Welcome Events for Spring 2018!

Spring is just around the corner and soon new students will come to Japan to start a new chapter in their lives. MSA is organizing welcome events for new MEXT scholars all throughout Japan in mid to late April and everyone is welcome to participate, no matter if you are a new or current scholar or even an alumnus! If you would like to meet and get to know fellow newcomers or your juniors or seniors in a friendly atmosphere, you are more than welcome to join us!

Check the schedule below for the details of all of our welcome events for this term!


  • KANTO:


Date : 15th April, 2018

Time : 5 PM

Meeting place: Shibuya (Meet at Hachiko Statue)

Contact : jorel.chan@gmail.com, tazbir_sajid@yahoo.com



Date : 22nd April

Time : 5 PM

Meeting place: Akamon of the University of Tokyo

Contact : jorel.chan@gmail.com, stephysics.flores@gmail.com




Date: 21st April

Time: 5 PM

Meeting place: Clock Tower, Yoshida Campus, Kyoto University

Contact: noemi.dupertuis@gmail.com



Date: 28th April

Time: 5 PM

Meeting place: International Student Room, Toyonaka Campus, Osaka University

Contact: devangi.yadav@gmail.com



Date : 29th April

Time : 12:30 PM

Meeting place: Rokkodai Campus, Kobe University

Contact: childsdaryk@gmail.com



Date: 28th April

Time: 5 PM

Meeting place: Tenjin Subway Station, Kuko line central gate (underground), Fukuoka

Contact: mazzei9@gmail.com



Date: 28th April

Time: 3 PM

Meeting place: Maruyama Koen, Sapporo

Contact: wisengama@gmail.com


Image taken from flickr.com (2018/03/16)

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

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!

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!

Upcoming: Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro Festival Outing

While almost everyone knows about the beauty of Kyoto’s Arashiyama during the day, have you ever wondered what it looks like illuminated at night?

MSA’s next event in Kansai will be an outing to Arashiyama’s Hanatouro Festival, where beautiful open air lanterns, bright lights, and ikebana flower arrangements can be viewed along famous spots such as the Bamboo Forest and the Togetsukyō Bridge.

We’ll be gathering on Saturday afternoon, the 9th of December, so if you’re an interested MEXT scholar, do check out our Facebook event page for more information!

We’re looking forward to an amazing outing with all of you!

Picture taken from jpninfo.com (2017/12/01)

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