Japan Alumni eNews (Vol. 134)

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 134 June 10, 2020

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 134

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

June in Japan

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

Teru Teru Bozu (Talisman to Bring Good Weather)

Teru Teru Bozu (Talisman to Bring Good Weather)

Ume Plum Juice

Ume Plum Juice

Summer Vegetables (Tomato, Eggplant, Cucumber)

Summer Vegetables (Tomato, Eggplant, Cucumber)

Minced Horse Mackerel

Minced Horse Mackerel

2. Alumni News

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

News on International Students

NEWS 1: Japan Edition of World University Rankings Released, with Shifts in Top Three

Times Higher Education, a UK higher education magazine that publishes annual world university rankings, released their “Japan University Rankings 2020,” limited only to Japanese universities, in March 2020. The rankings had Tohoku University in 1st place for the first time ever, followed by Kyoto University (1st place last year) in 2nd place, and The University of Tokyo (2nd place last year) and the Tokyo Institute of Technology (7th place last year) tied for third place. The ranking system evaluates universities according to four criteria: Resources, Engagement, Outcomes, and Environment. Tohoku University received higher scores this year in Outcomes and Environment, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, which moved up four places since last year, saw their ranking in Engagement skyrocket, from 25th to 9th place.

NEWS 2: Number of Classes Conducted in English Exceeds Target Values, According to Survey by the Japan Association of National Universities

The Japan Association of National Universities released the results of a survey conducted to drive internationalization in Japan, based on a policy called the “Further Internationalization of Education in Japanese Universities.” The survey, conducted in 2019 from November to December, has looked into factors like the percentage of international students, the percentage of foreign faculty, and the number of classes conducted in English, for every year since 2012, with the target year set to 2020. By FY 2019, the number of classes conducted in English had already hit 114% (undergraduate) and 175% (graduate school) of their target values. However, the percentage of international students was 8%, short of the 10% goal, and the percentage of foreign faculty was 4.8%, short of the 6.4% goal.

Study Abroad Testimonial

Baasansuren Gankhurel

Name: Baasansuren Gankhurel
Nationality: Mongolia
University: Kanazawa University
Major: Global and Environmental Studies Course, Division of Environmental Design, Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology
Period of Study: September 2016 to present
Japanese Proficiency Level: Japanese-Language Proficiency Test N1

It’s been my dream to study abroad since high school. After getting my undergraduate degree, I joined a joint research project between the National University of Mongolia and Kanazawa University, and met a Japanese professor. That was when I decided I would study abroad in Japan. Now I do research on environmental pollution, specifically the mobility of heavy metals in contaminated soil. This is research that would also be useful in Mongolia, where there’s a lot of mining.

My days at the university start with me checking my e-mail. Then, I go process and analyze samples in the lab, and eat lunch with the people at my lab or with the professors. It’s really fun to be able to ask the professors for advice on my research, or just talk about whatever is on our minds. In the afternoon we usually have research seminars, where we listen to the others discuss their research, and present on our own research. We also have academic conferences a few times a year, which are fun. We get to present the results of our research, and get opinions and comments from specialists, which really motivates us to improve our research. They’re also great opportunities to make new friends and have discussions with people doing the same kinds of research as you.

Kanazawa University is on top of a hill, with lots of trees on and around the paths, and beautiful natural scenery. I love to look around at the scenery to relax on my walk home at night.

Studying abroad in Japan has given me the opportunity for a great education, but it’s also taught me a lot about life. There’s a lot you can learn from Japanese culture and Japanese traditions, so I encourage you all to study abroad here, live here, and see what it’s like.

List of Japan Alumni Associations

Introduction of Support for International Students Returning Home

Tsukuba Alumni Network (T-Net)

Tsukuba Alumni Network (T-Net) is a platform that was created to strengthen the University of Tsukuba alumni network. Currently, the University of Tsukuba is home to international students from over 100 countries. T-Net helps facilitate connections not only amongst these international students, but also amongst current students, faculty, Japanese alumni who live in Japan and overseas, etc. Members can register and update their information (place of residence, etc.), search an alumni database, send e-mails, contact alumni associations in various regions, and more. In doing so, they can deepen their bonds with alumni from all over the world.

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.

