Two big bits of news have just come out of GenkiJACS.
First, the Fukuoka school have managed to get accreditation from the government, which means they can offer student visas. This is potentially really useful. Firstly, it means you can stay for longer than three months without having to worry about getting your no-visa entry permit renewed. It isn't a huge concern, but the fact that it's possible for a hiccup to occur is always a worry. Secondly, it means you can stay for up to a year, so people looking for essentially a gap year experience can do that without having to burn up their once-in-a-lifetime Working Holiday Visa (and you can't even guarantee you'll get one).
Thirdly, it allows you to work! This wouldn't really have been a concern for me, I think, but for some people might be a big deal. Fourthly, you can get student discounts on all kinds of things. And fifthly, you can register as a Japanese resident, and therefore open bank accounts and so on. So this has the potential to be just really convenient for a lot of people.
The other, related big news is that to celebrate, they're offering a YEAR of free tuition at GenkiJACS. Yeah, I know, amazing. Sadly I'm not eligible because my level of Japanese is too high(!)* but it's a fantastic opportunity for someone. The downside? You have to produce a short video explaining why you want to study at GenkiJACS, which... well, I don't think that's something I'd have felt comfortable doing even if I were eligible. It's got that vaguely self-promoting, interview-style feel to it that I tend to associate with corporate America.
Hmm. It'd be vaguely interesting to know how varying cultural norms and preferences would affect potential applicants' willingness to go in for a competition like this.
*it really does feel weird to say that!