All JETs are offered the free CLAIR course. But, it starts in November, and when it does start, it leaves a lot to be desired.
You can sucessfully self-study or take classes and progress in Japanese while living in Okayama. Figure out what style of studying works best for you, and most importantly, be active about it! Study as regularly as you can, rather than in cramming spurts.

Where to get self study materials
  • Book shops
    • Junkudo, Maruzen, Kinokuya (and, even places that don't necessarily have English language materials sometimes have study materials).
  • Online
    • Textfugu is excellent for beginners, especially the kanji section. Textfugu takes a different approach to learning kanji; that is, you learn by stroke order and radical rather than by topic.
  • The Prefectural Library
    • Does have textbooks, though if you don't live close you might want to consider buying them to have.

Where to take classes
  • International Center
  • Takahashi
  • Private - Ask in your local area/Look at the International Center or Ai Plaza information boards
  • Nishigawa Ai Plaza (西川アイプラザ)
    • Free classes offered every Thursday
      • Morning Session - 10:15-11:45
      • Afternoon Session - 1:30-3:00
      • Evening Session - 6:00-7:30
    • Access (from Okayama station): Walk down Momotaro Avenue and turn right on Nishigawa (the road with the canal). Once you pass Kencho Street, it's a few more blocks down. It's a big library on the right hand side in the corner of a large park. The classes are on the 4th floor.
    • For more information, contact the International Salon
  • Okayama International Plaza
    • Classes every Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:00 pm.
    • 1500 yen for 3 months
    • Classes split into beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels.
  • Map of the International Center, International Plaza, and Nishigawa Ai Plaza:
  • Other information about Japanese classes can be found on Okayama Prefecture's website:

Tips for using the CLAIR course
  • Augment the CLAIR book with something else. Don't just study out of the CLAIR book, otherwise you'll probably want to rage through Tokyo like godzilla. Find the point that they're teaching in the workbook and study it in an actual Japanese textbook.
    • If you think of the CLAIR course as workbooks rather than actual text books (in that, they rarely offer good explanations on grammar and so on) you'll dislike it less. :)
  • Use it as a time schedule and as homework to get the ball rolling on studying. CLAIR gives you deadlines for completing monthly "tests" (open book, open JTE) that come in the monthly workbook. if you're the kind of person who works better with schedules and deadlines, having this can give your self-studying a kick.
  • The culture points in the books at the ends of the chapters are pretty cool.
  • The kanji are a hodgepodge of topics. For the intermediate, some of them were quite basic, while others were useful to learn.
  • Do use the JET books for the listening and shadowing exercises! They're really useful in that they give you the Japanese as well as the English translation in the back of the book, so you can listen to a conversation and actually check the meaning of it after. Listening in the world around you is great and all, but life doesn't always come with translations to English.

i-Pod/i-Phone Apps
  • Midori: Easily the best "Japanese→English/English→Japanese" electronic dictionary app out there. This was the first dictionary to offer its own native Japanese kanji handwriting recognition tool (as opposed to the i-Pod's Chinese one). 146,000 entries. Plus 150,000 example sentences. In-app flashcard program allows you to make your own study lists. If you have an internet connection Midori also allows you to copy and paste entries from online articles into the application which it will translate for you. Highly recommended! (price: $9.99)
  • Imiwa?: Formerly known as 'Kotoba', this app is a free alternative to Midori. Unlike Midori, this app does not have Japanese kanji handwriting recognition and requires you to use the Chinese character input method which, while serviceable, sometimes has difficulty forming the correct kanji. Alternatives for searching kanji are SKIP pattern method which has you select kanji 'patterns' based on location (left/right, top/bottom...), and 'Multi-radical' where you can select kanji radicals, listed by number of strokes, to narrow down the kanji. Dictionary entries contain multiple information such as examples, readings and conjugations, and kanji entries show animated stroke order which can be expanded in size. Another nice feature is that it contains kanji lists of the 5 JLPT levels, so you can see the kanji you need to know for each level. Highly recommended for the thrifty (price: Free)
  • Sticky Study: If you're looking to master tons of Japanese vocabulary and kanji in an efficient, fun way then this app is for you. Easily the best app out there for electronic flashcard study. Study kanji and vocabulary by grade level, JLPT level, or Joyo Kanji level, or make your own decks. Keep track of your progress via helpful charts and other visual tools, including the awesome "bird's eye" browser view that allows you to see thousands of your flashcards at one time. Complete "Japanese→English/English→Japanese" dictionary, with example sentences, worked seamlessly into the program. SRS-algorithm based software helps you efficiently manage your time as you progress through your flashcard decks. Complete editing of all cards is allowed. The creator is constantly updating the application and usually will answer your emails within a day or two. Highly recommended! (price: $7.99)
  • Tae Kim's guide to Learning Japanese: A portable app version of a popular Internet based 'Japanese Textbook'. The layout of the 'book' is different to textbooks like the JET course, or Genki English, as it teaches regular forms before polite forms, but it is nice as an alternative study material. So if you have an iOS device and free time on a train, it's a nice bonus. (price: Free)

  • Lang-8 : Practice writing in Japanese! Other users will correct the stuff you write (so take their corrections with a grain of salt).
  • Anki: Fantastic flash card program for your computer. People have created decks of flashcards for various things like the JLPT, but you can also create your own here.
  • Denshi Jisho : Japanese/English dictionary. One of the best free online dictionary's for Japanese<->English.