Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 78 October 9, 2015

Fuji and autumn leaves

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.

October of Japan

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



Autumn rice field

Autumn rice field

Akebia quinata

Akebia quinata



2. Alumni News

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

1) News about International Students

News 1:Osaka NPO recruits international students as volunteer tour guides

This summer, in order to respond to the rapidly rising number of tourists from abroad, Osaka Volunteer Guide Council, an NPO that offers free sightseeing guides in Osaka Castle Park and other areas, recruited 11 international students from China, Taiwan and Vietnam as volunteer guides. The job is unpaid and does not cover transport cost, but the organization received many applications from students, who wanted the opportunity for self-development, and the opportunity to introduce their beloved Osaka. The NPO plans to recruit more international students as guides in the future.

News 2: New recruitment of international students at an all-time high

In the publication of the Ministry of Justice in July 2015th, the number of international students remaining in Japan for employment after their study was the highest to date. 14,170 students applied for a change of their status of residence to “worker”, and 12,958 were granted. The most popular professions were, from the top, “translator/interpreter,” “marketing/sales,”, “information processing,”, and “education.” About 60% of successful applicants were set to join a medium- to small-sized company with fewer than 300 employees. There were 5,872 undergraduate applicants, and 4,483 graduate applicants.

2) Introduction of Current International Students

Name: Zhen Ya Fang
Nationality: Taiwanese
University in Japan: The Graduate School of Commerce, Waseda University
Period of Stay in Japan: April 2012 to present
Japanese-language Proficiency Test: JLPT N1

I had had a long-standing interest in Japan, especially as there were many Japanese programs on Taiwanese television in my high school days. And when I got to university and joined the Japan-Taiwan Student Conference – an organization aimed at fostering exchange between Taiwanese and Japanese students – and made Japanese friends, I began to think about studying abroad in Japan.
However, as I was majoring in music and had no opportunities to study in Japan, I joined an orchestra after graduation. I worked for two years as a percussionist, but I was very aware that I lacked the skills that my fellow performers had, and felt that I would not be able to continue that job in the long term. So I took a plunge, quit my job, and decided to come and study in Japan, as I was unable to do during university.
First, I studied in Japan as a student at Reitaku University’s Bekka Japanese Language Program in Chiba Prefecture. I only knew hiragana and could not speak or write, but I somehow managed to pass JLPT N1 in around half a year. I think it was an advantage that the course offered an environment conducive to learning Japanese, because unlike at language schools, it allowed use of the university’s facilities and provided a lot of contact with Japanese students at the dormitories.
The Bekka program is only one year long, so after that I studied by myself to get into graduate school. I wanted to major in business-related research, but I struggled with studying for the exams from scratch. Last year, I successfully got into Waseda University’s graduate school. My current research is on analyzing successful cases in the entertainment industry, to deduce how to bring about innovation. It would be wonderful if I could finish the master’s program, go on to the doctor’s program, and ultimately find employment in Japan.
People usually think of studying abroad as something you do when you are a student; however, I am a case in point that even after working in the real world, it’s possible to switch your major and study abroad if you give it a shot. Even if you gave it up once, why not try again now?

3) List of Japan Alumni Associations

4) Information about programs for former international students

Confederation of International Student Associations in Japan (CISA)

CISA was founded in April 2013 with the following aims: to improve living conditions for international students, including visas and recruitment, through communication with government bodies and companies; and to promote communication between Japanese and international students, and among international students.
It is a consultative organization comprised of various countries’ international student associations. There are currently 12 member associations: the Mongolian International Students Association; the Tokyo Taiwanese Student Association; the Malaysian Students’ Association in Japan; the Vietnamese Youth and Student Association in Japan; the Singapore Students’ Association; the Nepalese Students’ Association in Japan; the Sri Lankan Students’ Association in Japan; the Indonesian Student Association in Japan; the Japan Turkey Students’ Association; the Pakistan Student Association Japan; the Saudi Arabia Student Association in Japan; and the Peruvian Association of Students in Japan. The University Student Chamber Japan (UNISC Japan) is the Japanese representative, and supports CISA’s administration.

