Japan Alumni eNews (Vol.104)

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 104 December 8th, 2017

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 104

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.

1 Photo title (15 words or less)
2 Name (katakana and alphabet)
3 Nationality
4 Name of your school in Japan

Landscape of study abroad location

The theme of the December issue is Life in Japan by Photo introduces Memories of Japan. (Honorific title is omitted.)

Chang Yan Lie (China)
Hiroshima Shudo University
Title: Golden world in Hiroshima Shudo University

1712-1Golden world in Hiroshima Shudo University

1712-2Golden world in Hiroshima Shudo University

Li Wenxin (China)
University of Tsukuba
Title: Fall of Tsukuba

1712-1Fall of Tsukuba

1712-2Fall of Tsukuba

2. Alumni News

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

1) News on International Students

NEWS1 : Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Opens Official Global Instagram Account

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has opened an official global Instagram account.
This new account presents various seasonal aspects “Japan Today” to all over the world, showing selected photos and movies. It will involve not only professional photographers but also general users of Instagram.

NEWS2 : Networking Event for Foreign Companies with Offices in Japan and International Students

A networking event was held in Tokyo for foreign companies with offices in Japan and international students, etc.
This event was the first one held jointly by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and the International Students Support Network. Some 250 international students and others from about 30 countries and territories and around 60 foreign companies with offices in Japan participated.

2) Introduction of Current International Students

Jin Jingan

Name: Jin Jingan
Nationality: Chinese
University: Nagoya University
Major: Socio-Cultural Change Studies (Graduate School of Humanities)
Year: 1st year (Master’s degree)
Period of Stay in Japan: April 2015 to present
Japanese Proficiency Level: Japanese Language Proficiency Test N1

I came to Japan to study after graduating from university in China. In China, after graduating from university you can either find employment or continue on with your studies. I decided to continue my studies because I wanted to study more while I’m still young. I began looking into studying abroad at that time and decided on Japan because it is geographically closer than the United States and Europe and is a country that became developed within the Asian cultural sphere. Moreover, my ethnicity is Korean, so I know both the Chinese and the Korean cultures. The relationship between Japan, China and Korea has long been complicated, so I wanted to see Japan and Japanese culture with my own eyes and chose Japan as the destination for my studies.

I’m currently enrolled at the Nagoya University Graduate School. The classes are mostly seminars where we have discussions, present the findings from our own research and exchange ideas. I’m researching Japanese returnees from China. These people immigrated to China at the time of the war, and after the war ended they were unable to return to Japan. In 1972, they were finally able to return after diplomatic relations were established between China and Japan. Since returning to Japan, they have faced various problems.

My favorite place in Japan is Hokkaido. After graduating from a Japanese language school, I decided to go on a graduation trip to Hokkaido. It was my first time to see the pristine snow. I can remember how beautiful the ocean and snow were reflecting off each other as I looked out from the train. The unique scenery in Hakodate created by the blending of Japanese and foreign-style buildings was magnificent.

My dream for the future is to take a trip around the world. Through my experience studying abroad in Japan, I have gotten a taste of the saying, "Seeing is better than hearing." Before coming to Japan, I had heard many views concerning Japan, but without actually experiencing it firsthand, it’s like a frog in the well. I want to see the world with my own eyes and broaden my horizons.

My advice to those considering studying abroad in Japan is not to forget why you came to Japan in the first place. The system for part-time jobs in Japan is better put together than those in other countries. There are some students I know who have come mainly to work part-time and study on the side. Give it your best, and don’t forget your original purpose. Also, for those preparing to continue their studies, I would say that the early bird catches the worm, so get your preparations done early.

3) List of Japan Alumni Associations

Introduction of “Support for International Students Returning Home”

Shizuoka University Alumni Association Overseas Chapters

The Shizuoka University International Center has launched overseas chapters of the alumni association in Indonesia and Thailand. The association is not just for former international students and Japanese graduates but is also engaged in activities to establish a foundation for an overseas industry-government-academia collaboration network for Shizuoka-based companies and municipal staff working locally in other countries. Whether you’re a faculty member, alumni or a representative of a municipality or company working overseas, we hope you’ll participate in the gatherings held in your location.

3. Academic News

Introduction of 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.

