Japan Alumni eNews (Vol. 131)

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 131 March 10, 2020

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 131

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 characters or less)
2. Name (katakana and alphabet)
3. Nationality
4. Name of your school in Japan

March in Japan

The March edition of Life in Japan by Photo introduces “March in Japan.”

Hinakazari (Girls’ Day Ornamental Dolls)

Hinakazari (Girls’ Day Ornamental Dolls)

Certificate of Graduation

Certificate of Graduation

Camellia Flower

Camellia Flower

White Day

White Day

2. Alumni News

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

News on International Students

NEWS 1: Japanese Government to Implement Policies to Drive Intake of Foreign Personnel, Expand Eligibility for Specified Skills Evaluation Test, etc.

In December 2019, the Japanese government held the 6th Cabinet Council for the Intake of/Coexistence with Foreign Personnel. As part of their efforts to drive the smooth and appropriate intake of foreign personnel into Japan, they announced that they would provide financial aid to local public organizations that support the employment of foreign personnel, and expand eligibility for the Specified Skills Evaluation Test to include those with the Temporary Visitor Visa. This plan also includes policies that are directly relevant to the employment of international students. They also revealed measures to establish Foreign Resident Centers, create guidelines with simple Japanese, and more, as part of their effort to support foreigners as residents of Japan.

NEWS 2: Chikusa Ward, Nagoya City Distributes “Multicultural Information and Assistance Pamphlets”

In December 2019, there was a seminar held in Chikusa Ward, Nagoya City, for international students who had entered university in October 2019. The seminar utilized the “Multicultural Information and Assistance Pamphlet” published by the ward itself, and was intended to relay to international students everyday manners in Japan, traffic rules, lifestyle information specific to the ward, and more. The pamphlet lists lifestyle information like how to take out the trash, disaster prevention information, etc., over 24 pages available in six languages. It is designed to make it easier for international students to understand the content, with liberal use of pictures. Starting June 2019, the pamphlet has been distributed at ward office consultation centers as well as local universities, Japanese language schools, vocational schools, etc., with seminars held on the pamphlet’s content as well.

Study Abroad Testimonial

Zhanar Nurtoleu

Name: Zhanar Nurtoleu
Nationality: Kazakhstan
University: Tokai University
Major: Department of Industrial Chemistry, Graduate School of Engineering
Period of Study: Japanese Language Course: October 2013 to September 2014 / Department of Industrial Chemistry, Graduate School of Engineering: October 2014 to September 2016
Japanese Proficiency Level: Japanese-Language Proficiency Test N1

I grew up in a city called Semey in the East Kazakhstan Region. There were nuclear experiments conducted in Semey from 1949 to 1989. Like the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the people of Semey suffered greatly under these nuclear experiments. My older sister was once part of a research project to measure radioactivity in teeth. It was a joint research project with a research facility in Hiroshima, and my sister went to Japan for a one-month training program. She told me all about what she learned in Japan, which led me to think I wanted to do research in Japan one day too.

It’s very important that you participate in conferences while you’re a graduate school student. Having others ask you questions about your research can inspire and stimulate your work. When I was a graduate school student, I made a presentation at an academic workshop in Isehara City and an academic conference in Sapporo City. You’ll learn soft skills like how to make the posters for your presentation, summarize your research results, and do an oral presentation: all skills that will be necessary in your future career.

The university atmosphere and its facilities are all designed so that students are able to really get on with their research. Students keep their lab equipment in the labs, and can order the reagents we need for our research. There are also a lot of places where you can study, either on your own or with friends. You have easy access to sports facilities like gyms and pools, and you can also relax at the on-campus café if you want to take a break. This café has different guests who come in from the International Café or from overseas to lecture about all kinds of topics. There’s also a shopping market conveniently located near the university.

My day at the lab begins with cleaning. Then, I discuss the day’s experiments with my advisor. I prep for the experiments, then head to class. Once I’m done with class, I eat lunch with my friends in the dining hall. After that, I continue the experiments, and read articles that are relevant to my research. I also work as a teaching assistant once a week, preparing reagents for undergraduate classes, conducting preliminary experiments, etc. This teaching assistant work has been a valuable experience for me. Finally, I’ll set up a plan depending on how the experiments are going, and discuss how my research is going, and my plan for the future, with the other people in my lab.