Supporting international students to start their own companies

Since our establishment, CISA has heard from many current and previous international students in Japan, inquiring what they would need to start a business in Japan, asking for assistance for building a factory, asking for support for developing their business in Japan after they returned to their countries, and so on.
So in February 2015, we decided to offer advice for starting a business, and business support, for current and previous international students. We can put people in touch with foreign residents and past international students who have already been successful in business in Japan, or with diplomats from various countries; this is the advantage of being the central organization of various countries’ international student associations. We offer a wide range of other support as well, such as for acquiring business Japanese language skills, or for opening bank accounts.

Confederation of International Student Associations in Japan (CISA)

Confederation of International Student Associations in Japan (CISA)

3. Academic News

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

1) Introduction of faculties/graduate schools

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

Tokyo City University

Tokyo City University was established in 2009, through the merging of two schools: Musashi Institute of Technology, founded in 1929, and Toyoko Gakuen Women’s College, founded in 1938. Through this integration, a liberal arts faculty was added to the engineering faculties and the arts-sciences faculties, creating a structure with 6 faculties and 18 subjects, covering a wide range of fields from science and technology to social welfare. This university originally started around students who sought after ‘the ideal education in technology’; it was the passion of students that built this university. In order to meet the demands of this new era and society, while at the same time inheriting our great founding spirit, we currently hold as our principle “human resource development and academic research that contributes to the sustainable development of society”. The ‘sustainable development of society’ is to advance society without harming the environment. We use the word ‘environment’ not in its narrow definition of the natural environment, or the Earth’s environment, but in a broad sense that includes the social environment.

What we look for in applicants

The Shibaura Institute of Technology welcomes applications from people with the below aspirations, and do our best to aid our students to achieve their goals passionately, in whatever way possible.
*Those who have a strong wish to study/research at this university, and hope to achieve self-development and self-realization at our university.
*Those who wish to learn the fundamentals of mathematics and the natural sciences (subjects such as physics, chemistry and biology); who have a strong interest in engineering, science and technology; who wish eventually to contribute to this country’s and the world’s sustainable development, through these academic subjects.
*Those who wish to acquire broad academic knowledge and experience, as well as communication skills, at university; who are aware at all times of their relation to society, and their responsibility as a member of civil society; who are committed to dedicate themselves to human progress and preservation of the Earth’s environment.

Graduate schools that offer cutting-edge fields of research

Tokyo City University has two graduate schools: the Graduate School of Engineering, which covers engineering-related areas of research; and the Graduate School of Environmental and Information Studies, which aims to further research concerning the environment, information, and urban life.
The Graduate School of Engineering was established in 1966. In addition to the pre-existing master and doctoral programs (9 subjects in total), in 2010 we set up with Waseda University the Cooperative Major in Nuclear Energy course (master and doctoral programs). The human resources that we aim to nurture are engineers and researchers who can do the following: make use of their academic expertise; build language skills that can allow them to succeed internationally; gain the ability to apply and use their abilities to adapt quickly to changing social structures; demonstrate problem-solving skills. We actively engage in collaborative research with other universities, research institutions, and sometimes companies, and we can boast a high standard of education, and solid research content.
The Graduate School of Environmental and Information Studies was established in 2001, and now offers master programs (1 subject, 4 areas) and doctoral programs (1 subject, 2 areas). To put it concisely, this school is concerned with “human activities that are in harmony with the Earth’s environment”, “people-friendly information activities”, and “sustainable activities in the urban living environment”. The goal is to seek the essence of what makes such activities possible, and research how to design and enact specific activities. Through the all-around higher education conducted through this research experience, we aim to develop human resources who can view things with a broad perspective and take action, which are the qualities that tomorrow’s society will demand.

Tokyo City University

Tokyo City University

Tokyo City University

Tokyo City University

Tokyo City University

Tokyo City University

2) Application information for scholarships, grants, appointments, prizes etc.

