© 2017- AskGate group

​Privacy Policy

  • Facebookの - ホワイト丸
  • YouTubeの - ホワイト丸

Hokkaido AskGate Japanese Language School Sapporo Campus

Hokkaido, Sapporo, Toyohira-ku, Toyohira 3-3-1-24

Meet Our Faculty & Staff

In the photograph from the left, we have Aoki Sensei, who has been a Japanese language teacher for over a quarter century both inside Japan and abroad, Ogura Sensei, who has worked with international students while teaching English at a high school in Japan, Ogawa Sensei (Principal), who has many years of experience teaching at Japanese language schools here in Japan, and Matsushima Sensei (Chief Instructor), who has years of experience teaching in both Thailand and Japan.

Our teachers and staff will use their rich and varied experience to help support students in both their study of Japanese and also their daily lives here in Japan.

Principal, Veteran Japanese Language Teacher

First, Ogura Sensei interviews our esteemed Principal, Kaori Ogawa Sensei.

Please tell us about your experiences as a Japanese language teacher.
I have 15 years of experience teaching international students in Japanese Language schools. I have about the same amount of experience teaching people trying to become Japanese language teachers. I have even more experience as a volunteer teacher.

Why did you decide to become a Japanese language teacher?
Well, we have to go back to when I was 15 years old. An Australian exchange student who came to my high school had stayed in Japan for a year, and when she was ready to go home, all she could say in Japanese was:
“I, Japanese, difficult.” I think that was what first made me want to teach Japanese.

Tell us about the times when you are happy that you are a Japanese language teacher.
There are always lots of good times, but the most meaningful for me are when my students graduate and move on to university or find jobs. Recently, one of my students who went on to a Ph.D. program received an award for her doctoral thesis - that made me very proud.

Tell us about your strengths and weaknesses.
“I think that my serious attitude is both a strength and a weakness...” she answered seriously.

What do you do on weekends?
Housework. (laugh) At home I’m a normal busy mother.

Tell us some recommendations you have for people visiting Hokkaido or Sapporo.
Well, I’m the kind of person who’s constantly working, so I don’t really have a ready answer for that, but...I like Sapporo very much.

What do you like about Japanese? What are some Japanese words or expressions that you like?
I like the way we can express such a wide variety of ideas by just modifying the predicate of a sentence. Not only the predicate, but many subtle changes in meaning can be made through very small adjustments in expression - I think that’s exciting.
I really like everything about Japanese.

Please tell us about any favorite Japanese novels or manga comics that you may have.
That’s a difficult question. As a teacher, I feel that I learned something from the manga comic Assassination Classroom. There are also a lot of things that I think can be learned from the character Victor in the anime Yuri!!! on Ice.

What are the good things about studying Japanese?
I think studying any foreign language is basically the same: they all have vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation, but they also are filled with the culture, society, and history of a people group.
It always makes me happy when I discover something that is truly unique to a particular language, or something that is held commonly among many different languages.

Please share a message for people who are studying Japanese.
There are times when you can make new discoveries about yourself through a foreign language. As a teacher, nothing would make me happier than seeing my students discover new things about themselves and reconnect to who they are.

Our Chief Instructor has experience teaching Japanese in Thailand!

She is always sunny and positive, and always ready to take on new challenges.

Ogawa Sensei interviews Chief Instructor Tomoko Matsushima below:

Please tell us about your experiences as a Japanese language teacher.
At first I taught for about 2 years at a Japanese language school in Thailand. After that I taught for about 8 years in a Japanese language school here in Sapporo. I have gotten to meet a lot of different people, and it’s been a lot of fun.

Why did you decide to become a Japanese language teacher?
Sometime during junior high school, I suddenly felt drawn to India. After that, I spent time visiting several countries, mostly in Asia, and I found myself wanting to live abroad. That was the beginning for me. I started teaching simply because I wanted to live in a different country, but I really enjoyed getting the chance to look at my country and language with fresh eyes, and that’s why I’m still teaching now.

Tell us about your strengths and weaknesses.
I think my weakness may be that I often have a happy-go-lucky attitude, but as a result of that, I don’t panic easily when problems come up.

What do you do on weekends?
I sleep more; during winter I don’t go out much - my life becomes kind of like a bear during hibernation. I often stay home and read books or manga.

Tell us some recommendations you have for people visiting Hokkaido or Sapporo.
Well, it’s not a recommendation so much as a good thing about living here, but I think Sapporo is the perfect size to make a home in. It’s not far to get to the sea or the mountains, but it has all of the conveniences of a major city.

What do you like about Japanese? What are some Japanese words or expressions that you like?
I think one of the advantages of Japanese is that we use kanji. Even if you are looking at a new word that you don’t know, you can often get an idea of the meaning from the kanji, which is really useful.
I think it is interesting how we use the action verb suru (do) to describe non-actions. For example: bouto suru (zoning out) and gorogoro suru (lazing around).

Please tell us about any favorite Japanese novels or manga comics that you may have.
It’s difficult to choose... Recently I’ve been enjoying the manga comic Golden Kamuy. It’s set in Hokkaido in the early 20th century, and an Ainu girl features in the story. When it comes to novels, I like the works of Osamu Dazai.

What are the good things about studying Japanese?
There are good things about studying any foreign language - not just Japanese. The first is that in addition to learning grammar and so on, you get to see a whole culture reflected in a language.
The second is reflected in our school’s motto: “Sharing words, connecting hearts.” We first have something that we want to share with others, only then do we begin to need language.
For example, even if the only Japanese you know is “arigatou,” if you learn that and try to express that feeling to someone, I believe you can share a lot more than just those five characters: ありがとう.

