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Japan Alumni eNews (Vol. 128) 

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 128 December 10, 2019

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 128

1. Life in Japan by Photo

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

  • How to submit
  • Please send your photos with the information listed below to the following address.
  • alumni-newsletter at mark jasso.go.jp
    *Please convert "at mark" to "@" when you send an e-mail to us.

1. Photo title (15 characters or less)
2. Name (katakana and alphabet)
3. Nationality
4. Name of your school in Japan

December in Japan

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

Christmas Lights
Christmas Lights
Year-End Soba
Year-End Soba
Poinsettias
Poinsettias
Chinese Cabbage
Chinese Cabbage

2. Alumni News

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

News on International Students

NEWS 1: Japanese Researcher Akira Yoshino Wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019

Japanese researcher Akira Yoshino is set to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019 for his research and development with regards to the lithium-ion battery. This is the sixth consecutive year, starting in 2014, that there has been a Japanese recipient of a Nobel Prize. The lithium-ion battery made significant contributions towards the worldwide popularization of our current smartphones, laptops, etc., and its influence is expected to expand into other markets, such as electric cars. Yoshino invented the secondary battery (storage battery) that serves as the base for the current lithium-ion battery, and created it using his own original components. He also developed the fundamental technology for lithium-ion batteries, as well as other technologies including the peripheral technology for the battery’s practical use, and made significant contributions to the practical use of small-scale, lightweight lithium-ion batteries. (Akira Yoshino is an Honorary Fellow of the Asahi Kasei Corp.)

NEWS 2: Greatest Ever Number of Countries/Regions Practicing Japanese Language Education

The Japan Foundation, which drives international cultural exchange and works to advance Japanese language education overseas, announced the results of their “Survey Report on Japanese-Language Education Abroad” in October. According to the results, 142 countries and regions are practicing Japanese language education: this is five more than in the previous survey in 2015, and the greatest number ever recorded. Moreover, the number of Japanese language institutes, instructors, and students is also reaching a record high. An analysis of the student population revealed that early education, extracurricular education, etc., for elementary school students saw the greatest increase, showing an expansion in age range for people learning Japanese overseas.

NEWS 3: New Information Center to Open in Shibuya with International Students Serving as Guides

A new tourist information center, “shibuya-san,” will launch in December on the first floor of the commercial facility Shibuya Fukuras, which opened in front of Shibuya Station in November. The bus terminal for the limousine bus from Haneda Airport and Narita Airport is located right in front of this information center, and the area as a whole is set to be the new “gateway” for both domestic and international tourists visiting Shibuya. Foreign staff of various nationalities, mainly international students, will serve as “tourist concierges” that convey the beauty of Shibuya to tourists. Instead of the traditional counter set-up, this information center will provide guidance that caters to each tourist, and that actually physically goes to each tourist. It will also be open until 11:00 P.M. under the Japan Tourism Industry’s endeavor to vitalize the nighttime economy, and will help liven up Shibuya’s nighttime tourism.

Study Abroad Testimonial

Law Tak Hei

Name: Law Tak Hei
Birthplace: Hong Kong
University: University of Aizu
Major: Computer Science and engineering
Year: 2nd year undergraduate student
Period of Study: October 2017 to present
Japanese Proficiency Level: Japanese-Language Proficiency Test N1

I would say culture got me interested in Japan. Even though Hong Kong is a multicultural city, it’s Japan and Japanese things that surprised me the most. How delicious the sushi is, how polite the people are, and even how fascinating the soft power of Japan is. Everything started with anime. Although it was a tiny accident how I got to know about anime, it aroused my interest in Japan and made me study in such a wonderful place. What a beautiful butterfly effect.

There are always a lot of fantasies regarding places that you have never been to. It was same for me, Japan seemed like a new world to me at the beginning. I always thought about how I could make friends easily and hang out with them before my trip. However, I was naive. Making friends was never easy in Japan. I have found that this is a kind of culture within Japan where people keep a certain distance even when they are friends. It is very different in Hong Kong, or at least for me, where friendship means a very close relationship with a person. I have learnt that they keep a distance to try to protect the tiny relationship between other people. Although it is hard to make a real friend here, I am still learning and trying hard to get used to this culture and make my own friends.

