Japan Alumni eNews (Vol. 117)

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 117 January 10, 2019

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 117

1. Life in Japan by Photo

Learn about life in Japan with photos posted by our readers! We look forward to receiving 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

Memories of Japan (Photos from a Reader)

The January issue’s Life in Japan by Photo feature introduces Memories of Japan. (Honorific titles are omitted.)

Peaceful Scenery at Fujisan Sengen Shrine in Fujinomiya

Huyn Thi Thao (Vietnam)
Shizuoka Eiwa Gakuin University Junior College
Title: Peaceful Scenery at Fujisan Sengen Shrine in Fujinomiya

Feather-Shaped Cloud, Message from an Angel

Liu Lipei (China)
Tokushima University
Title: Feather-Shaped Cloud, Message from an Angel

2. Alumni News

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

News on International Students

NEWS 1: 11.7% Hiring Rate for International Students in the Class of 2019

In November 2018, the Mynavi Corporation released the results for its 2019 New Graduate Recruitment Survey. According to the survey, 11.7% of Japanese companies said they had (and/or were planning to) hire international students. The survey was directed towards 8,000 companies in Japan that have hired new graduates in the past, and the results were based on responses from 3,013 of these companies. Asked about international students expected to graduate in 2020, 10.7% said they were planning to hire international students, and 28.8% said it was under discussion, meaning the hiring rate next year may be higher than this year. When companies that said they had not hired (and/or were not planning to hire) international students were asked the reason why, they mostly voiced a lack of readiness on their end, with 43.2% saying it was because they lacked an environment where the skills of foreign employees could be properly utilized, and 43.8% because they did not yet have a working environment that would be able to take in foreign employees.

NEWS 2: JARC-Net Consolidated with JSPS-Net

The Japan-Asia Research Community Network (JARC-Net), which had been operated by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) since July 2009, was shut down in December 2018, to be consolidated with JSPS-Net, a social networking service run by the same organization, in January 2019. JARC-Net was a database with information on researchers in Asia who have had experience studying abroad in and/or living in Japan, as well as Japanese researchers who are interested in working with other researchers from Asia. Its objective was to maintain a network of collaborative researchers, and assist them in finding partners for joint research projects. JSPS-Net, which aims to support the international communication and efforts of researchers through social media, was consolidated with JARC-Net as a supplement to the system’s functionality.

Introduction of Current International Students

Tan Hong Chuan

Name: Tan Hong Chuan
Nationality: Malaysia
University: Tokyo Keizai University
Major: Department of Communication, Faculty of Communication Studies
Year: 4th year
Period of Stay in Japan: April 2014 to present
Japanese Proficiency Level: Japanese Language Proficiency Test N1

I became interested in Japan after hearing my aunt’s stories about studying abroad there. Since I was a child, she would tell me so much about when she studied in Japan. She would say that the people in Japan were kind, that the trains were so convenient and would come on time: all kinds of things. So I decided I would go to Japan to see if things were actually like my aunt’s stories.

Before I arrived, my impression of Japan was that there were a lot of trains and people. But when I got here, I was just stunned at how fast people walk. One day, I was taken aback when, as I was sprinting up the stairs to get to the train platform, a woman in high heels ran past me. That incident drove me to start jogging three times a week. That there were a lot of people jogging at night was another thing that surprised me about Japan.

Before you arrive in Japan, I recommend you learn at least a little bit of Japanese. Just being able to speak the language a little bit will make life much more convenient once you get here.

Now I’m in my fourth year of university, I’ve received and accepted a job offer, and all that’s left for me is to write my senior thesis and complete a few credits. My goal is to work in Japan for a while, then go back to my home country and run my own restaurant.

List of Japan Alumni Associations

Introduction of Support for International Students Returning Home

Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE)

The Project for Human Resource Development Scholarship by Japanese Grant Aid (JDS) is implemented in 16 countries, mainly in Asia and provides grants to support human resource development through a scholarship program in Japan. JDS targets the highly capable young officials who are expected to engage in implementing social and economic development of the country as a young leader. Next year marks the twentieth anniversary, 20 years during which JDS has sent about 4,000 students in Japan.

For the Philippines JDS, since the project began in 2003, 340 students have come to study in Japan, and approximately 300 of them have returned to work in their home country. This July, JICE, along with returned fellows, held an event commemorating the establishment of the JDS Alumni Association Philippines. The association is meant not only to strengthen the network of returned fellows, but also to engage in sustainable social work in the Philippines, and many are looking forward to the role the association will play in society.

