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Yamasa's homestay and homevisit program began when the Aichi Center for Japanese Studies was first established. Compared to most Japanese cities, houses in Okazaki are larger, and good host families are therefore usually easier to obtain than in Tokyo or Osaka.
The homestays give you not only the opportunity to practice language skills (especially listening and speaking) and intimately experience the culture, but also provide a priceless chance to communicate across cultures and make long lasting friendships. One advantage of studying in Okazaki is that it is a city with a long history that has also kept its traditions and heritage. You can experience the true culture of Japanese family life, increasingly hard to experience in the larger metropolitan cities. Many students who have experienced the homestay program at Yamasa continue to maintain close friendships with their Japanese family.
There is one additional difference between a Yamasa homestay or homevisit and those usually on offer. At Yamasa there is a full time Housing Office with the time and resources to search for and select appropriate families. For several reasons including cultural reticence, smaller house size and the fact that there are often extended families living in the same household, host families are usually harder to find in Japan than in many countries. Only a school that is prepared to invest in full time staff just to look after the housing needs of international students is able to consistently provide appropriate homestays and homevisits.
Length of Home Stay: Usually students stay for about one month though extension is possible and not unusual, however this depends entirely on the family's schedule and commitments. After one month you may need to be prepared to either move to another homestay or move into student housing.
Requirements: You need to complete your enrolment in a Yamasa program (ie, application & photos sent, tuition fees paid in full) a minimum of 56 days/2 months prior to your arrival date. This can be completed online or via post/fax. Some applicants may be requested to fill out an additional questionnaire - this is not unusual, some families simply ask for more information than others.
For a homestay you also need at least 2 snapshot photographs (not passport photographs) of yourself which will help Yamasa find a homestay. It is advisable that you send different photos. These can also be sent by email.
NOTE: APPLY AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE! This is a popular program and Homestays are provided on a first come-first served basis. The search for a homestay does not begin until AFTER you have remitted your tuition fees. If you are enrolling in a SILAC program, or in any course where a student visa is not required, then you will be required to pay for the tuition in full. You are not required to pay for the accommodation fee in advance, only the tuition. Payment of a deposit does not start a homestay search.
(This policy exists because several times in the past, students have requested a homestay without paying and then cancelled after the families had undertaken considerable preparation. Yamasa apologises if this rule is inconvenient - but the homestays are so integral to the program that maintaining good relationships with all host families is essential. Your understanding is requested.
To give yourself the maximum chance of a homestay it is best to apply early - this is especially the case during May, the summer (especially August), October and the end of Year/New Year periods. Your chances of obtaining a homestay are also generally higher if you have some conversational Japanese or are fluent in a language such as English that will enable you to communicate with the family.
ADVICE FROM YAMASA HOUSING OFFICE: IF YOU WANT TO HOMESTAY THEN YOU SHOULD AIM TO COMPLETE THE APPLICATION AT LEAST 3 MONTHS IN ADVANCE! We can of course search for a homestay after this date, however the later the application is the less likely a host family will be available. At no stage are we able to guarantee a homestay (each family participates on a volunteer basis, and while funds are transferred to the family there is no contractual or other obligation on families to accept foreign students).
Length: "Homestays" usually involve living with the family for an extended period - normally for 1 month, but in some cases anything from a week up to a year. As a general rule homestays are for one student per family only, if you request a homestay for 2 people we will conduct a homestay search, however please be aware that the chances of such a host family being found is very slim. A "Homevisit" is usually for an evening meal, one day or a weekend stay (1 night/2 days). Many students choose the homevisits because they can enjoy the comfort of having their own apartment as well as the opportunity to experience Japanese family life.
Cost: A homestay usually requires considerable expense on the part of the family. As a result we do charge a homestay fee - which is then forwarded to the family. By comparison, homevisits are usually free, the student normally only paying for things such as movie admission tickets or other such expenses if required.
Requirements: Homestays require preparation time and planning. If you wish to homestay, you will need to apply for the program well in advance. By comparison, homevisits do not require application long in advance, and most students arrange their home visits by visiting the Housing Office after arrival.
Homestay fees: The homestay fee is 75,000 yen per month for student visa holders, and 20,000 yen per week for short stay students. As a minimum a homestay includes breakfast and evening meals from Monday to Friday, though not on weekends unless by agreement with the family. It does not include lunches. Also, many homestays are within walking or bicycling distance of Yamasa, but if a commute is required then you will need to pay your own transportation. If the fares exceed 1,000 yen per day, Yamasa will pay the excess fare.
Notification: As soon as your home stay family is determined, you will receive a profile of the family. If you are commencing your studies with a homestay, then staff from Yamasa will meet you at Nagoya Airport or Okazaki station and you will meet your family at Yamasa. If you are moving from one of the studio apartments or from the student village then appropriate introductions and arrangements will be made. Please note that your program confirmation may be sent to you before your host family confirmation. In this case your program notification will usually list your second preference as your accommodation. This does not mean that a homestay will not be found - it is only done so that if on arrival you need to present an address to an Immigration Officer - you have paperwork available.
Basic Rules for a home stay: There are rules. A homestay is a wonderful opportunity for you to improve your Japanese and understand the culture in a way not otherwise possible. However please remember that it is not like staying in a hotel. You are a guest of a family and are required to follow the rules, as they would apply for any family member.
a.) You will need to inform your family of the time you will come
back home everyday.
Enjoy your stay with a Japanese Family!
How does the homestay fee listed compare to the other accommodation options in terms of total costs?
I've read through the prices page and I'm not quite sure whether the homestay option is cheaper than the other options or
A - It is reasonably affordable but it is not the cheapest option. For that a shared apartment or room combined with homevisits would yield a lower total cost and still provide you with the opportunity to experience Japanese family life and practise your Japanese. The main purpose of a homestay is to experience Japanese in a full immersion. There is a lot less privacy of course, and if public transport is required (even with Yamasa's subsidy for commutes exceeding 1000 yen/day) then it is one of the more expensive options, but as a way to learn Japanese it is an excellent housing option.
I've read that it is best to bring a gift with you when you enter a homestay. Can you give some advice as to what would be suitable?
A - The 'traditional' gifts were usually alcohol or tobacco products. Its probably wise NOT to bring such items because there is nothing more embarrassing than lugging a bottle of whiskey halfway around the world and giving it to someone you subsequently find doesn't drink etc. I would advise bringing something from your own country or region. Something representative of your background or culture. You will be able to get some idea of what to bring if you look closely at the interests of the host family - their hobbies, ages etc. Additional information can always be obtained by writing to us.
I only want to study at Yamasa if I can obtain a homestay. If a homestay cannot be found for me can I receive a refund?
A - If you cancel before you arrive in Okazaki we will refund 100% of your tuition fees and 100% of acommodation fees. There is no cancellation charge. Full details of the refund policy are explained in the Refunds and Deferrals page.
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