Mineko Arai



Managing Director

'輝いて ' Enrich your life!'

Finding the Arai Academy and Arai Sensei has been an absolute answer to my prayers. Japanese has been a part of my life for many years, I have studied Japanese for a long time and feel that I really haven’t made much progress in the blackhole that is being an Upper Intermediate level speaker.  I have done university courses, have attended Australian based Japanese Schools with one-on-one lessons and never really been told what I am doing wrong and when I am wrong, and then how to fix it. Arai Sensei is the first teacher that has really helped, she has stopped me mid-sentence many times, to fix my grammar or vocab and has patched a lot of holes I have in my Japanese. She asks what my goals and motivations are and makes the lessons to fit, gone are the days of buying countless books and textbooks that lead you nowhere and really don’t teach or help much anyways.  I love the personal touch given to each lesson, and how Arai Sensei focuses on how to get my Japanese to where I want and need it to be. I can already see the vast improvement in my abilities. My goal is to become as close to a native speaker as possible and I really see it could be a reality with Arai Sensei as my teacher and native Japanese mentor. I am really grateful to Arai sensei as my dreams get closer every lesson.

Josh L, Australian, Software Engineer/Digital Creative

Throughout the 12 years I’ve studied with Arai-sensei, I have greatly appreciated the way she blends cultural understanding with language knowledge.  This means that I’m better able to remember and use the material we study because I have a greater understanding of not only ‘how’ to say something but also ‘why’ I’m saying it.  Being constantly challenged during my studies provides me with even more motivation to continue, setting regular goals (such as taking JLPT examinations) and completing them gives me a sense of achievement, and extra-curricular activities such as the monthly ‘Learning Session in Japanese’ enable me to practise what I have learnt in a supportive environment.  Here’s to the next 12 years!

MW, British, ESOL Teacher, Self-employed

Arai-sensei combines a wealth of teaching experience with a clear passion for Japanese language and culture to deliver lessons tailored to your situation and needs. With minimal prior knowledge prior to a work secondment to Japan, Arai-sensei has provided me with useful phrases, conversation, and cultural insights to ensure I’m able to make the most of living and working in Japan. Our one-to-one lessons provide so much more than what you can learn in self-study, enabling you to practice and learn correct pronunciation to be able to speak Japanese with confidence.

Jack, British, Finance

Arai Sensei has been my Japanese teacher from when I first started learning the language about seven years ago. She is very passionate about teaching and is really good at explaining difficult concepts. Arai Sensei takes a holistic approach to teaching language and culture – this keeps me motivated and excited for every lesson.

Herman D, Dutch, Investment management professional

I’ve been learning from Arai-sensei for over 6 years. I always enjoy our one-to-one private lessons every time. You can request the point that you want to improve. I’m focusing on my writing skills now and Arai-sensei always lets me choose any topics that I’m interested to write about. She explains how to use an expression appropriately with lots of examples until I fully understand. She understands both Japanese and English speaker’s ways of thinking
and teaches why the native speakers say like this or not. This helps me to understand the differences and to output more naturally like native speakers. She is always supportive and motivates me to improve my language skills even more. She gives me perfect advice based on my needs through her own learning experience and with her knowledge as a linguist. Furthermore, I appreciate that her academy gives me an opportunity to talk with native
speakers by hosting online learning sessions monthly.

S.S Illustrator

I speak a number of European languages, and a few years ago decided to also learn Japanese for the intellectual challenge and to get a better understanding of the Japanese culture, which fascinates me.  I started as a self-taught student, and I have been a student of the Arai Academy for almost four years, an experience I continue to find most enjoyable and rewarding.  My knowledge of Japanese has improved enormously, and I have gained confidence speaking and understanding the language.  Arai Academy taught me to appreciate the importance of balancing multiple ways to absorb the language, through talking and listening, as well as through reading and writing. I particularly enjoy having the ability to dig deep into any topic, whether it is the reason behind the apparent oddity of a grammar rule, or the connection between apparently unrelated words and their kanjis.  Moreover, learning the language with Arai Academy is an insightful way to gain a more nuanced understanding of cross-cultural differences, and of appreciating more in depth the wonderful peculiarities of Japanese culture.  Learning Japanese has become a source of never ending discoveries and pride in the achievements, despite the consciousness of how massive the road ahead still is for me.