Nakanoue, Representative, International Student Programs Division, International Student Programs Department I, Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE)
Contact: jds.follow-up at mark jice.org
*Please convert "at mark" to "@" when you send an e-mail.

3. Academic News

Introduction of scholarships, grants, unique activities at particular universities, and more!

Introducing Universities

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

J.F. Oberlin University

University introduction photo

University Profile (as of May 1, 2018)
Name: J.F. Oberlin University
Machida Campus: 3758 Tokiwa-machi, Machida-shi, Tokyo 194-0294
Planet Fuchinobe Campus (PFC): 4-16-1 Fuchinobe, Chuo-ku, Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa 229-0006
Yotsuya Campus (Sendagaya): 1-1-12 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0051
Tama Academy Hills: 2-31-1 Ochiai, Tama-shi, Tokyo 206-0033
Shinjuku Campus: 3-23-1 Hyakunincho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo (scheduled to open in April 2019)
Number of Students: Undergraduate: 9,234 / Graduate School: 339 / Short-Term Course: 96
International students: Undergraduate: 376 / Graduate School: 133 / Foreign Exchange: 137 / Prep Course: 94

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

The founding ideal of J.F. Oberlin University was to foster global citizens on the basis of Christian values. This is based on a wish the founder, Yasuzo Shimizu, had since the university’s inception: to cultivate international individuals who will be able to understand others and deal with circumstances in a spirit of cooperation, no matter what. In order to realize this wish, the university, since its inception in 1921, has worked to drive education and research primarily in language education and international education. The university works to ensure a structure where each student can become skilled in another language outside of their native language, receive specialized education with respect to their own specific interests, and become the kind of individuals who can work to help global society in meaningful ways.

2. Overview and Characteristics of Distinctive Faculties and Departments

An everyday scene

J.F. Oberlin University is made up of five colleges: the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Global Communication, the College of Business Management, the College of Health and Welfare, and the College of Performing and Visual Arts. This college system offers an interdisciplinary education that allows students to learn not only about their own fields, but about related fields as well. Students select a major that they are interested in in their college, and build their own educational roadmap. Though there are required subjects for each major, students for the most part are encouraged to discuss their options with their professors and think for themselves what classes to take. Students also have the option to minor in a subject in addition to their major, bringing together different fields of academia in unique and flexible ways.

3. Support for International Students (Accommodations Support and Tuition Reduction)

International dorm

The university has two international dorms near the Machida Campus, not only for international students but for Japanese students as well, to give students daily opportunities for cultural exchange. The goal is to have students live in a diversified environment with people of various different ethnicities and social statuses, working with and occasionally even competing against one another, so they can grow into the kind of international personnel the university aims to cultivate. Currently, there are scholarships offered by various private foundations, scholarships for study abroad programs at partner schools. In the future, the university plans to offer its own scholarship for foreign exchange students.

4. Other Types of Support for International Students (Employment, International Exchange, etc.)

International exchange event

International students from countries and regions all over the world study at J.F. Oberlin University. As such, the university takes various measures to encourage international exchange amongst Japanese students and international students. The most well-known of these events include the International Camp and the Hajimemashite-Ensoku. These events are also run by official student organizations from the International Exchange Division, which means they offer uniquely student-led experiences. The university also makes many efforts to support the learning of international students, like the “class guest” system, where Japanese students visit international students in their classes to help them with Japanese, as well as the Writing Support Center, and the Center for Japanese Learning Resources.

Information about Scholarships, Grants, Invitations, Prizes, etc.

Kobe Student Youth Center

Project Name
2019 Rokko Scholarship Fund
1. Objective:
The Kobe Student Youth Center established the Rokko Scholarship Fund in an effort to assist international students and pre-college students who were affected by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake on January 17, 1995. Since 1996, the center has awarded around 4 to 10 scholarships to students each year. This fiscal year, as in past years, scholarships will be awarded to six international students currently enrolled in prefectural schools in Hyogo Prefecture.
2. Application Requirements:
(1) Students from an Asian region studying at a school in Hyogo Prefecture as of February 1, 2019
(2) Students who will be enrolled in their schools in the period of April 2019 to March 2020
(3) Students who are not recipients of other scholarships
3. Application Method:
Submit the prescribed application form and letter of recommendation to the Kobe Student Youth Center through your university, graduate school, etc., no later than February 28, 2019
4. Application Deadline:
Thursday, February 28, 2019
5. Scholarship Amount:
50,000 yen/month per person. No repayment required. Students must visit the Kobe Student Youth Center each month to receive their payments in person.
6. Scholarship Duration:
1 year, from April 2019 to March 2020
7. Contact:
Kobe Student Youth Center
3-1-1 Yamado-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe 657-0064
Tel: 078-851-2760
Fax: 078-821-5878

Information about International Symposium

The Psychology of the Consumer

What is the psychology behind a purchase? How will advancements in neuroscience change marketing? How are brands created? What is an ad with a narrative? This symposium will attempt to answer these and other questions about the psychology of the consumer, along with a discussion on the latest research findings.

