Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 81 January 8, 2016

Snow scene

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.
How to submit
Please send your photos with the information listed below to the following address.

Landscape of study abroad location


The theme of the January issue is Landscape of study abroad location.
(Honorific title is omitted.)

Golden World

2. Alumni News

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

1) News about International Students

News 1:Welcoming MEXT Scholars !!!

Reception for MEXT Scholars 2015

“Reception for MEXT Scholars 2015” held on 6th of December.
Recently, 8,500 international student study in Japan under Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho: MEXT) Scholarship. More than 400 international students, who arrived 2015 from 100 foreign countries, joined the reception. It was the first time to held a reception like that.
At the reception, Mr. Maekawa, Deputy Minister of MEXT, Mr. Endo, President of JASSO*, Ms. Tsismari, Representative for Senior MEXT Scholars expressed, that they hoped the students would become the bridges between their home countries and Japan as the future leaders.
And at the networking party, Mr. Inoue, President of JEES** (Former Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh) told the student about the mental attitude of being a MEXT Scholar, as well as the importance of representing of his/her home country and the ways to enjoy studying Japan. *JASSO: Japan Student Services Organization **JEES: Japan Educational Exchanges and Services

News 2: First ever female international student to participate in professional shogi masters tournament

This June, Karolina Krystyna, a 3-kyu grade professional shogi player, became the first foreign national to obtain a temporary qualification as a female professional shogi player, allowing her to compete in the women-only professional shogi tournaments. On December 2, she took part in her debut match for the 43rd Okada Museum of Art Cup, in the Women's Shogi Masters Tournament. She started the tournament with a defeat. She began to play shogi online in 2008, and since 2013, she has been enrolled as an international student in Yamanashi Gakuin University, and a member of the Kenshukai, an organization for training female professional shogi players. Her next step is to earn the 2-kyu grade, which will officially certify her as a professional.

News 3: Project launched in Fukuoka to support startups in Japan

On December 9, the city of Fukuoka began receiving applications for the “Startup Visa” project to support international students starting a business in Japan, at the Startup Cafe Fukuoka City. Usually, when foreign nationals wish to start a business in Japan, there are conditions at the time of applying to the Immigration Bureau, for example establishing an office. However, at Startup Visa, foreign nationals can be granted a half-year “Entrepreneurship/Management” status of residence even if they don’t meet the conditions, by submitting their business activity plan to Fukuoka City for approval. They are then given half a year to satisfy the conditions, that foreign nationals starting a business can advace the procedures while conducting business.

2) Introduction of Current International Students

Name: Schaumann Thom
Nationality: German
University in Japan: Kyoto University, Graduate School of Letters
Major: Buddhist Studies
Period of Stay in Japan: 2 years

It was around 10 years ago that I was studying in Japan, but I can proudly affirm even now that it was an extremely valuable experience for me.
So why did I go to study in Japan? The answer is quite embarrassing, but it was a “longing for the East” full of Orientalist ideas, and doubts I had about religion. In southern Germany, where I grew up, there is an extremely strong Catholic influence. For example, there is even a “church tax.” You aren't allowed to participate in the church’s ceremonies unless you pay the tax, and this system was something that I could not comprehend as a teenager. I began to feel dissatisfaction and skepticism towards religions and faiths.
After I started at university, I happened to hear about Japan’s peculiar religious views from an international student from Japan, which I found fascinating. It was about how the Japanese go to shrines in the New Year, celebrate Christmas, and go to the temple at the end of the year to ring a bell.
In my mind, Japan became a land filled with the mysteries of the Orient, which transcends religious issues. I began to think that it would answer my doubts.
So from that point on, I read up on Buddhism, and practiced writing kanji every day so that I could write the sutras, and became obsessed with Japan and Buddhism. I started preparing to come to Japan straight after graduation. I arrived in Japan without even finding a place to live, so at the start, I even slept at the university on some days. I can’t recommend sleeping on a cold, hard floor, so if you’re thinking about studying abroad, you should secure your food, clothing and accommodation before learning kanji.
In Japan, I attended many occasions - not just for New Year and Christmas, but weddings, funerals, and festivals based on regional religious beliefs - and witnessed the relationship between religion and the people. Religion has many aspects: it can be an authority, and it can also be a community. This isn’t limited to Japan, but I could not see this clearly when I lived in Germany. By moving far away, my perspective, which had become extremely narrow, widened, and I was able to rid myself of the prejudices that I had created within myself against religions.
Studying abroad is an extremely exciting and engaging opportunity, and it will be a whole new experience. It won’t solve all issues, but if you still want to study abroad, I hope you tackle things that you didn’t do in your own country.