David Benello, Italian and British, Company Chairman

Arai Sensei is the person you need to go to if you want to learn Japanese and the culture.

I was always fascinated about Japanese culture and wanted to learn the language one day. Learning a new language, especially Japanese is a long and rough path. That’s why before I started learning Japanese, I researched about the language learning ways and talked with some people. However, after speaking and had a demo lesson with Arai Sensei, I was fascinated about the way of her unique teaching and we directly started our lessons. The lessons are fun, interactive, made of using everyday language and material, and I always learn new cultural aspects in every lesson. I am able to expand my knowledge both in the language and in the culture as well. Arai Sensei can find different interesting ways to steer the lesson and engage me to the conversation.

One of the best things is, because it is a tailor made lesson, we can adjust the pace of the lessons depending on how much available time I have during that week or month. Moreover, I can use the Arai Academy online course materials to practice and improve myself even more!

I highly recommend Arai Academy to learn Japanese and the way of the culture.


Arai sensei’s lessons are above all fun! She knows exactly the right teaching approach to take to get the best results and supports this with a well considered choice of teaching materials. I am able to make diversions during the lessons to clarify key points or to review grammar and vocabulary from previous lessons without worrying about slowing down the class or losing sight of my goals, as Arai sensei always gets me back on track quickly.

My confidence in speaking and my understanding of listening and reading materials has greatly improved in the 4(?) years I have studied with Arai sensei and I am very pleased with my progress. Additionally, as my work schedule changes frequently, I am fortunate enough to be able to choose between having face-to-face lessons or online lessons depending on my availability and the sensei’s availability.

All my learning has been drawn together by cultural understanding so that I know not only how to use the language but also why. This has been important for me in order to solidify my knowledge and to enable me to retain so much grammar and vocabulary and so many useful expressions.

Intermediate level, since February 2012, MW, ESOL Teacher

am learning Japanese because Japan is a fascinating country and I hope that being able to communicate with the locals in their language will lead to experiences I could not have otherwise. Arai-sensei's ability to combine teaching the language with giving insights into the social and cultural aspects of Japan makes every lesson exciting and entertaining. She offers a bespoke learning experience depending on the student's goals, and her friendly nature is very engaging.

Beginner level, since April 2017, Uta Heil, project manager

The enjoyment of learning Japanese and the consideration for my skill level keeps me coming back. It is more than learning the language, it is an understanding of the culture. It has helped my confidence in learning the language but also on a general day to day through training the mind. I cannot recommend it enough. I did not know how long i would want to learn for as i think Japanese is daunting for anyone who does not speak languages (me) but I wish to continue for as long as possible.

Beginner level, since November 2016, AJW, Sales staff

 I have had regular lessons with Ms Arai for several years and I highly recommend Arai Academy to anyone who wants to learn and/or improve their Japanese.
 What makes Arai Academy outstanding is that it goes beyond simply language teaching. Ms Arai's lessons focus on putting the Japanese language within a national context, so you also learn a great deal about Japanese society, history and culture.
 In addition, there are regular free events and extra curricular activities which enhance the learning experience, such as speaking sessions, which I have found very helpful. It's also great fun to meet other learners and Japanese people living in the U.K.
 I feel I have learnt a great deal about the language and Japan in a relatively short space of time thanks to Ms Arai, and I've noticed a remarkable improvement in my own foreign language skills. The lessons are also very well paced, so you learn at your own speed, and Ms Arai has always been friendly and patient during the times I've struggled with some of the more difficult grammatical points. Another positive is the South Bank setting of the lessons, which is so much better than a gloomy classroom! Highly recommended.

Beginner level, since September 2015, Daniel Binns, Journalist

My private lessons with Arai Sensei have given me so much more confidence in speaking Japanese. She builds on grammar concepts using practical exercises, which she alternates with free conversation on a broad range of topics. This allows me to build vocabulary and improve my speed and accuracy in speaking. Arai Sensei is strict and kind, and always supportive. It is a pleasure to study with her and I always look forward to my lessons.
Intermediate level, since December 2016, Herman, Full-time postgraduate student

I didn’t have enough knowledge and confidence to use business Japanese at work or when meeting with Japanese clients and partners.