Date/Time: Saturday, March 16, 2019 / 1:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Location: Room A200, Lecture Rooms A, Tohoku University Kawauchi Campus (A Area) [41 Kawauchi, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8576 Japan]

Academic Societies

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

<Law, Politics>

<Economics, Commerce, Business>




<Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy>

Japanese Language Tests

4. Business News

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

Job Hunting Event Information

The Program for Advancement of Foreign Human Resources was 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 24, 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 Students

Useful Websites for International Students

Job Hunting Report

Oh Dongmi

Name: Oh Dongmi
Nationality: South Korea
University: Meiji University
Major: School of Commerce
Period of Stay in Japan: April 2012 to March 2016
Current Workplace: Kyocera Communication Systems Co., Ltd.
Japanese Proficiency Level: Japanese Language Proficiency Test N1

I decided to study abroad in Japan after it was recommended to me, after I graduated high school, by an acquaintance who lived in Japan. I had studied Japanese as a foreign language in high school, and wanted to live abroad, and decided then and there to study abroad in Japan.

Since I graduated from a Japanese university, I decided naturally to start working in Japan as well. I thought about going back to my home country, but decided not to, what with the difficult labor market in Korea right now, and because I wanted to make use of this study abroad experience to work in Japan as well. I also had a lot of opportunities to research Japanese companies in the four years I spent in university, and I was interested in the training programs and corporate systems/structures of Japan.

It’s been three years since I started working, and I’m very happy with my job. I enjoy the corporate culture, and am grateful to be in an environment where I can develop my skills. I’ve been very fortunate in my work to have senpai (more experienced members) who are always there to help me when I’m confused about something, as well as colleagues who drive me to work harder every day. Of course, I still have a lot to learn, but at this point I’ve actually started being able to contribute to my department. Every day, as I go about my work, I discuss how to develop my skills and how to be of more use to our clients with my senpai and bosses.

I think what’s most important in the job hunting process is figuring out whether the job you’re going for actually aligns with the work you want to do, as well as getting in contact with alumni from your school, going to social events and interviews, and just scoping out the culture of the company.

The only thing that I regret about my job hunting experience was deciding at the very beginning what my skills were, and what I wanted to do, and restricting myself to those things. Since I didn’t have a science background, I thought, “I don’t want to be a system engineer,” “I wouldn’t enjoy administrative work,” and refused to think of these and other options. As a result, my job hunting was not as wide-ranging as it could have been.

Currently, my work involves something called management consulting. It’s allowed me to develop my skills and I’m very satisfied with it, but sometimes I wonder what it would’ve been like to work a different job.

Getting in contact with alumni from my school was very helpful in terms of researching industries and companies. It’s true that you don’t know whether you’ll like a job until you actually do it, but discussing what the work is actually like (even just a little bit) with people who are actually working there can be really helpful. It also helped me understand the company culture, and because they were technically my senpai from school, I think they were able to be frank with me about their experiences.

They also gave me tips and tricks for when I actually started working for the company. I think it was really good that I was able to hear directly from them what was good about the company, as well as the company’s way of thinking, policies, and the kind of people they wanted.

I think something that defines Japanese companies is their tendency to choose people who will be able to work well with them in the future, instead of people who are already well-prepared, and capable of immediate contribution. In other words, skills and abilities are important, but so is whether you’ll be a good fit for that company in particular. Each company will have different cultures and different things they prioritize, and so I think it’s important, first of all, to have a good understanding of your own personality and work style, and approach companies that way. Since we do live in a global society, you will most likely come across opportunities to do work involving English or another foreign language. However, since you’ll be working for a company in Japan, and for the most part will be dealing with Japanese people in your work, it’s very important to be able to speak at least business level Japanese without issue. Depending on the situation, you may even be asked for Japanese skills equivalent to that of a native Japanese person. So it would be even better if you could work on your Japanese skills before starting your professional life.