3) List of Japan Alumni Associations

4) Information about programs for former international students

Overview of the Chinese Ph.D. Association in Japan

The Chinese Ph.D. Association in Japan was founded in May 2013 as an organization consisting of members with Ph.D.s. The aim of the organization is for all its members to foster mutual awareness, friendship and learning through active academic exchange activities among all its members, under our motto of “Fraternity, Trust, Contribution”.
We also aim to contribute to development of local communities both in China and Japan, through exchange activities in fields such as science & technology, education, culture and economy, balancing academic pursuit with international contribution activities.
Our head office is in the city of Hiroshima in Hiroshima Prefecture, but chapters and branch offices have also been installed in Jiangsu, Beijing and Shanghai at present, in order to promote activities more smoothly.
In order to provide the most fitting and quality services to our members, we have divisions such as the Organizational Committee, Academic Exchange Committee, Economic Exchange Committee, which organize various events and activities. We also have associations in place for specific research and specialist areas, which offer exchange in academic fields as wide-ranging as medicine, civil engineering, IT, energy and law.
We would like our members to utilize the Chinese Ph.D. Association in Japan as a platform for them to flourish widely, and promote exchange between China and Japan, each playing to their specialist knowledge.

About membership

Our Association welcomes people with experience of study abroad in Japan, who have obtained a Ph.D. in Japan or have a Ph.D. (full member), or Chinese students who are enrolled on a doctoral program at a Japanese graduate school (associate member). If you wish to become a member, you must submit the designated application form, be recommended by two members, and pay the membership fee (5,000 yen for full members, 1,000 yen for associate members).
After registration, you will be asked to participate actively in the Association’s events, and cooperate with study groups, international academic conferences, promotion of exchange programs in higher education and academic research institutions, and so on.
Please contact us from the following page for more details.

Overview of the Chinese Ph.D. Association in Japan

Overview of the Chinese Ph.D. Association in Japan

3. Academic News

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

1) Introduction of faculties/graduate schools

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

Kyoto University of Art and Design

An arts university that fosters creative skills and life skills

The Kyoto University of Art and Design wishes all students who obtain a bachelor's degree here to acquire two sets of attributes: creative skills (ability to inquire, ability to think, imagination, planning skills, ability to express) that can create something new exercising a rich imagination; and life skills (ability to act, endurance, communication skills) with which to accept, and live in harmony with, other people, as an independent individual.
The basic curriculum policy too is to train these creative skills and life skills in a balanced way, and offers distinctive contents, centered on the Specialized Education Subjects and the Creative Learning Subjects.
One such content is a workshop for all first-years immediately after they start at the university. They form cross-disciplinary teams of 35 members or so, and spend three and a half months creating a nebuta float,doing everything from devising the concept, designing, creating a model, planning, scheduling and finally building the float. Over this project, students learn what is necessary for a group to make best use of its individual members, and to achieve a large task that cannot be achieved by one person.
We also build production sites in our campuses, such as a film studio and work studios, and have actively adopted a framework for internships, in order to create opportunities to study under professionals who are active at the front line of their respective industries. We have also installed a special division for industry-university collaboration projects, which handles around 40 projects a year, developing the design for new products, designing the window display for department stores and so on. Over 500 student participate in these projects.

Receiving international students

The Uryuyama Academic Foundation, which runs this university, is also a multicultural school that includes the Kyoto Institute of Culture and Language, which boasts a long experience and many accomplishments in Japanese language education. Every year, it receives many international students from all over the world.
It supports various activities in order to create more opportunities for Japanese students and international students to communicate, for example the “+PROJECT”. It is a support group for international exchange run primarily by students, and members from all sorts of nationalities and backgrounds, not only from the university but from among the Japanese and internal students at Kyoto Institute of Culture and Language, are involved in various social events.
There is also a system where Japanese students support incoming international students who come to Japan on an exchange. They offer orientation support upon the students’ arrival, host welcome lunches, and support the internatioal students’ life in Japan as friends.

