Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 77 September 10, 2015

Autumnal sky

1. Life in Japan by Photo

Learn the life in Japan with photos posted by our readers! We look forward to your submissions of memorable photos of your experiences in Japan, including your student life, exposure to Japanese culture and history, travel, and more.

September of Japan

The theme of the September issue is photo introduces September of Japan.

Red magic lily

Red magic lily

Kishiwada Danjiri

Kishiwada Danjiri

Harvest moon

Harvest moon

Imoni (potato and meat soup)

Imoni (potato and meat soup)

Japanese persimmon

Japanese persimmon

2. Alumni News

Bringing you news and first-hand stories about international students!

1) News about International Students

News 1:Fast Retailing to have positions for South Korean students in Japan

Fast Retailing, the operator of Uniqlo, stated in mid-August that it has newly decided to set aside positions for students from South Korea, and that they are conducting the selection process with the plan to recruit around 20 people by Spring 2016. This is Uniqlo South Korea’s initiative ultimately aimed at expanding business in South Korea, which actively seeks to recruit South Koreans studying in Japan, in an attempt to secure capable personnel. The students will undergo the selection process in Japan, graduate in September this year or March 2016, then join a local Uniqlo subsidiary upon their return to South Korea.

News 2: More international students on short study-abroad program to Kyoto

The target of the city of Kyoto is to accept “10,000 international students by 2017 academic year”. To this end, the city carried out for the first time ever this year, a short-term study-abroad program, inviting international students to experience studying in Kyoto for around two weeks. The number of international students at universities, graduate schools and junior colleges that have their headquarters in the city of Kyoto is increasing every year, with roughly 65% more students from abroad compared to 10 years ago. Besides this short study-abroad program, the city is also planning to assemble a PR team out of international students currently studying in Kyoto, and to begin PR activities targeting people overseas.

2) Introduction of Current International Students

Lindsay Morrison

Name: Lindsay Morrison
Nationality: American
University in Japan: International Christian University (ICU), Arts and Sciences Program
Period of Stay in Japan: April 2008 to present
Japanese-language Proficiency Test: JLPT N1
My first experience of study in Japan was an international exchange program with Waseda University, while I was a college student in the USA. It was just for a year, but I fell in love with Japan’s culture, society, everything – and I decided that I wanted to spend more time studying in Japan. Until then, I hadn’t even thought of advancing to graduate study, but I applied for the JASSO scholarship while I was still in Japan, and I acquired all my units for 4th year in just a semester, so that I could graduate from college by the time I was to start my course in Japan.
I can laugh about it now, but at the time I was so focused on the idea of studying abroad, that not only was I unprepared to do specialist research at graduate school, I hardly understood how Japanese graduate schools actually worked. I wish now that I had done a little more to prepare. As I only properly started studying Japanese after I got here, I had trouble following the advanced lectures in Japanese. It’s not impossible to do both at the same time, but I would advise those considering studying here that they attain a certain level of Japanese before coming here.
I had trouble choosing my research topic too but, inspired by a lecture at ICU where the teacher asked what image the word ‘furusato’ – ‘spiritual home’ - evoked, I decided to research where the commonly held image of ‘furusato’ in Japan as pastoral hills originated, and how that image came to be shared.
This is another point based on my own experience, but I think that it would be a shame to come and study in Japan just because you like Japanese pop culture, or just because you like Japan’s traditional culture. Japanese society and culture do not just consist of anime and games, nor just of old traditional townscapes. While I think that it’s important to try to enjoy your time here, if you build and pursue a specific ideal or image too much, then you’ll be limiting your perspective.
As I have spent most of my twenties in Japan, most of my contacts and even my way of thinking are based here. My current goal is to finish writing the thesis, and to get it published, but after that I would like to continue my research here in Japan.

3) Windows of Alumni

4) Information about programs for former international students

The Japan-Brazil Alumni Association in Brasilia(ABRAEX)

The Japan-Brazil Alumni Association in Brasilia (ABRAEX) has many aims: to treasure our experience in Japan, and deepen our cultural and academic ties; distribute information about scholarships awarded by the Japanese government; to organize and participate in cultural events; to support new scholarship students, both before their leaving Brazil and during their stay in Japan; and to help them to find work in Brazil when they return home.
Once you get back to Brazil, we recommend that you join one of the local alumni associations. There are several associations just like ours, and their contact details are available through our website below. Through our joint effort, we can help students searching for information and advice about the precious opportunity that is studying abroad in Japan.

