On Sunday, the 8th of April the MSA Kansai Team met with 28 MEXT scholars to celebrate the start of the spring semester and to pre-welcome the newly arrived scholars in Kansai.
The event started at 1 pm near the banks of Kamogawa; this river is an integral part of the student life in Kyoto. Everyone gathered around and had a quick introduction session while enjoying beverages. People from far off- places like Kobe and Nagoya also attended the event.
It was a chilly spring day. So, after around half an hour, the party made its way towards Falafeel Garden, the designated lunch venue near Demachiyanagi Station. Here they met up with other scholars. While enjoying the light lunch together, the MSA team came to understand, the expectations and aspirations of the newly arrived scholars, which set foundations for new networking opportunities. The event ended at 5 pm with a promise to meet again at the official end-of-April MSA welcome parties in different parts of Kansai.
It was a memorable day! Looking forward to meeting y’all again!
Cherry blossom season is a magical time to experience the joy of being in Japan and to celebrate the start of spring under blooming cherry blossom trees!
The Kyushu team organized a Hanami or cherry blossom viewing event on the 30th of March in Maizuru Park, Fukuoka. It was a perfect sunny day to enjoy the Sakura trees in full bloom. The event started at 10:30 am, but the numbers kept increasing till 2:00 pm. A hearty lunch followed, consisting of snacks and drinks, sponsored by both MSA and scholars participating in the event.
The MVP of the event was Maximiano Cassal from Brazil, who baked and brought a delicious chocolate cake. After some hours chatting and getting to know each other while sitting under cherry blossom trees, the scholars and their friends attending the event walked around Maizuru park and checked out the ruins of the Fukuoka Castle.
With over 6,000 factories located in Higashi Osaka, this city contributes to the highly competitive edge of Japan’s manufacturing. On the 3rd of February, the MEXT scholars had the honor and privilege to visit 6 different factories. They were guided by highly skilled specialists in their various fields.
Kyokushin Gas Equipment Plant, Ltd.
The first stop was a Kyokushin Gas Equipment Plant, Ltd. They make custom-made specialty takoyaki pans, ikayaki, taiyaki and castella pans and supply it to the many different restaurants and food stands. The guide explained the different use of materials such as copper (apparently, it can last for decades!), tephlon, aluminum, etc in pan making. The scholars participated in some of welding activities and were even allowed to engrave their initials, using a hammer on a personal copper name plate!
Second place on the agenda was the Matsuyoshi-Doll Co. In this factory, 15 specialists build 4,000 hand-made Japanese dolls a year. They manufacture dolls ranging from Hina dolls, used during Hinamatsuri, to modern dolls. Every part of the doll, from the hands, face, body, and clothing are produced by a different specialist. The scholars were allowed observe the work space and even participated in a workshop in which they made their own magnets using the kimono fabric used for the dolls. They were also taught about the many seasonal festivals that exist in Japan.
Nihon Kasen Co, Ltd
Third place on the agenda was Nihon Kasen Co, Ltd. This is a wire factory that manufactures the wire used in different areas such as construction, electric facilities, etc. They supply wires, all the way from Hokkaido 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. The scholars were allowed to make their own pen holder with the craft wire. At this point, the scholars were overwhelmed by the kind presents by the factories.
Fuji Sesakusho Co., Ltd.
Fourth place on the agenda was Fuji Sesakusho Co., Ltd. This factory manufactures thousands of different kinds of nuts and bolts. The scholars found this place to be the epitome of what a clean, organized, and efficient workplace could look like. This company is the promoter 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.
Sunrise Iron Co. Ltd.
Fifth place on the agenda was Sunrise Iron Co. Ltd. They produce the rod that controls the handle steering of almost all cars in Japan (Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, etc.).This company went all out with their hospitality as they demonstrated their highly respected and rare flash-butt welding. They let all the scholars weld their own stainless steel pen stand and even gave them delicious udon . It was clearly visible that everyone were highly skilled and passionate about their work.
Nakatsuji Kanagata Kougyou Co. Ltd.
The last stop of the day was Nakatsuji Kanagata Kougyou Co. Ltd., which is a design company that produces different specialized components for cars and consumer electronics using molds that are crerated by them. This company currently produces the panel parts that will go into making the new train line being built in Kyushu next year. They also tap into the artisan market. They are now developing one of a kind coasters to appeal to more household consumers. The scholars got to make their own tin badges to take home.