Kumamoto University

1712-1Kumamoto University

University Profile (as of May, 2017)
Name: Kumamoto University
Address: 2-39-1 Kurokami Chuo-ku Kumamoto
Number of students: 7,922(Undergraduate),1,297 (Graduate)
International students: 177(Undergraduate),330(Graduate)

1. Overview of University (History, Mission, etc.)

Inheriting the Fifth High School founded in 1887, Kumamoto University was established in 1949 under the new National School System. The university is home to 8,000 undergraduates, 2,000 graduate students and 2,500 faculty members.
Kumamoto University is an outstanding research institute, accepting 500 international students and contributing to local and international communities.

2. Overview and Characteristics of Distinctive Faculties and Departments

Kumamoto University comprises 7 faculties (Faculty of Letters, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Science, School of Medicine, School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Engineering) and 8 graduate schools (Graduate School of Education, Graduate School of Social and Cultural Sciences, Graduate School of Science and Technology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Graduate School of Health Sciences, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and School of Law).

Kumamoto University has entered the Top 75 of Reuters's ranking "Asia Pacific’s Most Innovative Universities - 2017" which was announced on June 8th, 2017.
In 2017, Kumamoto University climbed from 40th to 37th on the Asia Pacific listing and also went from 15th to 12th on the Japan listing.

The College of Cross-Cultural and Multidisciplinary Studies was established in 2015, and provides Japanese language, Japanese studies, general education in English, and advice on studying and living to international students.

3. Efforts to Support International Students (Living Support, Residence Scholarships and Reduced or Free Tuition)

You may be eligible to get all or half of your tuition fees waived, if your application is accepted. (Roughly 55% of the undergraduates, 82% of the master’s course students, and 99% of doctoral course students are exempted.)
In addition, a monthly scholarship of 30,000 to 150,000 yen is available from the Japanese Government, Kumamoto Pref., the Rotary Club and other foundations.
Regarding accommodation, our university has the International House, 10 minutes by bicycle (1.5km) from the Kurokami Campus, for international students and researchers.

4. Other Efforts to Support International Students (Employment, International Exchange, etc.)

Through a program to promote employment in Japan for international students, Kumamoto University has established a consortium with the Kumamoto Prefectural government and economic organizations for employment promotion, with sponsorship from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
At Kumamoto University, international students can receive thorough guidance from the coordinators at the Career Development Program Office. International students can use electronic business records for study management and for gaining employment, along with in "Business Japanese", "Career Education", "Internship", "Employment Seminar" classes where they can acquire greater knowledge of the Japanese language, communication skills, corporate understanding, as well as culture and customs. Also, in collaboration with the Kumamoto Prefectural government and economic organizations, we are enhancing the support system for foreign students to find employment in Kumamoto and Japan.

1712-2Kumamoto University

2) Application Information for Scholarships, Grants, Invitations, Prizes, etc.

Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun

Program name
Technical Essay Contest for Science and Engineering Students

1. Objective
Japan is currently working on various policies and environmental development measures centered on government promotion of science and technology to create a prosperous future society. It will be young people that will be responsible for the society of tomorrow and serve as the driving force behind scientific and technological progress.
This theme of this essay contest will be "Science, Technology and the Future of Japan," and the entrants will be expected to come up with their own subtitle. We look forward to receiving creative essays that will contribute to unfettered thought and a bright future for Japan.

2. Theme
"Science, Technology and the Future of Japan"
Come up with your own subtitle.

3. Applicant eligibility
University students, graduate students (master’s course) and technical college students in science and engineering programs International students may also enter the contest.

4. Prizes
Grand Prize/Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Prize (1 winner)
-Certificate and plaque from Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
-Plaque and 200,000-yen scholarship
Excellence Prize (2 winners)
-Plaque and 100,000-yen scholarship
Special Prize (3 winners)
-Plaque and 50,000-yen scholarship

5. How to apply
Submit your essay to the e-mail address or mailing address listed under "Inquiries."
Read the requirements provided at the URL listed under "Inquiries" carefully before submitting your entry.