Building a nationwide network of Brazilian alumni

In Brasilia, ABRAEX gathers both MEXT alumni and JICA trainees, but there are other Brazilian alumni associations in other cities that do the same too. We realized that we had several things in common, and that in order to assure that our activities were successful, this kind of association between our organizations was very important.
Currently, we are discussing expanding our network, and working on this expansion. We have already constructed a database of our members, and are sharing their experiences with the other Brazilian alumni associations. From now on, our aim is to build a nationwide, unified database, which will make it easier to search alumni for experts and their projects, courses, and lectures.

The Japan-Brazil Alumni Association in Brasilia

The Japan-Brazil Alumni Association in Brasilia

The Japan-Brazil Alumni Association in Brasilia

3. Academic News

Introducing scholarships, grants, unique activities at individual universities, and more!

1) Introduction of faculties/graduate schools

Here we introduce you to particular faculties and graduate schools at Japanese universities.

Shibaura Institute of Technology

The Shibaura Institute of Technology’s predecessor school, the Tokyo Higher School of Industry and Commerce, was originally founded in 1927 by Shiro Arimoto, under the motto of “Nurturing engineers who learn from society and contribute to society”. Since those early days, SIT has been producing many graduates who contribute to societal progress, with the aim to cultivate “engineers who can pursue the truth through practical learning, who have a developed sense of morality and an extensive knowledge, and who can perfect details with an independent, autonomous spirit”.

What we look for in applicants

The Shibaura Institute of Technology welcomes applications from people with the below aspirations, and do our best to aid our students to achieve their goals passionately, in whatever way possible.
*Those who have a strong wish to study/research at this university, and hope to achieve self-development and self-realization at our university.
*Those who wish to learn the fundamentals of mathematics and the natural sciences (subjects such as physics, chemistry and biology); who have a strong interest in engineering, science and technology; who wish eventually to contribute to this country’s and the world’s sustainable development, through these academic subjects.
*Those who wish to acquire broad academic knowledge and experience, as well as communication skills, at university; who are aware at all times of their relation to society, and their responsibility as a member of civil society; who are committed to dedicate themselves to human progress and preservation of the Earth’s environment.

Collaboration with overseas science/engineering universities

In 2014, we became the only private-run science and engineering university to be certified as a “Super Global University” by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. We are promoting our globalization, with the aim of educating “global engineers” who can engage in technical conversation with people from all over the world. To this end, we conduct programs such as problem-solving training with overseas students, organize training programs in collaboration with the government and companies, and send students abroad. We also actively welcome international students, such as government scholarship students from Brazil and Saudi Arabia. We also receive students from other countries through various programs, such as Malaysia’s Twinning Programs targeted at Southeast Asian nations, or the Hybrid Twinning Programs, which are run in cooperation with affiliated science and engineering universities across Southeast Asia.

Diverse range of subjects for next-generation engineers

The undergraduate course is divided into three faculties, Engineering, Systems Engineering and Science, and Engineering and Design, and a total of 17 subjects; the graduate course is divided into two faculties, Engineering and Science, and Engineering Management, and a total of 9 specialist areas. By covering this wide range of areas, and always keeping our education and research up-to-date, we cultivate engineers who have the advanced specialist knowledge and skills required for the next generation of engineering. There are 257 laboratories in total at the various faculties, covering subjects as wide-ranging as electronic engineering, architecture, civil engineering, design, materials science and engineering, biotechnology and mathematical sciences. So each student will be sure to find a research topic that interests him/her.

Shibaura Institute of Technology

Shibaura Institute of Technology

Shibaura Institute of Technology

2) Scholarships/ Grants/ Invitation/ Awards, etc.

Inter-University Seminar House

  • Project title: International Student Essay Contest 2015

3) Information and testimonials about scholarships, prizes, appointments etc.