Arai sensei found the right material for us to follow and defined a clear learning path in order to make me progress. I like how she helps me challenging myself by giving me new tasks each week to work on at home before we review what I prepared in class. I believe the best way to learn is by trying to use the new knowledge and that’s exactly what we are doing.

Our lessons definitely helped me to improve my confidence using business Japanese and Arai sensei always does her best to explain points of grammar and words. 

Advanced level, since July 2017, Laurene Oudart , Research project manager

"Having speaking and written lessons with Arai sensei has been a great experience. In the last year I have taken lessons I have learnt a wide range Japanese language skills what have a grounding in real world communication along with exercises desinged at putting learnt skills into practice. It is very enjoyable taking lessons with the Arai Academy as you also discover cultural facts about Japan itself - not covered in common textbooks or webpages. Arai Sensei herself is very approachable, friendly and patient with beginners (like myself). Arai Academy would be my first recommendation to anyone interested in studying the Japanese language."

One-to-one Beginner level, since October 2016,  Ashley Holmes, digital designer, 29-10-2017

Arai Sensei’s lessons strike a great balance between being instructive and fun. She goes into plenty of detail and is always happy to clearly and precisely explain difficult to grasp grammar points. I would say that the Arai Academy course provides an excellent grounding in both written and spoken Japanese. 
Intermediate level, since September 2015, Poppy Cosyns, writer

I have been studying Japanese for around 5 years before starting with Arai-sensei, I felt my progress was slow due to being held by my own lack of confidence. Arai-sensei’s teaching approach has opened my eyes to a fun and effective way to learn Japanese that makes me feel more confident and motivated to learn.

From the beginning of my teaching with Arai-sensei, we broke down what I wanted to achieve, and from her experience as a teacher, she pointed out the best books for me to use going forward. She is quick to find specific grammar patterns that I that have not memorised effectively, and continues to make sure I have the solid foundation I need to be a confident speaker. Specifically, she makes sure that I truly understand the cultural significance behind certain Japanese grammar and expressions. In the past I did not have the opportunity to be taught these fascinating subtleties that can be easily overlooked. However, now I can see that this will be key to making further steps with the language.

Another great part of my lessons is that Arai-sensei encourages me to continuously speak and listen in Japanese, whereas I did not feel confident enough before and would always fall back to English.

I look forward to exploring the language further with Arai-sensei and cannot recommend her teaching enough!

Beginner level, since August 2017, Mark Heyward , software developer

Arai-sensei has been my teacher for seven years.  I have weekly sessions with her. These involve discussions in Japanese about various topics relating to our own activities and events in the news, particularly concerning Japan.  I also read aloud short texts in Japanese which I have prepared, usually editorials or articles from Japanese newspapers. Arai-Sensei corrects my reading, pronunciation, and so on. We discuss linguistic and cultural issues arising from the texts. Arai-sensei has particular sensitivity to shades of meaning in Japanese, something that I have great interest in.
Arai-sensei is a very sympathetic and well-informed teacher.  We share an interest in the cultural aspects of the Japanese language and its relevance to understanding contemporary Japanese life as well as Japanese history. This involves frequent comparisons with other cultures.  Arai-sensei has encouraged me to persist in my Japanese language work, now that my age (73) makes travel to Japan less feasible.

Advanced level, since Noveber 2010, F R Pickering, retired university lecturer

 Arai-sensei is a very engaging teacher who is always pushing me forward and constantly testing my conversational ability. This, combined with the structured lesson plans and homework, allows me to progress at a steady pace, keeps me motivated and allows me to see the results of my hard work.
As a result, I have a lot more confidence in my Japanese language ability when conversing with family members.
Lessons with Arai-sensei are always very enjoyable and I would highly recommend her to anyone interested in learning Japanese!

Beginner level, since January 2016, Stephen Bushby

The lessons are always fun and well structured. Mineko gives me the opportunity to speak a lot. We focus on topics that are interesting and relevant to me. Grammar and vocabulary are always well explained. Cultural differences (or similarities) are an important part of the course and make learning fun. I enjoy that Mineko is always friendly, well prepared and focusing on what I need to progress well.