What makes Japanese graduate school different is that you do research from the very beginning. The most important thing is to choose a research topic that you’re interested in. If you’re able to choose a topic that you want to research, I think the two-year “research journey” can be very interesting and meaningful for you.

List of Japan Alumni Associations

Introduction of Support for International Students Returning Home

Oita International Students Business Center (SPARKLE)

The Oita International Students Business Center (nicknamed SPARKLE, established in Oita Prefecture and operated by University Consortium Oita) provides support for former international students both inside and outside of Japan who graduated from university, junior college, etc., in Oita Prefecture, with regards to entrepreneurship and business development. The center runs a business-founding facility where you can register a business, it hosts free consultation seminars by innovation managers, notary publics, etc., and more. If you want to go back to Oita and start a business, this center is here for you!

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.

Osaka University

Suita Campus Main Gate, Osaka University

University Profile (As of May 1, 2019)
Name: Osaka University
Address: 1-1 Yamadaoka, Suita-shi, Osaka (Suita Campus)
Number of Students: Undergraduate: 15,285 / Graduate School: 8,031
International Students: 2,594

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

Osaka University will mark its 90th anniversary on May 1, 2021. Ever since its establishment, the university has made diverse efforts in education and research under its motto, “Live Locally, Grow Globally.” In October 2007, it was integrated with the Osaka University of Foreign Studies to become one of Japan’s highest-level research universities, with 11 undergraduate departments, 16 graduate schools, and 6 research institutes.

2. Overview and Characteristics of Distinctive Facilities and Equipment

Osaka University is working to establish a 2,600-room student/faculty dormitory in order to increase the intake of international students. These student dorms will be in the style of a share house, with 75% international students and 25% Japanese students. They are meant to drive day-to-day multicultural exchange, and allow international students to adapt to life in Japan more easily. (Set to be available October 2020.)

3. Overview and Characteristics of Distinctive Faculties and Departments for International Students

Osaka University is home to many innovative research efforts (for example, research on significantly reducing the time it takes to identify a protein linked to the development of Parkinson’s Disease) and is ranked second in Japan on the Reuters’ ranking of the “The World’s Most Innovative Universities 2019.” There are many advanced research efforts underway in the fields of medicine and biology as well, including in regenerative medicine where, for example, the university went forth with a transplant of a corneal epithelial cell sheet derived from human IPS cells: the first such transplant in the world. There are also 10 graduate school programs that can be obtained through English only, specifically in the Graduate School of Science, the Graduate School of Engineering, the Graduate School of Engineering Science, and the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology.

4. Support for International Students (Accommodations Support, Tuition Reduction, etc.)

Osaka University offers a tuition exemption and tuition deferment policy for students whose financial circumstances make it difficult for them to pay their entrance fee and/or tuition, and who meet a certain standard of academic performance. Students have also received scholarships from approximately 70 private scholarship organizations, though students may not apply to all of these scholarships. For more details, contact the undergraduate department or graduate school you wish to attend.

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

The university works with each undergraduate department and graduate school to provide international students with various types of consultations. It can also refer students to an in-school specialist if they have more serious mental/emotional issues that require professional counseling. Osaka University also offers an application support system called Ryumon Consultation Center for Chinese research and graduate school students who wish to study at the university. The system allows students to communicate with their desired advisors in an accurate and efficient fashion, so make sure to use it.

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

The Suntory Foundation offers two research grants for any deserving individual.

(1) Grant for Collaborative Research in Humanities and Social Sciences
This grant is aimed at promoting groundbreaking group-based research projects that take a fresh look at conventional humanities and social sciences.

(2) Grant for Collaborative Research on Community Cultural Activities
This grant is aimed at promoting research into community cultural activities in Japan and, thereby, to contribute to their development.

See the Suntory Foundation website for details.

Information about International Symposium

Please note that, due to the present circumstances, some events may be cancelled.
Please make sure there haven't been any cancellations before heading to an event.

