Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 75 July 10, 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
Please send your photos with the information listed below to the following address.

July of Japan

The theme of the July issue is photo introduces July of Japan.





2. Alumni News

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

1) News about International Students

News 1:Introducing JAPAN LIBRALY, a veritable cornucopia of Japanese books in translation

Established in cooperation with publishing professionals and a medley of experts, JAPAN LIBRALY is an exciting collection of books hand-picked from not only the field of Japanese culture, but also from politics, foreign policy, philosophy, social studies, and science and technology. We hope it will promote a deeper, multilayered understanding of Japan, and also spark new intellectual dialogues around the world.
JAPAN LIBRALY offers complimentary copies to major universities and public libraries around the world. Ebook editioons are also available for sale. For more information please visit.

News 2: Rising recruitment demand for international students

With the recent increase of tourists to Japan from overseas, the travel industry and the retail industry are actively seeking Chinese international students to serve as instant workforce; and the economic recovery has caused manufacturers to recruit international students from Southeast Asian nations, in order to enable and facilitate overseas expansion. HelloWork Umeda in Osaka held its joint job fair, which had always been held after the end of summer, in June this year, in order to meet the increased demand from companies. It says that it will continue to provide more opportunities for international students and companies to connect with each other.

News 3: International students appointed as Chiba Prefecture’s PR ambassadors

On June 12th, Chiba Prefecture appointed 20 international students from 14 countries and regions, enrolled at a university in Chiba, as “CHI-BA+KUN Ambassadors”, to spread the prefecture’s appeal to the world through Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Now in its 5th year, the CHI-BA+KUN Ambassadors project receives applications around April every year, from foreign nationals living, working, or studying in Chiba Prefecture. Ambassadors are expected to disseminate information in their native language on a daily basis for one year, through tours organized by the prefecture, and personal visits.

2) Introduction of Current International Students

Wee Yih Chain

Name: Wee Yih Chain
Nationality: Malaysia
University in Japan: Kansai University, Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Environmental and Urban Engineering
Period of stay in Japan: April 2009 to present
Japanese-Language Proficiency Test: JLPT N1

It had always been my dream to become an architect, and so I wanted to study architecture; but I was also interested by the Japanese language and the way it is composed of hiragana, katakana and kanji. So Japan was the only logical destination for my study abroad, as it allowed me both to study globally top-tier architectural technology, and have constant exposure to Japanese.
But despite my interest, I was by no means proficient in Japanese. So at the start, I couldn’t understand the lectures at all, and I had to seek help from the people around me. The most important thing for improving your language skills, not just Japanese, is to speak with lots of different people. So I became an officer of the International Students Club at my university to make more friends that I could talk to in Japanese, by organizing fun events involving both international and Japanese students, and helping international students meet each other.
This experience also taught me that the wider the community I built around me, the wider the knowledge that I could gain about areas other than language and architecture. So I started to actively take part in projects outside the university, to build a network that was not limited to my own university. I worked as part of the operation staff at Aqua Metropolis Osaka in 2012, and in 2013 I took part in the project to introduce QR code guides in the Nakamura House, a governmentally designated Important Cultural Property in Okinawa, as well as the weekend museum volunteer project in Ogusuku, Okinawa; last year, I went on an exchange program to the National University of Singapore. All these were activities that I could get involved in because I was at university in Japan. Delicious food and beautiful townscape are certainly parts of Japan’s appeal, but I hope that students coming to Japan discover the joy of the connections you can make in Japan.
I want to remain in Japan after I finish graduate school next year, so now I’m looking for a job here. My plan is to join a Japanese company, and try to expand my circle of contacts globally, while using Japanese.

Wee Yih Chain

Wee Yih Chain

3) Windows of Alumni

4) Information about programs for former international students

J.F. Oberlin University’s overseas operations

J.F. Oberlin University has 5 overseas offices: the Beijing Office, the Obirin Gakuen Foundation of America (OGFA), the Flight Operations Hamilton Office, the J.F. Oberlin Research Facilities at Stanford University, and the Ulan Bator Office. Each of these engages in activities to foster international communication, and to provide support and information for prospective, current and previous international students at J.F. Oberlin. The Beijing Office in particular puts a lot of effort into building a network of people related to J.F. Oberlin University, and runs its own Chinese-language website.