First of all, learn Japanese. Speaking in the local language will change the results drastically. Imagine how easy it would be if someone else spoke your own language while talking to you. It might be difficult to learn a new language but it is never worthy if you can accomplish things easily. So go on and try something hard. If you already know how to speak Japanese, then you might like to consider having an objective. A long-term objective can lead you to your future whereas a short-term objective pushes you forward little by little as a motivation to keep you going.

Despite the fact that I prioritize my experience studying abroad firstly and my study secondly, I try to strike a balance since they are both very important in my life at present. Although getting into graduate school after my graduation as a bachelor would be my long-term objective, I will go wherever the opportunities are. No matter what, no matter how.

Mark Ikechukwu Ogbodo

Name: Mark Ikechukwu Ogbodo
Birthplace: Federal Republic of Nigeria
University: University of Aizu
Major: Computer Science and engineering research (Doctoral Program), Department of Computer and Information
Year: 1st year doctoral student
Period of Study: April 2019 to present
Japanese Proficiency Level: Japanese-Language Proficiency Test N5

Frank Herbert in one of his quotes said, ‘without new experiences something inside us sleeps’. This is one of the things that motivated me to come to Japan to study Computer Science and engineering, a field I developed a passion for as a young boy. I have since then obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the field. Currently I am pursuing a PhD at the University of Aizu, and my research is in the area of neuro-inspired architectures in hardware (NASH). Some people might ask, “Why the university of Aizu?”, “Why Japan?”. Well, keep reading and you will find out.

First, the research area NASH is active and the University of Aizu, being the first University in Japan dedicated to computer science and engineering gives attention to it. I remember landing at Haneda airport, my heart filled with both excitement and fear. Excitement of being somewhere new and fear of how I would cope in a place where I don’t know anybody. Now I look back and smile because I realized the fear wasn’t necessary. I have since then lived among wonderful people who are welcoming, peaceful and nice. The University of Aizu has done well in providing an international environment, and facilities most conducive for research, and in providing opportunity for students from different parts of the world to interact.

As an international student in Japan, I spend my week days working on my research, and during the weekend I blow off some steam by doing something fun. This is where my reason for choosing Japan comes in. Japan, among other things, has a wonderful culture and some breathtaking sites, so you can bet that when I am not working on my research, I’m off somewhere hiking, cycling, or trying something new. In sincerity, it is difficult to single out what has impressed me the most, therefore I have chosen three things: the Japanese culture, the quality of my research at the University of Aizu, and the beautiful nature.

Are you out there considering whether or not to study in Japan, I will tell you in conclusion that Japan is an endearingly beautiful country, and although I only mentioned three things that fascinate me the most, I am sure the value of Japan cannot be described by just these. So cast away your doubts, come, and you’ll realize for certain that without new experiences, something in us really does sleep.

List of Japan Alumni Associations

Introduction of Support for International Students Returning Home

Nagaoka University of Technology Alumni Association

Every year, the Nagaoka University of Technology hosts sports events in order to encourage socialization amongst alumni, current students, faculty, and local residents. These events are also attended by many international students. The members of this alumni association are mainly from Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, etc.) and Central America/Mexico, and are currently making efforts to support socialization amongst foreign alumni in these areas, including international students who have returned to their home countries. Starting this year, the association is also hosting social events for all university alumni, including international students who have already left Japan, so they look forward to your participation!

3. Academic News

Introduction of scholarships, grants, unique activities at particular universities, and more!

