What are people saying about Okihara's Studio Japan?

  • I studied Japanese with Sae-sensei twice a week for approximately two years. What initially began as an interest in learning Japanese for business reasons, evolved into a deep personal interest and appreciation for Japanese culture, thanks largely to Sae-sensei. Her passion for teaching, her unique ability to make the lessons fun and memorable, and her incredible commitment to her students are key reasons I progressed in my studies as rapidly as I did. I would highly recommend Sae-sensei to anyone wanting to learn Japanese. She is without question the best teacher I have ever had (for any subject) in my academic history.

    Mark Soued General Manager, Pfizer Oncology Northwest Europe
  • I originally studied Japanese academically at a university level.  Over the course of 2 years, I was able to grasp the language to a certain extent, but not to a level I was satisfied with.  After traveling to Japan, I realized that I needed more help.  I was fortunate enough to find out about a professional Japanese linguist that lived in my neighborhood.  After a few weeks, I understood my past college lectures at a higher level.  After a few months, I was able to have comfortable conversations with Mrs. Okihara.  It has been almost 3 years since I've had a proper lesson with her, and I am still able to actively recall the lessons/nuances she helped me understand.  While she has a set number of lessons outlined, she approached my learning proactively and supported my strengths (while correcting my weaknesses).

    Erik Vaklinov
  • I have been taking Japanese lessons with Sae-san for over 10 years.  I originally started taking lessons because I interact with Japanese companies as part of my work and also travel fairly often to Japan.  Sae-san’s lessons are always very well structured and use a combination of conversation practice, common sentence patterns, and introduction of new vocabulary. Conversation practice is typically based on current events or other topics of interest to keep it relevant.  Sae-san has also tailored individual lessons to address specific situations and use the corresponding vocabulary and sentence structures.  For example, we have had lessons focused on asking for directions, navigating the train system and airports, etc.

    Our reading and writing practice has also been adjusted based on my needs and ability level.  Sae-san began by incorporating hiragana and katakana study into our basic vocabulary lessons since they are alphabet-based and relatively easy for English speakers to learn.  After I expressed an interest in moving on to the study of kanji (characters), Sae-san modified the lesson plan to include a few new characters in each session.

    Since I am learning Japanese primarily for business purposes, Sae-san has also helped me with grammatical structures and vocabulary that are particularly useful in business settings.  For example, we have studied the honorific form (for addressing people formally), telephone and email etiquette, and common business and financial terms.

    Overall, I have been very satisfied with my lessons from Sae-san and my Japanese ability has progressed tremendously over our time studying together.  I would highly recommend Sae-san to anyone interested in taking Japanese lessons for business or personal purposes.

    Tom Ellis Cantillon Capital Management
  • Sae-sensei was my Japanese teacher for more than five years.  I was introduced to her through two friends who had highly recommended Sae-sensei.  Words cannot express how grateful I am to have had her as my teacher.  Sae-sensei is best described as a dedicated, patient and inspiring teacher.  She has an innate passion and love for teaching, and it shows through her enthusiasm in class.  Her lessons are always well-structured yet flexible enough to cater to students’ specific needs.  Creative and interesting teaching instructions are used to ensure students are learning as quickly as possible.  More importantly, Sae-sensei is very patient.  Any students of hers can clearly see that she really loves to teach, and loves to watch her students growing into fluent Japanese speakers!  I highly recommend Sae-sensei to anyone who is interested in learning Japanese as she is most definitely the best Japanese teacher I have ever had.

    Kyu Ho Analyst, Cantillon Capital Management
  • Our extremely valued and respected sensei, Sae Okihara, has been teaching Japanese language lessons to nearly eighty of our employees for approximately three years. Although she teaches each student only for one hour each week, she is able to reach well beyond the time limit of her classes, and right into their deep desire for learning. She has touched their interest in studying the Japanese language, but she also has inspired them to explore the Japanese culture. As such, Sae-sensei has proven most valuable to our firm in our ongoing efforts to bridge cultural gaps between locally-hired staff and expats, and between our operations in the United States and in Japan.

    It is no surprise to me that Sae-sensei has achieved this level of success at our firm, for I have witnessed her inspiring students for over 10 years. She mixes a deep love for her heritage and language, with a cheerful enthusiasm and humor that adult learners find motivating. And with her gentle, encouraging and exciting style, Sae-sensei brings her students along at their own pace.

    It is wonderful to hear non-Japanese colleagues speaking to one another in Japanese, and to hear non-Japanese colleagues speaking to Japanese colleagues with their new-found language and cultural skills. We owe a debt of gratitude to Sae-sensei for this. I recommend her without hesitation.