Keio University

Keio University

Keio University

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Keio University

2) Application information for scholarships, grants, appointments, prizes etc.

International Education Center

  • Project Title: 57th Japanese Speech Contest for Foreigners
  • Their mother tongue must be a language other than Japanese
  • They must be of age 15 or above on the date of the contest
  • They must not have received the Foreign Minister’s Award or the Education Minister’s Award in a previous Contest.
  • For participants of the final round, the organizers will bear the transportation cost to the accommodation facilities in Takayama. However, this will only apply to public transport as a general rule, and taxis must be paid by the individuals.
  • The organizers will provide accommodation for the contestants in the final round of the Contest, for the day before and the day of the Contest. The costs will be covered by the hosting organizations.
  • The copyrights of the speeches all belong to the International Education Center. However, copyrights and editing rights to contents recorded (sound or video) by NHK for broadcasting purposes will belong to NHK.

Mitsubishi Foundation

  • Project Title: 45th Mitsubishi Foundation Research Grants in the Humanities
  • Amount of grant:
  • The maximum amount is 5 million yen per recipient as a general rule, but research projects that only require a relatively small sum due to their nature will also be taken into proper consideration.
  • Before you apply, please thoroughly check the application guidelines, which can be downloaded from the Foundation website.
  • Please be aware that only creating a Grant Application Document on the Foundation website does not count as a completed application for the Grant.
  • In addition to the prescribed application documents and files, we may ask you to submit more detailed documents, or to sit an interview.

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

  • Those engaged in excellent and promising academic research, either in the science of food, such as food ingredients, manufacture, processing, cooking, fermenting, use of microorganisms, functions concerning nutrition, taste and physiology, food safety, disease prevention and so on, or in the humanities and social sciences, particularly history, philosophy and literature, targeting the Asian region (excluding research focused on Japan).
  • Those enrolled on doctoral programs at graduate school, or graduate students of an equivalent status.
  • In the case of international researchers and students, those who will be living in Japan while receiving the grant.
  • Those in their second year at university
  • Those in the first year of a master’s program at graduate school
  • Those in the first year of a professional degree program
  • Those in the first year of a doctor’s program at graduate school

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: Zhang Lin Ying
Nationality: Taiwanese
University: Graduate School of Economics, Osaka University
Major: Business and Management
Period of Study in Japan: April 2007 - March 2011
Name of Company: Sompo Japan Nipponkoa
Level of Proficiency in Japanese Language: JLPT N1

My decision to work in Japan was largely owed to the fact that in my life leading up to that decision, I had felt a connection with Japan in various forms. I can’t talk about all of them, so I’ll describe two particular episodes that left a deep impression on me.
The first connection happened when I was at elementary school. At the I was living in an area where there were lots of Japanese businessmen who were temporarily assigned in Taiwan. I didn’t understand a word of Japanese, but I always played with Japanese kids of my age. There would have been opportunities to be in touch with Japanese cultures like manga and anime even then, but I don’t think there were many people who were in touch with Japanese people as part of daily life, and as friends. When I hear the word ‘Japan’, this most pleasant memory is the first thing that comes to my mind.
The second was when I was researching companies while I was looking for jobs in Taiwan. I was interested in transport of cargo and passengers, so I was researching the shipping industry. I found out that one of the largest shipping companies in Taiwan was insured by a Japanese insurance company. There are obviously Taiwanese insurance companies that sell marine insurance too, but the fact that a Japanese company had been chosen made a strong impression on me.
What was the attraction and strength of the Japanese company? Why had it been chosen? I wanted to actually join a Japanese insurance company to find out the reason, and if possible, to absorb those qualities myself. So I decided to move to Japan in order to find work.
Having said that, I was a foreigner, and had already graduated from a Taiwanese university, so I would have been at a disadvantage in the Japanese system of recruiting new graduates due to my age. So I decided to deepen my knowledge and understanding, and improve my expertise. During the job hunt, I even desperately attempted to sell the fact that I could speak Japanese, English, Chinese and Taiwanese; this, of course, wasn’t effective. More than my research achievements at graduate school, or associations I had had with business people, I think what got through to them was my cry from the heart that I wanted to join a Japanese company. Of course, that means telling them sincerely and earnestly, not shouting at them.
I am currently working in a division that sells insurance products to companies for corporate assets. It’s extremely demanding work every day, and so it’s not exactly easy. But all of it - the work process, management know-how, how to structure an organization and so on - is interesting, and I can affirm that working in a Japanese company will be a valuable experience for you.