International Symposium: Fusion of Mathematics and Biology

In recent years, the necessity and effectiveness of the mathematical approach has been strongly recognized in the realm of cancer research.
The Center for Mathematical Modeling and Data Science at Osaka University has conducted applied research into clinical treatment methods, drug discovery strategy, etc., in addition to their research in the basic medical sciences. This symposium will feature discussions between well-known cancer researchers and mathematicians, some of them earlier on in their careers.

Date/Time: Monday, March 23 to Friday, March 27, 2020
Venue: Grand Cube Osaka (Osaka International Convention Center: 5-3-51 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka)

Academic Societies

Japanese Language Tests

4. Business News

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

Information About Job Hunting Related Events

Events for International Students

Useful Websites for International Students

Job Hunting Report

Thadaporn Kruesom

Name: Thadaporn Kruesom
Nationality: Thailand
University: Rissho University
Major: Faculty of Economics
Period of Stay in Japan: October 2012 to March 2018
Current Workplace: NHK Spring Co., Ltd.
Japanese Proficiency Level: Japanese-Language Proficiency Test N1

I have been interested in Japan since I saw a book called "Japan Travel" as a child. I decided to study in Japan because I wanted to experience Japanese life.
I always wondered ”Why Japanese companies are so powerful?” After graduating from university, I decided to work at a Japanese company. I also wanted to learn how to work in a way that I could not learn in my home country, so I tried to experience a new world, surrounded by Japanese people.

Although job hunting was difficult, I was very happy to get into the company I wanted. I cannot speak Japanese that much, and I worry about my ability to understand the job role. However, people around me always teach me, and it makes me feel that I am growing more and more.

What to keep in mind during interviews:

(1) Being interested in all talks
Even if you are not interested their discussion topics, there are always some important points, so let’s listen actively.
(2) The people who participate with you are not your rivals
I think that the people who participate with you also want to go to the same company. If you think maybe you will work together, the atmosphere of the interview will soften.
(3) Grasp the interviewer's thinking process
Sometimes there are unexpected questions. Please listen carefully to the interviewer and give them the answers they want.

The people that companies want are not just excellent people. When they were not hired, some people start to think, “Was I not hired because I wasn’t any good?” and felt depressed. If you ever have thoughts like that, stop. Even if you could not get something you want, it doesn’t mean that you weren’t good, the company just made a different choice. Also, do not forget, you always have a choice for going on.

Job Hunting Information Article

Entry Sheets

Entry sheets are documents that applicants fill out to give companies an understanding of what the applicant is like, their mindset regarding work, etc. Many companies consider the submission of the entry sheet to be the first step of the recruitment process. You will be asked to fill out the entry sheet either manually or on your computer, and either submit a physical copy or upload it onto the company’s recruitment page, etc.

The following are some of the main things you will be asked about on an entry sheet.

(1) Your personality, unique characteristics, values, and abilities
You will be asked to provide information about yourself with prompts like, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” “What are some values you hold dear?” etc. Make sure you are able to describe yourself in an objective way by analyzing yourself (self-analysis) or asking others about yourself (outside analysis) well in advance of filling out the entry sheet.

(2) Your experiences in university and/or graduate school
You will be asked about your experiences as a student with prompts like, “What did you focus your energies on as a student?” “Tell us about a time in your student life when you overcame a difficulty,” etc. Many of the questions require you to delve into concrete detail about certain events in your life. Make sure to get your thoughts in order so you can explain the experiences you had as a student.

(3) Your thoughts on the company and about working
Some questions will ask you about your thoughts on the company or about your mindset towards work, with prompts like, “What is your reason for applying to this company?” “What role would you like to fulfill in this company?” etc. It’s important that you do thorough research on the company you’re applying to, and that you’re able to explain your thoughts in a clear and concrete manner.

Entry sheets are the method by which companies first learn about their applicants. They also tend to be used in the interview process as well, making them extremely important documents indeed. Consult your university career center, Employment Support Department, professor, etc., to check if your entry sheet is clearly written, or at the very least, ask a Japanese friend to take a look through it. It’s also important that you research frequently-asked entry sheet questions, either on the Internet or through job hunting strategy books, and come up with your own answers for these questions.