6. Application deadline
Must be received by Wednesday, January 31, 2018

7. Essay Submission/Inquiries
Secretariat for Technical Essay Contest for Science and Engineering Students
Event Planning Department, Operations Division
Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun
14-1 Nihonbashi-koamicho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-8548
TEL: 03-5644-7222 
FAX: 03-5644-7215
E-mail: info@rikokei.jp

Showa Ikeda Memorial Foundation

Program name
37th Showa Ikeda Prize

1. Purpose
The Showa Ikeda Memorial Foundation was established in 1976 with private funds by the late Heishiro Ikeda, SMK Corporation founder, and his wife, the late Shizuko Ikeda, for the purpose of providing education and social welfare to the youth. The Showa Ikeda Prize for student essays was established as a part of those efforts to educate students on the occasion of the foundation’s fifth anniversary. The hope is that students will deepen their studies in their respective disciplines and that their broadened horizons and the knowledge they cultivate will contribute to Japan and the world of tomorrow. Providing a scholarship to the winners of the Showa Ikeda Prize is based on that desire. We look forward to receiving entries from as many students as possible.

2. Topics
Choose from the following themes for your essay:
-Tokyo Olympics
-Thoughts on Japanese tradition and culture
-Thoughts on the direction that Japan is taking
-Thoughts on the Constitution of Japan
-The role to be played by Japan in a global society
-Looking into the measures to maintain Japan’s population at 100 million
-Thoughts on Japan as a science-oriented nation
Come up with a specific subtitle for one of the themes above and write an essay probing the topic.

3. Format
(1): Hard copy
(2): Soft copy (on DVD or USB memory stick)
Attach a cover sheet and summary (800 characters or less) for the theme you choose.

4. Eligibility
Students enrolled at a junior college, university or graduate school. (International students enrolled at a junior college, university or graduate school in Japan may also enter the contest.)

5. Prizes
Showa Ikeda Prize - 1 winner
500,000-yen prize money and scholarship (non-loan) prescribed by Showa Ikeda Memorial Foundation
Excellence Prize - Several winners
200,000-yen prize money and scholarship (non-loan) prescribed by Showa Ikeda Memorial Foundation
Effort Prize
All qualified entrants will be presented with a commemorative prize.

6. How to apply
Mail your essay to the address below between October 2017 (contest commencement) and February 28, 2018 (deadline) following the rules for submission. (Entries postmarked by the deadline will be accepted.)
Read carefully the requirements for submission on the URL provided in "7. Contact" below before submitting your essay.

Send to:
Showa Ikeda Prize, Showa Ikeda Memorial Foundation
5-17-14 Togoshi, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 142-0041
Contact details for essay submission
TEL: 03-5740-6525
FAX: 03-3785-2953

7. Contact
Showa Ikeda Prize Secretariat, Showa Ikeda Memorial Foundation
TEL: 03-5740-6525
FAX: 03-3785-2953

3) Information about International Symposium

Diversity Symposium for Students and Companies

This symposium is held for the purpose of providing students that will be seeking employment and companies that will be engaging in work culture reform with an opportunity to think about the work culture of the future from the standpoints of home and business. Specifically, high school and university students will present theses on diversity in society primarily from the standpoint of households, and information will be provided at booths on the activities of companies focusing on work culture reform.

Date & time: 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Location: Okayama University 50th Anniversary Hall (1-1-1 Tsushima-naka, Kita-ku, Okayama City)

4) Academic Societies

<Literature, Philosophy, Education, Psychology, Sociology, History>

<Law, Politics>

<Economics, Commercial Science, Management>




<Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences>

5) Japanese Language Tests

4.Business News

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

1) Job Hunting Event Information

The Program for Advancement of Foreign Human Resources is launched in 2015, as a collaborative effort of related government ministries and agencies, and other relevant organizations. The Program seeks to increase employment of international students in Japan, and hence increase the number of highly skilled international professionals in the future, following the recent trend in policy that includes the 2014 revision of “Japan Revitalization Strategy – Japan is Back” (approved by the Cabinet on June 24th, 2014). The ultimate aim is to vitalize the Japanese economy further and enhance Japan’s presence in the global economy.
Through seminars, events and other activities, the Program will strengthen the system of connecting international students and other foreign nationals looking for employment in Japan, with companies in Japan looking to recruit international employees.