3) Job Hunting Information Corner

How to write an 'entry sheet' (ES)

Entry sheets (ES) are an integral part of the job-hunting process in Japan. As its name suggests, the ES is a kind of resume for applying to join the recruitment process at a company. There are some companies that have their own unique ES, while other use ES formats provided by job information websites and other organizations.
The format varies a little, but many companies use ESs in their recruiting process as the first round of selection, to help them decide which applicants should be called up for interviews.
You have to fill in basic details like your name, contact details, educational background and qualifications, and with some ESs, you have to answer questions about why you're applying, why they should hire you and so on, which are set by the individual companies. Most of the questions are related to these two questions, and it is not uncommon to have an ES that requires applicants to write a substantial answer, like an essay, in an extremely large answer box.
The ESs are used in the selection process, so there’s no point in sending half-baked answers. But the ES submissions usually coincide with the time when you want to be researching industries and companies, and preparing for the written tests, so it’s easy to get sloppy. So how should you try to plan and write it?
C, who was an international student, says that he focused on consistency in writing his ESs.
“If I thought as I wrote, about pitching myself, about what I wanted to do at the company and so on, my answer would begin to ramble, and I often ended up losing track of what I wanted to say. So I started by deciding why I wanted to work at that company, and made sure that this was consistent in all my answers.”
The process can be time consuming if you get stuck while you write. In addition to the above strategy, C said that he also set a few keywords himself, and paid attention to whether or not those keywords looked out of place in the text.

5. Visit Japan

Hokkaido

Have you been travelling around Japan? In this section, we bring you information about sights, events and foods from all over the country! In the January issue, we’ll be looking at Hokkaido.

 Shiretoko

A peninsula on the eastern coast, its surrounding waters are inhabited by sea creatures like whales, dolphins, seals, and by seabirds, while many rare wild animals like Ezo deer, brown bears and Ezo red foxes inhabit the land. It was registered as a world natural heritage site in 2005, the first in Japan to include marine areas. From late January to early March, drift ice can often be seen in the Sea of Okhotsk, and you can experience it up close on an icebreaker ship, which breaks the ice as it advances.

Hakodate Morning Market

This is a historical market that began as a black market in the post-war period. Around 250 stores fill the market, selling everything from seafood, dried food, vegetables, fruit and sweets, and you can enjoy foods not only from Hakodate, but from all over Hokkaido. The market is filled with energetic voices from five o’clock in the morning, and the lively morning market is a must-see. It is also popular with tourists, being close to Hakodate Station.

Jingisukan (“Genghis Khan”)

This grilled mutton dish is a Hokkaido specialty. The jingisukan pans are unique in that they are raised in the middle. By grilling mutton on the raised part, and vegetables on the lower, surrounding parts, the meat juice trickles down and gives the vegetables their flavor. The fresh mutton is odorless, and easy on the tongue.

Otaru glass

Otaru is known as the “City of Glass”, as it once used to manufacture glass floats that are used in herring fishing. Even today, there are many shops that sell colorful glass products and craftwork, which make great souvenirs. You can also experience glass-blowing and making glass beads.

Otaru Snow Light Path

This is a magical event where a total of 120,000 candles light up the streets of Otaru. Candles in floats decorate the surface of the canals’ water, and a variety of handmade candles, like snow candles and candle art objects, are lit in other venues. In 2016, the event takes place from 17:00 to 21:00 between February 5th and 14th.