Introducing Universities

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

Kobe University

Scenery in front of the Kobe University Center for International Education

University Profile (as of May 1, 2019)
Name: Kobe University
Rokkodai 1st Campus: 2-1 Rokkodaicho, Nada-ku, Kobe-shi
Rokkodai 2nd Campus: 1-1 Rokkodaicho, Nada-ku, Kobe-shi
Tsurukabuto 1st Campus: 1-2-1 Tsurukabuto, Nada-ku, Kobe-shi
Tsurukabuto 2nd Campus: 3-11 Tsurukabuto, Nada-ku, Kobe-shi
Kusunoki Campus: 7-5-1 Kusunokicho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi
Myodani Campus: 7-10-2 Tomogaoka, Suma-ku, Kobe-shi
Fukae Campus: 5-1-1 Fukae Minamimachi, Higashinada-ku, Kobe-shi
Number of Students: 16,226 (Including undergraduate and graduate students)
International Students: 1,399

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

Looking out over Kobe City from the Kobe University Center for International Education

Kobe University, located in the international city of Kobe near Kyoto and Osaka, is one of Japan’s leading national universities. Its history, rooted in the social sciences, spans more than 100 years. Since its construction, the university has driven its mission of “integrity, freedom, and cooperation,” and has offered 10 undergraduate faculties and 15 graduate schools, in the following four fields: the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and life/medical sciences.

2. Overviews and Characteristics of Distinctive Facilities, etc.

The university houses a general library, as well as nine specialized libraries for certain faculties and graduate schools, with a total of about 3.77 million books. They also offer an online delivery service that allows you to get the books you want sent to the library, and that lets you return your books at any one of the libraries on campus.

3. Overview and Characteristics of Distinctive International Student-Oriented Faculties and Graduate Schools

Kobe University has worked to strengthen the connection between general education and specialized education, and undergraduate faculties and graduate schools within the university. The emphasis is thus on having students deepen their creativity and independence within the excitement of cutting-edge research, while also cultivating problem identification skills, analytical skills, and practical skills through more general learning. The goal is to have students grow into the kind of personnel capable of serving as leaders in efforts to solve global issues.

4. Support for International Students (Accommodations Support and Tuition Reduction)

Kobe University offers multiple international student residences, which are available for lower rent than private apartments. International students can also apply to residences owned by private organizations through the university. Scholarships include those sponsored by the national government, those that are sponsored by local government, and those that are sponsored by private scholarship organizations, as well as scholarships provided by the university itself. There is also a tutor program that provides support for international students with regards to their education/research and their general day-to-day life.

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

Kobe University also hosts the Global Job Fair, a joint Japanese company information session for international students, as well as the Global Career Seminar for International Students, where international students can learn about the Japanese job hunting process. The university has also established overseas alumni associations for international students that return to their home countries, as well as alumni associations for international students in Japan, and hosts International Student Homecoming Days, alumni association events, etc., in order to build a rich network that transcends countries and regions.

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

The Kanbe Foundation

Project Name:
Kanbe Foundation Inc. Scholarship for 2020
1. Objective:
The mission of the Kanbe Foundation is to contribute to the development of Japanese culture by providing subsidies for creative activities related to ceramic art. One aspect of their work is providing scholarship funding to students and working artists who demonstrate exceptional talent and deep interest in the ceramic arts.
2. Eligibility:
- In principle, the scholarship is for individuals having non-Japanese nationality. However, Japanese citizens who live overseas may also apply.
- Age: 18 to 40 years old as of the application deadline.
- Individuals who currently reside, or plan to reside, in Japan and who have, or will have, “Student,” “Trainee” or “Cultural Activities” Status of Residence. Appropriate visa status must be gained and a copy sent to the Kanbe Foundation by April 30, 2020.
- Individuals must demonstrate through a well-articulated proposal the ability to work and carry out research in the field of ceramics.
- Individuals must secure a place of residence in Japan and register with the local ward office as per Japanese law.
3. Application Method:
Complete the application form, and send by post to the address below. Each applicant may apply one time only in a given fiscal year. Please visit the Kanbe Foundation website to download the application form.
Application Form
http://www.kanbe-zaidan.or.jp/
*The application form and other related documents cannot be returned to the candidate under any circumstances.
- Application for funding
- Research proposal
- A portfolio which includes the following A4 size documents:
I. A CV outlining education, work experience and artistic achievements
II. Photographs of five pieces of work created during the past year (width, height, depth)
- Letter of reference from someone with expertise in ceramic art
- Copy of passport (passport photo page, clear photo)
- Copy of appropriate visa
4. Application Period:
Deadline: January 14, 2020
5. Funding Amount of Funding:
Up to half a million Japanese Yen per recipient
6. Duration:
April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021
7. Contact:
Kanbe Foundation Inc. Office (In Maruwa Co., Ltd)
3-83 Minamihonjigahara-cho, 488-0044 Owariasahi City, Aichi Prefecture, JAPAN
TEL: +81-561-51-0841
FAX: +81-561-51-0845
E-mail: info “@“ kanbe-zaidan.or.jp
*Please convert “at mark” to “@” when you send an e-mail.

