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Japan Alumni eNews (Vol.79)

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 79 November 10, 2015

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.
How to submit

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

November of Japan

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

Hang out radish
Hang out radish

2. Alumni News

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

1) News about International Students

News 1:Review of residence status, to make it easier for international students of animation and Japanese cuisine to work

At the meeting of the Council on National Strategic Special Zones, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed a review of the status of residence, so that overseas students who have come to study animation, Japanese cuisine and so on, will find it easier to stay. The Council stated that they will ‘implement a comprehensive review of residence status, to clarify the standards of work permits for overseas students’, and plans to welcome more international students by designating ‘Special Zones’ where it is easier for them to find work. Special Zones such as Tokyo and Fukuoka have applied to ease the residence requirements.

News 2: Part-time job information for international students provided in 6 languages

NASIC, the National Student Information Center Group (Kyoto), which manages and runs student apartments, set up a multi-lingual part-time job information website aimed at international students. Currently information is provided in 6 languages: English, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Korean, Vietnamese and Nepalese. As of the next academic year, the website will add other languages such as Thai, and expand the area from the Kanto region to include the Kansai, Chubu and Kyushu regions too. The Confederation of International Student Associations in Japan (CISA) is cooperating with the translation to each language, and the service aims to provide safe, useful information about part-time jobs.

2) Introduction of Current International Students

Qi Zhu Lei

Name: Qi Zhu Lei
Nationality: Chinese
University in Japan: Department of Psychology and Horticulture, Faculty of Human and Social Studies, Keisen University
Period of Stay in Japan: July 2013 to present
Japanese-language Proficiency Test: JLPT N2
I had been interested in psychology since I was a child, and wanted to major in it at university. However, psychology has a negative image attached to it in China, and is an unpopular subject that does not offer many job prospects. My parents objected to it too, so I applied to university in China, intending to major in chemistry after high school. However, as I had applied without much personal interest, I was unenthusiastic about university. I felt that I would probably quit half way through if I went onto university.
I persuaded my parents, and I searched for a way to study psychology. That was how I thought of coming to study in Japan. I could have studied psychology in countries other than Japan, but I remembered that I had been wanting to see Japan firsthand, after taking interest in its culture through the anime that I used to watch back in junior high. Straight after that decision, I started to make my preparations for going to Japan, applying for a visa and looking for a Japanese language school - before I even knew whether I would get into the university. My parents were taken aback to hear that I was going to study abroad all of a sudden, but they sympathized with my wish to study psychology in Japan.
The Department of Psychology and Horticulture, where I am currently enrolled, allows me to study horticultural therapy, a therapeutic method that treats mentally distressed people through horticulture. I found out about it by chance when I was looking for a university where I could study psychology after coming to Japan. I loved the Japanese hydrangea, and I found the combined idea of the image of those flowers and studying psychology very attractive.
I am still studying general academic subjects, and learning the basics of horticultural therapy, so I cannot go into much details about the field, but I want to go onto graduate school in the future to advance the research.
As my own experience with coming to study in Japan was very rushed, perhaps it isn’t really for me to say – but I recommend that you establish a proper plan, preferably with a schedule. It is very diffcult to decide everything about the international student admissions, universities, scheduling for various exams and so on after you arrive in Japan, on top of studying the language.

3) List of Japan Alumni Associations

4) Information about programs for former international students

About Japanese University Graduates Association of Singapore (JUGAS)

The Japanese University Graduates Association of (JUGAS) is an alumni organization for people currently residing in Singapore (excluding those of Japanese ancestry) who have previously received higher education in Japan.
Since its foundation in 1970, JUGAS has played a part in bringing together past international graduates of Japanese universities. There are more than 350 registered members at present, including former international students of from all walks of life, from young people straight out of university, to CEOs and Presidents of multinational and Singaporean companies, and senior officials in the Singaporean Government. There are also some retirees among JUGAS’s members who participate actively in our activities.
JUGAS was originally established as an organization for graduates with at least one degree at a Japanese university. However, now its membership is open to graduates of non-Japanese universities who have studied at a Japanese graduate school for a certain period (1 year or more), graduates of Japanese junior colleges, as well as graduates with degrees in Japanese studies (or equivalent) at universities outside Japan.