J.F. Oberlin University Beijing Office

J.F. Oberlin University Beijing Office

The J.F. Oberlin University Beijing Office was established in 2005, and has since been offering support to visiting students from J.F. Oberlin to China, and assistance to Chinese applicants to J.F. Oberlin’s Institute for Japanese Language and Culture (a special course for international students), such as arranging the application documents. The Beijing Office developed its activities around its alumni organization in order to build an J.F. Oberlin network, particularly among Chinese and Japanese alumni; from this network, it can then build support groups, gather and disseminate information about companies, train teachers, and other activities.
Since 2011, the Beijing Office has been doing its best to promote the University through the newly upgraded website, and endeavoring to foster communication with, and provide information to, Oberliners at the University. The Office’s aim is to serve as an accessible gateway and hub for all people associated with J.F. Oberlin University.

3. Academic News

Introducing scholarships, grants, unique activities at individual universities, and more!

1) Introduction of faculties/graduate schools

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

Waseda University, Center for Japanese Language (CJL)

A substantial curriculum to meet wide-ranging needs

The Center for Japanese Language was set up in 1988 as a body of Waseda University, to provide broad Japanese language education to international and Japanese students. We have 2680 students (number for the 2014 academic year) from over 20 countries and regions, and a total of 640 classes per week teaching various levels of Japanese. It is one of the largest institutions offering Japanese language education in the world. All kinds of students study with us, from people who want to deepen their understanding of Japanese language and culture, to people who want to attend a Japanese university or graduate school, people seeking work at a Japanese company, foreign researchers, and people on a dispatch to Japan to companies and embassies.

Waseda University

The Japanese Language Program - for those who want to learn Japanese thoroughly

The half-year or one-year Japanese Language Program offers the Comprehensive Japanese Subjects, which aims to give students a well-balanced training in the four core skills, and the Japanese Theme Subjects, which provides specialized teaching following a particular theme. We accommodate all level of students, from those without prior experience of Japanese, to advanced and highly advanced students.

The Short-term Japanese Program – for those who want to improve quickly

The 3-week or 6-week Short-term Japanese Program teaches beginner to intermediate level Japanese, and includes subjects to study the language comprehensively, as well as extracurricular activities through which students can gain first-hand experience of Japanese culture and society. Through encountering real-life situations that require Japanese, students can acquire practical language skills.

Waseda University course credits

We have a system by which students are given Waseda University course credits for subjects completed at CJL, which can be approved by the University based on an evaluation of the student’s academic transcript. Furthermore, as members of Waseda University, students have access to its extensive libraries and various facilities, as well as to the university intranet.

Waseda University

Waseda University

Waseda University

Solid advisory and support systems

Waseda Nihongo Support offers assistance to learners, such as support for designing Japanese study plans, and advice concerning appropriate materials and methods for studying Japanese.

Furthermore, in order to make the classes more effective, Japanese natives – volunteer undergraduates and graduates from the University – participate in the learning process and offer support, for example by working as discussion partners.

Waseda University

Interacting with Japanese students, and experiencing a multicultural community

On top of the above, students at CJL actively participate in various events organized by the International Community Center (ICC) to foster international interaction, in order to interact with Waseda students from Japan and other parts of the world. We provide information on local accommodation in nearby areas, and provide a campus where all cultures can coexist, accommodating diversity for example by offering halal food at the student canteen. We hope that students from all over the world will come and join us.

Waseda University

Waseda University

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

Nomura Research Institute (NRI)

  • Project name:The 10th NRI Student Essay Contest 2015: International Students category

3) Information and testimonials about scholarships, prizes, appointments etc.

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 report

Name: Pan Han
Nationality: Chinese
Alma mater: University of Tokyo
Major: Graduate School of Engineering, Department of Materials Engineering
Study period in Japan: October 2008 to March 2015
Company name: Sony Corporation
Japanese proficiency level: JLPT N1