Yamagata University

Main entrance to Yamagata University

University Profile (as of March 2020)
Name: Yamagata University
Address: 1-4-12 Kojirakawa-machi, Yamagata-shi, Yamagata (Kojirakawa Campus)
Number of Students: Undergraduate: 7,449 / Graduate School: 1,243
International Students: 283

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

Yamagata University, which marked its 70th anniversary in 2019, is one of the largest-scale universities in eastern Japan. The university is comprised of four campuses in three cities within the prefecture (Yamagata City, Yonezawa City, and Tsuruoka City), with six undergraduate faculties and seven graduate schools, attended by approximately 9,000 students. The university serves as a hub for future leaders of innovation, taking on education, research, and community-building while upholding their missions of “regional innovation,” “future creation,” and “multicultural collaboration.”

2. Overview and Characteristics of Distinctive Faculties and Graduate Schools

Gingko trees lining the side of the road in autumn

A team comprised mainly of researchers from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences has been engaged in the research of the Nazca Lines in Peru, a World Heritage Site, through which they have contributed to the discovery and preservation of geoglyphs. In 2019, the team reported the discovery of 143 new geoglyphs, and their methods, which included the utilization of AI, received widespread coverage. The Faculty of Medicine is also preparing to begin operations for a heavy particle radiotherapy facility, the first of its kind in the Tohoku area. This particular facility is characterized by its conservation of space and energy, and has a partnership agreement established with Yonsei University in Korea.

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

Important Cultural Property that belongs to the Faculty of Engineering

The Hakuyo Dorm, a dormitory for students at the Faculty of Engineering, was renovated in 2019. The dorm, which has a capacity of 250, is home to international students as well, with a variety of communal spaces that encourage communication amongst all of the residents.

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

Yamagata University works with local governments and other universities to provide bus tours, joint company information sessions, etc., of local companies for international students who wish to find work in companies within Yamagata Prefecture. The university also has an alumni association for international students from Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and China, which can be used as a network for alumni who graduated from the university and are now working in their home countries.

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

Japan Educational Exchanges and Services (JEES)

(1) 2020 JEES International Scholarship (Study Support)
1. Objective:
This scholarship is available to privately-financed international students enrolled in a Japanese university (including graduate school), or who are in their fourth year or more at a technical college, with outstanding character and academic performance. It is intended to ameliorate students’ financial worries and help improve their learning.
2. Monthly Scholarship Amount:
40,000 yen

(2) 2020 JEES International Scholarship (Priority Countries)
1. Objective
This scholarship is available to privately-financed international students enrolled in Japanese universities (including graduate schools), who are from countries that send few international students to Japan (see the application/recommendation requirements listed on our website for the list of countries), and have outstanding character and academic performance. It is intended to ameliorate students’ financial worries and improve their learning.
2. Monthly Scholarship Amount:
50,000 yen

(3) JEES Scholarship for the Promotion of Japanese Language Learning (JLPT)
1. Objective:
This scholarship is available to privately-financed international students enrolled in a Japanese university (including graduate school and junior college), who have had outstanding performance in the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) administered by the association, and who wish to become Japanese language instructors. It is intended to drive the expansion of Japanese language education, and help cultivate the next generation of Japanese language instructors.
2. Monthly Scholarship Amount:
50,000 yen

(4) JEES Scholarship for the Promotion of Japanese Language Learning (JLTCT)
1. Overview:
This scholarship is available to students (including privately-financed students) enrolled in a Japanese university (including graduate school and technical college) that have passed the Japanese Language Teaching Competency Test administered by the association, and who wish to become Japanese language instructors. It is intended to drive the expansion of Japanese language education, and help cultivate the next generation of Japanese language instructors.
2. Monthly Scholarship Amount:
50,000 yen

The following information is shared across all four of the scholarships.

3. Application Requirements:

4. Application Method:
Apply through the university, etc., in which you are currently enrolled.
5. Application Deadline:
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
6. Scholarship Duration:
Maximum 2 years (Limited to period in which student is enrolled at their university, etc.)
7. Contact:

Information About International Symposium

Special Webinar Series: “What can we do? International education during the Covid-19 pandemic”

The Research Consortium for the Sustainable Promotion of International Education (RECSIE) is holding a special webinar series on the role of international educators and what they can do amid the corona crisis, with an aim to put forward concrete measures, share practical advice, and exchange opinions on the subject. The webinars will focus on discussing the future of international education exchanges post-COVID-19 from the point of view of specialists from Europe, North America, Australia and Asia.

