Welcome to Higashi Osaka – The City of Premier Craftsmanship

With over 6,000 factories located in Higashi Osaka, this city contributes to highly competitive edge of Japan’s manufacturing. On the 3rd of February, we had the honor and privilege of attending a tour of 6 different factories. Everyone we met were all highly skilled specialists in their various fields.

Our first stop was a Kyokushin Gas Equipment Plant, Ltd. They make made to order specialty takoyaki pans, ikayaki, taiyaki, castella pans to the many different restaurants and food stands. They taught us about the different use of materials such as copper (it can last for decades!), tephlon, aluminum, etc. They let us participate in some of their welding and even let us hammer in our initials on a personal copper name plate!

Next, we visited the Matsuyoshi-Doll Co where 15 specialists build 4,000 hand-made Japanese dolls a year. They manufacture dolls such as the Hina doll used in the girls’ festival to modern dolls. Everything from the hands, face, body, and clothing are produced by a different specialist. They let us observe their work space and even let us participate in a workshop to make our own magnets using the kimono fabric they use for their dolls. They taught us about the many seasonal festivals that exist in Japan.

Third, we visited a wire factory (Nihon Kasen Co, Ltd.) that manufactures the wire used in different productions such as construction, electric facilities, etc. They supply wire from Hokkaido all the way to Okinawa. In addition, they also manufacture original craft color wire and hold a 95% share of Japanese hobby wire craft market with their brand: Jiyu-Jizai. They not only supply the industrial market but also the artisan markets and let us make our own pen holder with their craft wire. We were getting overwhelmed with all of their kind presents.

Fourth, we saw the epitome of what a clean, organized, and efficient workplace can look like and be. Fuji Sesakusho Co., Ltd. manufactures thousands of different kinds of nuts and bolts. The are promoters of the 5S system: sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain. With the support of the Japanese government, they support the preservation of highly skilled workers and in turn this company continues to produce high precision and high quality products.

Fifth, Sunrise Iron Co. Ltd. went all out in their hospitality as they showed us their highly respected and rare flash-butt welding- they produce the rod that controls the handle steering of almost all cars in Japan (Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, etc.).  They let all of us all weld together our own stainless steel pen stand and even sent us home with delicious udon we ate on the bus. You could tell that everyone here were highly skilled and passionate about their work.

Finally, we visited Nakatsuji Kanagata Kougyou Co. Ltd., which is a design company that produces different specialized components for cars and consumer electronics using molds that they create. This company is currently producing the panel parts that will go into the new train line they are building in Kyushu next year. They also are tapping into the artisan market and developing one of a kind coasters to appeal to more household consumers. We got to make our own tin badges to take home.

While there were many spots on this tour, our group was very excited and inspired by the pride we felt from the many Higashi Osaka craftspeople we visited and I know many of us had newfound appreciation for many products we buy in Japan because we saw firsthand the labor and hard work that goes into the things we use everyday. It’s nice to know that not everything should be outsourced and produced by robots. Hopefully these companies will continue to succeed as they were so open to having more tourists come to look into their craftsmanship.

Thank you to the organizers of the tour, our translator, and the many hands that went into making the tour a success!

By Chika Kondo. Photo credit: Fatemi Nawrose

Career Design Studio: Pitch Yourself Boot Camp

We thank everyone for being a part of the event and turning it into a great success. We had an amazing turnout of more than 130 people from all around the world.

A quick snap of the event:

Stéphane Emmanuel Fouché shared the journey of his career in Japan, and one of his tricks to making a pitch awesome was to “make your self relatable to the audience”. Yuma Saito roped the audience into the theory of “My story, Our story, Now” which was the key to engage everyone around you in your missions. Last but not the least, Mayuko Yamaura made a great pitch about Edison.ai, and used the kanji character 「楽」to explain why you need to strive hard to achieve your goals.


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About Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support:

Groundbreaking ideas too often do not reach the market because of a lack of customers or a mismatch with market needs. DTVS nurtures startups according to their needs and at all stages of development, by leveraging the extensive Deloitte network and our in-house expertise in venture affairs. With a firm belief that startups are the lifeblood of an ecosystem, DTVS offers a broad range of expert services free of charge to startups.

