Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 73 May 8, 2015

Tree-lined road

1. Life in Japan by Photo

Learn the life in Japan with photos posted by our readers! We look forward to your submissions of memorable photos of your experiences in Japan, including your student life, exposure to Japanese culture and history, travel, and more.
How to submit

Spring of Japan as seen in The Tohoku region

The theme of the May issue is Spring of Japan as seen in The Tohoku region. (Honorific title is omitted.)

Senbonzakura(A Thousand Cherry Blossoms)

Title: Senbonzakura(A Thousand Cherry Blossoms)

Tohoku University

Sendai Gokoku Shrine

Title: Sendai Gokoku Shrine

Cherry Blossoms and Sunset

Title: Cherry Blossoms and Sunset

Ishinomaki's Cherry Blossom

Title: Ishinomaki's Cherry Blossom

2. Alumni News

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

1) News on International Students

News 1:Survey of employment and settlement of international students in Japan

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry conducted a survey of employers, international employees and international students in Japan. The survey sought to shed light on the present situation surrounding the recruitment of international students, as well as issues concerning how they settle and fit in at their companies. The aim is to consider what measures are required to improve employment and settlement rates, and to increase the number of international students. The results were published in a report in March 2015.

News 2: The first doctoral graduate from East Timor is born

Mr Cancio Monteiro, a student from East Timor at the Gifu University Graduate School of Engineering, has completed the final term of his doctoral course in electrical engineering. His graduation ceremony was held on 25 March 2015. It is the first time that an international student from his country has received a doctor’s degree in Japan. Taking advantage of the scholarship system offered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, in 2009 he came to study at Gifu University. He lived in a dormitory with Japanese students and learned to speak Japanese. After his return to his homeland, he will take up a post as a university lecturer.

News 3: For the first time in Japan, "halal ramen" will soon be available

At FABEX, the world food and drink expo held at Tokyo Big Sight on 15-17 April 2015, Akita prefecture’s Rinsendo exhibited Japan’s first ever “halal ramen”, as officially approved by a halal food authority. Although ramen had become the number one most desired dish for Muslims residing in and visiting Japan, until now you couldn’t get ramen that was suitable for those who observe halal guidelines. Their Inaniwa udon noodles also received the halal stamp, and both are scheduled to appear on the market in the near future.

2) Introduction of "Current International Students"

Irvan Ipan

Name: Irvan Ipan
Nationality: Indonesian
University in Japan: Tokyo Institute of Technology, Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Computational Intelligence and Systems Science
Period of stay in Japan: April 2008 to present
Japanese-Language Proficiency Test: JLPT N2

Before I came to Japan, I was studying computer science at an Indonesian university, in particular data analysis using artificial intelligence. There was a name that always featured in theses that I found interesting: Professor Takao Terano, of the Tokyo Institute of Technology. After graduation, I sent him an e-mail at an address I found in his essay, asking him for research advice. He kindly suggested that I come and research in Japan, and so I set my mind on moving over here. Many countries are engaged in computer science research, but Japan is top class in the field of artificial intelligence. I decided that there was a lot to be gained from studying here.
I wanted to devote myself to my research without worrying about tuition fees and living expenses, so I went to the Japanese embassy and applied for a scholarship funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Receiving my letter of acceptance was the most exciting moment of my life.
It’s been 7 years since then, and I’ve experienced so much here in Japan. Besides my research, I try to take an active part in Japanese culture and society, like attending events to interact with Japanese kids, or going on short homestays, with the help of the international student center at my university. This is not just a way to build good relations with the people who live here; sometimes, getting to know the culture and society gives me ideas for my own research. There’s an international student in my laboratory who has chosen bullying among children as the theme of analysis, getting the idea from just such an experience.
The students at the Tokyo Institute of Technology are filled with the spirit of challenge, and many are interested in starting their own business. They have had an influence on me: I want to go back to Indonesia eventually, develop a new service or a business model, and start my own company.