5. Visit Japan

Introducing regions in Japan with universities, and more. The March issue looks at Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Introducing Cities and Daily Life As a Study Abroad Student

View of Fukuoka City

Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture

Fukuoka City is a major city located in the northern part of Kyushu, a large island in southern Japan, with a population of 1.59 million people (as of December 2019). According to a survey conducted in 2015, Fukuoka City has the fastest-increasing population and the highest population growth rate of any major Japanese city, and has the largest percentage of 15 to 29 year olds in this category as well. Fukuoka City faces the Hakata Bay, with plains stretching to the north of the city, and mountains to the south.

Fukuoka City was originally divided into two towns: a castle town called Fukuoka, and a port town called Hakata. The two were combined into Fukuoka City 130 years ago, in 1890. The word “Hakata,” however, is still used in various places in the city, as in the Port of Hakata and Hakata Station, giving you a feel for the history of the city. Fukuoka City serves as the economic center of the Kyushu Area, and is also an important transportation hub for many places, including foreign countries. At only 200km away from the Korean Peninsula, the city has a history of serving as a sort of cultural gateway to Asia. It is also famous for its diverse array of Fukuoka local specialties, like Hakata ramen and Karashi-mentaiko (spicy seasoned cod roe).

There are a total of 21 universities and junior colleges in Fukuoka City. Approximately 6,600 international students are enrolled in these universities and junior colleges, with about 90% of them living in Fukuoka City (as of 2017). The average rent differs by ward. Rent for a 1R or 1K apartment (i.e. one-room studios that are good for living on your own) can exceed 50,000 yen in central Hakata Ward, Chuo Ward, etc., but can be about 30,000 to 40,000 yen in areas further away from the central city (as of 2020).

Universities in Fukuoka City tend to be located along train lines, with a particularly large number of universities, junior colleges, etc., located around Nishijin Station in the central city. The area around Nishijin Station also boasts libraries and museums and is thus frequented by students from other nearby universities/junior colleges as well, giving it a different student town vibe than the area around Hakata Station, Tenjin, etc. It also has many leisure facilities for young people, like karaoke parlors and bowling alleys, as well as many shopping spots and cheap food options.

The Fukuoka City International Foundation works to create a comfortable study environment for international students by managing/operating international student apartments, providing various kinds of support for international students, etc. The foundation hosts “Salons” aimed at improving the Japanese of international students, social events for international students and local residents, etc., as well as multi-lingual consultations, day-to-day lifestyle advice for foreign residents, etc. The website is available in English, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese, so be sure to check it out.

6. NIPPON Information

This section introduces information on Japan for international students!

Lifestyle Information

Japanese convenience store

Convenience Stores in Japan

While living in Japan, you will almost certainly go to a convenience store. In Japanese, we shorten it to say “conbini.” They are extremely convenient, offering food items, everyday necessities, sundries, etc., 365 days a year, and are used by many, many people. Convenience stores were actually created in the U.S., with the first convenience store in Japan established in the 1960s. Since then, however, “conbini” in Japan have evolved in their very own distinct way.

There are several theories as to how and where convenience stores first came about in Japan. However, the most popular one indicates that Japan’s very first convenience store opened in Osaka in 1969. The very first Family Mart, 7-Eleven, and Lawson opened one after the other in the 1970s. These convenience store chains are, of course, still famous today. Japan’s first 24-hour convenience store was also established in 1975. Afterwards, the number of convenience stores continued to rise, growing to 55,000 by December 2019.

Japanese convenience stores sell all kinds of products. These include food items like rice balls, bread, bento boxes, snacks, etc., but also everyday necessities like newspapers/magazines, stationery, batteries, and toilet paper. Their hot food items, called “hot snacks,” and fresh-brewed coffee are also popular. Some convenience stores even have what are called “eat-in spaces,” where you can eat what you buy on store grounds.

