Today, after finishing my book on Katakana, I went to the Kyoto International Community House which is just a few blocks away from Ebisu’s.

They offer a treasure trove of useful things for the foreigner and/or foreign resident in Kyoto, many of them in Japanese and English, but there is also assistance in German, French, Korean, and Chinese. They offer:

  • all sorts of direct advice, from immediate help with problems in the community to legal advice in case of visa problems
  • translation services, by phone if necessary
  • maps, brochures, pamphlets of all kinds, for example the “Easy Living in Kyoto” booklet for people who come to live in Kyoto
  • a library with international newspapers and books in Japanese, English and many other foreign languages
  • computer facilities
  • snack bar and cafe
  • rooms and meeting halls for rent
  • an exhibition hall (this week there is an exhibition about Kyoto’s sister city Cologne)
  • classes in Japanese and Korean (haven’t seen any English classes though)
  • classes in Japanese traditional arts and crafts (making paper, calligraphy, kimonos, sumi-e, abacus…)
  • an offline message board with advertisements and language tandem requests
  • ….

Mainly, however, it’s a meeting place for both foreigners and locals. When I was there, I saw more Japanese people – older ones, though – than foreigners. There is the possibility to train the Japanese language with volunteer native speakers – they are not trained teachers, but they will help you with your problems and questions – for a token fee of 50 Yen only.

I think this is certainly something I will do – it’s always good to train the language as often as possible, especially speaking and listening comprehension. We’ll see how far I can get with this method…

The Kyoto International Community House
2-1 Torii-cho, Awataguchi, Sakyu-ku, Kyoto 606 8536
075 – 752 3010

Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 to 21:00