Our role is to act as a catalyst, to accelerate the rate of innovation. We believe this is of paramount importance for brilliant and disruptive ideas to take form and to be implemented as solutions that benefit both the economy and the society. At TVS, we support, connect and cooperate with startups and corporations in order to transform bold ideas into tangible, innovative solutions. So far, we have supported over 3000 promising startups as well as assisted hundreds of our clients to implement open innovation programs.

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Acknowledgments:

We sincerely thank Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support for providing us with the financial support. We love EDGEof for providing us with the venue. We also thank all the DTVS staff members, EDGEoff staff members, BizJapan, BLINK, and MEXT Scholars Association – 文部科学省国費留学生協会 members who have helped us with the event.

We are always grateful to our guest speakers Stéphane Emmanuel FouchéYuma Saito, and Mayuko Yamaura, for kindly agreeing to join the panel at short notice, and for all the time and energy that they have dedicated to this event. Last but not the least, the response from the audience was overwhelming. Thanks a lot for being there for us and making the event a grand success. We at Career Design Studio hope that you had valuable takeaways, and we look forward to seeing you again at our next event!

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Career Design Studio’s Partners:
BizJapan (http://bizjapan.org )
BLINK (https://www.facebook.com/BlinkEntrepreneurs/ )
MEXT Scholars Association: (http://mextsa.org )

New Year Shrine Visit in Kyoto

On Saturday, the 20th of January, 2018, our Kansai team organized a visit to two important landmarks in Kyoto; the Seimei Shrine and the Imperial Palace. 8 people attended the event despite the frigid winter. Gu, a Master student in Kyoto University from China and Marcela, a Master student in Doshisha University from Chile were two new joiners this time.

Our first stop was Seimei Jinja, a shrine constructed in the memory of a prominent Diviner, Abe no Seimei. Upon arriving at the shrine, our committee member Jyven took on the role of the guide. She, aided by Chong and Fabian (both MSA Kansai team members), explained the special features and translated many stories related to the shrine. For example, a statue of a peach which is supposed to be able to ward off back luck, a 300-year-old tree that energizes followers who embrace it, a series of drawings, which chronicled defining moments in the Diviner’s history and so forth.

The group also learnt how the Chinese five elements influenced the positioning of Kyoto’s famous landmarks and that public buses and trains were furnished with Omamori from the shrine. Some of us also tried their hands at the Omikuji (fortune-telling sticks).

After Seimei Jinja, we had a group lunch at the local burger joint Grand Burger.

After the lunch, we set off for our second destination, the Kyoto Imperial Palace, just in time for the 2pm guided English tour. The group was greeted by a local guide, Ms. Hanasaka, who cheerfully and professionally explained the history and significance of the palace compound and its present-day relation to the royal family. The event was successfully concluded at 4pm.

We hope that everyone enjoyed themselves and look forward to seeing you at our next event!

End of Year Party in Kanto

On the 16th of December, the Kanto Regional Committee organized a year-end party for MEXT scholars and alumni at a pizza parlor in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo. We had a total attendance of 28 people, of which 5 were alumni. The majority of attendees were newcomers to Japan who had heard about our year-end party at a previous welcome event that we co-organized with MEXT. It was a great chance for fellow scholars to swap stories about starting life in Japan, and alumni to share tales about corporate Japan.

The pizza parlor was the same restaurant at which MSA had its first year-end party in 2016. Drink and laughter flowed freely in the casual atmosphere, and the chefs were kind enough to cater to the varied dietary restrictions of an international crowd.

Winter had just arrived, and the offbeat streets of Shimokitazawa glowed in the warmth of Christmas lights and tipsy crowds. For some, 2017 was the exciting start of a new journey in a foreign land; for others, it was a year of discovery, and yet others, a year of uncertainty. Bidding farewell under the festive streetlamps, we each made our separate ways, looking forward to what the new year would bring.

We hope you had a great start into 2018 and look forward to seeing you at our next event!

Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro Festival Outing

On the 9th of December MSA organized the Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro Festival Outing. Over 40 people, led by Kansai committee members Chika and Daniel, first went over the famous Togetsu bridge to see the mesmerizing, hand-made laterns on the other side of the river. Along the way, everyone got to know each other better, learning about each other’s schools, studies, and respective countries. The journey continued onward towards the main attraction of the day: the bamboo forest, which had beautiful lights to highlight its subtle beauty.

The road to and the destination itself were a little crowded, being the other famous and popular spot in Kyoto, yet everyone still managed to take amazing pictures of the illuminated forest. Our group then continued to the villa, where we took another group photo. We explored the seemingly maze-like temple and finished our trip at the pond that had beautiful mirror like reflections of the surrounding forest and temple. Last but not least, the trip ended close to the starting point, as to make it easy for everyone to go back home.
The trip was a success, having brought MEXT and other government scholars from the Kansai area (and beyond!) closer together and everyone looks forward to the next trip!

Reception for MEXT Scholar in Tokyo on the 18th of November

On the 18th of November, MEXT and JASSO co-organized a reception for MEXT scholars in Tokyo, where newly arrived MEXT scholars could enjoy speeches by representatives from MEXT, JASSO and MSA, experience Japanese culture through for example the demonstration of a Japanese tea ceremony as well as get to know fellow MEXT scholars from a range of universities in the Kanto area.

MSA was not only present at its own booth, answering questions, handing out flyers in both English and Japanese and helping new MEXT scholars in becoming members of our association; we also held seminars about the job hunting process and the daily life of international students in Japan. Furthermore, we also organized an icebreaking session during the networking party, consisting of a ラジオ体操 (radio exercise) and a quiz about fun facts about Japan.

One of our committee members gave an encouraging speech as a representative for successfully integrated alumni.

This was the first reception, where MSA played a significant role in organizing and making sure that everything runs smoothly and it sure won’t be the last one! We hope, that each and every one of the around 500 attendees has had a great time, got to know fellow MEXT scholars and got a better idea of what is going to await them in the near future in Japan.

But no matter what, don’t forget that MSA is always going to be there for you during your journey as a MEXT scholar or alumni in Japan!

Autumn Outing To Kyoto’s Mt.Hiei

On Sunday, 12th of November, the MSA Kansai Team organised an outing to enjoy the autumn colours of Kyoto. The location we chose was Mt. Hiei, a popular destination to enjoy the changing colours.

In the afternoon, 20 people assembled at Demachiyanagi station in Kyoto. It was a good mix of scholars from Osaka and Kyoto. We started our journey with a train ride to Yase-Hiezanguchi station. Right outside the station, we could already see the red and yellow colours welcoming us.  

The next step of the journey involved using the Eizan Cable Car and ropeway all the way to the top of Mt. Hiei. The view on the way was simply mesmerising.

Once we reached the top, it was now time for a small hike to the temple complex. The main attraction in Mt. Hiei is Enryaku-ji, one of the most important monasteries in Japanese history and headquarters of the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism. On the way, there were many viewing spots. We were lucky to witness a clear view of the beautiful valley. We did stop for a group photo.

When we reached the entrance of the Enryaku-ji temple, it was already close to closing time and so we were actually allowed to go in without paying any entry fees. We utilised the short time we had and tried to absorb the atmosphere as much as we can. We took many photos of the beautiful temple complexes. However, the main temple was actually inaccessible due to ongoing repair works.

On the way back, it was quite chilly and started to get dark. However, we did see some illumination that made us feel happy and somehow compensated our struggle with the chilly weather. The outing ended with a lovely middle-eastern dinner and smiles on our faces with a hope to meet again soon.

Photographs by Fabian Hia and Anirban Chakraborty

Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support x MSA: Find your mission workshop

We thank everyone for being a part of the event and turning it into a great success (despite the heavy rain). We have had an amazing turn out of MEXT scholars and alumni.

A quick snap of the event:

Alba told her amazing story of how she moved from biotechnology to entrepreneurship and what she learnt from the journey. Later, Saito san involved the participants in his talk by having them plot out their life as a graph and built meaningful discussions around the plots.