While there were many spots on the tour, the MEXT scholars were very excited and inspired by the pride felt from the many Higashi Osaka craftspeople they visited. Many of them found renewed appreciation for the products they buy in Japan because they witnessed firsthand the labor and hard work that goes into making these things. It’s nice to know that not everything is being outsourced and produced by robots. Hopefully these companies will continue to succeed and keep educating enthusiastic visitors about their craftsmanship.
A big thanks to the organizers of the tour, the translator, and the many hands that went into making this tour a success!
We thank everyone for being a part of the event and turning it into a great success. There was an amazing turnout of more than 130 people from all around the world.
There were many charismatic speakers in 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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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, EDGEof 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 Fouché, Yuma Saito, and Mayuko Yamaura, for kindly agreeing to join the panel at such 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!
On Saturday, the 20th of January, 2018, the MSA 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 comers.
The first stop was Seimei Jinja, a shrine constructed in the memory of a prominent Diviner, Abe no Seimei. Upon arriving at the shrine, 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 also tried their hands at the Omikuji (fortune-telling sticks).
After Seimei Jinja, the local burger joint Grand Burger was the choice for lunch.
After lunch, the group set off to their second destination, the Kyoto Imperial Palace, just in time for the 2 PM guided English tour. The group was greeted by a local guide, Ms. Hanasaka, who enthusiastically explained the history and significance of the palace compound and its present-day connection to the royal family. The event successfully concluded at 4pm.
We hope that everyone enjoyed themselves and look forward to seeing you at our next event!
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. The party had a total attendance of 28 people, of which 5 were alumni. The majority of attendees were newcomers to Japan, who had heard about the year-end party at a previous welcome event that was 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, everyone each went their 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!
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 to the famous Togetsu bridge to see the mesmerizing, hand-made laterns. Along the way, everyone got to know each other, 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 entire road was a little crowded, being one of the most popular spots in Kyoto, yet everyone still managed to take amazing pictures of the illuminated forest. The group then continued to the villa, where group photos were taken. After which they explored the maze-like temple and finished the day’s trip at the pond that had beautiful mirror like reflections of the surrounding forest and temple. The trip finally ended close to the starting point, so 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!
On the 18th of November, MEXT and JASSO co-organized a reception for new MEXT scholars in Tokyo. At the reception, the scholars were enlightebed by the speeches given by representatives from MEXT, JASSO and MSA. They could experience the Japanese culture through events like the demonstration of Japanese tea ceremony. They could also 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 the association; MSA also held seminars about the job hunting process and the daily life of international students in Japan. Furthermore, ice-breaking session was also organized during the networking party in the last leg of the event, consisting of a ラジオ体操 (radio exercise) and a quiz on fun facts about Japan.
One of the committee members of MSA gave an encouraging speech as a representative of successfully integrated alumni.
This was the first reception, where MSA played a significant role in organizing and making sure that everything ran smoothly. Hoping this event paves way for many more such events for the MSA in the future.
We hope, that each and every one of the near 500 attendees 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. No matter what, don’t forget that MSA is always there for you during your journey as a MEXT scholar or alumni in Japan!
On Sunday, 12th of November, the MSA Kansai team organised an outing to enjoy the autumn colours of Kyoto. The chosen location was Mt. Hiei, a popular destination to enjoy the changing colours.
In the afternoon, 20 scholars assembled at Demachiyanagi station in Kyoto. It was a good mix of scholars from Osaka and Kyoto. The journey started with a train ride to Yase-Hiezanguchi station. Right outside the station, the welcome colours of red and yellow could already be seen.
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 the top of the mountain was reached, it was 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. It was a beautiful day with clear view of the valley.
When the group reached the entrance of the Enryaku-ji temple, it was already close to closing time and so they were actually allowed to go in without paying any entry fees. The short time was utilized by trying to bask in the serene atmosphere. Many photos of the beautiful temple complexes were. However, the main temple was actually inaccessible due to repair works.
On the way back, it was quite chilly and started to get dark. However, some illuminations could be seen on the way back, that somehow compensated the struggle against the cold weather. The outing ended with a lovely middle-eastern dinner and smiles on peoples’ faces.