Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 80 December 10, 2015


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.

December of Japan

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

 Napa cabbage

Napa cabbage

Kobe luminarie

Kobe luminarie



Joya no Kane

Joya no Kane

2. Alumni News

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

1) News about International Students

News 1:Delivering Soka rice crackers to the world: international students participate in “Ideathon”

Yamako Senbei, which has been producing Soka rice crackers, Saitama Prefecture’s specialty, for the past 43 years, held the “G->L Ideathon” on November 20 to collect ideas for expanding its rice crackers business overseas. International students were called upon to join the project through NIPPON QUEST. The students brought spices that they thought went well with the rice crackers, and tried their hand in making rice crackers. They also discussed marketing methods to target foreign tourists in Japan and product planning for actually selling the crackers abroad, and gave presentations in front of the company’s president.

News 2: International students support children who need assistance with Japanese in their own language

In November, Naniwa Ward in Osaka began a service to support foreign children in Japanese state-run primary schools, who are not yet proficient in the Japanese language. The service commissions international students at vocational colleges who come from the same country as the children. The international students go to primary schools as an intern for three months, and fill in the foreign students on things that the teachers said that they could not understand, what the handouts mean, and so on. As this program is treated as an internship, the international students can gain course credits from it, and can include it as professional experience in their CVs.

2) Introduction of Current International Students

Slobodan Jajich

Name: Slobodan Jajich
Nationality: Serbian
University in Japan: Graduate School of Language and Society, Hitotsubashi University
Period of Stay in Japan: April 2012 to March 2013, April 2015 to present
Level of Proficiency in Japanese Language: JLPT N1

There is a considerable number of students in Serbia who study Japanese culture or language. At the University of Belgrade where I studied, there has been a Japanese Studies faculty for the past 40 years or so, which has always been a popular course with around 100 students. In bookstores, you can find many works of Japanese literature translated into SerbiaN.
I myself used to be interested in the languages of Asia as a whole. But I found Ugetsu Monogatari by chance in a bookstore, and was enthralled by its beauty. I became captivated by Japanese literature, and began to research Edo-period Literature, in particular the works of Ihara Saikaku.
I eventually began to want to go to Japan, and in my third year at university, I came to study for one year at Tokyo Gakugei University. I had heard a lot in advance from older students who had studied in Japan before, and Serbians actually living in Japan, so there were no culture shocks. In fact, I was so excited about actually being in Japan, and the year passed by in a flash. So straight after I went back to Serbia, I began preparing to apply to a graduate school in Japan.
When I was in Japan the first time around, I had heard first-hand accounts of people who had experienced the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I had taken interest in war-time memories and the significance of mourning. So now, I am doing research on memorial monuments across the country. Serbia has also experienced violent conflicts in the past. I believe that it is a significant research, both for contemplating the future of my own country, and for satisfying my curiosity about Japan.
As I was a Japanese language major, other international students sometimes ask me for tips on studying Japanese. I think the first step is to seek conversations with Japanese people actively. Even if you study Japanese from the most wonderful literature or textbooks, they’re no match for the real-life contexts and situations of actual conversations.
Many people say that Japanese is a difficult language to read and write because there are three types of characters - the kanji, hiragana and katakana - but I personally think that this combination is the most interesting and beautiful aspect of the Japanese language. You will begin to see a whole new charm of the Japanese language, if you focus on the shapes and sounds created by the sequence of words, rather than simply look at them as characters.

3) Windows of Alumni

4) Information about programs for former international students

About Japanese Universities Alumni Association, Nepal (JUAAN)

There are many Japanese language schools in Nepal where many Napalese people study Japanese. There have been international students in Japan since around 100 years ago. In the 1900s, the Government of Nepal took interest in Meiji-period Japan, and sent eight students to study in Japan. Persimmons, chestnuts, wisteria and chrysanthemum flowers, which these Nepalese students took back to their homeland, are still grown in Nepal.
Later in 1956, international relations were established between Nepal and Japan, and in 1976, an association of former Nepalese international students in Japan was established.
Sadly, there were no proper networks established at the time among former international students and alumni, and so few events and activities were organized. But in 1996, the Japanese Universities Students Association, Nepal (JUSAN) was set up, primarily by government-sponsored international students to Japan with permission from the Nepalese government, and this was renamed the Japanese Universities Alumni Association, Nepal (JUAAN) in 2007.