 

A little more on Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support:

Groundbreaking ideas too often do not reach the market because of a lack of customers or a mismatch with market needs. DTVS nurtures startups according to their needs and at all stages of development, by leveraging the extensive Deloitte network and our in-house expertise in venture affairs. With a firm belief that startups are the lifeblood of an ecosystem, DTVS offers a broad range of expert services free of charge to startups.

Our role is to act as a catalyst, to accelerate the rate of innovation. We believe this is of paramount importance for brilliant and disruptive ideas to take form and to be implemented as solutions that benefit both the economy and the society. At TVS, we support, connect and cooperate with startups and corporations in order to transform bold ideas into tangible, innovative solutions. So far, we have supported over 3000 promising startups as well as assisted hundreds of our clients to implement open innovation programs.

Internship Opportunities:

Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support is currently hiring interns. It is a paid internship. For further details, refer to the website. (https://www2.deloitte.com/jp/en/pages/careers/articles/tohmatsu-venture-support-internships-student-hires.html )

Send your CV to Karthik.rampalli@tohmatsu.co.jp

Acknowledgments:

We sincerely thank Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support for providing us with the venue and the financial support. We also thank all the DTVS staff members, especially the speakers, Alba and Saito san, for all the time and energy that they have dedicated to this event. We love all the attendees for participating in our event.

Last but not the least, we have partnered with BLINK (https://www.facebook.com/BlinkEntrepreneurs/ ) for this event. Do check out their Facebook page.

Please follow, like and sign up with MEXT Scholars’ Association in order to receive the information at the earliest. This information was first sent out in our mailing list. Do sign up with the mailing list in order to receive the event information.

Tokyo Kaigi 2017

MSA co-hosted TOKYO KAIGI Conference 2017 on the 30th of September, in coordination with our partner organization ZESDA. First, we held a panel discussion among notable speakers (see below) on the theme “the Future of Cities”, focusing on Tokyo’s urban development after the 2020 Olympics. Next, participants took part in group discussions about such urban issues as social isolation, discrimination in the rental housing market, and outdated hiring practices of local companies. The event was attended by over 120 participants from over 30 countries, and was well-received by both participants and speakers.

・Panel speakers:
Mr. Tsunehiro Uno, a journalist and commentator
Mr. Ryosuke Toura, executive of Tokyu Corporation
Mr. Dennis Chia, founder of Sosei Partners
Ms. Nhu Quynh Tran, ex-chief officer of the ASEAN Youth Network in Japan
Mr. Cory Baird, co-founder of Tokyo Interlopers

In the next few months, the organizing committee will be compiling a white paper based on the ideas shared at the event. We hope for your continued support.

Kobe Port Fireworks Festival Event

On Saturday, 5th August the Kansai Team of MSA organized an evening hang-out to enjoy the brilliant display of fireworks in Kobe Port area. Every year on the first Saturday of August around 10000 fireworks are shot at the sky and they flower into a dazzling spectacle of colors. This year was special as it is the 150th anniversary of the Port of Kobe and the fireworks was increased making it the biggest in Kansai area.

Our planning and preparations started weeks before the event day. On Saturday, the MSA volunteers reached the venue quite early to make arrangements for everyone’s accommodation and reserve a good viewing spot till the evening. The MSA especially appreciates our Japanese friends who came out to help us with the preparation. Slowly people started to come and the seemingly empty space was filled with chattering and excitement. By 5:30 pm, most of our friends joined us and the wait for the fireworks continued. This time 23 people from all over Kansai area joined the event and we were very happy to see many known faces from the last event in Kyoto.

The Kobe Port area view is amazingly beautiful even without any fireworks. As we waited, we first witnessed an amazingly beautiful sunset-show with the Port Tower area in the background. Then we were greeted by an amazing transition of the Kobe City-scape into a brilliantly lit nightscape. The view is considered one of the best in Japan.

At 7:30 pm, it was finally the time for the fireworks to start and the next one hour was dominated by the thundering display of colorful lights in the sky. It was simply awe-inspiring. The fireworks finished at 8:30 pm but as crowded as it was expected to be most of us made it to the station just in time to catch the last train back to home. It was a beautiful evening and the enthusiasm of the participants made worth all the effort that was put in. The MSA also wants to thank our friends from other scholarship organizations who decided to join us and make the time spent more beautiful.