Series 6: How are international partnerships affected by Covid-19?
Date/Time: Wednesday, June 10, 2020 / 8:00 P.M. to 9:30 P.M
Series 7: Possible remedies - student mobility in Asia and the Pacific during Covid-19 pandemic
Date/Time: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 / 10:30 A.M. to 12:00 P.M.

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

Zhang Liang

Name: Zhang Liang
Nationality: China
University: Musashino University Graduate School, Waseda University Graduate School
Major: Language and Culture Program, Graduate School of Language and Culture, Musashino University; Cultural Sciences Chinese Studies Program, Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University
Period of Study in Japan : October 2009 to March 2015
Current Workplace: Arc Communications Inc.
Japanese Proficiency Level: Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (Pre-Revision) Level 1

When I was about eight years old, my parents got me my first manga. It was “Doraemon.” That was how I learned for the first time about Japan, a country that wasn’t the country I was living in. Looking back, I think that was when I started being influenced by Japanese culture, and when it became my dream to try living in Japan.

In 2009, I was able to study abroad in Japan and finally make my dream come true. But I knew that being a student wasn’t all there was to life, and that being a working adult could teach me so much more, so I decided to work in Japan after I graduated.

The first thing you have to do when job hunting is to analyze yourself. You have to figure out what kind of work you want to do, of course, but also what exactly you’re capable of offering at that point in your life. It’s easier to advertise your strengths to companies during interviews, for example, when you know exactly what your abilities are, what characterizes you, and when you’re able to set goals that are appropriate for you. The key is to try to weed out work that isn’t compatible with you or your skills in advance, instead of starting the job and finding out later. But to do that, you have to know yourself very well.

Don’t get to thinking, “This company has really high standards. I’m not going to get in. I should just give up.” Practice, practice, practice, until you’re able to promote yourself in a way that really speaks to the representatives of these companies. Treasure every little opportunity, and be confident as you take on these challenges. The more experience you gain, the more you’re likely to grow as a person as well.

Job Hunting Information Article

Job Hunting Etiquette

When job hunting, it’s important that you know the proper etiquette: clothing and grooming, how to use keigo (honorific language), how to talk on the phone, how to write e-mails, and more. You’ll make a better impression on companies if you have the proper etiquette. You may find Japanese etiquette difficult to learn, but once you master it, it’ll come in handy even after job hunting. Make sure to look up the proper etiquette, and reflect periodically on your own behavior during job hunting to make sure your etiquette is as good as it can be.

The “Job Hunting Guide for International Students,” published by the Japan Student Services Organization, goes into detail about three categories of job hunting etiquette: favorable job hunting styles, honorific language and letter-writing etiquette, and telephone and e-mail etiquette. Japanese and other language (English, Chinese, and Korean) versions of this guidebook can be downloaded in PDF form from the link below. We encourage you all to use it, as it covers all kinds of information about job hunting in addition to etiquette.

5. Visit Japan

Introducing regions in Japan with universities, and more! The June issue looks at Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture.

Introducing Cities and Daily Life As a Study Abroad Student

Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture

Kurashiki City is a city in Okayama Prefecture, on the western side of Honshu, that faces the Seto Inland Sea. It has a population of 470,000, and is the second most populous city in Okayama Prefecture, located approximately three and a half hours away from Tokyo and an hour away from Osaka by Shinkansen. Kurashiki City is known both for its industry and tourism, but also for the fact that it is home to 10 universities and junior colleges, something unique for a city outside of Japan’s three major metropolitan areas (Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya).

Scenery at the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter

Especially popular in Kurashiki City is the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, which you can get to by walking from JR Kurashiki Station. In this area is the beautifully preserved townscape of the Edo Period, with its traditional buildings, willow tree-lined river, and more. Inside the town are art museums, souvenir shops, cafes, and specialty shops selling jeans, canvases (thick, sturdy cloth), etc., all popular with tourists.