  • The applicant must be a self-supporting international student from Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand, who is a national of that country, and enrolled on an undergraduate course at a university.
  • The applicant must be an undergraduate, who can produce a recommendation from the university at which he/she is currently enrolled.
  • The applicant must require financial assistance, and must not have a dependent in Japan who earns over 5 million yen per year.
  • The applicant must not be receiving funding such as scholarships, from other scholarship schemes.
  • Be a national of a country other than Japan, and a self-supporting international student from an East or Southeast Asian country/region (see below for details), who is in Japan for study or research.
  • Be enrolled or set to be enrolled on a master or doctoral program at a graduate school, or is extending their enrollment after completing the 3rd year of the doctoral program, to obtain a doctor's degree.
  • Be majoring in the natural sciences, or in a cross-disciplinary subject related to the natural sciences. For those on master's courses, be younger than 30 years old on April 1st, 2016; for those on doctor's courses, younger than 35 years old on the same date.
  • Not receive any other scholarship after April 2016.
  • Be able to attend the regular meetings (5 times a year) for recipients of the scholarship.
  • Be willing to keep up communication with the Foundation, after the funding period is over.
  • Be able to contribute to international exchange and friendship.
  • Be capable of having ordinary conversations in Japanese.
  • Be a national of the People's Republic of China (those with permanent residency in Japan are not eligible).
  • Be a self-supporting international student whose research is in the humanities or the social sciences, who is currently enrolled, and will be enrolled after May 2016, at a Japanese graduate school as a legitimate student. Research students and those who have finished the terms of their doctoral program are not eligible.
  • Have been born April 2nd 1979, or later.
  • Be able to attend a one-on-one talk, once every three months during the scholarship period, held at the Association's offices in Tokyo at the same time as the report submissions.
  • Understand the intention of the scholarship, and be determined to contribute to the global community in the future, by acting as a bridge between Japan and China.
  • Have the Japanese language skills required to explain research proposals, etc.
  • Not receive any scholarship from another organization that exceeds 50,000 yen a month, from April 2016 onwards.

4) Academic Societies

5) Japanese Language Test

4. Business News

JASSO provides information about job-search for both current and graduate international students!

1) Job Hunting Event Information

2) Job-hunting report

Name: Peng Shi-chao
Nationality: Chinese
University: Waseda University, School of Fundamental Science and Engineering
Major: Department of Applied Mechanics
Period of Study in Japan: April 2006 to March 2014
Name of Company: Hitachi, Ltd.
Level of Japanese-language Proficiency: JLPT N1

At graduate school, I was involved in research and development of turbomachinery, pumps, waterwheels and such. I was content with the research after 2 years, and decided that I wanted to join a manufacturer and gain some experience there – and that’s how I ended up getting a job in Japan. But research at my graduate school was hectic right up to graduation, and on top of this, I was a member of an academic society called the Turbomachinery Society of Japan, so I was often asked to help prepare for general meetings and presentations; as a result, I had hardly any time to attend company information sessions. But helping out with these events turned out to be a good way to look for jobs, as it provided me with opportunities to meet corporate researchers and recruiters attending the event. Through them I could gain valuable information, not just about the research, but about what company would allow me to apply my expertise, what departments are actively looking for foreign employees, and so on.
One of the researchers I met through these events was from Hitachi’s Development Center, who kindly explained to me about the company in detail, and also happened to be my interviewer during the applications. This made me feel that Hitachi was the right place for me.
Whether the company is right for you is important; but I think that what’s really important for international students is to find out the companies’ precise personnel needs. For students majoring in engineering, academic societies and associations are great places for gathering such information. Even when going into graduate study, it’s okay to prioritize what you want to research, but it may also be an idea to choose a laboratory that offers opportunities to become acquainted with companies, if you want to keep jobs in mind.
Japanese companies offer a lot of opportunities for self-development, and so are an ideal environment for improving yourself. I don’t think that my current capabilities would have been any different if I were still living in China; but in ten years’ time, I’m sure that I will have grown more in Japan than I would have done in China. I wish you all the best in your job-hunting in Japan.