3) Windows of Alumni

4) Introduction of Projects for Overseas Students Returning Home

Tokushima University International Student Alumni Association (Vietnam) set up in Hanoi

On 14 March 2015, Tokushima University set up the Tokushima University International Student Alumni Association (Vietnam) in Hanoi, for Vietnamese students who completed their studies at the university as well as former Vietnamese Tokushima University overseas researchers. Around 40 people from all over Vietnam, including Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, gathered on the day, and with the moderation of representatives from the Alumni Association, the structure and rules of the association were settled on. There was a lively exchange of ideas and suggestions by the members who attended, and the meeting promised many activities for the future.
After this inaugural meeting, there followed a discussion between the alumni and university staff. Susumu Kagawa, president of Tokushima University, described the objectives of setting up the Alumni Association, then went on to present the association’s president Tran Quang Binh with a pennant to mark the occasion. Then Vice Director Jin of the International Center set out the plans for joint activities between the university and the association. People listened with great interest to how other international student alumni associations had been founded up till now, particularly in countries such as China, South Korea, Mongolia, Indonesia and Malaysia.
In addition, Vice Director Jin gave a speech (including a photo presentation) on recent developments at Tokushima University. The alumni were overcome with nostalgia as they recalled their own time on the campus, and they expressed pleasant surprise at the changes that had taken place, such as the new buildings and the renovation of old ones.

Tokushima University International Student Alumni Association (Vietnam) set up in Hanoi

3. Academic News

Introduce scholarships, grants, unique efforts by universities, and more!

1) Introducing Faculties/Graduate Schools

Tokyo Institute of Technology

A world-class university with a history of over 130 years

The Tokyo Institute of Technology is a national university that was founded over 130 years ago, and the top Japanese university dedicated to science and engineering. It is also highly rated worldwide, and was ranked the third best Japanese university in the 2014 world university rankings published by Times Higher Education (THE), the British magazine on higher education.

Fruitful research with top-class researchers and cutting-edge equipment

Tokyo Tech’s advanced research is led by the academic staff who consistently produce remarkable results in world-class research. The academic staff at Tokyo Tech, who are unique and brilliant not just as educators but also as world-class researchers, never cease to stimulate the students’ intellectual curiosity. Tokyo Tech also has a library that stocks all sorts of literature on science and engineering, a world-class supercomputer, and top-quality research equipment in each laboratory. Almost all the current international students, when they are asked why they chose Tokyo Tech, point to the superb range of research equipment available.

Future career after studying at Tokyo Tech

International students at Tokyo Tech are in constant demand from companies and organizations. Manufacturing is the most popular industry after graduation, and you will find Tokyo Tech alumni at many top manufacturers both domestic and overseas – proof that international graduates of Tokyo Tech enjoy an excellent reputation in the manufacturing industry worldwide.
Many alumni also excel in fields that support the social infrastructure, such as the information and communication industry, and the construction industry. Coming to study at Tokyo Tech will open up many possibilities for you.


Graduate Schools

Tokyo Institute of Technology

Tokyo Institute of Technology

Tokyo Institute of Technology

Tokyo Institute of Technology

Tokyo Institute of Technology

2) Scholarships/ Grants/ Invitation/ Awards, etc.

NPO Mobile Communication Fund (MCF)

  • Project name: 2015 Docomo International Student Scholarship

3) Scholarships/ Grants/ Invitation Information and Reports

Yamaha Motor Foundation for Sports (YMFS)

International Sports Scholarship/Foreign Student Scholarship

  • The information below is based on the 2014 academic year. For revisions and updates, please check the YMFS website after September.

-How did the Foundation start? Please tell me more about the Foundation.