Extensive networking with other organizations

JUGAS works closely with the Japanese Embassy, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (JCCI), the Japanese Cultural Society Singapore (JCS), the Japanese Association, Singapore (JAS), as well as Japanese schools and communities in Singapore. We also have strong connections with alumni organizations in other ASEAN nations, through the ASEAN Council of Japan Alumni (ASCOJA) and the Japanese arm of the Asia Japan Alumni (ASJA).
We also hold various annual and one-off activities targeted at members and the general public. Through such cultural, academic, social and educational activities, JUGAS not only promotes communication among its members and strengthens friendship between Singapore and Japan, but also advances the general public’s understanding of Japanese culture and language.

3. Academic News

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

1) Introduction of faculties/graduate schools

University of Tsukuba

  • [University profile] (as at May 1st, 2014)
  • Name: University of Tsukuba
  • Location:
  • Tsukuba Campus: 1-1-1 Tennoudai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki
  • Tokyo Campus: 3-29-1 Otsuka, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
  • URL:
  • Number of students: 9778 undergraduates, 6632 graduates
  • Number of international students: 220 undergraduates, 1207 graduates

Global day-to-day life

Ever since its foundation in 1973, the University of Tsukuba has worked to contribute to globalization. We boast a large number of international students, in the five highest among national universities (at 2014 present).
We actively install English language programs (lectures that students can sit in English), offering a total of nine courses in undergraduate and graduate subjects; we also adopt a "dual degree system”, whereby students can transfer their degrees from Japanese universities to a degree in their home countries.
Furthermore, the Tsukuba network covers multiple continents and regions, with many overseas bases: the University of Tsukuba Tashkent Office, the University of Tsukuba Ho Chi Minh Office, the University of Tsukuba Kuala Lumpur Office, the University of Tsukuba Taiwan Office, the University of Tsukuba Beijing Office and Shanghai Office, the University of Tsukuba Bonn Office and the University of Tsukuba Bordeaux Office. We are one of the few universities in Japan that have a base even in northern Africa.

Ibaraki Prefecture’s cosmopolitan color

Ibaraki Prefecture, where the University of Tsukuba is located, is an extremely multinational region, with international residents comprising 5% of its population of 3 million. Many of the international residents of the city of Tsukuba are enrolled in the University of Tsukuba, or one of the research centers located in Tsukuba Science City. Thanks in part to the relatively large number of overseas residents compared to other municipalities, there are many opportunities for international exchange offered by the Prefecture or its municipalities, which means that international students can receive a lot of support. There are also organizations that promote friendship between international students and local communities, which will provide students with great opportunities to get to know the city of Tsukuba and Japan.

International Student Center

The University of Tsukuba’s International Student Center primarily serves to support international students. In the 2013 academic year, over 10% of newly enrolled students were from overseas. Students from over 100 countries and regions study at our University. As these numbers go to show, the University of Tsukuba offers an extremely global environment that values the differences between the cultural background of each country.
In addition to academic support, we also support our international students’ lives at the University so that they can focus on their academic pursuits, and deepen the understanding of Japan.

University of Tsukuba
University of Tsukuba
University of Tsukuba

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

The Japan Prize Foundation

  • Project title: 2016 Research Grant
  • Overview:
  • This Foundation’s purposes are twofold. One purpose is to promote research and development activities to advance science and technology that contributes to peace and prosperity for mankind, which is a shared wish for people all over the world. The other is to promote and propagate general knowledge and understanding concerning science and technology.
  • Eligible areas of research:
  • Areas concerning “substances, materials, production”
  • Areas concerning “biological production and biological environment”
  • Areas concerning “clean and sustainable energy”
  • Target:
  • (1) Individuals who will be of the age of 35 or younger, on April 1, 2016 (however, those 36 or younger may also apply, if there has been a hiatus in their research career of longer than half a year, due to childbirth, childcare or nursing care; in such cases, the details of their circumstances should be written in the application form)
  • (2) Individuals enrolled at universities, public research institutes or other such institutions, who are able to engage in the relevant research throughout the 2016 grant period.
  • (3) Individuals who can provide a letter of recommendation from the head of their affiliated organization (the dean of the undergraduate or graduate school, director of the research institute, etc. (however, each head of an organization may only give one recommendation per category)
  • Amount of grant: A sum of one million yen will be provided to each recipient of the grant. The number of grants is as follows:
  • Substances, materials, production: 10 recipients
  • Biological production and biological environment: 10 recipients
  • Clean and sustainable energy: 3 recipients
  • Application period:
  • September 7 - November 30, 2015
  • Recipients of the grant will be required to be involved in the Research Grant Blog, updated by young researchers who have received the research grant on the Foundation’s website.
  • The Foundation holds “Easy-to-Understand Science and Technology” Seminars all over the country, as part of our activities to spread awareness of the importance of science and technology to the wider public. The seminars are targeted mainly at junior and senior high school students, to allow them to become better acquainted with science and technology. All recipients of the grasp will be asked to submit seminar proposals, and participate in the events.
  • Contact:
  • The Japan Prize Foundation Research Grant office
  • 1-12-32 Floor 35, ARK Mori Building East Wing, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
  • E-mail:
  • Tel: 03-5545-0551
  • Fax:03-5545-0554