3) Job Hunting Information Corner

Get some experience with internships

Outside Japan, internships are usually a part of the recruitment process, but there are very few in Japan that can lead directly to a job. But internships offer a great opportunity to experience first-hand what it would be like to work in a particular industry or company, and so may give you an edge when it comes to applications, over students who apply with only vague impressions and aspirations in their heads. Furthermore, as you are allowed to apply to and participate in multiple internships at different companies, they offer you a chance to acquire a wide range of working experience.
As we mentioned above, internships have little relation to recruitment in Japan, and so failing to get onto a company’s internship program will not negatively affect your application to that company. The internship applications tend to be far more competitive than the job applications, so if you just chase after the big names in the industry, you may never be accepted by one. So you should focus on the actual job content of internships, and look for information without dwelling on the company name, or even industry.
Previously, most internships were scheduled during the summer. However, according to DISCO Inc.'s Company Survey on Internships (May 2015), more companies will be holding internships in the fall or winter this year, with over 60% of companies with over a thousand employees holding them in the winter. This is because as of this year, preliminary offers will be made in August.
You may think that you're too busy with lectures and research in the fall/winter season to attend internships, but while summer internships tend to take advantage of the holidays and be 1-2 weeks long, there are many fall/winter ones that only last from one to several days. Try looking with an open mind for a program that fits your schedule!

5. Visit Japan

Hyogo Prefecture

Have you tried travelling around Japan? In this section, we bring you information about sights, events and foods from all over the country! This month, we look at Hyogo Prefecture, home to the world-famous Himeji Castle.

Himeji Castle (Hakuro-jo, “White Heron Castle”)

This castle’s beauty, historically compared to a hakuro (white heron), and its architecture that contains the foremost technology of four centuries ago, made it one of the first places in Japan to become a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Its white stucco walls and its unique structure composed of a five-layer, seven-floor central tower and three subsidiary towers, are majestic to behold. The maintenance work that had been under way since 2009, finally was completed in March 2015, and the castle’s interior is open to the public once again.

Takarazuka Grand Theater

This theater is home to the Takarazuka Revue, the all-female musical theater troupe who have been national superstars ever since their founding in 1914. The 400 performers are all bachelorettes known as Takarasiennes, and the top actress – who customarily plays the lead male part – is the star of the troupe. Their fabulously dressed shows are sure to thrill and entertain.

Akashi-yaki

This is an Akashi specialty, consisting of octopus chunks in fluffy dough. They are like takoyaki, but these ones are served on a wooden board, then dipped in soup before being eaten. There are over 70 Akashi-yaki stores in Akashi, and the locals just call it ‘tamagoyaki’ – ‘cooked egg’, or ‘omelette’ – as the dough contains a lot of egg.

Kobe Biennale
The Meriken Park venue at the 2013 Biennale

A festival of culture and art, started on the 10th memorial year of the Kobe Earthquake, with the aim of vitalizing the city. Held every two years in Kobe, the festival showcases artistic culture for the rest of the country and the world to see, and aims at “creative urban development that draws upon culture”. This year, the festival will be held between September 19th and November 23rd, and will present a wide range of works on the theme of “su:ki”, meaning ‘like’ or ‘love’ in all their various meanings.

Banshu abacus
Hyogo Tourism Guide

The abacus has been used as a calculating tool for many centuries. The Banshu abacus, manufactured in the city of Ono, is individually handmade by master craftsmen, and is famous for its quality. The manufacturing process has been passed down for over 400 years, and is a government-designated traditional craft.

6. NIPPON Information

This section features enjoyable stories about pop culture, traditions, dining, cutting-edge technology, and more!