The junior and senior high schools that I went to were slightly peculiar, in that we studied Japanese alongside English as foreign language subjects. I took JLPT N1 in my first year at senior high, and went on an exchange in my second year to a high school in Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture, at the invitation of the Japan Foundation. So Japan was a country close to my heart, and it was only natural that I should come to a Japanese university after graduating from high school. I spent university and graduate school in Japan, and so in a way getting a job in Japan was just an extension of this; but more than that, I felt that I wanted to turn all the input of knowledge and skills that I had gained in Japan, into output in Japan. I also wanted to get a job at one of the top companies in Japan, and get to know the Japanese style of management; I was living and studying in Japan, after all.
What I valued in the job-hunting process was the question of what I wanted to do. It had been a big decision to come to Japan in the first place, and it would have been a waste of that ambition if I settled for just any old job. Before I started browsing job-hunting websites and learning about companies, I first set two criteria for myself: I wanted a job where I make use of knowledge in my field of research, and I wanted to work at a company that had a global presence. Only then did I start looking at specific companies. Among the companies I considered, Sony was looking for technical staff in my specialist field, and offered opportunities to work outside Japan, so it was really the ideal firm for me. The fact that it had, despite being a global corporation, a slight feel of a start-up, was another part of its appeal for me.
You have time until you start looking for jobs. So use it to learn about companies – and yourself – slowly, steadily. What do you want to do? Where do you hope to be in the future? These are not questions with straightforward answers, but when it comes to your job, you have to follow a path that you’re happy with. I think that struggling with these questions can also give you motivation to move onto the next step. My advice is not to make any compromises that narrow down your possibilities, and tackle the job-hunting process with confidence.

3) Job Hunting Information Corner

How to formulate your career plan

Japanese firms tend to follow a lifetime employment system, in which students are expected to work for one company, from the time of employment after graduating university, all the way until retirement. Although companies that don’t presuppose lifelong employment as a given are increasing, many companies still wish employees to work for as long a time as possible. For this reason, when you are looking for jobs, you should take into consideration how long the companies of your choice expect you to work, what career plan you are envisaging for yourself, and whether these two are compatible.
S, from Malaysia, who has worked for over 10 years for a car manufacturer in design and development, says that it’s better to think not “how long you plan to work in Japan”, but “what you want to do, and in how many years’ time”.
“I’m a technician, and I was determined that I would keep on working at the company at least until a technology that I devised was incorporated into a product. As a result I ended up working for over 10 years, but I am happy that I managed to realize the career plan that I set for myself. And I’m beginning to move onto the next plan now, as this experience has made me want to remain in the current environment, where I was able to excel.”
W, from China, who works for a company in the communications business, looked for a company that would allow him to work for a long time, but with the intention of returning to China one day.
“It seemed a shame to join a company then quit after only a few years, to go back to my country. But I did hope to return to China some time. So I chose my current company, which told me that as it expanded its business overseas, it planned eventually to assign foreign national employees to their home country – so I would be posted in China – in order to devise business strategies that are suited to the location. I think that the choice was beneficial both to the company and to myself.”
All the previous job hunters that we interviewed told us about the importance, when seeking a job, of setting clear career milestones, and contemplating your reason for working in Japan.

5. Visit Japan

Tokushima Prefecture

Have you tried travelling around Japan? In this section, we bring you information about sights, events and foods from all over the country! This month, we look at Tokushima Prefecture, home to the famous dance festival of Awa Odori.

Oboke and Koboke

The current of Yoshino-gawa River formed these valleys, eroding its way through the rock, which in this area tends to break into sheets. The rocks lining the river have the appearance of towering marble statues, creating formidable scenery. Here you can enjoy a gentle boat tour down the river, or even try your hand at rafting. The rocks at Oboke valley and the V-shaped cliffs are designated natural monuments.

The Otsuka Museum of Art

This museum is a world-first, exhibiting reproductions of famous masterpieces that have been transferred onto ceramic boards with a special technique in their original size. As the masterpieces are on ceramic, they can last in their state for hundreds of years. The three-dimensional exhibit of Sistine Chapel, which recreates the original space in its entirety, murals, ceiling paintings and all, is breathtaking. The museum showcases over 1,000 artworks, in one of the largest exhibition spaces in the country.
*The photograph is of an exhibit at the Otsuka Museum of Art

Awa shijira ori

This material is a Tokushima City original, woven wool with a crimped pattern called shibo, which gives the fabric a distinctive touch and beauty. It is lightweight, soft to the touch, and doesn’t stick even to sweaty skin, so it is the perfect material for summer dress. The awa sho ai shijira ori, which uses for its coloring the awa ai dye – also a Tokushima product – is a traditional craft designated by the Japanese government.

