The best Japanese courses & how to find them

A quick and complete guide on how to find the best Japanese language courses for you
Early registration and Long term registration discounts are available!

Table of content

So, it seems like you either want to come to Japan, or are already here, and is looking for the best Japanese courses. It is no doubt a wonderful country to visit and to live in. Unfortunately, English is not widely spoken in this country.

As difficult as it is, studying Japanese is crucial.

We have just opened our 4th location – Coto Academy Shibuya

There are many ways to do so, both official and unofficial.

For the unofficial options, you can try Anime, Manga, or learning apps (Anki, Duolingo…).

For the official, of course, there are Japanese language schools and courses.

Yet, unlike the unofficial options where you just pick what you love, choosing a school or a course is much harder. While the regular schooling systems are familiar, language schools are just different.

How would you do that then? Let’s see if we can help you. We are pretty confident, actually.

Step 0

Before considering different criteria, it’s important to know what your goals are, and especially what they might be in the future.

Current goals

Having a checklist of what you want and need to learn is crucial
The easiest and arguably also the most effective way to decide is to look at your strengths and weaknesses. It’s crucial to understand clearly where you stand in terms of Japanese language skills.

Are you an absolute beginner with no prior exposure to the language, or do you have some basic knowledge already? What are the skills you excel at, and which one needs improvement?

Some simple questions can help you assess your current abilities. Then, choosing the best Japanese courses, while still not easy, is more accurate.

Plus, knowing where you were is the only way to know how far you have gone.

Later on, if you commit to a course for quite some time yet see no major improvements, you might need to reconsider your options.

If you want to be sure about your ability, take something along the lines of a
level check or self-assessment.

Future possible goals

The thing about future goals is that they might not be there when the time comes. So, consider them carefully, and be open.

The reason why understanding your future goals after attending school is important is the dissimilar required skill sets in different environments.
Sometimes, simple greetings would be enough, while business levels are needed in other cases.

For example, let’s say you want to be a professional in Japan. Do you know that some jobs and industries have higher, or lower, requirements for Japanese proficiency than others?

To apply for a job in the IT industry, generally speaking, N3 JLPT will be sufficient, and the heavily used skills would be speaking and listening.

To kickstart your IT Career in Japan

In contrast, having a job in a creative realm (marketers, copywriters…) might require N1 JLPT, with reading and writing in addition to 2 other skills.

There are jobs here, such as human coordinators and consultants, that don’t ask for too much Japanese, English alone would be sufficient. However, exactly because of this reason, these jobs tend to be more competitive.

Note: Whichever path you choose, they all ask for Japanese resumes. Here is a template for those in need.

If your plan is to get another education afterwards, like an undergraduate or master’s program, you usually need to pass the N1 or N2 JLPT examination. In that case, attending courses cated toward that goal would be a great idea.

On the other hand, the study plan would be different if travelling around Japan is your highest priority.

Since the main transportations in Japan are trains and subways, sometimes buses, things can get complicated really quickly; especially in bigger stations such as ones in Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Shinagawa…

But don’t worry too much, to be able to navigate around, you just need to know some simple Japanese phrases/expressions with a little bit of Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. To achieve this, a short class will do.

A girl exciting learning Japanese
Just 4 weeks and you can start speaking Japanese

Choosing a school

Now, being done with the preparation process, we can move on to the next section – criteria to choose the best Japanese language school for you.

Types of schools

Somewhere along your research, you probably will stumble across these 2 types of Japanese language schools: Vocational and Private language schools.

So, what are the differences?

Vocational schools offer specialized Japanese language programs that are tailored to specific industries. Some of the standard options are healthcare, hospitality or manufacturing…

In these institutions, you will study industry-specific knowledge/vocabulary to support your future work. This might be a good option for people who know exactly what industry they want to be in.

However, there are downsides such as rigid curriculums, or limited transferability; mind you, not all industry has vocational schools.

Plus, you would have less flexibility either in exploring Japan or in switching careers afterwards.

Hence, Private language schools exist.

In our Private Japanese Course, the lessons are designed to fit your needs

Generally speaking, you have one focus in your study – the Japanese language.

In comparison with vocational schools, private schools provide a wider selection of language courses targeted to various competence levels, backgrounds, and purposes…

In addition, since they are private, these institutions have more flexibility in both scheduling and course materials.

For example, here at Coto Academy, we have intensive courses for all levels (Beginner to Advanced), part-time courses that are held in the evening for busy people, or 1-on-1 courses where instructors can help you with your specific goals.

And of course, if you are worried about your next JLPT exam, we have a pre-exam course to help you with that as well.