Main activities

JUAAN mainly organizes the following activities.
Study groups: JUAAN members hold study groups, based on the specialist knowledge and professional experience of each.
Cultural exchange activities: We hold seminars and symposiums on Japanese culture, for example on Japanese tea ceremonies, ikebana, and traditional Japanese music, inviting speakers from Japan.
World Heritage program: JUAAN members gather and clean the World Heritage sites in Nepal.
These activities take place in the Public Relations Center in the Japanese embassy in Nepal, with the cooperation of the Embassy.

3. Academic News

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

1) Introduction of faculties/graduate schools

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

Keio University

Over 150 Years of Tradition

Keio was established in 1858 as “Keio Gijuku” by Yukichi Fukuzawa, a leading thinker and educator of the last days of the Edo period. Since its foundation, Keio University has produced leaders of society in all sorts of areas, inheriting the will of its founder “to be be the leader of the entire society.”
Although times may change, Keio will always aim to create innovation in all sorts of fields, from education, research, medicine, social contribution and international cooperation, under its steadfast slogan of “Independence and Self-respect.” Keio welcomes students who can inherit this will, this ethos, and become leaders of the next generation.

Undergraduate and graduate courses that cover a wide academic range, both in humanities and sciences

Keio has 10 wide-ranging undergraduate faculties - the Faculty of Letters, Faculty of Economics, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Business and Commerce, School of Medicine, Faculty of Science and Technology, Faculty of Policy Management, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, Faculty of Nursing and Medical Care, and the Faculty of Pharmacy - and 14 graduate schools that stemmed from these faculties.
All of these share the founding spirit of “practical learning,” and conduct unique and distinctive educational and research activities based on free thinking and creativity.
Information about each faculty and graduate school are available on the Admissions Information page below.

The International Center and the Center for Japanese Studies

International activities at Keio University is mainly run by the Keio University International Center. The Office of Student Services at the Mita Campus runs the Center’s activities, and there are systems in place that support international Keio students in both their academic and personal lives.
Keio has also provided Japanese language classes for international students since the 1950s. Currently, the Center for Japanese Studies runs the independent Japanese Language Program, as well as classes in Japanese as a second language for undergraduates and graduates.
In Japanese language education, there is focus on nurturing the students’ working knowledge of Japanese, which will help them in their future research in their specialist fields. Various learning stages and subjects are available, to meet the students’ purpose of study in Japan.

Keio University

Keio University

Keio University

Keio University

Keio University

Keio University

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

Yoshida Hideo Memorial Foundation

  • Project title: 50th Research Grant 2016
  • Applicants must submit a research proposal for the relevant independent or designated research topic.
  • Full-time researchers and graduate students require different documents and resources. Please confirm the application guide, which is downloadable from the Research Grant web page below.

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

  • Regular students or research students residing in Japan who are enrolled at universities designated by the Kamenori Foundation, and who wish to go on to do research at graduate schools. The designated universities are as follows.
    (National) Osaka University, Ochanomizu University, Kyoto University, University of Tsukuba, University of Tokyo, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Tohoku University, Nagoya University, Hitotsubashi University, Yokohama National University, Chiba University, Saitama University
    (Private) Kwansei Gakuin University, Keio University, International Christian University, Sophia University, Chuo University, Doshisha University, Hosei University, Meiji University, Rikkyo University, Ritsumeikan University, Waseda University, Asia University
  • Those applying to receive funding for the first part of a doctoral program or for master program must be set to complete an undergraduate program at one of the designated universities by March 2016. Those applying for funding for the second part of doctoral programs must be set to complete the first part of a doctoral program or a master program at one of the designated universities by March 2016. Research students must have completed a course at a university in their country or region of origin, and be able to receive a recommendation as a research student at one of the designated universities.
  • Those with recommendation from the supervisor at their university or graduate school, and with a high level of research ability and motivation.
  • Those who can communicate in Japanese, have interest and motivation to gaining understanding of other cultures and communicating with people from diverse backgrounds, and have sufficient mental and physical health for life as an international student.
  • Those who are not planning to receive funding such as scholarships or study grants from other organizations after April 2016.
  • Those who have not previously received a scholarship from this Foundation.
  • Self-supporting international students who will be a registered undergraduate (second year or higher) or graduate on April 1, 2016, majoring in advanced science and engineering
  • Those with excellent academic records and character, who are in need of financial assistance
  • Those not receiving other scholarships, not only in Japan but also from foreign governments and organizations
  • Those who are interested in international understanding and friendship, and willing to contribute to the same
  • If married or with dependents, those who can prove that they have sufficient funding for their family’s living expenses

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: Choi Yoon Suk
Nationality: South Korean
University: Nippon Designers School
Major: Graphic Design
Period of Study in Japan: March 2006 - March 2010
Name of Company: J-CAST, Inc.
Level of Proficiency in Japanese Language: JLPT N1