Night scenery of the Mizushima Coastal Industrial Zone

In the area around the Port of Mizushima, located along the Seto Inland Sea in Kurashiki City, is the Mizushima Coastal Industrial Zone, home to massive factories in the oil refining, steel, and automobile industries. In recent years, going out to see the night scenery of factories (“kojo yakei”) has become somewhat of a trend in Japan, and the Mizushima Coastal Industrial Zone has grown increasingly popular as a tourist site.

As of 2019, Kurashiki City is home to 10 universities and junior colleges, as well as a research institute for a national university, with approximately 8,600 students studying in the city. Many of the students live in the Nakasho area, which is located in the northeastern part of Kurashiki City. The area has a lot of the kind of stores you need in your everyday life, from convenience stores to supermarkets, cafeterias/restaurants, and drug stores, and is a great place for students to live. The Nakasho area also offers much in terms of leisure, with professional baseball matches and other events held in Kurashiki Sports Park, which is located in the area. In addition to its six municipal libraries, the city also boasts public facilities like a natural history museum and an art museum, allowing residents access to art and culture on an everyday basis.The average rent for an apartment in Kurashiki City is around 30,000 to 50,000 yen for the kind of 1R or 1K one-room apartments suited for living on your own, and the Nakasho area has many student-oriented apartments that are priced slightly lower, at 30,000 to 40,000 yen on average (as of 2020).

There are approximately 90 international students attending the universities and junior colleges in Kurashiki City, with the city itself home to more than 5,500 foreign residents. The Kurashiki City International Exchange Association makes efforts to support foreign residents in the city, including international students, by hosting events like Japanese language classes and parties, and communicating important information in foreign languages. The city also offers a scholarship called the Kurashiki City Financial Aid for Privately Financed Students for university and junior college students within the city.

6. NIPPON Information

This section introduces information on Japan for international students!

Lifestyle Information

Electricity, Gas, and Water Bills in Japan

Electricity, gas, and water are everyday necessities with contracts, prices, etc., that vary across countries. It’s good to know the basics before you arrive in Japan, so that you don’t get confused when you get here. That’s why in this edition of “Lifestyle Information,” we’re covering electricity, gas, and water bills in Japan: how to establish a contract, how to make payments, and the prices for these utilities.

In the past, residents in Japan generally had separate contracts for electricity, gas, and water: electricity companies for electricity, gas companies for gas, and the municipal waterworks bureau for water. In recent years, however, it’s become more common for electricity companies, gas companies, etc., to offer bundled electricity and gas contracts. You can easily establish a contract through the Internet or on the phone, or through the registration form you’ll sometimes find in your apartment when you move in.

You can choose to pay your electricity, gas, and water bills by credit card, direct withdrawal, or cash. Credit card and direct withdrawal payments are made automatically at a set date every month (only water bills are paid once every two months). If you want to pay by cash, you can take the payment form sent to you via postal mail to a convenience store, etc., and make your payment there. Be careful, though, if you fall behind on payments, your electricity, gas, and/or water may be shut off.

According to a survey by the Japan Student Services Organization, the total price for a month’s worth of electricity, gas, and water for a privately-financed international student is about 8,000 yen. Electricity bills tend to be higher in the summer, when people tend to keep their air conditioning on, as well as in the winter. Be aware that the amount you pay for your electricity, gas, and water bills will differ according to how much of each you use, and try not to use any of them too much.

Consult your apartment broker, landlord, etc., or your university’s international student support center, if you have any questions or are confused about anything regarding the contracts or payments for your electricity, gas, and/or water bill.

Get to Know Japan

In this section, we will introduce topics on culture, technology, lifestyle, and more in Japan.
The June issue looks at some of the most Instagrammable aspects of “wa” (Japanese culture and sensibilities) in Japan.

Instagrammable Aspects of “Wa” (Japanese Culture and Sensibilities)

The Japanese equivalent to something being “Instagrammable,” in other words something that’s interesting and gets you attention on social media, is called “SNS-bae,” which translates directly to “looks good on social media (SNS).” In Japan, it’s common for people to upload photos of distinctly Japanese sceneries, tools, food, etc., on social media. Here, we cover some of the most Instagrammable aspects of “wa” (Japanese culture and sensibilities) that people like to post on social media.