We have both classrooms and a self-learning area here at Coto Academy Shibuya
We all want to be in a nice classroom with perfect lighting, a clean whiteboard and air conditioners, right? That’s why it can affect your learning process and experience.

Check some photos of the school’s classroom. Are they spacious and well-lit? Are the seats comfortable?

In addition to that, assess whether the school offers dedicated study areas or resource centres. Outside of class, these areas are available for self-study, review, some practice, or just some casual chat with your friends.

Prioritize newly built locations, they tend to have more focus on the overall design and functionality.

If you are lucky, you can even find one with snack counters and free tea.


Coto is fortunate to have such supportive students
In this day and age, it’s increasingly difficult to trust advertisements. They all get so good right now.

A better alternative is to look at reviews or testimonials of students in the past. They were in your shoes before, and they have been through what you are about to.

Try to look around in forums or social media platforms to see which ones are the favorite. Besides reviews, see if you can find any successful stories of previous students.

Finishing all that, you can move on to the next important factor – the instructors/teachers. A faculty of experienced, competent, and skilled educators is a good indication of quality.

Plus, go through the school’s website to see the instructors’ general spirits. It depends on what you want, whether it’s a comfortable and interactive environment or a formal one.

Sometimes, you will stumble upon a discount offered by the school. Take advantage of that as well. Just like what we, Coto Academy, have here:
Receive an introduction fee of 20,000 yen!


In a dynamic country like Japan, location can have a huge impact on your living environment and lifestyle.

Some aspects you should factor in while choosing a school are accessibility– how many trains and minutes to get there – and the surrounding areas– is it a downtown area or a suburb?

Regarding accessibility, a common mistake we see people make is forgetting about the distance from the station to the school. Sometimes it takes only 1 train to get to the nearby station, but 20 minutes walking from there.

That might be a nice exercise but would be a harsh one during Japan’s summer and winter seasons.

Speaking of surrounding areas, you basically have two options: an energetic area and a quiet place.

If you choose the former, busy areas such as Shibuya, Shinjuku, or Ikebukuro would be great options. They are the hubs of entertainment in Tokyo.

For quieter areas, like where there are temples and shrines, Iidabashi or Asakusa should be considered. These areas carry a more subtle and historical atmosphere in comparison with the previous ones.

The way to find a school based on location is very easy as well. Just search for “Shibuya Japanese language school” or “Iidabashi Japanese language school” and you will have a list.

A peek at the self-learning area at Coto Academy Iidabashi


Unless you are already in Japan, you need to find a school that sponsors a visa. Since this is important, just directly ask the school if you feel unsure.

A lot of them provide free consultations regarding visa applications. This assistance might be especially useful if you are navigating the Japanese visa procedure for the first time.

Usually, you will have to prepare a package of documents which typically includes an official acceptance letter, a certificate of enrollment, and any other forms required by Japanese immigration authorities.

Choosing a course

If your choice has been a vocational school, chances are you will be provided with a fixed set of curriculums. On the other hand, if you choose a private Japanese school, your learning process will mostly depend on your decisions.

Let’s see whatt would be the best Japanese course for you!


First things first, you need to have a clear understanding of the course levels that are provided.

Usually, the courses are created for 3 main levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Sometimes, they are divided in a more detailed style. Then, additional options such as upper beginner or upper intermediate will also be there.

Funny enough, this scale can be the exact thing that causes problems. When we say “Beginner,” you might have a different picture in mind than a school does. And, even more complicated, other schools might have their own takes on it too.

Always, always find a way to have a confirmation from the school to make sure everyone is on the same page. That’s why it’s of utmost importance to have a consultation or to take a self-assessment test created by the school.


Remember what we said earlier about flexibility, this is when you experience it.

You are in a hurry and need an intensive course to gain knowledge? Check

You are super busy, but still want to improve your Japanese in the evening? Check

You not a morning person and want an afternoon-only schedule? Check

Have a JLPT exam in 3 months and need preparation lessons? Check that as well.

There are a ton of options for you to choose from when it comes to schedule. Take some time to go through them and see what fits you the most.

Teaching methods

Come and be a part of our Culture Course around Tokyo !
Teaching approaches have a big impact on how successfully you learn a language. Some methods you can consider are:.

  • • Communicative approach: Focusing on real-life discussions and language use.

  • • Task-Based Learning: Language skills are developed through completing tasks and projects that mirror real-world situations

  • Cultural integration: Learning Japanese via participating in cultural activities (Noh performances, tea ceremonies…)

This is what sets Japanese language courses apart from the educational system. You can have a lot of fun in the classroom.