I was majoring in public administration at my university in Korea. But I was not particularly interested in studying it, and I was having doubts about pursuing a subject that I had only had vague reasons for choosing. I decided that what I needed was to change my environment entirely, and to study something I was interested in, from scratch; so after graduation, I came to study in Japan. I had no clear vision as to what I wanted to study, but by then I had made up my mind not to go back to South Korea after university, but to stay on to work in Japan.
After I arrived in Japan, I enrolled at a specialist school to study illustration and graphics, which I had been interested in through sub-cultures. But I had no clue about the job-hunting schedule in Japan at the time, so I had a lot of difficulties. I had been told that I could start in the summer of my second year; but in fact, most of the recruitment activities had finished in the spring, and I had trouble even getting interviews, let alone jobs.
So I had no choice but to go onto the graduate course for one more year, and to look for a job while continuing my studies. As I narrowed down my options to graphic design this time, I ended up having interviews right up to graduation, so I was really relieved when I finally got my job offer. Looking back at my mistakes, I recommend that those looking for jobs gather enough information at an early stage.
I have worked at a number of companies as a graphic designer in the last five years, but what I have felt at every company is that the work requires more proficiency in the Japanese language than you might imagine.
Students coming to Japan to study are probably reasonably confident about their language skills, but Japanese spoken on a daily basis and Japanese at the workplace are wholly different. For example, when you need to persuade a client, you can only learn from experience how to communicate subtle nuances, and whether you understand the client’s needs in the first place.
I myself have had experiences where I would come up with decent design plans, but would fail to convince the client, who would choose a similar design by a different designer.
However, weak points can also be an advantage. For me personally, as I am aware that I am lackling linguistically, I have acquired the habit of thinking how to explain myself in a way that is easy to understand intuitively. You might say that I acquired the concept of universal design through experience.
Job-hunting is more difficult than studying abroad, but you may end up getting more out of it. So I think that for anyone who loves Japan and wants to remain in Japan, it’s worth giving it a shot.

3) Job Hunting Information Corner

How to gather information about companies

Gathering information is an essential part of job-hunting activities. There is a lot to look up, from information about industries, trends in recruitment, recruitment tests and so on, but the most important is information about the company itself.
The most basic information can be found on the company’s website or pamphlet, or in the cases of manufacturers, product catalogs and so on. Recently, there are many companies that release this kind of information on SNSs such as Facebook. However, you can only acquire basic overviews and superficial information about companies from such sources. Information like this is intended for public relations or promotion, and so you cannot learn any details about the business model, or factors that affect recruitment policies, such as future plans and profit structure.
So where can one find such information? The surest source is to ask employees directly, making use of opportunities such as OB/OG visits, information sessions and internships. Information from those who actually work at the companies is very valuable, although you need to think carefully about your questions so as not to offend them.
With reasonably large companies that sell stocks to the public, their securities reports can also be useful. Securities reports are documents designed to report to external investors and other parties on companies figures such as sales, profits, management indices and accounting situation. You can often find it on the company website under links labelled “Information for our investors,” “IR information,” and so on. As they have a unified format, they allow easy comparisons between different companies, and are often used as resources in business situations too.
The report itself can be as long as a few hundred pages long, much of which is inaccessible to laypeople. However, you can gain some very detailed information just by looking at sections like “Company information” and “Company overview” at the start of the report.

5. Visit Japan

Shimane Prefecture

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

 Lake Hyoko

This is a lake in Agano famous for its swans. It was the first area in Japan to succeed in artificially feeding wild swans, and it is designated as a nationally designated cultural property, and also as a Ramsar site. Swans come to pass the winter on the lake roughly between mid-October and late March, and at the peak in late November, more than 5000 swans can be found in the area. During the season, visitors can try out feeding the swans too, and can see the beautiful birds from up close.

Mount Hakkai

This is a series of rocky peaks in Minami Uonuma, the highest of which, Nyudo-dake, is 1,778 meters tall. Together with Echigo Komagatake and Nakanodake, the mountain is referred to as the Three Echigo Mountains. If you use the Mt. Hakkai Ropeway, you can go up to about 3km west-northwest of the peak, and visitors can enjoy different views in each season: fresh green in spring, astonishing scenery in summer, red leaves in the fall, and a snowy landscape in winter. This winter, the ropeway is open from December 19, 2015 to March 21, 2016.