Yamaha Motor decided in 2005 – its 50th anniversary – to try to contribute to Japanese society by making use of the tangible and intangible assets that we have nurtured through past activities. So we set up the Yamaha Motor Foundation from Sports, a foundation which aims to promote sports and to improve the sports culture in Japan. We are involved in a wide array of activities: popularizing sports among youths and the wider population; cultivating coaches; teaching safety in sports; promoting research; hosting seminars and symposia; and cooperating with other sports-related organizations and regional municipalities. Through these efforts, the Foundation aims to contribute to the promotion of sports in Japan, and to the prosperity of both the global and regional community.

-Who can apply?

Applicants must be enrolled at a Japanese university or graduate school at the time of acceptance, or be expecting to enroll at a Japanese university or gradate school within a year of being accepted. Applicants must be privately financed international students, involved in study or research related to the promotion and popularization of sports, or the improvement of competitive standards.

-What is the amount paid?

A monthly sum of 100,000 yen is given both to undergraduates and graduates.

-How long is the scholarship period?

You can receive the scholarship for up to 2 years.

-When is the application period?

Application begins in early September every year, and ends in mid-November.

-How do I apply?

Applicants will be required to submit a personal statement, a study outline, a letter of recommendation (from the head of their university, their supervisor etc.), a letter of consent (in the case of minors), an academic transcript (for the previous academic year at their current or most recent school), and documents concerning the aim of their study in Japan (optional). A part of the application must be submitted electronically online, so please check the Foundation’s website during the application period.

-Are there other things to consider when applying?

There is an age limit: recipients must be below the age of 30 at the time of acceptance.

-What duties are there for recipients of the scholarship?

Recipients will be required to produce a quarterly report every 3 months, and a report of the results of their studies in mid-March every year.

Voice of a scholarship student

International student from Laos
I want to promote sports in Laos, my home country. One effective way to encourage children to participate in sports is to raise their confidence about sports. Japan conducts advanced research in this area. With the Foundation’s support, I am currently investigating the present situation in Laos regarding children’s participation in sports, and sports classes at schools, in order to devise ways to encourage Laotian children to take part in sports, based on research findings in Japan.

Yamaha Motor Foundation for Sports

Yamaha Motor Foundation for Sports

Yamaha Motor Foundation for Sports

4) Academic Societies

5) Japanese Language Test

4. Business News

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

1) Job Hunting Event Information

2) Job Hunting Reports from Current International Students

Chen Lin

Name: Chen Lin
Nationality: China
Alma mater: Nihon University
Major: Department of Architecture, College of Engineering
Study period in Japan: March 2009 to February 2015
Company name: Toda Corporation
Japanese proficiency level: Level N1 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)

I was employed in China before I came here to study. But my interest was in architecture, and I ultimately wanted to work internationally in that field. So I decided to come and study in Japan, a country that has advanced quakeproof engineering, and where you can study cutting-edge architecture.
Japanese universities offer thorough support to students searching for jobs, and hold many informal talks with alumni, as well as information sessions given by employers. I made the most of these opportunities, and rather than applying to companies left, right and center, I narrowed my applications down to about 10 companies. I had learnt about these companies from people actually working there about the kind of applicants they were after, and about the nature of the work. I think that the reason my job search went smoothly and successfully was because I was able to gather solid information about the companies. Toda Corporation – where I now work – was a company that I was particularly interested in after hearing about it from an alumnus, and it’s an extremely worthwhile job. At the moment, I’m studying for the first-class architect qualification, which will be required for future work.
There are various points in the job-hunting process, such as the application paperwork and the interviews, which require high Japanese language proficiency, and communication skills. But please don’t write off the possibility just because you’re an international student, and approach the process with confidence. Finally, friends and senior students at university are a great help when you’re looking for jobs, so it’s a good idea to value the connections you’ve made in Japan.