6. NIPPON Information

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

1) Nippon Time Machine

Sado, ‘the way of tea’, is one of the most famous Japanese cultural traditions. Also called chanoyu, ‘the hot water of tea’, the term refers to the general process of the host brewing tea for the guest.
Tea began to become widespread in Japan at the start of the 12th century, set in motion by a Buddhist monk called Eisai, who brought tea back from China. Tea had existed before then too, but it had only been used as medicine among the aristocracy. In the second half of the 15th century, tea utensils and tea-ceremony rooms were devised, and chanoyu was honed to an art by Sen no Rikyu and others. From there, it began to spread throughout the samurai class.
Unlike tea parties, where you simply prepare tea and enjoy the conversation, sado has many formalities. Sado also embodies many elements of Japanese traditional culture, from the architectural style of tea rooms, the craft of creating the ceramics, lacquerware and kettles, the accompanying food and traditional confectionery, the etiquettes for entertaining guests, the spiritual culture derived from Zen and so on.
It is often thought to be an abstruse and complex art, but sado originally developed from the spirit of omotenashi, hospitality. It treasures the human warmth shared by host and guest, and cherishes each encounter as a once-in-a-lifetime event, a concept known as ichigo ichie.
In some temples and shrines in Kyoto and elsewhere, visitors are served tea and Japanese sweets. Even if you don’t understand the complex etiquette, why not try it out, looking out at the Japanese garden, and appreciating the omotenashi?

Sado - a culture of hospitality

2) Lifestyle Information

Japanese people’s sense of time

The Japanese are said to be precise with time. You often hear of foreign people who move to Japan, and are surprised by the fact that trains arrive on time, or that packages are delivered at the specified time and date.
Particularly in business, punctuality is a must. Being even slightly late to an appointment with a business partner is impolite, and those who are frequently late are often given low evaluations, as their lateness is considered a sign that they are not taking their work seriously. On the other hand, those who are good with time are seen as capable professionals, and so bookstores stock many books and magazines on time management skills.
In private life too, habitual latecomers are not trusted. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but a great portion of Japanese people consider being on time as a given, and think that ideally, one should arrive five minutes in advance.
Some may think that such a culture is ‘too strict’, or that ‘there’s no point in hurrying so much’, but the Japanese attitude to time is rooted in consideration for other people. Time is a precious thing that can’t be bought with money; if you’re late, you’re robbing the other person of that precious time. If you acquire this uniquely Japanese mindset of showing respect to the other person by being punctual, you’ll be able to enjoy your days in Japan all the more.

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”

For all those considering studying in Japan, we recommend you to read the “Student Guide to Japan” first.
In addition to information on the Japanese education system, scholarships, and daily life in Japan, the guidebook also includes stories on experience of foreign students in Japan.
You can read the guidebook on the JASSO website, so we encourage not only those who are considering studying in Japan, but also students already studying in Japan to take a look.

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)

The January 2016 issue will be published on January 12th. Please make sure to read it!

7) Follow-up Research Fellowship (Invitation Program)

This program provides former international students who play active roles in education, research and government in their home countries to conduct short term research at universities in Japan.。

8. From the Editor

[From the Editor]
How did you find the January edition of Japan Alumni eNews?
We introduced you to Hokkaido in Visit Japan, but did you notice anything peculiar about the name Hokkaido? There are 47 local governments in Japan, and most of these administrative units are marked with the suffix ‘-ken’. Osaka and Kyoto are Osaka-fu and Kyoto-fu respectively, and Tokyo-to is the only ‘to’; Hokkaido is none of these, and instead the administrative unit is referred to as ‘do’. However, while you can omit the suffix with the names of other local governments (or prefectures), like ‘Aichi’ or ‘Okayama,’ you rarely abbreviate Hokkaido to ‘Hokkai’. Tokyo-to is called ‘Tokyo’ too, but no-one knows for sure why Hokkaido is not called ‘Hokkai’. It might be fun asking your Japanese friends, “How do you shorten ‘Hokkaido’?”

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 February 10th. Don’t miss it!

  • Information in this issue may change without notice. Please visit their web sites for latest information.
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Contact

Follow-up Services Unit, International Scholarship Division, Student Exchange Department Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO)
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