Noppe stew

This is a Niigata home recipe, involving ingredients such as yams, carrots, burdock, chicken and so on, stewed in a soup flavored with bonito or scallops. Although the precise ingredients and flavor vary from family to family, it usually uses yams as a natural thickening agent. It is eaten around the calendar, for example during the New Year or the Obon festival. It was chosen as one of the 100 Local Regional Specialities by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Western-style metal tableware from Tsubame

Since the early Edo period, the Japanese nail industry thrived in the city of Tsubame. Since then, the area has also been famous for its metalwork, such as hand-hammered copperware and western-style tableware. Even now, over 90% of western-style metal tableware, such as knives, spoons and tumblers, are produced in Tsubame. The high-quality "Made in Tsubame" products are recommended souvenirs.

Ojiya Balloon Riot

This is a hot air balloon competition held in Ojiya City. It is held over two days in late February every year, when colorful hot air balloons decorate the sky over snow-covered plains. The “Glow Balloon Festival” held on the first night is a magical sight, with fireworks that light up the sky above lit-up hot air balloons.

Official Niigata Prefecture Tourist Information Site: Enjoy-Niigata

6. NIPPON Information

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

1) Nippon Time Machine

Osechi-ryori - food to celebrate the New Year

This year is coming to a close. Towards the end of the year, food stalls at department stores and supermarket begin to display osechi-ryori in preparation for oshogatsu, the New Year, and families begin to prepare.
Osechi-ryori is written in kanji as ‘ 御節料理’ (‘節’=season; ‘料理’=food/cuisine) and it used to be made at the seasonal festivities (of which there are five) at the turns of the seasons. But eventually, it began to signify the feast during the New Year period, which was seen as the most important change of season.
Osechi-ryori is an auspicious food that wishes for prosperity of the family, and is packed in jubako, tiered boxes, which express hope for happy events happening on top of each other. Each item of food is also full of symbolism. For example, kazunoko, salt-pickled herring roe, which consists of myriads of little eggs, represents lots of offspring and hence continuation of the family line; kuromame, black bean, expresses the wish that the family be mame,healthy and hard-working; and tazukuri, young sardines boiled with soy sauce and sugar, are a symbol of an abundant harvest, as the word in kanji literally means ‘rice field maker.’
Osechi used to be made in each home, but in recent years, more families make use of ready-made osechi, and there are many types available, such as osechi packs for small families, and western-style osechi. The contents of osechi has changed together with the times, but its original intention of celebrating the New Year remains the same. Osechi-ryori is an indispensable part of the Japanese New Year.

2) Lifestyle Information

Numbers to dial in an emergency

If you suddenly fall ill, get caught in a fire or traffic accident, or encounter a criminal, send an SOS by dialling the designated numbers. The fire department is in charge of emergencies and fires, and the police are in charge of traffic accidents and crimes.
The following are examples of cases to report to the fire department or the police.

  • Traffic accident or crime: 110
    Inform them on what happened, and where and when it happened, as well as your name and contact details.
  • Fire: 119
    Tell them that there is a fire, what is burning, and information such as your name, address and contact details.
  • If you want to call for an ambulance due to sudden illness or injuries: 119
    This is the same number as the one for fires. You will be asked, “Is it a fire, or do you require an ambulance?” So tell them that you need an ambulance. You will be asked your current location, condition, age, name and contact details. Give the information calmly and accurately.

If you call from a landline phone or a public telephone, the location of the phone will be identified automatically.
If you will not be required to pay if you call from a landline phone. With the green telephones with an emergency call button, you pick up the receiver, press the button then dial 119. With the grey telephones without the emergency call button, you simply need to pick up the receiver and dial the number.
The Multilingual Living Information website provides information on emergency response in 14 languages. We recommend that you have a check in advance, so that you do not panic in the event of an emergency.

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

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.

2) 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.

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)

The December 2015 issue will be published on December 10th. Please make sure to read it!

7) 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

[From the Editor]
In NIPPON Time Machine, we introduced you to osechi ryori. But the other essential item of food in the New Year period is the mochi rice cake. This is made by steaming and pounding a type of rice called mochi, which is different from the rice we usually eat. Traditionally it was often made at home, but nowadays, most peope buy pre-made mochi at stores. These mochi cakes tend to be rectangular in East Japan, and circular in West Japan. The precise reason is unclear, but it is commonly accepted that the rectangular cakes are found in areas where mochi is usually baked, and the circular cakes where it is boiled. Which type of mochi do you see more often where you live?

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 January 8th. Don’t miss it!

  • Information in this issue may change without notice. Please visit their web sites for latest information.
  • To subscribe and to unsubscribe (for free of charge), go to
    http://www.jasso.go.jp/en/study_j/enews/index.html and click subscribe / unsubscribe


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