Information about International Symposium

9th Electronics and Photonics Symposium: Design and Verification Test of Functional Materials

Conditions for material development are set to be revolutionized by recent advancements in new approaches (including material informatics), the development of advanced synthesis technologies, and the cultivation of new fields of application. This symposium discusses the current reality and future outlook of development for electronic/photonic devices that are based in revolutionary materials.

Date/Time: Friday, December 20, 2019 / 10:00 A.M. to 5:25 P.M.
Venue: Akihabara UDX Conference (4-14-1 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo)

Academic Societies

Japanese Language Tests

  • Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)
  • BJT Business Japanese Proficiency Test
  • The BJT Business Japanese Proficiency Test is administered in two types: individual testing and group testing. For individual testing, please register your account from the official website of the BJT Business Japanese Proficiency Test, make a test reservation, and take the test. When making a reservation, you can select your preferred test center and test date. For information on group testing, please contact the applicable group.
  • Test of Practical Japanese (J.TEST)
  • (Japanese version only)
    148th J.TEST
    Test Date: Sunday, January 12, 2020
    Application Deadline: Wednesday, December 11, 2019
  • 149th J.TEST
    Test Date: Sunday, March 8, 2020
    Application Deadline: Wednesday, February 12, 2020
  • Monozukuri Nihongo Kentei (MNK)
  • The Monozukuri Nihongo Kentei is a comprehensive (free) service that allows you to take classes, take tests, and be certified on your smartphone, through the Internet. You may also use the self-introduction video you post on the related website as part of your job hunting efforts. Go to the MNK official website for more details. If you wish to take the test, register for the test (English version available) on the official website.

4. Business News

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

Information About Job Hunting Related Events

Job Hunting Event Information

Events for International Students

  • 3rd International Student Job-Hunting Interview Event
  • (Japanese version only)
    (Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners)
    Date/Time: Wednesday, December 18, 2019 to Friday, December 20
    Location: Deiai no Floor
    (Odakyu Daiichi Seimei Building 21F, 2-7-1 Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo)
    Target Group: Mainly students who are expected to graduate in March 2020
  • Connect Job Japan IT Engineer @Tokyo
  • (Fourth Valley Concierge Corporation)
    Date/Time: Saturday, December 14, 2019 / 11:00 A.M. to 5: 15 P.M.
    Location: Belle Salle Shinjuku Grand Hall
    (Sumitomo Fudosan Shinjuku Grand Tower 5F, 8-17-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo)
    Target Group: Students with IT skills (programming skills)
    Pre-registration: Required (Please register at the URL)

Useful Websites for International Students

  • These websites have search engines for companies recruiting international students.
  • Asagaku Navi
  • (Gakujo Co., Ltd.)
    (Japanese version only)
  • Diamond Shukatsu Navi
  • (DIAMOND HUMAN RESOURCE, INC.)
    (Japanese version only)
  • MYNAVI
  • (Mynavi Corporation)
    (Japanese version only)
  • Ryukatsu
  • (Japanese version only)
    (Originator Co., Ltd.)