They also allow for many forms of payment other than cash. You can pay, for example, using your credit card or your IC transportation card (smart card). In recent years, more convenience stores have also begun accepting cashless payment using smartphone QR codes, barcodes, etc. Be aware, however, that different convenience stores accept different payment methods.

Convenience stores also offer more than just shopping. Many convenience stores, for example, have bank ATMs installed inside of the stores. Some convenience stores will accept packages, mail, etc., for you, and will allow you to make various payments in-store, like for your national pension or national healthcare. Many of them even provide free Wi-Fi.

Get to Know Japan

In this section, we will introduce topics on culture, technology, lifestyle, and more in Japan. The March issue look at the “kawaii culture” of Japan.

Harajuku known for its obsession with ”Kawaii Culture”

The “Kawaii Culture” of Japan

Japan is known throughout the world for its various forms of youth culture, from anime to games and manga. For younger generations in foreign countries, these kinds of cultures have served as a sort of gateway for them to get to know Japan. And of these cultures, the one that has proliferated the most amongst young people is perhaps Japanese “kawaii culture,” or “cute culture.” Search “#kawaii” on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, and you’ll find post after post from people in countries throughout the world.

Kawaii culture is said to have been born in Japan in the 1950s. It was at this time that illustrator Rune Naito had created his brand of female characters with unnaturally large eyes and small faces, for the shojo (girl) magazine, “Junior Soleil.” These characteristics, which had been new and innovative at the time, are still seen in “kawaii” characters today, and are thought to be the very first elements of kawaii culture. Rune Naito also made various knickknacks with unique and decorative designs. These kinds of goods have evolved into what is now the “fancy goods” genre of knickknacks, and are an essential part of enjoying kawaii culture.

Nowadays, the most famous examples of kawaii culture are characters like Hello Kitty, Gudetama, Rilakkuma, and Pokemon. Merchandise for these kinds of characters are not limited to dolls, and are available in forms like bags, cutlery, stationery, and more. Limited edition goods that you can only buy in specific regions, like the “Gotochi Kitty” in Japan, are also popular. Try looking for some limited-edition local goods when you visit Japan, and you’ll be sure to encounter kawaii culture.

“Kawaii” food

If you want to really immerse yourself in kawaii culture, you should head to Harajuku, which is known for its obsession with exactly that culture. Harajuku is located in Shibuya Ward on the eastern side of Tokyo. There, you’ll find not only kawaii goods and fashion items, but also kawaii cafés, and restaurants with meals/desserts in the shape of kawaii characters, or with cute decorations, so you can enjoy kawaii culture with all of your senses.

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).

Study in Japan Fairs in FY 2019

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

JASSO and Overseas Representative Offices 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”

Please read the March 2020 issue. It will be available on March 10.

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) This Month:
Kanazawa University

Job Hunting Guide for International Students

New Japanese versions

This guidebook provides a great amount of information for international students looking to job hunt in Japan. This covers everything you need to know, from the preparation process to the entry sheets, tests, changes to statuses of residence, and more, categorized by time period, and in an easy to understand language.

The Japanese version of Job Hunting Guide for International Students 2021 is now ready. You can download it from the link below.

8. From the Editor

In this month’s “Lifestyle Information,” we looked at convenience stores, which have now widely been popularized in areas like Asia and Europe/America. Nowadays, convenience stores (open until late at night, and offering all kinds of products, from food items to everyday necessities) have become essential to the lives of people all around the world. When I visited cities like Taipei, Shanghai, and Bangkok, I found I was very comfortable entering convenience stores that had the same name as those in Japan, and because the locations and types of products are very similar, had no trouble finding the products I was looking for. I do remember, however, seeing a lot of sweet teas (tea made with sugar) in these Asian countries, which really surprised me, since green teas in Japan are almost never made with sugar. I remember thinking, standing there at the convenience store, I guess the stores are similar but our cultures are different after all.

The Japan Alumni eNews Editorial Desk is looking for people who can share their job hunting experiences. We also welcome pictures from your life abroad as an international student, and your comments for our e-mail magazine. Our next issue of Japan Alumni eNews will be released on April 10, 2020. Don’t miss it!

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- Any copying, redistribution, reprinting, etc., of this material is forbidden.

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