1) Nippon Time Machine

Sumo flags

Sumo is a traditional martial art with a history of over 1500 years. Originally a ritual to predict how the year’s harvest will turn out, it eventually became adopted in the imperial court, and in the Edo period (around the 17th century) became a form of popular entertainment on a par with kabuki. Since then, it has become deeply rooted in Japanese culture as the country’s national sport.
The rules and customs in sumo still carry a strong influence of Shintoism. Throwing salt before the torikumi (the match) to purify the dohyo (ring) is one of these. The shikofumi, the strong, high leg-stomps done before the match, is not just a warm-up exercise, but said to be originally a ritual to quell the spirits of the earth. You can really feel Japanese history in the unique traits such as these, and other traits such as the terminology, the dress, and the customs of the referee known as the gyoji.
The rikishi – the wrestlers – have ranks known as bantsuke, with the highest rank being yokozuna, then oozeki, sekiwake, komusubi, and maegashira. The wrestlers are matched up in six groups in total. In recent years, non-Japanese rikishi have been doing very well, with a total of six foreign yokozunas to date.
The official sumo tournaments are called the honbasho, and are held six times a year, on the odd-numbered months. This year’s September honbasho will begin on the 13th at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. The matches are thrilling to watch live, and will give you a good feel of sumo’s one-of-a-kind charm.

2) Lifestyle Information

A Silver Week once every few years

In Japan, there are currently 15 national holidays per year. August 11th will become a holiday as of 2016, with Mountain Day (yama no hi) newly joining the list. Although the Japanese have a stereotypical image of working being workaholics, the number of national holidays is relatively high compared to other nations.
There are 4 national holidays around the end of April and start of May, and the succession of holidays, combined with the weekend, is known as Golden Week. The whole country enters a holiday mood, with many taking advantage of this break and its mild early-summer weather by going on holidays or planning other leisurely activities.
On the other hand, September only has two holidays, the Respect for the Aged Day on the third Monday of the month, and Autumnal Equinox Day. Neither takes place on a set calendar date, but instead vary from year to year. The Act on National Holidays dictates that if a day between two public holidays happens to be a weekday, that day becomes a holiday too. For this reason, once every few years, a holiday period happens in September too, sometimes referred to as Silver Week to parallel its Golden counterpart in May.
This year, September 22nd will be sandwiched between Respect for the Aged Day and Autumnal Equinox Day, so together with Saturday and Sunday, it will be five days off in a row, the first Silver Week in six years. It will be another 11 years before the next one comes, so we hope you use this one wisely!

7. JASSO News

Information about JASSO Scholarship programs, invitation program, Japan Education Fairs, and the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU).

1) Schedule, etc. for 2015 Japan Education Fairs

JASSO holds Japan Education Fairs overseas to provide information to high school students, university students and other individuals who are interested in studying in Japan. We also attend and cooperate to the events and seminars sponsored by other organizations.

2) Information about the “Student Guide to Japan”

3) Official Facebook pages of JASSO and Overseas Representative Offices

We also provide the latest information on studying in Japan on our official Facebook pages. Check them out!

4) Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU)

5) JASSO Scholarship programs

6) Web Magazine “Ryugakukoryu”(In Japanese Only)

7)Follow-up Research Guidance (Dispatching research advisors)

This program provides Japanese academic advisors with an opportunity to visit and to help further research of former international students who are teaching and/or researching at universities or research institutes in their home countries.

8. From the Editor

What did you think of the September issue of Japan Alumni eNews?
In “Lifestyle Information”, we introduced you to Mountain Day in August and the public holidays in September – but there are many other commemorative days in Japan. In many cases, the date bears a direct relation to whatever is being celebrated; in some cases, however, the date is derived from wordplay. For example, September 9th is “Bed Day”, but this is because ‘9’ can be read gu in Japanese (yes, it’s usually kyuu or ku), and 3 can be read surii, i.e. ‘three’ transliterated into katakana. So ‘93’ can be read as ‘gussuri’, which is the Japanese onomatopoeia for someone in a deep sleep. You might be able to become an expert in Japanese by trying to decipher the wordplay in these commemorative days…

Japan Alumni eNews Editorial Desk is looking for someone who can share their job searching experiences. We also welcome pictures from your life abroad as an exchange student and your comments for our email magazine. Our next issue of “Japan Alumni eNews” will be distributed on October 9th. Don’t miss it!

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Contact

Follow-up Services Unit, International Scholarship Division, Student Exchange Department Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO)
  • Address address is 2-2-1 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-8630 JAPAN
  • TEL (telephone) number is +81-3-5520-6030
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  • E-mail E-mail address is alumni-newsletter at mark jasso.go.jp
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