Wagashi (Traditional Japanese confectioneries)

Wagashi are traditional Japanese confectioneries that are known for being uber-Instagrammable. There are many kinds of wagashi, from dango (bite-sized sweet or savory rice dumplings) to manju (rice cake with sweet or savory filling), to yokan (sweet jellied red bean blocks), monaka (rice wafers with sweet red bean filling), senbei (rice crackers), and more. Nerikiri (sweet bean confectioneries in various shapes), a type of wagashi formed in the shapes of seasonal flowers, fruits, etc., are particularly popular amongst social media enthusiasts. In recent years, there’s also been a surge of “kawaii” (cute) wagashi in the shapes of animals, anime characters, and more. Search social media with the tag “#wagashi” to see more of this kind of “edible art” wagashi.

Woman in a kimono

Kimonos, a type of traditional Japanese clothing, are also popular on social media. Just try searching “#kimono,” and see how many photos pop up. In recent years, the widespread adoption of Western clothing has meant fewer and fewer people are wearing kimonos in their everyday lives. A growing number of people, however, wear kimonos at special events like weddings, parties, and graduation ceremonies, and many tourist spots have kimono rental stores for those who want to try taking a walk in a kimono. Kimonos often feature distinct patterns and color combinations you don’t see in Western clothing, and it can be very fun to pair different kimonos with different obi (sashes worn around the waist of the kimono). They’re a great example of a very Instagrammable aspect of “wa.”

Window in the inome pattern

Traditional Japanese buildings like temples, shrines, and ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) have also come to be considered great Instagram spots. One recent trend is what’s called an “inome,” or a heart-shaped pattern used in certain areas of certain buildings. The inome, originally intended as a talisman to ward off evil, has become popular amongst young people for its cute heart-shaped pattern, with many of them uploading photos of the pattern on social media, with an “#inome” hashtag.

Scenery with autumn leaves

Another Instagrammable facet of Japan is its nature, more specifically the shifting of its four seasons. The autumn leaves in fall is particularly popular amongst foreign tourists, with many of them visiting Japan around when the leaves change color. The colors of the autumn leaves blend very well with the reserved atmosphere of many Japanese-style buildings, affording you the opportunity to take very Instagrammable photos indeed.

That’s not all, of course. There are still many aspects of “wa,” whether they be sceneries or objects, that would look amazing on social media. Why not search for yourself some places you want to go in the future?

Magazines and Brochures from Japanese Government

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 2020

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.

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)

The Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (1st Session), originally planned for Sunday, June 21, 2020, has been cancelled.

JASSO Scholarship Programs

Web Magazine “Ryugakukoryu”

Please read the February 2020 issue. It will be available on June 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.

New University Listing(s):
Chubu University
Kitami Institute of Technology
Hokkaido University
Osaka University
Kanazawa University
Okayama University

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.

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 the “Job Hunting Guide 2021” is now complete, with distribution underway. The Japanese version, along with the other language versions (English, Chinese, and Korean) can be downloaded in PDF form from the following website.

8. From the Editor

In this month’s “Get to Know Japan,” we covered some of the most Instagrammable aspects of “wa” (Japanese culture and sensibilities). Nerikiri, a type of wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionery), is available in all kinds of beautiful shapes, many of which have reflected the four seasons since ancient times. Nerikiri are delicious and fun to look at, but are a tad bit expensive. There are all kinds of other wagashi that are cheaper and more accessible, from mitarashi dango (rice dumplings with sweet soy sauce glaze) to kusamochi (yomogi rice cakes), suama (sweet red and pink rice cakes), ohagi (rice cake covered with sweet red bean paste), daifuku (rice cake with sweet filling), and more. You can get these at convenience stores, but we encourage you to try the ones at your local wagashi shop, to get a taste of the more traditional flavors.

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 July 10, 2020. Don’t miss it!

- Copyright for this online magazine belongs to Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO).
- Any copying, redistribution, reprinting, etc., of this material is forbidden.

Follow-up Services and Career Support Unit, International Scholarship Division, Student Exchange Department Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO)
  • Address 2-2-1 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-8630 JAPAN
  • TEL +81-3-5520-6030
  • FAX +81-3-5520-6031
  • E-mail alumni-newsletter at mark jasso.go.jp
  • Please convert "at mark" to @ when you send an e-mail to us.