3) Job Hunting Information Corner

The color of the ‘recruit suit’ – a predicament for job-hunters

One of the issues in the job-hunting process that trouble even the Japanese students, is the ‘recruit suit’. Recruit suit is not a specific suit design, but the general term for suits that students wear at interviews and company information sessions. For students unaccustomed to wearing suits, the look itself can be tricky to pull off, but it’s the color of the suit that is talked about often in Japan.
Navy, grey and black are the most commonly worn colors, but according to a survey conducted in December 2014 by a job information website, over 70% of students wore a black suit. It seems that students tend to worry about being the only one not wearing a black suit, and so choose a black suit themselves. But opinions are divided among experts on job-hunting, and human resources executives, and there seems to be no one correct color.
M, an international student from Brazil who went through job-hunting in Japan and ended up at a Japanese company, says that he went for a black suit, but put a lot of thought into the color of his tie.
“I prepared over 10 ties, and wore a different color for each interview. At a second-round interview for one company, I was even complimented on my tie – so I don’t think it gave off a negative impression.”
H, an international student from China, varied the color of his suit from company to company.
“I wore grey or navy suits for venture firms and advertising agencies – on occasions I went without a tie, based on the impression I got from the company’s employees. For financial or construction companies, I always wore black.”
There’s no need to draw attention by wearing something fancy, but giving your appearance your individual twist seems to be a tactic that your predecessors would recommend.

5. Visit Japan

Fukushima Prefecture

Why don’t you try to travel in Japan? Information on places of interest, events, and gourmet spots in Japan is provided on a monthly basis. The May edition features Fukushima Prefecture.

Goshiki-numa Volcanic Lakes

Goshiki-numa is a group of mystical volcanic lakes that come in all kinds of aquatic shades, from emerald green to cobalt blue. In the wake of Mount Bandai's eruption in 1888, a mass of new lakes and marshes – including the Goshiki-numa lakes and the Urabandai plateau at the volcano's north foot – were formed at around 800 metres above sea level. These have now been designated as part of the Bandai-Asahi National Park. Lake Bishamon, the largest of the Goshiki-numa lakes, offers a particularly spectacular panorama, and you can take in the scenery while walking along the trekking path that runs around it.


Rows of ancient thatched homes – some 40 in total – line Õuchi-juku's main avenue for around 500 metres, which preserves the appearance of an old Japanese town. Situated along the Aizu Western Sea Road, which linked together the towns of Aizu-Wakamatsu, Nikko and Imaichi, Õuchi-juku flourished in the Edo Period as a post station. In 1981 it was officially included among the nation's Groups of Traditional Buildings by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, with the aim of conserving the precious historic buildings of the era. These former homes have been turned into gift shops and restaurants serving local specialities.

Spa Resort Hawaiians

Spa Resort Hawaiians is a vast leisure resort located in Yumoto in the city of Iwaki, which boasts heated pools, a hot spring, a golf course, several hotels and more besides. The resort is themed around Hawaii, and visitors will have the chance to witness an authentic Hawaiian hula dance. After the disruption caused by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, the hula dance team got back to work at once, to uplift people's spirits on the path to regeneration.


This papier-mâché model of a red cow is a traditional toy from the Aizu region ("beko" is the word for "cow" in the local Tõhoku dialect). It makes for a popular souvenir, on account of its funny little face and curious mechanism – if you nudge its head, it swings from side to side like a pendulum. People have also used it since time immemorial as a charm to ward off disease and disaster, and to bring happiness.

Sõma Nomaoi Festival

This traditional festival, which takes places every year at the end of July in the city of Minamisõma, gives a powerful impression of the way in which warriors did battle more than a thousand years ago. It is famous for the Shinki-Sõdatsusen battle, the sacred flag competition, in which cavalrymen duke it out over possession of a flag, and the horse races conducted in armour. The highlight of the festival is the sight of 500 people dressed up as warriors parading on horseback through the city's streets, wearing full body armour and carrying swords, their flags streaming behind them.