Intermediate level since October 2015, U.P,  Head of Department

"Having speaking and written lessons with Arai sensei has been a great experience. In the last year I have taken lessons I have learnt a wide range Japanese language skills what have a grounding in real world communication along with exercises desinged at putting learnt skills into practice. It is very enjoyable taking lessons with the Arai Academy as you also discover cultural facts about Japan itself - not covered in common textbooks or webpages. Arai Sensei herself is very approachable, friendly and patient with beginners (like myself). Arai Academy would be my first recommendation to anyone interested in studying the Japanese language."

Beginner level, since September 2016, Ashley Holmes, digital designer

I have been attending Arai Academy lessons weekly since January 2013. I chose Arai Academy for its unique way of teaching, its interaction on many different levels of the Japanese language and culture. Arai-sensei does not just teach you the language but takes you through the customs, formalities and culture of Japan. Because of the unique teaching style of Arai-sensei, my interest and enthusiasm in language learning has never been higher and you truly feel like you are learning the essence of the language not just the words.

Beginner level, CC, Product Designer

My motivation for learning Japanese was primarily my partner, I also plan on living in Japan one day.

Arai-sensei clearly spends a lot of time outside of lessons preparing individual material for each student. The cultural information that is interspersed throughout the structured lessons make them interesting and exciting. I have only been a student of Arai-sensei for 8 weeks but already can have conversations with native speakers, ask questions, read hiragana, order in a restaurant and so on.

I chose Arai-sensei because she has a background in teaching Japanese at King's College London, I had tried other people before who did not have a teaching qualification and progress was much, much slower.

Beginner level, RC, IT Director

Arai sensei’s Japanese lessons have been very different from language lessons I’ve taken in the past. While other teachers often neglect to include segments of interactive learning where each student in the class has the opportunity to practice and remember what they’ve learned – Arai sensei integrates this into lessons perfectly. I believe that her style of teaching, including flashcards, short oral tests, PowerPoint’s, lesson books and interactive learning has made it quick, easy and fun to learn Japanese. I enjoy Arai sensei’s unbridled enthusiasm when it comes to teaching Japanese. Her clear enjoyment to teach provides an excellent learning environment in the classroom.

One of my favourite parts of her language lessons is enacting real-life situations with the other students partaking in the classes: not only is this a brilliant way to hammer in certain words and phrases, but it’s also a fantastic way to encourage students to gain the confidence to speak to each other in Japanese and interact openly with other people. I have noticed a rapid improvement in my understanding of Japanese since joining her classes, and feel a lot more confident in both speaking and reading Japanese, as well as understanding Japanese grammar and sentence structure. I have always been avidly interested in various aspects of Japanese culture, as my family used to live in Tokyo, and until receiving tuition under Arai sensei, have mostly been a self-taught learner. I am extremely happy that I took lessons with Arai sensei, and would not hesitate to recommend her as a Japanese tutor. She is a fantastic tutor, a very sweet person, and a joy to be taught by.

Beginner level, ARM, University Student

Started out as a beginner not knowing Japanese, Arai sensei's lessons is divided into small parts, only teaching the important information, without overloading your brain. The lessons are fun and well structure into nice chunks, relating from one subject matter to another, to reinforce the use of Japanese from understanding new particle to practising verbal conversations. Along the way, Arai sensei will assist you that you are not lost, while also giving an insight into Japanese culture.

Beginner level, DHO, University Student

The reasons for my continued return are manifold: lessons with Arai Academy are individualised, tailored to my needs, and a source of growth for my career in a Japanese-speaking business environment. My primary motivation is to bolster my Japanese in a way that allows me to be successful in what I strive to achieve. With each session with Arai Academy, I can tangibly feel the progress I make: this gives me the confidence to utilise new vocabulary, grammar patterns, and sentence structures in daily conversation in my place of work. Learning Japanese with Arai Academy is not just about learning a language: it is much more about coming to know the terms of an entire culture in its entirety.

Intermediate level, since February 2016, Stefanie Hadolt, Banker

I fully enjoyed my Japanese course held by Arai sensei. She made the course very interactive, very enjoyable and very useful. I feel that after nine months of learning Japanese I’ve come a long way in my studies and am now able to read and write Japanese characters and also engage in simple conversations.

Arai sensei is simply a great teacher!

Beginner level, Christoph Lutterbuese, Head of Global Credit Risk and General Insurances, Dentsu Group

Arai sensei's lessons are a great mixture of grammar and interactive practice.
She also taught us many useful things about Japan and Japanese culture.

Beginner level, LM, Head of HR