Job Hunting Report

Phan Lâm Mỹ Kim

Name: Phan Lâm Mỹ Kim
Nationality: Vietnam
University: Kansai University
Major: Cultural Interaction Studies Major, Graduate School of East Asian Cultures
Period of Stay in Japan: April 2016 to September 2019
Current Workplace: Tatsuno Corporation
Japanese Proficiency Level: Japanese-Language Proficiency Test N1

When I was in university in Vietnam, I participated in a program that was held under the coordination of my university and a university in Japan. Through this program, I learned about the Japanese language and about Japanese law. I noticed that Vietnamese and Japanese legal language is very alike, and thought it was extremely interesting. I decided to study abroad in Japan after graduating university to figure out why the language was so similar.

I was able to learn a lot of things since coming to Japan. Not only about Japanese language and culture, but also about Japanese research methods and educational mindsets, and I felt that it helped me to grow as a person. But I only understood these things within the academic framework, and I thought that there was a lot of amazing things I could still learn in a Japanese company. That’s why I decided to find a job in Japan, and continue studying while working in order to grow even more as a person.

In my experience, you have to really know your own value before choosing the company or industry you want to work for: you can’t just choose on a whim. I started out by choosing companies that I thought I could get into, but that sense of whether or not you’ll get in is just based on intuition. If you’re able to really understand the value you can provide, I’m certain you’ll come across some companies you really want to work for. By “value,” I do mean your academic records, certifications, etc., but also the experiences that shaped who you are. I also recommend, when you’re job hunting, to be very clear about the reasons why you thought something, or did something. I think these are the things that create your value. You often hear that job hunting is about “selling yourself,” and I think that’s completely accurate. And if you want to sell yourself, you have to really understand your own value first.

Job Hunting Information Article

Preparing for Job Hunting (Written Exams)

Many companies administer written exams during their hiring process in order to evaluate students’ intelligence, academic skills, critical thinking skills, decision-making skills, processing skills/accuracy, etc. These written exams are usually held as the very first step in the hiring process, with the results used as reference for the interview stage that follows, or in some cases as a form of screening to determine who will move ahead in the process. Though some companies may offer their written exams in English, Chinese, etc., in the majority of cases, they are administered in Japanese. Therefore, it is essential that international students prepare for these in advance so they are able to handle the Japanese questions.

The written exam can be divided into two general types: one in which the company creates and administers their own problems, and another in which the company uses a test administered by a professional test service. Though the company-created problems are difficult to predict, many of them tend to fall within the categories of general academic ability (Japanese language, math, etc.), personality tests, knowledge of current affairs, short response problems, and tests of English language skills. The tests offered by professional test services, on the other hand, can be studied for, since there tend to be specialized textbooks published for each of them.

There are multiple different tests that are administered by professional test services. The most famous ones are SPI, Tamatebako, GAB/CAB, and TG-WEB, with SPI the most commonly administered amongst Japanese companies. For this reason, we recommend that you prepare for SPI no matter where you are thinking of applying to.

The SPI test is divided into two parts: a personality test and an ability test. There are no correct answers on the personality test, which is used to analyze the applicant’s personality. The ability test is comprised of a language section, which tests Japanese language skills, and a quantitative section, which tests math skills. You can raise your score in these sections, to some extent, by practicing repeatedly using commercially-available textbooks, smartphone apps, etc.

You should also be aware of the test format for the written exam as you head into job hunting. The written exam can be administered in many forms: in paper format, where all applicants gather to a venue specified by the company in order to take the exam; in computer format; in a test center operated by the test provider; or at home, on your own computer. When applying for a company, it is important that you check the format in which the written exam will be administered. This kind of information about the job hunting process tends to be posted on the “Saiyo,” or “Hiring” page of each company’s official website. Make sure to check this information before applying.

5. Visit Japan

Introducing universities and other regions throughout Japan! The December issue features Akita City in Akita Prefecture.