The Japan Science Society

  • Project title: Sasakawa Scientific Research Grant

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

  • Those with foreign passports, whose status of residence is “foreign student”
  • Full-time students enrolled on an undergraduate or graduate program, or research students engaged in research of a level equivalent to a graduate program, at a Japanese university, whose specialist subjects belong to the humanities or social sciences.
  • Those not receiving other scholarships in parallel with this Foundation’s scholarship, if they should become recipients of this Foundation’s scholarship.
  • Those who will enroll for 2 years from April 2016 at the university that recommends them, and to attend the course while residing in Japan.
  • International students from Asian countries
  • Undergraduates or graduates enrolled at private, national, prefectural or other public universities in Tokyo, with recommendations from the president or dean.
  • International students residing in Tokyo
  • The prescribed application form
  • Photograph
  • Academic transcript from the applicant’s university, with evaluation standards clearly indicated (for first-years on a master’s degree or on the first part of a doctoral degree, academic transcript from the fourth year of their undergraduate degree)
  • Academic transcript from the last school attended in the student’s country of origin
  • Recommendation from the president or dean of the student’s university
  • Documents and files outlining their current research topic, depending on the subject of choice

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

The Program for Advancement of Foreign Human Resources is being launched this academic year, as a collaborative effort of related government ministries and agencies, and other relevant organizations. The Program seeks to increase employment of international students in Japan, and hence increase the number of highly skilled international professionals in the future, following the recent trend in policy that includes the 2014 revision of “Japan Revitalization Strategy – Japan is Back” (approved by the Cabinet on June 24th, 2014). The ultimate aim is to vitalize the Japanese economy further and enhance Japan’s presence in the global economy.
Through seminars, events and other activities, the Program will strengthen the system of connecting international students and other foreign nationals looking for employment in Japan, with companies in Japan looking to recruit international employees.

2) Job-hunting report

Manuela Leon

Name: Manuela Leon
Nationality: Brazilian
University: Tokyo City University
Major: Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Period of Stay in Japan: April 2006 to March 2013
Name of Company: Sony Corporation
Level of Japanese-language Proficiency: JLPT N1
I came to Japan immediately after leaving high school, and after attending a Japanese language school for two years, I enrolled at the Musashi Institute of Technology (now Tokyo City University). I majored in electronic engineering, but my aim was not to become an engineer or researcher, but to work at the head office of Sony, a company that was producing many revolutionary products in Brazil. My reasoning was that a major in engineering was a necessity for this goal.
I had been studying Japanese in Brazil already, but it was not until my third year, when job seminars began taking place at my university, that I learnt that shukatsu stood for shushoku katsudo, ‘job-seeking activities’. I had concerns about whether I would be able to find a job in Japan, when there were so many terms that I was unfamiliar with, like gyokai kenkyu (doing research about your industry of choice), entori (i.e. ‘entry’, submitting your information to a company). However, I appreciated the Japanese system of recruiting employees all at once regardless of experience.
At the job seminars, I asked questions about everything that I was uncertain about. Shukatsu has its own rules and terminology, so I thought that it was important to have a clear grasp of everything, rather than remain unsure. I also participated frequently in joint company information sessions, which offered many opportunities to speak with job-hunting students and recruitment representatives from companies, so that I could gain more information.
As a basic rule I followed other people’s advice on job-hunting. But I disliked the idea of wearing ‘recruit suits’, so I attended the interviews and information sessions in a three-piece suit with jacket, vest and slacks. The Sony interview specified casual clothes that ‘best expressed who you are’, and I remember going in a very garish and eye-catching one-piece dress. This is something I have also felt since I started working, but the companies looking to recruit international students, are not looking for international students who are just like the Japanese students. I think that the advantage of being an international student is that you can behave like a foreigner at most times, and behave like a Japanese native when it is more beneficial to do so.
I was extremely anxious until I got my results, but after I received my first job offer, I became more confident and was able to enjoy the job-hunting process more. I hope that you all try to enjoy the valuable experience of the job-hunting process in Japan.