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

The Iwatani Naoji Foundation
The Iwatani International Scholarships

  • -How did the Foundation start? Please tell me more about the Foundation.
  • This Foundation was set up in 1973 by Naoji Iwatani, the founder of the Iwatani Corporation, out of his own pocket to mark his 70th birthday. The aim of the Foundation is to assist and encourage research and development in science and technology, to support and promote international exchange, and educate human resources to that end. In doing so, it wishes to contribute to further progress of science and technology in general, improvement of citizens’ lives, and promotion of mutual understanding between nations.
  • -Who is eligible to apply?
  • Applicants must meet all the following conditions.
  • The applicant must be:
  • (1) A privately-financed international student of a non-Japanese nationality, who has come to Japan from an East Asian or Southeast Asian country for study or research
  • (2) Enrolled, or confirmed to be enrolled, in a master’s or doctor’s program at a graduate school; or a doctoral student who has completed his/her three-year period, and staying on to obtain his/her doctoral degree
  • (3) Majoring in the natural sciences, or in related cross-disciplinary areas
  • (4) Below the age of 30 for master’s programs, or 35 for doctor’s programs, on April 1st 2015
  • (5) A student who does not, and will not, receive scholarships from other organizations as of April 2015
  • (6) Able to participate in the regular scholarship student meetings that are held five times a year (of which one is a three-day training trip)
  • (7) Willing to sustain communication with the Foundation even after the end of the scholarship term
  • (8) Capable of contributing to international exchange and friendship
  • (9) Able to conduct everyday conversation in Japanese
  • -How much money do you provide?
  • We pay a monthly amount of 150,000 yen.
  • -How long is the term of the scholarship?
  • On principle, the scholarship lasts for one year from April 2016 to March 2017.
  • -When is the application period?
  • The period is December 1st - 20th, 2015.
  • -How do I apply?
  • Applicants must prepare an application form, a resume, a personal statement, a research plan, a school certificate, a recommendation letter from their supervisor, a health certificate, photograph, and a self-addressed envelope for the acceptance notification, and send them to the Foundation.
    The application form and the forms for the resume, personal statement and research plan can be downloaded from the Foundation’s website.
  • -Are there other things to note when applying?
  • An East Asian or Southeast Asian country’ refers specifically to one of the following countries: China, South Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Fields that fall under the natural sciences are engineering, science, agriculture, as well as medical areas of molecular pathology, public health, pharmaceutics and molecular microbiology.
  • -What kind of duties would I have as a scholar?
  • There are meetings held for scholarship students five times a year, and participation is required except in unavoidable situations. There is also a training trip. Other than sightseeing around famous spots and historical sites, we take the students around factories with the latest facilities, to introdue them to Japanese culture and its cutting-edge science and technology. There are also many other exchange activities such as research presentations and social gatherings, in which we would like the recipients to participate actively.
  • -Testimonials from scholarship students
  • (Scholarship student, 2015 academic year, Vietnamese)
    I am studying space engineering, an area of engineering concerned with space development, with the wish to contribute to the progress of my country’s science and technology, particularly in aerospace. In Japan, the name “Iwatani” may bring up cooking instruments in most people’s minds; however, for an engineer like myself, my image is of a company that handles many progressive forms of energy, such as hydrogen energy and solar energy. Particularly in the field of hydrogen fuel, it works with fuel for space rockets too, so it is a source of great pride for me that I am receiving a scholarship from the Foundation associated with that “Iwatani”. Of course, the appeal of the Foundation is not simply in its backbone. As the Foundation covers travel and accommodation expenses, as well as the registration fee, when presenting or participating in an academic conference, you won’t be held back from research activities for financial reasons. I wish one day to make contributions through my specialist area, as a way to show my gratitude.

