Japanese manners : toilet

2013年01月11日 15:29
カテゴリ:Japanese Culture

Of course, even in the most private part your daily life, manners are still after you. Today’s example : toilet.

Who would have imagined that going to the restroom is a big deal ? In Japan it is, sometimes.

First there are a HUGE different between what japanese called “Japanese-style toilet” and “western-style” toilet.

so-called Japanese-style :floor-bidet


so-called western-style :robot-toilet

No need to explain the first one, it makes sense. However, the western-style one is like a real computer, full of technology.

Be aware : it talks ! When you enter the cabin, it will politely inform you that it’s an automatic device so you don’t need to flush it…cool.

Sometimes when you go near the bowl, a little song (chirping, classic music…) will cover your business. If not, you will have to deal with a range of buttons near the seat. Their are not just here to turn on the cover-music but also, to control the jet position and power…Yes, there is a water-jet extention that exerts to wash everything properly…

If you take a look around there are always cover-sheets, disinfectant products, enough hooks to hang on each of your clothes individually…Everything is always cleaned and well-supplied so you will NEVER run out of something.

Last but not least, you should use special slippers dedicated to the restroom…and try not to forget to remove them when you go out.

Strangely enough, using Japanese toilet is really a funny experience. However, JaLS’s toilet don’t talk…


Japanese New Year

2013年01月04日 16:50
カテゴリ:Japanese Culture

New year in Japan is a real big event.

Everyone is preparing to return to their family and enjoy this night together. The schedule is quite full !

First, you should send greeting cards to all the people you may know and it is not uncommon to send thousands of cards each year.

Then, be ready to spend time in the kitchen: make soba noodles (buckwheat long noodles), osechi, お節(various kind of food packed in pilled lunch boxes), and mochi (rice cake).


Typical New Year’s celebration in Sapporo:

On New Year’s Eve, eat soba noodles in front of Kōhaku Uta Gassen、 紅白歌合戦, a TV-show that select the best singer/ group of the year.

Around twelve, go to the nearest temple and to listen to the 108 bells ringing (じょやの鐘 joya no kane ) that chase away the 108 sins of human being.
Then, at Hokkaido Temple, 北海道神宮 throw your 5 yen coin into the altar (5 yen coin, pronounced “go en”, 五円, as the same pronouncation as “go en”, ご縁, which means “fate”) pick your omikuji, 御神籤 and discover your fortune for the year.

Hokkaido Jingu

After, you can buy a talisman, omamori お守り.


Then, go to Moiwa Yama,藻岩山 to see the first sunrise of the year. Back home, you can enjoy your osechi and mochi and receive your otoshidama, お年玉, envelops that contain money and generally offered to children.


If you manage to do all of this, then you can say that your New Year was purely japanese. But the most important thing is that you enjoyed this transition and be ready to start a brand new year !

Christmas in Sapporo

2012年12月24日 14:34
カテゴリ:from Hokkaido JaLS, Hokkaido

Lights, garlands, Santa Claus…It’s finally Christmas !
Surrounded by piles of snow, you can really feel the Christmas mood in all Sapporo.

Coming from Germany, Munchen Christmas market is the most popular Christmas event around : with its little wood houses, hand-made decorations and foreign cooking,  you feel like travelling in Germany for real:

We held a warm Christmas party in our decorated lounge where guests could enjoy nabe (boiled vegetables, meat and fish that you pick from a pot. Actually, “nabe” in Japanese means “pot”) and Hokkaido’s fishermen traditional food : chanchan-yaki (salmon and vegetables cooked on a hot plate).

We had plenty of games such as pictionary, marshmallow-catching… Speaking of pictionary, who’s the best Mickey Mouse ?

The winning team received a giant Christmas stocking full of snacks !

Students of our Asian Cafe (courses of asian languages for Japanese people) came as well as Hokkaido JaLS’s friends and students to enjoy this special event.
As JaLS is like a family, we couldn’t miss the chance to celebrate this joyful time all together.

Everyone, have a nice Christmas !

Japanese manners : bathroom and onsen

2012年11月30日 15:49
カテゴリ:Japanese Culture

Living in Japan is a real challenge for foreigners.There are so many customs that are completely different from our occidental habits that in the end, we are lost.

Fortunately, we are here to teach you the right way and remember that as a foreigner in Japan, you will be forgiven. (But they will still make fun of you)

First rule of Japanese private bathroom or onsen (public bath): wash first before entering the bathtube because the water will be used by others.

Second, when you take your shower, sit in the little stool. Use the bucket to rinse out. There are many tools arround but don’t think too much about it and just wash yourself somehow.

In the onsen, be aware that you should be naked so no swimsuit, and also no tattoo. Bring the little towel with you but don’t drop it into the water!

To put everything in practice, why don’t you join us for our Winter course ? On January 26th, we are organising a trip to hot springs along with a barbeque in a snow house!