Introducing Cities and Daily Life As a Study Abroad Student

View of Akita City

Akita City, Akita Prefecture

Akita City is located in the northern part of Akita Prefecture, and is home to the prefectural office. The city is abundant with nature, with mountains stretching to the east, and the ocean on the west, and is famous for its production of delicious rice and sake. Akita City is also home to 11 universities and junior colleges, with many students enjoying life amongst the abundance of nature in the area.

There are a total of about 10,000 university and junior college students within Akita City, and about 400 of them are international students. About 60% of the international students in Akita City live in international student apartments, student dorms, etc., with the other 40% living in private residences, apartments, etc. Rent is relatively cheap in Akita City compared to the rest of the country, and you can rent a “1R” or “1K,” i.e. a one-room studio (good for living on your own) for as low as 30,000 yen per month. These low living costs, in addition to the nature that you wouldn’t be able to experience in a city, are some of the major factors that make the city so great.

The central area of Akita City is the area around Akita Station, which is where the two train lines that run through the city converge, and where the terminal station for the Akita Shinkansen is located. With Akita Station the closest station for five of the eleven universities and junior colleges in the city, the area also flourishes as a student town. There are two shopping malls located right near Akita Station (ALS & Topico and Fonte Akita) that serve as important shopping spots for the residents of Akita City. Fonte Akita in particular houses many shops geared towards young people, including book stores, general goods stores, cafes, and ice cream shops, and is popular with young people on the weekends. The Tegata area, located to the northeast of Akita Station, has also been known as a student town for many generations. The Tegata area has many food establishments oriented towards students, like diners and ramen shops, and has satisfied the hunger of countless students, both now and back then.

Akita Prefecture also has an organization called the Akita Inter-Regional Council for Promotion of Foreign Student Exchange*, which makes efforts to encourage socializing amongst international students and local residents. These programs include the Agricultural Experience Program, which allows international students to interact with farmers, the Japanese Speech Contest, in which international students can compete to see who has the best Japanese speech skills, and the Akita Family Program, which drives socialization amongst international students and volunteer host families. Through these programs, international students can socialize with students from other schools, local residents, and more. In addition, each of the universities and junior colleges in Akita City also host their own social exchange programs.

6. NIPPON Information

This section introduces information on Japan for international students!

Lifestyle Information

Japanese railway system
  • Japanese Railway System

In Japan, a country with well-established systems of public transportation, trains are an integral part of people’s everyday lives and commutes in Japan. They are considered to be an important “seikatsu no ashi,” or “leg to our lifestyle.” This railway system, known as the most accurate in the world, supports the precise and timely nature of the Japanese lifestyle. But how is it that Japan’s railway system is so accurate and punctual?

One of the reasons for why the Japanese railway system is so accurate is the system of “unten shirei,” or operation commands. Japanese railway companies have places called the “unten shirei-jo,” or operation command center, that manage overall train operations. This overall management of train operation, in addition to each train operator working as best they can to follow the time schedule, is how trains in Japan are able to operate in such an accurate and timely manner.

The complex operation plans for the Japanese railway system are also created by specialized staff. These specialized staff gather enormous amounts of information on railway operation, analyze this information, then set up an optimal operation plan. In this day and age, when AI is becoming increasingly advanced, the operation plans for the Japanese railway system are still created by people, and that is another reason why the system is so accurate.

Make good use of this very accurate Japanese railway system, and you’ll find it’s easier to come up with schedules for daily life, tourism, etc. in Japan, and use your time more efficiently. Here, we’d like to introduce you to a few pointers for using Japanese trains effectively. First, there’s the fact that there are many different railway companies in Japan. We recommend that you install a “norikae annai,” or transfer guide, app on your smartphone to look up the stations you are supposed to get off or transfer at.