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
  • (In Japanese Only)
  • 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

Nguyen Thi Dung

Name: Nguyen Thi Dung
Nationality: Vietnamese
University: Asuka Gakuin Language Institute (Japanese language school)
Major: Accounting
Period of Study in Japan: October 2013 - March 2015
Name of Company: ARIIX
Level of Proficiency in Japanese Language: JLPT N1
In Vietnam, many people start a business after graduating from university. More people start a company than join one, and I too had been managing a few restaurants after leaving university. After about three years, I started to feel that my business skills and management skills were lacking, that they needed to change; I began to feel that I wanted to study in a completely different environment.
At first I was thinking about going to the United Kingdom, but my friend who had come back from his time studying in Japan told me that the education system there was solid, and offered opportunities to study while working. So I decided to come to Japan.
I was planning on going to graduate school after a Japanese language school, but an older Vietnamese acquaintance who had been kind to me introduced me to my current company, suggesting that I polish my business skills at a Japanese company while on the job.
I wasn’t intending on getting a job at first, but if I were to go to graduate school, complete the course, and work, then I might lose the chance to start a business after going back to my own country. I thought that it was better to work straightaway, and learn on the job.
Currently, I am helping run an employment support program for international students from Southeast Asia. ARIIX operates in Vietnam too, so I can maintain my ties with Vietnam while learning Japanese-style management. I also have opportunities to see my Vietnamese friends.
Working in Japan come with a lot of worries. There are people younger than you who are better at you at your job. But it’s important not to lose faith in yourself. If you give up on yourself, then you’re not going to be able to grow.
In terms of the Japanese language, the more proficient the better. You’re not expected to speak perfect Japanese in your job, but if you have decent language skills, you can communicate your opinions and views more clearly. This is an extreme way of putting it, but your linguistic ability becomes how others see your overall ability.
I’m still a new employee, but I want to gain experience, learn the Japanese style of management, and then ultimately go back to Vietnam and start a business again. It’d be great if I could establish a company where I could be involved in trade with Japan as an entrepreneur.

3) Job Hunting Information Corner

Fall/winter is the good season to attend internships

Internships offer a great opportunity to experience first-hand what it would be like to work in a particular industry or company. You can find out if you are suitable for the job and you really want to do it through the experiences.
Previously, most internships were scheduled during the summer. However, the number of the companies holding internships in the fall or winter has been increasing since last year.
In Japan, internships usually do not lead directly to a job. But as we mentioned above, they offer you a chance to acquire a wide range of working experience.
How about you attend internship programs before you will be too busy for your master thesis and research?

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! November’s edition looks at Shimane Prefecture.

Adachi Museum of Art
  • Adachi Museum of Art

This is a museum located in Yasugi, which houses modern and contemporary Japanese paintings, with particular focus on works by Taikan Yokoyama. It boasts a vast Japanese garden covering over 160,000 m2, which has been awarded number one 12 years in a row in the ranking of the country’s gardens, published by the “Journal of Japanese Gardening”, an American magazine dedicated to Japanese gardening.

Tamatsukuri Onsen
  • Tamatsukuri Onsen

Holding its own even in a prefecture with over 60 onsens, this onsen is particularly popular for its beautifying effect on the skin. It is one of the oldest hot springs in the country, even appearing in the Izumo no Kuni Fudoki, a historical record of the province written in 733 AD. You’ll be able to refresh both body and mind here while enjoying the scenery that each season offers.

 Loach-scooping dance
  • Loach-scooping dance

A humorous dance that imitates the motion of scooping a loach fish from the river, danced along to the Yasugibushi, a popular folk song native to Yasugi. It originated in the Edo period when it was often danced at drinking events that served loach as the side dish, then gradually spread to the masses. Even today it is popular as parlor entertainment, and can be watched at the Yasugibushi Entertainment Halls at Saginoyu Onsen in Yasugi city.

 Basket clam hamburger
  • Basket clam hamburger

This is a specialty hamburger made of basket clams, which are a local product of Shinji Lake in Matsue city. The patty is a soya burger containing basket clams boiled in soya sauce, and the buns are infused with basket clam extract. It’s a hamburger with a Japanese taste, with the perfect amount of basket clam flavor, which is also popular among the ladies because of its healthiness. The hamburgers are on sale at the Shinji Lake Shijimikan in Matsue, and elsewhere.

