Currently, I am studying Japanese at school called Nihongo Center in Kyoto, Japan. I've been here for around 8 months. I have been asked to find more students from my country and Europe by my school. The problem is the school has already many students from Europe while we rarely have students from USA. So, I just wanted to share my review of my school and respond your questions.
When i came to Japan my Japanese level was near zero, but i had a great interest in Japanese and was ready to accept the challange. in 8 months i have a japanese level around JLPT 2. First 4 months of school, i may say was slow. i was studying a lot and had a feeling of school is coming way behind me. But in that period of time i met great amount of Japanese people and befriended them (and a girlfriend). In conclusion of these events my Japanese became natural. My pronunciation was good and i was talking without thinking the next grammer i am suppose to use. I can clearly say that you learn more outside of the school. Other thing is, you have to study yourself to take the first step of nihongo. School's teachers are very helpful and they're people you can party with. They helped me with many questions i got.
After 5-6 months school became harder because i was moved to a more difficult class. right now i am still in that period and they teaching may be 30-50 kanji every week and very intense grammar and i love it. While studying in course i am doing part time jobs( waiter , teaching languages and helping the school). Doing jobs with in Japanese environment is really good for your Japanese. As a native speaker of English, you may easily find a teaching job here (i am not and still can find some). After some point Japanese around JLPT 2 , grammar is not really a problem, Kanji and vocabulary is all you need. reading is the best way to improve it. If you love manga just read them while you're taking notes. For me, I am reading a novel and ask my teachers and friends when i am unable to understand.
Kyoto is a very good place for learning Japanese. It is like heart of the Japanese culture. Actually i dont like visiting temples and stuff but i love the air and atmosphere of Kyoto. When i feel like partying , i can always go to Osaka in 30 min. .
People of Kyoto is very kind and helpful too.
I am linking Nihongo Center's webpage:
Or just ask here and i can answer questions about price and living in Japan, etc.