Intensive Japanese Courses in Shibuya, Iidabashi & Yokohama

There is no lack of things to spend money on here in Japan, so every yen counts. Tuition fees can vary significantly among different Japanese language schools.

While affordability is important, keep in mind that tuition fees often reflect the quality of education, teaching resources, and learning facilities.

Don’t immediately turn away from expensive options. Carefully consider whether the fees are inclusive of course materials, resources, and any additional benefits offered by the school.

One useful trick to gauge if a course is truly expensive is to break down the tuition into a per-lesson or hourly cost.

It’s normal to be discouraged seeing a big number, but you might be surprised when you do what we’ve just recommended.

Application process

This might sound counterintuitive, but be careful with schools that too readily admit you. Not trying to be controversial or generalize here, but there are institutions that just want your tuition fees.

And it’s actually pretty easy to tell if you are talking to one. While having the conversation with them, see whether they put effort into evaluating your Japanese proficiency or not.

A longer and more difficult application process might come across as troublesome, but it’s the school trying to help put you in a suitable learning environment.

If you are thinking about joining a Japanese course, don’t hesitate to contact us!

What about Online Japanese Classes

It’s not too new of a thing, but it does have some different aspects that you might want to consider compared to the in-person alternatives.

Not too many though, but let’s go through it together.

Class hours

Since everything is conducted via the Internet, location is not a concern anymore.

But the time plays a much bigger role.

First, if the class you are taking is held in another country, do remember the time zone differences. One thing worth noting is that there are online Japanese classes that provide both online lectures and recorded videos afterwards.

On the other hand, for people who are taking online classes from the same country, the time zone is of no concern.

In this case, what you want to pay attention to is the class hours.

Japanese teacher having online Japanese class
At Coto Academy, we prioritize flexibility in our Online Japanese Course

Remember to factor in the transportation time out. Usually, it would be much more flexible in comparison with in-person classes, do your research and pick your preferred time.


Besides the amount of tuition fees, you need to pay, there are some other aspects that need to be considered while looking for the best Japanese course.

First, pricing models.

Do you pay for the whole course? Do you pay for the amount of time (it can be hours, weeks, months…) you can attend classes? Or is it a point system where different-level classes cost certain points to get in?

Second, check the accepted payment methods. There are new methods appear every single day. However, for safety purposes, prioritize PayPal and Credit cards.

Last but no less important is the cancellation policy. Always leave yourself some space to back out.

Review the timeframe, as well as the percentage they will give you back. Make sure there are no additional fees or specific conditions that can cause trouble.

Practice opportunities

Unlike offline Japanese classes where you have plenty of chances to communicate with classmates and the instructors, online classes have somewhat more limitations.

More often than not, everybody will leave the online room right when the class ends; there go your practising partners.

For such reasons, we recommend you prioritize speaking Japanese courses or smaller-size classes; the best would be to have both.

Another way is to look for private online classes. Inevitably, the costs would increase a bit. But again, don’t immediately walk away from big numbers, carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks.


Due to the nature of online classes, teaching materials can have a significant impact. Unlike being in an in-person class, participating in online courses requires you to do more work on your own.

Your only companion then would be your learning materials, so choose wisely.

Look for Japanese schools/courses that use in-house materials and textbooks.

Generally speaking, they know what they are doing; they would not invest the costs and efforts to create and use those materials otherwise.

At Coto Academy, we have specialized materials for starting your Japanese journey

Call yourself an expert

Now you know how to pick the best Japanese course, let’s look at what options we have.

To start, of course, a shameless plug here – Coto Academy.

Give us a little bit of time to convince you.

We have 4 locations: Shibuya, Iidabashi, Yokohama, and Azabu Juban, ranging from entertainment hubs to more subtle and laid-back neighbourhoods. Whatever atmosphere you are looking for, we are pretty sure we have it ready.

Another thing we are proud of about our locations is that are of them are operated by lovely, lovely staff members. They have perfect English as well. If you are a beginner in the Japanese language but know English, there is no need to worry.

Walk inside and you will see our cosy classrooms. Don’t misunderstand because of the size, we have a reason for that.

Our Japanese courses are designed to have a maximum of 8 people per class.

This allows us to ensure that there is room for people to speak, to question, and to interact.

Convincing enough? Fill out the form below to attend our classes.

First, choose Shibuya as the location.

Then, you will see our list of courses: Intensive Course, Part-time Course, Private Lessons, and JLPT Prep Course. Then choose the course you like.

After that, we will contact you, very very soon. Just let us know how many weeks you want to study with us.

We are waiting for you!