 Tsuwano washi dolls
  • Tsuwano washi dolls

The Tsuwano washi doll, handmade in the town of Tsuwano, is a doll made of Sekishu Washi, a brand of artisan paper that has been designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property. Sekishu Washi, known for its strength and softness, has been for centuries as the paper on shoji doors. The colorful and adorable dolls, dressed in traditional Japanese dress, make a great souvenir too.

6. NIPPON Information

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

1) Nippon Time Machine

There are 2000 types of wind in Japan?

Now we are entering the season when the trees begin to shed their colored leaves, and it’s becoming chilly even during the day. Kogarashi, literally ‘tree witherer’, is the cold wintry wind that heralds the coming of winter. A kogarashi is a cold, strong wind at the start of winter, named such because it blows the leaves off trees. The Japan Meteorological Agency terms the first north (or north-northwest) wind with a speed above 8 m/s that blows between mid-October and end of November, as ‘kogarashi no.1’. The kogarashi no.1 is reported on television and in the newspapers every year. Although it might be surprising that a north wind makes it into the news, traditionally, wind served not only to mark the seasons for the Japanese, but provided necessary information for farming and fishing, inseparable from life.
There are apparently over 2000 words in Japanese that describe winds. The haru ichiban, the ‘first spring wind’, is the first strong south wind at the start of spring, the aota kaze (‘green field wind’) the early summer wind that blows over the green rice fields; nowaki (‘parter of grassy plains’) is the stormy autumn wind that blasts through the plains, parting the grass blades, and the karakkaze (‘empty wind’), the cold, dry and powerful wintry wind that blows from over the mountains. There are also winds liketsumuji kaze (‘hair whorl wind’), hayate (‘rapid wind’), kaiyose (‘shell-gatherer’), kinpu (‘golden wind’), and tokitsu kaze (‘timely wind’). Have a guess from the phrases what kinds of wind they are! They are filled with the sensibility of the Japanese who have lived hand in hand with nature

2) Lifestyle Information

Delivering the sender’s feelings with noshi and mizuhiki

Delivering the sender’s feelings with noshi and mizuhiki
When you buy gifts at department stores or elsewhere and ask for gift wrapping, sometimes you are asked whether you want noshigami . This is a special gift wrapping paper. Have you seen a white folded piece of paper with two bundles of colored string tied in the middle, with an origami-like decorative print at the top right?
Noshi originally refers to a wrapped pack of noshiawabi, dried and spread pieces of awabi abalones; nowadays, that origin is represented by the decoration on the top-right of the noshigami. Awabi used to be given as gifts for marriages and childbirth as auspicious items. The strings of two colors are called mizuhiki, and was originally used just to tie the washi paper that the gifts were wrapped in. They are used not only for keiji (festive occasions), but also for choji (unhappy occasions) such as funerals. The mizuhiki used to come entirely in white, but more recently, they usually come in two colors: red and white ones or gold and silver ones for happy occasions, and black and white ones for unhappy occasions. The type of knot also has a meaning: the hanamusubi, the ‘flower knot’, which comes apart easily, is used for celebratory occasions that call for ‘many happy returns’; the musubikiri and the awabimusubi are tight, undoable knots that are used for occasions that one would not want repeated, both happy ones like marriage, and unhappy ones like funerals. These etiquettes contain the sender’s feelings of gratitude or goodwill for the recipient of the gift.

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

9) 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.

8. From the Reader

Thanks for keeping me informed.
(Lazaro S.P. Busagala)

thanks JASSO.

(Honorific title is omitted.)

[From the Editor]
What did you think of the November issue of Japan Alumni eNews?
November is the time when the fall season really begins to get chilly. During the day it can be as warm as 20 degrees, but the mornings and nights are cold, and as the air is also dry, it’s easy to get ill in this season. Please take care not to catch a cold! According to a recent study published in the United States, getting at least 6 hours of sleep makes it less likely for you to catch a cold. There’s an old wives’ remedy for colds in Japan called tamagozake, a mixture of sake, sugar and egg. It’s an alcoholic drink that tastes like a purin pudding, which certainly makes the body feel warm - but does it actually have any effect on colds...?

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 December 10th. Don’t miss it!

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