Events for International Student

Useful Web Site for International Students

2) Job Hunting Report

Elliot Conti

Name: Elliot Conti
Nationality: American
University in Japan: Osaka City University
Major: M.A. Sociology (Graduate School of Human Behavioral Science)
Period of study in Japan: April 2014 to March 2017
Name of Company: Global Aichi
Japanese proficiency level: Japanese Language Proficiency Test N1

I had always had the dream of returning to the United States to continue my studies, but my thinking changed as I felt that I could better apply my knowledge and skills to a job in Japan than in my country. Right about that time, I was presented with a business opportunity in Nagoya, so instead of continuing my studies, I decided to find employment in Japan.

I currently work at Global Aichi. Our mission is to improve the low employment rate of international students and eliminate the human resource shortages at Japanese companies. Our main services are employment support for international students, seminars, Japanese language training, international exchange and corporate consulting. As the managing director, I am engaged in a wide variety of activities, including lecturing, planning and marketing.

What I paid particular attention to when preparing for my job hunting activities was studying on my own how to give a thorough self-introduction as a graduate student and learning business etiquette. The various mistakes I made provided a good experience for me. The other thing was coming up with a career plan. I thought long and hard on what my life would look like five years down the road so that I could answer the questions of what I want to do and what kind of contributions I can make. I also prepared so that I could communicate my career plans at the interview. I prepared specific examples and showed how those things would tie into my employment, considering how the job would fit within my long-term vision. I also tried to observe Japanese business etiquette in my interactions with interviewers.

My dream for the future is an extension of my current job. In other words, over the next three to five years, I hope to get Global Aichi on track so that we can provide support to more international students and companies. What happens after that depends on how Global Aichi develops and my own personal growth.

My advice to international students getting ready to seek employment is that it’s no exaggeration to say that success in the business world hinges on advance preparation. And I think the same thing can be said about job hunting. First, identify your objectives or your vision for the future. Then, compare the advance preparations required at each stage, such as company research, application and interview with your vision, and I hope you’ll give it your best.

3) Job Hunting Information Article

Written Employment Examination

One of the obstacles to overcome in the selection stage of job hunting is the written employment examination. International students will take the same examination as Japanese candidates, so sufficient preparation is a must. Generally, the written employment examination is given in Japanese, so you must be able to read and comprehend Japanese. The problems aren’t that difficult, but since many questions have to be answered within a short period of time, many international students seem to have difficulty with it.

An aptitude test called SPI is often used as the written employment examination for job seekers. SPI consists of a test of basic language (Japanese ability) and non-language (mathematics) skills and a personality test. There are several ways to take the test, including taking it at a testing center, taking it on your own computer at home and taking it on paper at the company.

Getting used to the problems by solving a collection of test questions available at stores is an important part of preparation. Many international students find the language items particularly difficult, so start preparing early.

5. Visit Japan

Have you been travelling around Japan? In this section, we bring you information about sights, events, and foods from all over the country! The December edition looks at Gunma Prefecture.

Gunma prefecture

Tomioka Silk Mill
Courtesy of Bureau of Tourism, GUNMA Prefecture

This silk reeling factory was established by the Meiji Government in 1872. The factory buildings are a typical fusion of Japanese and Western construction techniques. Most of the main facilities, including the more than 100-meter wood-framed brick cocoon warehouse and the silk reeling mill, are preserved in very good condition. It contributed greatly not only to the modernization of Japan but also to technological innovation and exchange in the silk industry. In 2014, the "Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites" was officially registered as one of the World Heritage, including the Tajima Yahei Sericulture Farm, which coordinated the development and spread of quality silk varieties, the Arafune Fuketsu cold storage facility and the Takayama-sha Sericulture School.

Kusatsu Onsen (Hot Spring)
Courtesy of Bureau of Tourism, GUNMA Prefecture

Kusatsu Onsen has been ranked as one of the top three popular hot springs of Japan. It is said to treat any disease except lovesickness. Yubatake, located at the center of the hot spring town, is a symbol of Kusatsu Onsen, producing 4,000 liters of hot spring water a day with steam rising up all the time. There is also a unique bathing method, used called “Timed Bath”, where visitors bathe in the water at the high temperature of the source. The tradition is for everyone to get in at the same time at the leader’s signal and bathe for just three minutes after the water is cooled with large wooden planks keeping in tune with a folk song called "Kusatsu Bushi."

