Cool! Shiribeshi

We have invited people who have immigrated from abroad and are now living in the Shiribeshi region of central Hokkaido to contribute columns from a variety of perspectives. The columns appear in Japanese in the morning edition of the Hokkaido Shimbun newspaper every other Monday. https://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/series/s_cool_otaru
In this section, the columns are posted in the author's original text.

Special feature

【Column】Japanese language classes see boost in popularity in Niseko Town

Written by Michael Burns; Michael is from Kansas, USA. He currently works as a Coordinator for International Relations in the Niseko Town Hall.

Over 1,000 foreign residents live and work in Niseko Town and Kutchan Town. Niseko Town alone has long term foreign residents from over 30 different countries, which gives it a distinctly multicultural feel that is difficult to find in other parts of Japan. Niseko Town Hall Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) such as myself have worked with these residents to plan multicultural events in the past, from a Halloween event with the local Hokkaido International School to a Bosnian Coffee Hour hosted by two Niseko Town residents from Bosnia.

It is no secret that English, as the international language of business, becomes the lingua franca in the resort areas that dot the mountainside, but many foreign residents also speak Japanese or have a strong desire to learn Japanese. Prospective learners often have difficulty finding an affordable classroom setting for language learning, particularly during the coronavirus epidemic. That is why the Niseko Town Hall has begun offering Japanese language classes for foreign residents living in the Niseko area.

The Niseko Japanese language program began in 2018 with only eight students, but we added several new classes in response to the surge in interest this past summer. All the classes are split between two teachers, myself and my fellow American coworker, Mitchel. Our students have many different reasons for joining the classes. One student wanted to learn Japanese so that they could speak with their Japanese girlfriend’s parents, while another student wanted to learn so that they could understand their coworkers at their farming job. There were also several students that work in hotels who wanted to improve their Japanese customer service. By the end of the summer, over 100 students from more than 20 different countries had participated in one of our five different summer courses. Three of these courses (totaling about 50 students) will continue for the foreseeable future.

Our students come from a variety of backgrounds. While some students already understand basic conversation, others have never studied Japanese before. We have several different levels of classes to accommodate these different needs, including classes that start by learning hiragana. I hope that by learning Japanese, more foreign residents will be able to make friends with their Japanese neighbors and actively participate in the Niseko community.

Location

Niseko Town Office

Special feature

I’ve been in Japan since 2014 and if there’s anything I’ve learned since coming here it’s to stay open minded. After graduating from university with a degree in Japanese, I didn’t want to be limi...

In March I flew home to Australia to see family and friends for the first time in two years. Australia had some of the world's strictest travel restrictions through the pandemic, so I was expecting...

The most important thing in sports for me is for it to be fun. Sure I have been frustrated or even cried after losing. But overall, I was having fun and would be back training and in the next compe...

Makkari is where we call home. Like many people living in Hokkaido, we emigrated from elsewhere. And like many Hokkaido residents, we absolutely LOVE living here! However, arriving in Makkari wa...

At my workplace we have a long tradition of the so-called seminar, or abbreviated zemi. The term refers to a class at a university in which a small group of students gather to conduct their own res...

Otaru: population 110,410, households 61,914. This is what it read at the entrance of Otaru’s City Council a few days ago. A sign of many single-person households, a declining and ageing populati...

Empty lines at Kiroro and Hirafu for ski lifts that are normally bustling with international tourists. Socially distanced crowds in multipurpose rooms and town centers throughout Shiribeshi, everyo...

Sometimes Niseko residents ask me why their little potato farming towns have become so popular among foreigners, and why people are paying so much money to buy land and build homes here. The underl...

When I first visited Hokkaido years ago as a college student, I was surprised. I knew that the prefecture was far from places like Tokyo, but I didn’t expect it to feel so different. In my mind, Ja...

Today is the official Shiribeshi Hug your Husband day. It is very important that all wives in the Shiribeshi area give their husbands a big hug today.

In the past years, the towns of Niseko and Kutchan which are home to the world-renowned NISEKO winter sport resort, have experienced a rush of foreign investment in high-end condominiums and hotels...

Despite COVID, it is heart warming to see how some businesses are showing resilience and adapt to a world that is now very different. Since I wrote my first column on the potential of Otaru for t...

I can see Mt Yotei from my bedroom. The first thing I do after I wake up each morning is look towards it, and remember a quote: "When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it...

When I was a kid, I was never inside. The kids in the street spent every free moment playing in the park, exploring the forest, climbing trees, swimming in pools or the river, riding our scooters, ...

The word ‘cool’ seems like an appropriate term to describe Otaru as a destination. In English, ‘cool’ has multiple meanings and here we will focus on two of them: the first meaning of ‘cool’ might ...

I find Niseko to be the easiest place to live in Japan. The reason is actually quite simple: Niseko’s large foreign population. And I don’t mean tourists; I am referring to Niseko’s long-term forei...

Why Hokkaido and why Otaru? We have loved this part of the world since we visited it for the first time over 10 years ago. Stunning nature, great local produce, four clearly distinct seasons, and...

Niseko’s unique powder snow and international resort makeup are playing an interesting role in the evolution of ski and snowboard design. A growing number of Japanese and foreign residents are sett...

I feel that there are not many establishments where foreign people and locals can interact naturally in the Niseko area. After the coronavirus pandemic has abated, and my company resumes working o...

In Hokkaido we think of winter sports as sliding on the snow or ice. But just half an hour away from the famous Niseko ski resorts, are several great surfing points. In winter the same weather that...

At the start of every course that I teach on international marketing, I talk about the topic of ‘control’. Businesses have control over how they develop and market their products or services, but t...

In English the word "lemon" is sometimes used to describe something bad. There is an expression: "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade". We say this when things are bad to try to help find of ...

このサイトでは、サイトや広告を改善するためにCookieを利用します。これ以降ページを遷移した場合、Cookieなどの設定や使用に同意したことになります。プライバシーポリシー