Job Hunting Information Article

Entry Sheets

Entry sheets are documents that companies use to gain a more detailed understanding of the applicant. Submitting an entry sheet is akin to an official application to the company. Though the format and content of the entry sheets differ depending on the company, they generally ask you for basic information such as your university and your contact info, as well as an essay.

Essays for the entry sheet generally ask you for your “Jiko-PR” (Self-Promotion), “Shibo-Doki” (Reason for Applying), a description of efforts you made in your student life, etc., in a limited number of characters. Since many companies ask about the topics we just mentioned, it is vital that you organize your thoughts in advance, and have an idea of how you will respond to them.

First, organize and write down what your thoughts are for each of these topics. And make sure to be aware of the following points when you fill out your entry sheets.

(1) Start with the conclusion
In business writing, you should open with your conclusion.
(2) Write logically
Organize your writing so it makes logical sense. The “conclusion, reasoning, concrete example, short summary” structure will make your essay more convincing.
(3) Focus more on your journey towards an achievement rather than the achievement itself
In the hiring process, Japanese companies will focus more on your thought process and the actions you took to achieve something than on the achievement itself.

Entry sheets should not be something you fill out once and send out immediately. Make sure to show it to teachers and Japanese people around you so they can proofread it. If you submit one to a company and do not get through to an interview, look over your entry sheet again, and do this over and over again until it is better. Remember also that these entry sheets will be the basis for the questions you will be asked in the interview: the next stage of the process. So make sure your entry sheet is a good one, not only for the initial screening, but for the interview as well.

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 January edition looks at Nara prefecture.

Nara Prefecture

Daibutsu (The Great Buddha) of Nara

Daibutsu (The Great Buddha) of Nara

Todaiji was a temple built in an era when what is currently Nara City, Nara Prefecture was a city called Heijo-kyo. The principal object of worship at this temple, Rushana Butsuzo, is referred to as the “Daibutsu (Great Buddha) of Nara.” This enormous Buddhist statue, one of the largest in Japan, looms 15 meters tall, sits on a platform of 3 meters, and has proven popular amongst both Japanese and foreign tourists. The statue is housed in the Kondo (Main Hall), also known as the Daibutsuden (The Great Buddha Hall), and visitors can pay a worship fee to see it. The construction of the Daibutsu is said to have cost the modern equivalent of 465.7 million yen, three times the amount of the national budget at the time. The “kaigenkuyo” (eye-opening ceremony), in which the Buddha’s pupils are painted in, was a lavish event, attended by the Emperor and Empress at the time, as well as civil and military officials and approximately 10,000 monks. However, it is said that the immense cost of its construction resulted in an economic downturn for the country as a whole, and caused uprisings in certain areas.

Narazuke (Nara Pickled Vegetables)

Narazuke (Nara Pickled Vegetables)

Narazuke is a kind of pickled vegetable that is local to Nara Prefecture. Though Japan is home to all kinds of pickled foods, the narazuke in particular is known for the length and labor-intensiveness of its manufacturing process, which at its shortest is about six months, and at its longest can be over two years. It takes such a long time because the vegetables must be re-pickled numerous times throughout the process. This re-pickling, however, is the basis for the narazuke’s rich, mellow flavor. Though the specific number depends on the manufacturer, this re-pickling process can involve exchanging the fermentation ingredients six or seven times. Since after each re-pickling process it has to be left alone for more than a month, this process alone takes over six months minimum. Narazuke made properly comes out a deep, dark amber color, with a strong aroma and deep umami flavor. Since these are fermented using sake, the alcohol content is quite high (5 to 8%), which means that there are people with low tolerance to alcohol who avoid narazuke.

6. NIPPON Information

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

Lifestyle Information

Fukubukuro (Lucky Bags)

Fukubukuro (Lucky Bags)

Fukubukuro are items sold at the start of the New Year, in the form of opaque bags with “mystery” items (one or more) inside. Generally, they refer to those items where the total value of the products in the bag exceed the price of the bag. The benefit to customers is that, even if they do not know what is in them, they receive these bags, and thus the products, at a lower price than what they would pay normally. It also, however, has an element of gambling, since there is the possibility that the bag includes products you may not want or need. Many of these are sold during the New Year shopping season, and are also considered to be a way to test your luck for the new year. They are staple products of many stores, sold mainly in department stores, but also across the Internet, in a wide variety of areas.