Kito-sugi log-riding competition

This is a participatory event held in July, where you ride akito-sugi (a type of cedar tree) log down the river, while maintaining balance with just a bamboo stick. This used to be an actual method for transporting cedar until about 60 years ago, but now its techniques have been passed on as a sport.

Handa Somen

The quality water from the river and the cold wind from the mountains make for an ideal setting for making somen noodles. Handasomen is produced in the Handa district of Tsurugi-cho, and characterized by the firmness and thickness of its noodles. It feels silky smooth to swallow, and has an exceptional taste too.

Tokushima Prefecture Tourist Information Page: “Awa Navi”

6. NIPPON Information

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

1) Nippon Time Machine

Eating eel on doyo no ushi no hi, the Day of the Ox

When you hear ‘doyo’, you might think of ‘doyobi’, the Japanese word for Saturday. But thedoyo in doyo no ushi no hi refers to the 18 or so days before the first day of each season in the old Japanese calendar, namely risshun (beginning of spring), rikka (beginning of summer),risshu (beginning of fall), and rittou (beginning of winter). Although there are four doyo’s every year, nowadays the word generally refers to the ‘summer doyo’, the 19 days leading up torisshu. Risshu is the start of the fall season, but on the modern calendar, it is around August 8th every year; so the summer doyo is from late July to early August, in the height of summer.
Ushi no hi (‘day of the ox’) are the days which, when the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac are assigned to each day of the calendar in order, fall upon the Ox. There are some years where the Day of the Ox happens twice in one doyo period.
The summer doyo is a sweltering period, and it is easy to lose your appetite, or get sick. To prevent such natsubate, ‘summer exhaustion’, it is customary to eat energy-rich foods such as eggs, mochi rice cakes, and shijimi shellfish – and most famously of all, the very nutritious unagi (freshwater eel). There is also an alternate theory which suggests that people started eating unagi on doyo no ushi no hi, because it was thought auspicious to eat foods whose names start with ‘u’ on ushi no hi because of the assonance.
This year, the two doyo no ushi no hi are July 24th and August 5th. You’ll be seeing plenty of eels in the supermarket fish sections!

2) Lifestyle Information

Sending your loved ones shochu-mimai

Shochu-mimai is seasonal greetings you send in the full swing of summer, to friends, associates, and people whom you seldom see because they live far away. The usual etiquette is to post these letters between early July, when summer begins to heat up, and early August. If you miss this period, you use the word zansho instead of shochu (‘leftover heat’ rather than ‘mid-heat’), but you still have to make sure the letter arrives at the other end before August is over.
The purpose of shochu mimai is to ask after the other person’s health, and to share with them recent news on your end. A customary opening remark of “Shochu omimai moushiagemasu” (‘I’m sending my midsummer greetings’) is followed by a phrase of care and concern for the addressee’s well-being, like “Ogenki de osugoshi desuka?” (‘Have you been doing well?’); then you write recent updates about your own life then conclude by wishing good health for the recipient. If you are sending it to someone close to you, you don’t have to be constrained by this rigid format, as long as you manage to communicate your consideration and affection for the addressee.
In this season, stores sell many postcards with motifs traditionally associated with summer, such as morning glory flowers and fireworks, as well as other summery designs. Some people send picture postcards from their travel destination, or even design their own personal postcards using photographs and illustrations; others send a gift to go with the card. Especially in this day and age, when we can all contact each other easily via e-mail or SNS, the gesture of making the effort to write and post a letter by hand feels particularly warm and sincere. Your heartfelt shochu mimai is sure to bring your loved ones a refreshing feeling of warmth.

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 Editor

What did you think of the July issue of Japan Alumni eNews?
The unagi eel that we introduced in the “doyo no ushi no hi” section, is most commonly eaten à la kabayaki in Japan. This is a cooking method invented in Edo-period Japan, where you split open the eel, then gut, bone and skewer the fish - then broil it once, dip it in a thick, soy sauce-base sauce, then broil it once again. Now you can eat it in many ways – by itself, on rice, mixed with rice – but the name of the cuisine changes depending on what you do with it: if you put it into donburi bowls, it’s an unadon; if you place it in jubako, traditional tiered, lacquered boxes, it becomes an unaju. There are also other small variations of kabayaki depending on where and how you eat it, such as the slight differences in the preparation method in East and West Japan. Give them a try if you have the chance!

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 August 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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