3) Job Hunting Information Corner

On OB/OG visits

OB and OG visits, as their name suggests, are the process of visiting alumni of your university who work in industries and companies of your interest. The purpose is to ask them what the job actually involves, and what the atmosphere inside the company is like, so that you can use the information for your research about industries and companies.
You can gain basic information about companies and industries through other means too, from the companies’ pamphlets and websites, from the information sessions, and also online. However, this kind of information is aimed at the general public, and does not offer a thorough idea of industries and companies. The ideal approach is to find real-life information about the reality of the industry and about specific corporate cultures, from people actually working for the companies; however, you rarely come across the chance to quiz company employees, and also there are some questions that are hard to address to recruitment representatives at the interviews and the information sessions. OB and OG visits are a great answer to such situations.
The first thing you need for OB and OG visits, is of course an alumnus or an alumna to visit. OBs and OGs (‘old boys’ and ‘old girls’) are alumni of your educational institution, and the most common approach is to ask seniors from your club activities or ‘circles’. You are not restricted to alumni that you know personally, so use the connections you have, such as international student societies and academic societies, and ask to be introduced to relevant people.
There won’t be other people to arrange appointments for you, so you have to e-mail or telephone the alumni to arrange the meetings yourself. They are busy members of society, so take care to follow the appropriate etiquette.
The alumni agree to receive the visits practically as voluntary work. Hearing their accounts is a privilege granted to job-hunting students, but make sure that you don’t impose and that you behave courteously.

5. Visit Japan

Aichi Prefecture

Have you been travelling around Japan? In this section, we bring you information about sights, events and foods from all over the country! In this October edition, it’s Aichi Prefecture.

Museum Meiji-Mura

This is an outdoor museum in Inuyama, founded in 1965 to preserve valuable architecture from the Meiji period. At present, its area of roughly 1 million square meters contains 67 buildings that were brought and rebuilt here, including 12 designated Important Cultural Properties such as the Telephone Exchange from Sapporo, and the St. John’s Church from Kyoto. Visitors to the museum can also ride trains and steam trains from the early Meiji period.


This valley in Asuke, Toyota, is a famous spot for autumn colors, with around 4,000 maple trees of various kinds, such as the mono maple and the mountain maple. This view is said to have originated in 1634 when a Buddhist priest called San-ei, the head of the local temple of Kojaku-ji, began to plant maple trees wishing ‘to make beautiful nature more beautiful’. Between November 1st and 30th, the Korankei Maple Festival takes place, and during the period, the trees are lit up from sunset until 9pm.

Miso Nikomi Udon

One of Aichi Prefecture’s local specialties, which is made by boiling udon noodles in an earthen pot, with broth made from soup stock and soybean miso. The al dente noodles and the thick soup go together like a dream. It’s piping hot, so usually the lid of the pot is turned upside down and used as a serving bowl, where you can let the noodles cool a little before eating. You can also put rice in the leftover soup, and make rice porridge.

Seto Sometsuke-yaki

This is porcelain produced in the city of Seto and its surrounding area. Intricate drawings of birds, flowers and other things found in nature are depicted on the ceramic, with indigo as the predominant color. The production process includes a step called “nerashi”, in which high temperature is maintained in the kiln for a fixed length of time, which mellows the glaze and creates soft, watery-looking sketches. Seto Sometsuke-yaki was designated as a national traditional craft in 1997.

Nagoya Matsuri (Nagoya Festival)

This is the biggest festival in Nagoya, which has been going on since 1955. Actors are chosen from the public to play the Three Heroes of Nagoya – Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu – who played a part in shaping Japanese history. The characters march through central Nagoya, leading parades of around 600 soldiers. With other events such as the Folk Entertainment Festival, and free public opening of tourist spots such as Nagoya Castle, and Higashiyama Zoo & Botanical Gardens, the whole city becomes filled with the festival spirit. In 2015, the festival will take place on October 17th and 18th.