You can pay for train rides either by buying a ticket at the ticket machine, or by buying and using a prepaid IC card (smart card). Though the type of IC card may differ depending on the railway company, most cards can be used on train lines offered by other companies as well, meaning it’s convenient to have at least one at your disposal at all times. When transferring trains, read the signs posted around the station, and check where the platform is for your next train. Be careful: some stations, if you’re transferring to a line offered by a different railway company, will require you to leave the ticket gate and enter a different one. If you get confused and don’t know where to go, find a train attendant immediately and ask them for directions.

As you can see, the Japanese railway system is very convenient. Remember, however, that there are various rules and manners that are associated with using the train. For example, when waiting for a train, the rule is to line up on the platform. When the train arrives, wait for those who are disembarking to get off the train before getting on. It is also good manners to stay quiet while on the train. Refrain from talking loudly or talking on the cell phone. Some train cars also have seats labeled “yusenseki,” or “Priority Seats.” These are seats that are meant for the elderly, people with physical disabilities, pregnant women, and parents with babies. You may sit in these seats if there is no such person around, but be sure to give up your seat if such a person does come onto the train.

Get to Know Japan

In this section, we will introduce topics on culture, technology, lifestyle, and more in Japan. This December edition focuses on Japanese people’s love of baths, and sento (public bathhouse) culture.

the Culture of Public Bathhouses

Japanese People’s Love of Baths and the Culture of Public Bathhouses
Japanese people love baths. Many Japanese houses have bathtubs installed in addition to showers, and about half of all Japanese people take baths every day. Japan also has many public bathhouses in the form of sento (public baths) and onsen (hot springs), with about 26,000 of these facilities in the country.

Why do Japanese people love baths so much? It has a lot to do with Japan’s climate. Japan’s very hot and humid summers have made the act of “washing away sweat” in the bath, and keeping yourself clean, an important habit. Temperatures in the winter, on the other hand, can fall below freezing in some areas. And so in the winter, people take baths to warm their bodies. The act of taking a bath provides you with health benefits that you cannot get just from taking a shower. It’s said, for instance, that baths can help relieve fatigue and help relax your body.

When discussing the relationship Japanese people have with baths, it is essential that you consider the existence of sento, or public baths. Sento are public bathhouses that you pay to use. They first emerged 700-800 years ago, and flourished as a recreational area for the common people in the Edo Period (1603-1868). At the time, it was used not only for bathing, but as a place to communicate with others, and in fact, it is said that there were people who went to the sento multiple times a day. It seems then that the love that modern Japanese people have for baths stems from the culture of sento in Japan.

The mid-1990s to the early 2000s saw the rise in popularity of super sento, or modernized versions of sento, with an explosive increase in the number of these facilities. Super Sento offer not only baths but also jacuzzies, saunas, outdoor baths, and more. They also come equipped with restaurants, beauty salons, massage parlors, rest/sleeping spaces, and more so that you can spend all day relaxing in one place.

Here we’d like to give a brief example of how you would enter and use a sento. Since there are no significant differences between this and using an onsen, you may use this brief guide for onsen as well. When you get to the sento, first put your shoes away in the shoe rack at the entrance. Once your shoes are put away, head to the front desk (called the “bandai”), make your payment, and receive your locker key for the changing room. Take off your clothes in the gender-divided changing rooms, and you’re ready to go. Enter the bathing room, and make sure to rinse off your body (with hot water, etc.) before going into the bath. This is an important rule of etiquette so that you do not get the bath dirty. Once you enter the bath, stretch out your arms and legs and relax. It is proper manners when you do this not to put your towel in the water. Once your body is warm but not too warm (you don’t want to overheat), get out of the bath and wash your body in the washing area. You can then go into the bath a second time, if you wish. Once you are satisfied, go out into the changing room, and dry your body thoroughly with your towel. Rules of etiquette are not significantly different between sento, super sento, and onsen. Using a super sento is essentially the same as using a regular sento, except for the fact that there’s usually a ticket vending machine instead of a “bandai” front desk.

Japanese sento also sell drinks in small shops and vending machines within the facility, so you have easy access to cold drinks after getting out of the bath. A cold drink right after a hot bath can taste heavenly, and we recommend you try it out the next time you use a sento.