    Howard Tiegel Managing Director and Head of Human Resources, Americas, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
  • I first met Sae Okihara almost three years ago when my company started Japanese language classes.  I had taken Japanese classes many times before with little success, but thought I would try again.  Sae-sensei has helped my Japanese considerably by making Japanese lessons extremely entertaining and fun.   She has a way to capture your attention and keep you wondering what will happen next.  She always mixes up the lessons so that they are not too repetitive and you can learn something new with each session.  I would highly recommend her to anyone wanting to learn the Japanese language in a fun and highly effective way.  She is without a doubt the best Japanese instructor I have ever had.

    Andrew Levine Senior Vice President, SMBC / JRI America, Inc.
  • I’ve been studying Japanese since the 1980s in both the U.S. and Japan.  All my teachers have been good.  A handful have been outstanding.  Sae-sensei is one of the outstanding ones. What sets Sae-sensei apart from other teachers is her upbeat, playful style and her ability to deeply connect with students.  Her knowledge of the language and how to teach it is a given, but her ability to motivate students through her infectious enthusiasm is a rare and precious talent.  I highly recommend Sae-sensei to anyone interested in learning or brushing up on Japanese!

    Laura Jackson
  • As an adult learner and native English speaker who also speaks Spanish and French, learning Japanese - a non-Romance language - has been a daunting experience. I probably would’ve given up had it not been for Sae-sensei. She is patient and she makes it a lot of fun.    Most importantly, Sae-sensei always encourages me and  never makes me feel incompetent. I usually feel bad when, because of work, I have to miss her class but she always helps me catch up on what I missed.    If you're searching for a Japanese language teacher, go with the best: Sae-sensei. You’ll not regret it.

    Marcia Mayne Analyst, SMBC
  • As a former student of Sae Okihara, I can personally attest not only to the fact that she is a fantastic instructor, but that she brings a set of skills to her instruction that place her a tier above most. She is unique in her understanding of the transition from English to Japanese, and her ability to help students push through the hardest, most trying points in their language learning journey.

    It is not enough for a Japanese instructor to simply be an expert on language and culture. The amount of time and effort required to master the critical concepts of Japanese language necessitates that the instructor also be a master motivator. Sae Okihara manages to blend a supportive, encouraging classroom environment with a rigorous curriculum that generates observable, tangible outcomes. Her teaching skills are acutely honed and she is a rare talent in the world of language instruction. She binds some of the more nebulous concepts of Japanese to concrete real-world objects or scenarios to dramatically accelerate understanding and uptake of information. You need this if you are going to be successful as a student of Japanese language and culture.

    Perhaps Sae Sensei’s most impressive talent is her ability to manage several types of students - from 50-year-old hedge-fund managers to 15-year-old high school students - and do so in a manner that is uniquely sensitive to where they are in life (their goals, interests, motivations for learning Japanese, etc.)

    I studied with Sae Sensei as a high school student. The benefits have been innumerable. In 2007 I was awarded a full scholarship as a YFU Japan-American Friendship Scholar ($12,000) to study in Kobe and I have since gone back to Japan and traveled to places like Miyajima and Hokkaido. I was able to have these experiences because of the strong foundation that Sae Sensei created for me as a pupil. She gave me the knowledge, confidence, and cultural fluency to continue to stick with it.

    Anyone with the chance to hire, study under, or collaborate with Sae Okihara has received a rare opportunity to work with a very gifted talent, and would be crazy to pass it up.

    Wesley Hall
  • I first came to know Sae Okihara when I took Japanese classes at Language House, in midtown Manhattan 10 years ago. I had already taken classes at Japan Society and with a few different private instructors when I was living in Japan. Of all the teachers I've had, Sae stands out as the best and most effective. In addition to being accomplished and successful, she brings her vibrant personality and energy into the classroom. Her level of enthusiasm helps to make studying Japanese very enjoyable. We have been friends since then, and it's clear to me why she excels in the classroom and in life in general.  Teaching is not just a job - it's her life's calling. She loves what she does and it shows.

    Chuck Pedro Support Engineer, Envestnet | Yodlee
  • Sae Okihara is the best Japanese Language teacher anyone could hope for. While studying with her at Language House she taught me how to build a strong foundation in Japanese grammar which continues to help me advance in my Japanese language studies. She is a dedicated teacher who never gives up on her students.

    Philip Noberini NYC Department of Buildings