Sapporo’s rising star : Hatsume Miku

2012年11月30日 14:37

Who would have imagined that a virtual singer could become so popular?
But before becoming the first virtual singer giving a concert, Hatsume Miku was only a character illustrating Vocaloid software’s voice.
Vocaloid is a program that enables you to create your own music using you computer. Lyrics and chores are sung by a synthesized voice that you can arrange as you please.

The firm, Crypton is based in Sapporo and each year, thousands of Japanese came to visit Sapporo, only to ride the Hatsume Miku Train :

You really can see her everywhere, she even has her sculpture at Sapporo Snow Festival

And Sapporo’s souvenir shops are crowding with Snow Miku goods (an exclusivity of Sapporo). The most surprising may be Hello Kitty-Miku crossover goods which are again, unique to Hokkaido.

If you wish to discover the wolrd of Hatsume Miku , feel free to join us !

First snow !

2012年11月19日 15:21

The first snow at Sapporo seems like a little event for its inhabitants. Yes, it’s the beginning of winter but also, the start of festivities ! Soon, you can admire the Munich Christmas market, the Odori White Illuminations…your mind will be full of Christmas thoughts.

The giant Christmas tree at Sapporo Factory

For many Japanese, snow conveys a romantic image, like taking a walk under the gently, twinkling snow with your partner… For a lovely  stroll,  we highly recommand Otaru, a town next to Sapporo where the atmosphere is totally magical with its cute canal and music boxes. If you join our Winter Course, we can go together !

Yesterday was only a tiny pick at the very long winter to come but everyone is excited to discover that it will bring. Would it be nicer to enjoy it together ?


Anime-manga at “Sapporabara”

2012年11月15日 14:28

No need to go to Tokyo to find anime and manga culture ! You have everything in Sapporo !

Did you know that many mangaka (manga authors) came from Hokkaido ? For example, Yuki Obata (We were there), Kazune Kawahara (High School Debut), Karuho Shiina (Kimi ni todoke: from Me to You)…

Sapporo is full of manga book stores, internet coffee shops, maid cafes… which are gathered around THE place to be for a real anime manga fan : Animate !
Animate is one the biggest anime-manga shop in Japan, and we are blessed to have one in Sapporo. They have everyhting you can dream of : manga, dvds, dojinshis (fanzins), exclusive signs, goodies…

Also, not as big as Tokyo Anime Fair, we have our own event dedicated to “otaku culture” : Kitamae manga-anime Festival !

Live perfomances, dojinshi stands, cosplay demonstrations…everything to entertain manga-anime fans. Just before Christmas (23/12/2012), it will be a nice present, isn’t it ?

Last but not the least, guess who’s born in Sapporo ?

The Vocaloid star Hatsume Miku !
If you want to say “Hie” to our virtual princess, come to join us !

Do you know Chrysanthemum ?

2012年11月09日 16:15

Hey !

Today, if you drop by Sapporo Eki underground passage leading to Odori Station, you can watch a Chrysanthemum exposition.


Why Chrysanthemum ? It’s the national flower of Japan. Of course, Japan is well-known for it’s cheery blossom but the real symbol of the country is the Chrisanthemum (菊 きく) used as the  Imperial Crest.

There are plenty of species and the most beautiful may this one, it looks like fireworks, isn’t it ?

This year is indeed the 50th anniversary of the Chrysanthemum Festival so the “altar” was more gorgeous than last year.

Flower lovers, don’t hesitate to come to Hokkaido, it’s really the place to be !



Asian cooking party !

2012年11月09日 16:13
カテゴリ:from Hokkaido JaLS

Hello everyone,

As JaLS is sharing its space with the Asian Cafe (Asian Languages School for Japanese), we decided to make a party together !

The event was called “The cooking trip of Asia and Europe by JaLS”


It asked a little preparation but it was so fun to make decorations and food together ! Even teachers felt like going back to Kindergarten while making paper flowers and paper chain.

We had Korean food,  Tteokbokki, Chijimi and spicy noodles, Taiwanese food with Three-Cup Chicken (Sanbeiji) and Tapioca Milk tea. Of course, we had Japanese dishes such as the famous Takoyaki and French dish as desert : apple pancakes. Yummy !

We also played games such as the “batsu game”. The game master asks some questions wich can only be answered by right or wrong “batsu”, and people go around to the designated zones. Once everyone is eliminated except you, you win ! Rieko-sensei brought back some Korean sweets from her trip in Korea as prizes.


We are looking forward for the next event and we hope you can join us as well !

Do you know Sapporo Snow Festival?

2012年10月23日 15:34

Winter is coming and our staff is getting ready for the winter course!


The 5nd February after class, let’s go to Sapporo Snow Festival!

It’s probably the most awaited event here and we are very pleased to introduce it to our students.


The winter in Sapporo is very unique: there is so much snow that it pills up quickly. Inhabitants found a playful way to deal with it: they sculpt it and their fleeting piece of art could reach 10 meters high!


Looking these giant snow sculptures will give you a blast as well as these meticulous iced creations. Numerous concerts are organized and you can enjoy night-time illuminations…everything for free!


Can wait to see it? Then, join us on JaLS and we will offer you the greatest time in Sapporo!