Is Tokyo even real?

The application process for a student visa for Japan is quite long, so if I want to move over in October, I need to have all my applications and paperwork in by April or May. This means I only have a few months left to prevaricate over a decision on a school, and apply and pay.

There’s a lot of Japanese language schools in Japan, but the vast majority focus on short-term teaching, say 10 weeks or so, for study-holiday-type experiences.

This also opens up the difficult question of “Where do I actually want to study?”. I had been defaulting to Tokyo and nearby, e.g. Yokohama, because due to the nature of Japanese media I’ve been exposed to, Japan means “Tokyo, Kyoto (high school trip), and unnamed miscellaneous cities and home towns”.

This probably reflects poorly on the type of manga I read, though.

It doesn’t help that every Japanese school in Tokyo is based in Shinjuku, given that again thanks to video game exposure, Tokyo means “Shinjuku (Kamurochō) plus urban sprawl”.

There’s a few language-school search sites, such as Language International, but even then it’s hard to filter on what I want, and LI in particular mixes in private tutoring without any way to filter it out; I suspect that’s part of how they fund the site.

So, the criteria I have are:

  • Structured 12-month course (progression, evaluation and tests, etc)
  • Student Visa support (as it happens, this implies tests anyway)
  • Accommodation support (at least to start with, this worked well for me in Hanoi)
    • Ideally walking distance or a short train ride from the school

Student visas turn out to be the hard one, because that requires a six-month minimum accredited course, and most schools, including ones offering long-term courses, turn out to not support that.

Doing some searching on Google, I came across GenkiJACS’ one-year course, however it’s only offered in Fukuoka and Nagoya. They have schools in Tokyo and Kyoto as well, but they do not appear to be accredited for student visas or offer the long-term course there.

This opened up my thinking wider; for a little while, I was considering Fukuoka, and a friend of mine did her study period near there, and was quite positive about it. Also, the best ramen I’ve ever had was in Kagoshima, although the particular branch I went to has closed since.

However, it was pointed out to me by another friend that Fukuoka is actually a really long way away, and since I have friends in Tokyo, and the friend making the point is moving to Osaka, being on the same island as a good ramen place isn’t really a good basis to choose a school compared to better access to my friends.

Even if it is a particularly good ramen place.

I already kind-of had this feeling, and so was mildly leaning towards Nagoya over Fukuoka already.

To be frank, my sense of distance was mislead because I went to Kagoshima by shinkansen on a holiday in 2019 in and out of Tokyo, and had forgotten just how many stops I made on the way. Nagoya was one of those stops, coincidentally. There’s a fun train museum in Nagoya, but that’s besides the point here.

That same train trip is how I ruled out Sapporo; big positive is their beer, but I wouldn’t want to live there until they finish connecting the shinkansen tunnel in 2030.

As well as pointing out that Fukuoka is a long way away, my friend helped me rubber-duck a bunch of my thoughts about schools, and in the end, I have currently narrowed down my options to two choices: GenkiJACS’ one-year or 18-month course at I.C. Nagoya, or the ISI Language School Long-Term Course, which is available in two locations in Tokyo (Shinjuku and not-Shinjuku, of course), Nagano, or Kyoto.

Up until this discussion, Kyoto had not really been on my list. I’d been there overnight once on the way to Kagoshima and visited the imperial palace gardens, but not really checked out much else. I did try the local ramen of course.

My friend moving to Osaka gave me the full spiel on why they have chosen there, and also pointed out Kyoto was a strong contender for them, but it was hard to find a place to purchase that has good commuter connections.

And now Kyoto is actually a really strong entry on my list, basically out of nowhere.

I had previous done some research on my work computer, which I’ll look at this week, but my recollection is that I had chosen the same ISI Long-Term course during that investigation too.

Comparing GenkiJACS and ISI, the former seems more “cultural”, and the latter seems more “studious”, but that’s merely a website impression. ISI definitely has a strong emphasis on university entry for their long-term courses.

So unless something else comes up, I’m now going to contact both schools (I already contacted GenkiJACS, but accidentally filled in the form for Fukuoka) and work out if there’s anything that rules either of them out. If I’m lucky, one won’t be able to take me, and that’ll be an easy decision.

Because I’m bad at decision-making, I often set myself arbitrary criteria to narrow down a long list. I’m not sure when, but “Not in Tokyo” somehow added itself to my list. And then, once looking at schools, “In Tokyo” is now allowed again, but only from those schools which came up via the “Not in Tokyo” process. It’s not a great decision making process, really, but in the end, if I get a good result, then arbitrary criteria is better than analysis paralysis leading to no result.

Of course, even the October 2022 idea is a bit arbitrary. It ties in to some reasonable things, as I’m hoping this lines up with a project deliverable at work, and it’s mid-year intake for the Japanese school system; but it’s also me picking a point where I hope Japan will be allowing student visa entry again, but not so far away that I just give up on the whole thing, given that I effectively kicked off this plan in 2019, and I’m really just sick of waiting.

Project 7000

Since 2007, when it started mattering, I’ve been through various weight-loss successes and failures. From that, I have gleaned the following aspects of a successful weight-loss program for myself:

  • Calorie limitation is all that matters; exercise has no particular effect on weight.
  • Minimum plan-length is a single day, but longer is better.
  • Food in my possession will get eaten; generally a whole packet at a time.
  • My cooking skills are quite limited; the only three recipe options are “put it in the oven”, “put it in the sandwich press at work”, or “mix it together and put it all in the slow-cooker”. I might buy a fry-pan to add a fourth option, but cooking oil adds a complication here I’m hoping to avoid.
  • The food rules must be flexible; if they are too specific, supply-chain issues will tank the diet, and I will flail around for emergency substitutes poorly.
  • Weigh-ins, measurement, and goal-setting are counter-productive; when I’m this far from my desired weight, every measurement is depressing, even if the trend is good.

Based on the above, and on a previous weight-maintenance regime I used, I get:

Project 7000 Rules

  • Calorie intake of 7000kj per day, on average. (Yes, I recognise that I’m measuring “calorie intake” in kilojoules.)
  • Average is maintained by shopping days: For every 7000kj of food bought, the next food shop is a day later.
    • The rough target is a week’s food at a time, but this isn’t a fixed rule.
    • If I don’t get through all the bought food, I may delay the shopping, but this isn’t a requirement.
  • An external meal with a calorie count, or other intrusive calorie count, pushes back the next shopping trip as if it was part of the last shop.
    • A meal with no measurement, is counted as 5000kj, because I have no self-control sense of scale. This also covers social drinks, which are either with unmeasured nibbles, or end up with a HSP afterwards, because I have no self-control.
  • Not measured: Sugar-free energy drinks and similar. I need the caffeine and hydration more than I need to think about this extra 200kj. And they’re bulky, so cannot reasonably be bought in the same shopping cycle as the rest of the project anyway.
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A Revolution Resolution

I’m not where I want to be, by several measures.

I can’t revolutionise the world without revolutionising myself.

It’s time to start and commit to some self-improvement projects. These will all be boring reading, but public posting will hopefully provide accountability, where self-motivation has failed me.

So before we get to the boring bit, please enjoy a Revolutionary Girl Utena AMV set to an MLP: Equestria Girls song, to go with the post image of a canon MLP: FiM form of Utena.

Continue reading “A Revolution Resolution”