Magazines and Brochures from Japanese Government

Providing public relations materials regarding Japan, including culture and sport.

  • Savor Japan
  • Regional areas where you can enjoy the best of Japanese dining and discover things related to foods, are certified as "Savor Japan". Here, we will introduce areas which were given the Savor Japan certification in 2016 and are famous for their local scenery, ceremonial dining that is closely related to the spiritual culture, and local foods such as mochi (rice cake), sweetfish and soba (buckwheat).

7. JASSO News

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

Study in Japan Fairs in FY 2019

JASSO (Japan Student Services Organization) holds Study in Japan Fairs overseas for high school and university students who wish to study in Japan. It also participates in and assists with events and company briefing sessions held by other organizations.

  • See the official website for information on other events.

Information About the “Student Guide to Japan”

For all those considering studying in Japan, we recommend you to read the "Student Guide to Japan" first.
In addition to information on the Japanese education system, scholarships, and daily life in Japan, the guidebook also includes stories about international students' experiences in Japan.
You can read the guidebook on the JASSO website, so we encourage not only those who are considering studying in Japan, but also students already studying in Japan to take a look.

You can read it in 14 languages such as Japanese, English, Chinese (simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese), Korean, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Myanmar language, Bengali, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, French, German, Mongolian, and Portuguese.

Official Facebook Pages of JASSO and Overseas Representative Offices

JASSO and Overseas Representative Offices also provide the latest information on studying in Japan on our official Facebook pages. Check them out!

Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU)

JASSO Scholarship Programs

Web Magazine “Ryugakukoryu”

Please read the December 2019 issue. It will be available on December 10.

Follow-up Research Fellowship (Invitation Program)

This program provides former international students who play active roles in education, research and government in their home countries with an opportunity to conduct short term research at universities in Japan.

New University Listing(s) This Month:
Okayama University
The University of Tokyo
Kyushu University
Gifu University
Kumamoto University
Gunma University
Kyoto University

Follow-up Research Guidance (Dispatching Research Advisors)

This program provides Japanese academic advisors with an opportunity to visit and to help further research of former international students who are teaching and/or researching at universities or research institutes in their home countries.

Job Hunting Guide for International Students

This guidebook provides a great amount of information for international students looking to job hunt in Japan. This covers everything you need to know, from the preparation process to the entry sheets, tests, changes to statuses of residence, and more, categorized by time period, and in an easy to understand language.

8. From the Editor

The year 2019, which in Japan saw the beginning of the new Reiwa era, is now coming to a close. A lot of things happened this year. There were numerous disasters and incidents caused by heavy rain, typhoons, etc., but there was also a lot of news that brought joy to the people of Japan, whether it be the planetary probe Hayabusa’s successful landing on an asteroid, or a Japanese researcher’s winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. It was also a year in which Japan showed its athletic might to people overseas, with a female Japanese tennis player winning a Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open for the first time in 42 years, and the Japan national rugby team’s incredible showing at the Japan-hosted Rugby World Cup. Next year is finally the year of the Tokyo Olympics. We here in Japan will brush up our omotenashi, Japanese-style hospitality, in the hopes that people all over the world will turn their attention to Japan, and come to visit us. If visiting would be difficult, we hope that you at least watch the games through the media. We expect you’ll see a lot of what makes Japan so great.
Thank you for your support of Japan Alumni eNews this year.

The Japan Alumni eNews Editorial Desk is looking for people who can share their job hunting experiences. We also welcome pictures from your life abroad as an exchange student and your comments for our e-mail magazine. The next issue of Japan Alumni eNews will be distributed on January 10, 2020. Don’t miss it!

  • Information in this issue may change without notice. Please visit their websites for the latest information.

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

Contact

Follow-up Services Unit, International Scholarship Division, Student Exchange Department Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO)
  • 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 address is alumni-newsletter at mark jasso.go.jp
  • * Please convert "at mark" to @ when you send an e-mail to us.

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