Tell us about the times when you are happy that you are a Japanese language teacher.
There are really so many... It makes me happy to see my students, who arrive speaking many different languages, start using Japanese to communicate with each other. Seeing my students’ smiling faces at graduation is another happy time. 

 

Please share a message for people who are studying Japanese.
First, I want to say that I respect everyone who studies Japanese.
If I were not Japanese myself, I don’t think I would study it. There are too many characters to learn; there is only one country that uses Japanese, and it’s important to be careful not to say things too directly. I respect anyone who tries to study such a difficult language.

Second, I want to express my thanks.
It makes me so happy to know that there are people who take up an interest in Japan and Japanese people, and give us the honor of trying to learn our language.

Finally, I want to offer some encouragement.
Language is a powerful tool. It can protect you, and sometimes can be used to help others. But ultimately, language is only a tool - a means. I hope that all of you can use this tool to help realize your dreams and achieve your goals.

A former high school English teacher and fluent speaker of English

Yoko Ogura Sensei has experience studying abroad, so she understands the difficulties and hardships that international students go through.

Ogura Sensei takes every challenge head-on, and works to master anything she attempts with resolute determination. Matsushima Sensei interviews her below:

Please tell us about your experiences as a teacher.

I have taught English at high schools in Japan for 5 years.

 

Why did you decide to become a Japanese language teacher?

I actually have studied abroad in America. I later wanted to be able to offer support to international students, and so I decided to become a Japanese language teacher.

 

Tell us about your strengths and weaknesses.

I’m a bit hasty and impatient, and I’m not very good at remembering names. If I accidentally call you by the wrong name, please forgive me... I think one of my strengths is that I can sleep pretty much anywhere and eat pretty much anything.

 

What do you do on weekends?

In summer, I like to go on drives, trying different bakeries and buying organic vegetables at farms. In winter, I go skiing. It’s only about 15 minutes from my home to the ski park, so I can go whenever I feel like it.

 

Tell us some recommendations you have for people visiting Hokkaido or Sapporo.

The perfect white snow, the clean air, the wide roads, and the delicious food. Not only sushi, but also vegetables, milk, fruit... Everything is great here. I hope everyone can enjoy the exquisite cuisine available here in Hokkaido.

 

What do you do when you have time off from work?

I’m studying Chinese. The pronunciation is really difficult, isn’t it? It makes me feel like Japanese is really simple. (laugh)

 

What do you like about Japanese? What are some Japanese words or expressions that you like?

I like hiragana (simple Japanese characters). When I write using hiragana, I think of how clever the people were who created this writing system so many years ago.

One of my favorite sayings goes like this: “Why are your eyes on the front of your head? They’re there to help you to always keep moving forward.” (This comes from the anime Doraemon.)

 

Please tell us about any favorite Japanese novels or manga comics that you may have.

When I was in elementary school, I read so many manga comics, I thought I wanted to be a manga writer myself. But now I don’t really read any comics.

Conversely, when I was a child, I almost never used read any Japanese novels. Lately though, I have been reading Yasunari Kawabata. His writing is beautiful, but certainly quite difficult.

 

What are the good things about studying Japanese?

I think that when you study Japanese, you can get a sense of how Japanese people look at things.

I also get a sense of how my students see the world.

It’s more than just the basic meaning that’s on the surface of the words; I hope I can work with my students until the deeper feeling behind the words comes through in our communication, too.

I will do all I can to help support my students so that they can learn to communicate in Japanese, and build fuller, richer lives.

 

Please share a message for people who are studying Japanese.

If there’s something that you don’t understand, I hope we can think about it together. I’m looking forward to learning along with all of you.

Japanese Language Instructor

Aoki Sensei joined our teaching staff in April of 2019. She looks forward to teaching you.

Please tell us about your experiences as a Japanese language teacher.

I took my first step toward becoming a Japanese language teacher 26 years ago in Malaysia.

 

Why did you decide to become a Japanese language teacher?

Because I was interested in the difference between Japanese as a home language and Japanese as a foreign language.

 

Tell us about the times when you are happy that you are a Japanese language teacher.

I’m happy that I became a teacher when I can clearly sense that a student has improved.

 

What do you like about Japanese? What are some Japanese words or expressions that you like?

Students of Japanese might not like this, but I like the way Japanese is ambiguous and indirect.

A word that I like is sontaku.

 

What are the good things about studying Japanese?

You can get closer to understanding the hearts and minds of Japanese people.

 

Tell us about your strengths and weaknesses.

My strength is that I have guts. My weakness is that I can get so focused on something that I can’t see what’s going on around me.

 

What do you do on weekends?

I prepare for my lessons. Once a month I go out wearing a kimono.

 

Tell us some recommendations you have for people visiting Hokkaido or Sapporo.

Hokkaido has delicious sweets, wine, beer, and other liquor.

Please tell us about any favorite Japanese novels or manga comics that you may have.

I like novels by Jiro Asada, Naoki Hyakuta, and Keigo Higashino.

I also like mystery novels by Patricia Cornwell, who is not Japanese.

 

Please share a message for people who are studying Japanese.

Don’t just talk to people from your own country; speak Japanese to Japanese people.

Think of everything that happens as a chance to learn, and approach your studies with curiousity.