6. NIPPON Information

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

1) Nippon Time Machine

Feeling seasonal with the Japanese names of months

The Japanese usually express the months by numbers, like ichigatsu (‘1 month’, January) and nigatsu(‘2 month’, February), but there are also alternative Japanese words for each month, such as mutsukiand kisaragi. As they are based on the old lunar calendar, there is an offset of one or two months with the current Gregorian calendar. However, as the words give a feel of the changing seasons, they are used fondly as fitting names for the months. Although there are various contradicting theories about their etymology, we will introduce you to a few notable examples.
The mutsu of mutsuki, January, is the same character as in nakamutsumajii, ‘intimate’ or ‘loving’. The reason for this is that January is the month when families and relatives gather for New Year, and spend intimate time together. Kisaragi, February, is mid-March in the Gregorian calendar; kisaragi is said to have originally meant ‘wearing more clothes’ (kinu, ‘clothing’; sara, ‘more’; gi, ‘wearing’), as this is still a chilly time of the year.
October is kannazuki. There are two common theories: one interprets ‘na’ as ‘no’ (‘of), thus taking the whole word to signify ‘the month of the gods’; the other takes ‘na’ to be ‘nai,’(‘be absent’), which would make kannazuki ‘the month when gods are absent’. In Shinto tradition, October is an important month because that is when gods from all over Japan convene at Izumo-taisha, a shrine in Shimane Prefecture, to hold discussions. As gods are absent, October is kannazuki in the rest of the country; in Izumo, however, the month is called kamiarizuki, ‘the month when gods are present’. Izumo-taisha is famous as a matchmaking shrine, a belief that originated in the myth that the agenda for the gods’ annual meeting at the shrine was human bonds.

2) Lifestyle Information

It’s excursion season! Let’s have fun outdoors

Japan is both one of the world’s leading industrial countries, and a country rich in nature. Mountain ranges stretch from north to south, like the spine of the Japanese islands, and the forests, which spread mainly in the mountainous areas, cover two thirds of the land mass. Furthermore, the Japanese Archipelago also experiences a wide range of climatic conditions, due to its being surrounded by the sea, and its complex terrain that covers a large latitudinal range. It is home to diverse flora and fauna, as the climate varies from region to region, with both subarctic and subtropical zones within the same country.
Stray a little distance from large cities like Tokyo and Osaka, and you’ll come across many little hills and mountains ideal for hiking and trekking, and many mountain streams where you can camp or play in the water. Outdoor activities are very popular for this reason, and you can have barbecues with family and friends at campsites, go canoeing or rafting on rivers and lakes, or go full-on mountaineering. There are activities for all age groups and all levels of physical fitness.
If you want to enjoy the outdoors casually, then we recommend one of the campsites found throughout the country. There are campsites with facilities that will rent camping equipment, or even prepare food ingredients for you, which means that you can have the outdoor experience even if you go empty-handed. The fall season is ideal for outdoor activities, as it is relatively cool, with few mosquitos and bees about. The trees are already beginning to redden – why not go and see them?

7. JASSO News

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

3) Schedule, etc. for 2015 Japan Education Fairs

JASSO holds Japan Education Fairs overseas to provide information to high school students, university students and other individuals who are interested in studying in Japan. We also attend and cooperate to the events and seminars sponsored by other organizations.

4) 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 on experience of foreign students 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.

5) 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!

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

7) JASSO Scholarship programs

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

The September 2015 issue will be published on October 9th. Please make sure to read it!

9) 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 to conduct short term research at universities in Japan.

8. From the Editor

What did you think of the October issue of Japan Alumni eNews?
In the job-hunting schedule for 2016 graduates, there’s a lull in recruitment activities in October. Some of you may have already been given offers, and be able to relax a little. The person who has not yet got an informal decision, does not give it up till the last, and, please do your best. Some companies have complained that there wasn’t enough time for the selection process in this year’s job-hunting, and there have been reports that for the class of 2017, there may be more companies readjusting their schedules, or recruiting in their own preferred manner. There is a chance that if you don’t keep an eye out for information from an early stage, your company of choice might finish recruiting before you even know it. We recommend that you make best use of resources like the 2017 job-hunting information websites already in action, and ensure that you’re well prepared.

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 November 10th. Don’t miss it!

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Follow-up Services Unit, International Scholarship Division, Student Exchange Department Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO)
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