Fukubukuro is said to originate from back when a kimono store in the Edo Period collected scraps of kimono fabric at the end of the year, put them into a bag, and sold the bags at dramatically discounted price. Then, in the Meiji Era, some stores began putting different kinds of items into the bags instead of kimono scraps, purposely making it so that customers could not see the inside of the bags, and selling these at discounted prices, which is what became the basis for fukubukuro today. Though some stores have tried to use this opportunity to get rid of products that have not sold well, customers have become more discerning in recent years, and fewer and fewer of these stores have been able to get away with such tricks. In fact, more and more fukubukuro are sold with their content publicized for all to see.

In recent years it has become somewhat of a trend to wake up very early on New Year’s Day, line up at department stores and big-box electronic stores, and purchase fukubukuro. Many stores use the fukubukuro as a way to get customers to purchase other products as well, and have put more energy into developing heavily-discounted fukubukuro for marketing purposes as well. There are even extremely expensive fukubukuro, with things like jewelry, real estate, and automobiles, as well as fukubukuro that offer services like trips, tickets to events, lessons, and more. On the other hand, products that have no utility at all are shared and made fun of on social media. Regardless, it seems the fukubukuro trend is here to stay for the time being.

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 programs, Study in Japan Fairs, and the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU).

2018-2019 Study in Japan Fairs

JASSO (Japan Student Services Organization) holds Study in Japan Fairs overseas for high school and university students who wish to study in Japan. It also participates in and assists with events and company briefing sessions held by other organizations.

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 about international students' experiences 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 it in 14 languages such as Japanese, English, Chinese (simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese), Korean, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Myanmar language, Bengali, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, French, German, Mongolian, and Portuguese.

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!

Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU)

JASSO Scholarship Programs

Web Magazine “Ryugakukoryu”

The January 2019 issue will be published on January 10. Please make sure to read it!

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 with an opportunity to conduct short term research at universities in Japan.

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.

New University Listing(s):
Kagoshima University
Hokkaido University

8. From a Reader / From the Editor

I'm an artist and former MEXT scholar Michael Whittle. I've been working together with scientists at Kyoto University on an upcoming exhibition of science based artwork at The Kyoto University Museum, from December 19, 2018 to February 4, 2019.
Feel free to come and enjoy the exhibition. I look forward to seeing you there.

(Name listed without honorifics)

Portraits of Thought: Diagrams in Art and Science

Exhibition Title:
Portraits of Thought: Diagrams in Art and Science (Special Exhibition)

Wednesday, December 19, 2018 to Sunday, February 3, 2019 / 9:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.
(Last entry at 4:00 P.M.)

Closing Days: 
Every Monday and Tuesday

The Kyoto University Museum
(Yoshida Honmachi, Sakyo, Kyoto)

(1) General admission:
Adults: 400 yen / Students: 300 yen / Children (under 16): 200 yen
- Free admission over age 70, or with a certified disability (including 1 attendant), ID required
- Kyoto University students and staff: free with campus ID

(2) Group admission (20+)
Adults: 300 yen / Students: 200 yen / Children (under 16): 100 yen
- 1 guide may enter at no charge for each group

The Kyoto University Museum,
Yoshida Honmachi, Sakyo, Kyoto, 606-8501
TEL: 075-753-3272
FAX: 075-753-3277
E-mail: info at mark inet.museum.kyoto-u.ac.jp
*Please convert “at mark” to “@” when you send an e-mail.

From the Editor

Happy New Year to you all! Thank you for your support of Japan Alumni eNews in this new year.
This year, we have a very interesting topic: the ascension of the Crown Prince to Emperor, and the subsequent shift to a new “gengo.” A gengo is the name given to each era, in line with each emperor’s period of reign. The current gengo, Heisei, will come to an end this year, in its 31st year, on Tuesday, April 30, to be replaced by the new gengo, which will begin on Wednesday, May 1. The name of the new gengo will be announced one month before its official start. What will it be? Since last year, everyone in Japan has been talking about the various “lasts” of Heisei. You can expect more of this kind of language as we head into the official end of the era. After our transition to the new gengo, we will have the Rugby World Cup in Japan in autumn, and then the Olympics the year after. It doesn’t seem like we will run out of things to talk about anytime soon!

The Japan Alumni eNews Editorial Desk is looking for people who can share their job hunting experience. We also welcome pictures from your life abroad as an exchange student and your comments for our e-mail magazine. Our next issue of Japan Alumni eNews will be distributed on February 8. Don’t miss it!

  • Information in this issue may change without notice. Please visit their websites for the latest information.

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