Courtesy of Bureau of Tourism, GUNMA Prefecture

Sukiyaki is a Japanese dish prepared in a shallow iron pot with ingredients that include thinly sliced beef, onions, Chinese cabbage, edible chrysanthemum leaves, shiitake mushrooms, grilled tofu and noodles. Generally seasoned with soy sauce, sake and sugar, the contents are dipped in raw egg when eaten. Gunma is engaged in a PR campaign targeting Japan and the world boasting that all the ingredients necessary for sukiyaki can be sourced from within the prefecture.

Takasaki Daruma Doll
Courtesy of Bureau of Tourism, GUNMA Prefecture

Daruma dolls are Japanese traditional dolls modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. The characteristics vary depending on the region. The characteristics of Takasaki Daruma dolls are that they are plump and rounded all over with the eyebrows shaped like cranes and the facial hair shaped like turtles. In Japan, it is said that cranes live for 1,000 years and turtles live for 10,000 years. That tradition has made the Takasaki Daruma doll very popular. Also, representing the ups and downs of life, the dolls stand right back up no matter how many times they fall over. With a stable center of gravity, the shape is a picture of the proper mental attitude and represents the calmness and fortitude to get through any difficulty.

Minowanosato no Kitsune no Yomeiri

This event is a reenactment of the celebratory tradition and custom of conducting a wedding ceremony depicting a wedding, which took place until around 1955 to 1965, in the world of foxes and incorporating Japanese kimono culture. The highlights include the fox wedding procession where performers wearing fox makeup and Japanese costumes walk from the Misato Branch Office to Fureai Park and the original outdoor play depicting foxes that lived in the ruins of Minowa Castle.

6. NIPPON Information

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

1) NIPPON Time Machine


The custom of "toshikoshi-soba" (noodles eaten on New Year’s Eve) is said to have begun in the Edo period. There are various theories on the origins of this tradition, such as that because soba noodles are thin and long they represent wishes for a long life or for family ties to last or that because soba noodles are easier to cut than other noodles they represent overcoming the year’s difficulties or misfortunes.

The timing for eating the noodles is most commonly late at night on December 31 before the date changes. Toshikoshi-soba represents overcoming (cutting off) misfortunes, so it is said to be bad luck to continue eating it from New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day. In some regions and households, people eat toshikoshi-soba for dinner, and in others they eat it after the New Year begins.

There is also a tradition that not finishing the toshikoshi-soba is bad luck, so if you aren’t very hungry, make sure to get a small serving from the start.

2) Lifestyle Information

Annual Big House Cleaning
Courtesy of Nikko Photo Contest prize-winning works

In recent years, the big cleaning is an event on New Year’s Eve, but in the past, it was called "susuharai" and carried out on December 13.
Susuharai is cleaning carried out inside and outside the house to remove soot and dust in order to welcome the god of the incoming year. It is said to have already been taking place 800 years ago. It began to be carried out on December 13 in the Edo period. This was the day that it was carried out at Edo Castle, so the common people followed in that tradition.
At temples and shrines, susuharai is still carried out on that day. Ascetic monks covering their heads and faces with hand towels can be seen cleaning Buddhist statues and ceremonial halls using traditional "susubonten" (a tool for dusting consisting of a bamboo stick with cotton on the end) and bunches of bamboo grass and beating tatami mats from the halls to remove the dust.

3) Magazines and Brochures from Japanese Government

Providing public relations materials regarding Japan including culture and sport.

7. JASSO News

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

1) Schedule, etc. for 2017 Study in Japan Fairs

JASSO holds Study in Japan 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 international 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.

You can read in 14 languages such as Japanese, English, Chinese (Simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese), Korean, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Myanmar language and Bengali, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, French, German, Mongolian, and Portuguese.

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”

The December 2017 issue will be published on December 11th. 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) 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

How did you find the December edition of Japan Alumni eNews?
This year is quickly coming to an end. The streets are already lively with Christmas illuminations and music, aren’t they? There will be various events unique to Japan taking place from year-end to New Year’s.
In this month’s issue we covered the year-end traditions of ”toshikoshi-soba“ and ”susuharai“. Is there anything left that you had planned to do this year? There’s not much time before we ring in the New Year, but let’s get done what we can this year.

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 January 10th. Don’t miss it!

  • Information in this issue may change without notice. Please visit their web sites for latest information.
Follow-up Services Unit, International Scholarship Division, Student Exchange Department Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO)
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