll stay (host family, student dorm or privately organized). For a two weeks language class with stay at the student dorm including flight you’ll pay around 2000€.
Of course, you’ll have to add living costs. These are much lower if you’re staying at a host family where you’ll have dinner with them. Tokyo is definitely expensive but the most expensive is definitely public transport.
- Take into consideration if you’re staying at a host family in Tokyo you’ll need about 1,5 hours to get to school as most of them are staying farther outside the city centre.
Here’s a little list of how much we spent per capita during two weeks:
- 600-700€ flight
- 100€ public transport
- 300€ for our 2-day trip to Kyoto (Shinkansen return ticket, hostel, excluding food)
- 18€ entrance fee Tokyo Sky Deck
- 100€ for unlimited internet on our Pocket Wifi which you can get at the airport (as Student of EF you’ll get it half price off)
- 200€ for food and cafés (sometimes we had an inexpensive soup for 3-4€ but also went out and spent more)
- 150€ souvenirs (porcelaine, fabrics and food souvenirs)
(excluding flight and accomodation)
I just love, love, love this city, the country! My next trip is already planned for 2019 in autumn.
For more questions of the language course, don’t hesitate to send me your questions via comments or write me an email.
- If the Japan bug has already bitten you, you can order your EF brochure for free hereand save 200€ find all important information at a glance here.