Kitakata ramen

Together with Sapporo and Hakata, Kitakata is one of the three ramen capitals of Japan. Kitakata ramen is characterised by a full-bodied broth that contains locally produced soya sauce, and thick, chewy, curly noodles that are made using high-grade water from Mount Iide. Recipes for the broth are based on all kinds of ingredients, including seafood and various meats, and different restaurants offer up variations on the standard soya sauce formula, with flavours such as salt and miso also on offer.

Sights in Fukushima Japan
Tourism Information of Fukushima Prefecture


6. NIPPON Information

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

1) Nippon Time Machine

Mother’s Day
In the language of flowers, carnations signify “maternal love”.

The second Sunday in May is “Mother’s Day”. In Japan, people give presents or carnations to their mothers on this day, as a token of gratitude.
As Mother’s Day approaches, florists start displaying carnations of various types and colors, and department stores set up special gift areas. You will witness heart-warming sights around town, like a young boy lovingly carrying a single carnation, or a businesswoman picking out presents after work to send to her mother who lives far away.
Mother’s Day is said to have originated in the US when a woman handed out carnations in a church, to mourn for her mother. The first Mother’s Day event in Japan took place towards the end of the Meiji period. At first, the custom only took place at churches, but then gradually spread to the wider public.
There are many countries besides Japan and USA that have their own Mother’s Day equivalent, and hold celebrations or give gifts on the day. The time of year and manner of celebration vary from country to country, but the purpose of expressing gratitude to mothers is common to all.
This year, Mother’s Day is the 10th of May. All over the country, people will be saying, “Thanks, mom”.

2) Lifestyle Information

A small box full of big ideas: Japan’s bento boxes

In recent times, Japan’s bento lunch boxes have been getting a lot of attention abroad, where people have become generally familiar with the term. Bento boxes come in all manner of designs and materials, from such traditional types as the wappa (made from thin sheets of curved cedar wood) and the takekago(a basket of woven bamboo) to aluminium and plastic varieties, and even two-tiered models with a bowl attached. And progress continues to be made, as boxes acquire neat new features: some are now manufactured with an ice pack inside the lid to stop the food from going off in summer, while others serve as a sort of thermos to keep soup warm.

The contents of a bento box typically include onigiri (rice balls), karaage (fried chicken), nimono (boiled vegetables simmered in broth) and tamagoyaki (a kind of omelette). Some people arrange the ingredients into anime characters – the most accomplished of these so-called kyara-ben (short for “character bento”) are uploaded to the internet, where they have grabbed the attention of people around the world. These started off as a way for mothers to help their children get over their dislike of vegetables and enjoy their food, and you can really feel the maternal love in them.

The bento boxes sold in shops also vary depending on where you go. Come lunchtime, the food halls in department stores fill up with customers shopping for a bento. Then there are the ekiben – those that are sold inside train stations – which provide a feast for the eyes (and taste buds) of commuters with their ingenious packaging and assortment of local delicacies. Bento boxes brim with the playfulness, creativity and seasonal sensitivity of the Japanese people.

7. JASSO News

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

1) Schedule, etc. for 2015 Japan Education Fairs

2) Information about the “Student Guide to Japan”

3) Official Facebook pages of JASSO and Overseas Representative Offices

We also provide the latest information on studying in Japan on our official Facebook pages. Check them out!

4) Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU)

5) JASSO Scholarship programs

6) Web Magazine “Ryugakukoryu”(In Japanese Only)

7) Follow-up Research Guidance (Dispatching research advisors)

8. From the Reader

Many thanks.
(Wakil Ahmad Sarhadi)

(Honorific title is omitted.)

[From the Editor]
What did you think of the May issue of Japan Alumni eNews? As well as providing information for international students, we hope that it helps you to understand the culture and customs of Japan. We described Mother’s Day in NIPPON Information, and it would be interesting to find out how it is celebrated where you come from.
By now, those of you who started your new life in April have probably gotten used to your surroundings. It’s common to become fatigued after the May bank holidays, so please make sure to take care of yourselves and stay healthy.

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 June 10th. Don’t miss it!

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