Welcome Events Spring 2018

In April MSA held welcome meet ups in Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto, Kansai and Kyushu. We would like to thank everyone who participated and contributed in making every single meet up a success!

To give you an impression of the events, here are some pictures:

 

Hokkaido

Tohoku

Kanto

 

Kansai

 

Kyushu

 

Thank you to all of those who were involved and who attended! We hope to see you at our next event!

Featured image taken from flickr.com (2018/05/04)

Cherry Blossom Meeting in Kansai

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.

Meeting at the banks of Kamogawa, Kyoto

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.

Lunch at Falafeel Garden, Kyoto

 

It was a memorable day! Looking forward to meeting y’all again!

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 from mid to late April and everyone is welcome to participate, doesn’t 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 and sign up here if you want to join one of our welcome events!

 

KANTO:

SHIBUYA

Date : 15th April

Time : 5:00 PM

Meeting place: Shibuya (Meet at Hachiko Statue)

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

 

HONGO

Date : 22nd April

Time : 5:00 PM

Meeting place: Akamon of the University of Tokyo

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

 

KANSAI:

KYOTO

Date: 21st April

Time: 5:00 PM

Meeting place: Clock Tower, Yoshida Campus, Kyoto University

Contact: noemi.dupertuis@gmail.com

 

OSAKA

Date: 28th April

Time: 5:00 PM

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

Contact: devangi.yadav@gmail.com

 

KOBE

Date : 29th April

Time : 12:30 PM

Meeting place: Rokkodai Campus, Kobe University

Contact: childsdaryk@gmail.com

 

KYUSHU:

FUKUOKA

Date: 28th April

Time: 5:00 PM

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

Contact: mazzei9@gmail.com

 

HOKKAIDO:

SAPPORO

Date: 29th April

Time: 12:00 PM

Meeting place: Maruyama Koen, Sapporo

Contact: wisengama@gmail.com

 

TOHOKU:

SENDAI

Date: 13th April

Time: 4:30 PM

Meeting place: International House Sanjo 2 at Tohoku University

Contact: ruiz41@hotmail.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 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!

Welding at Kyokushin Gas Equipment Plant, Higashi Osaka

 

Matsuyoshi-Doll Co

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.

Hina dolls at Matsuyoshi-Doll Co, Higashi Osaka

 

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.

MEXT scholars at Fuji Sesakusho Co., Ltd., Higashi Osaka

 

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.

Workers welding at Sunrise Iron Co. Ltd., Higashi Osaka

 

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!

By Chika Kondo. Photo credit: Fatemi Nawrose

New Year Shrine Visit in Kyoto

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 statue of Peach, which guards off bad luck, Seimei Jinja, Kyoto

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.

Lunch at Grand Burger, Kyoto

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.

At the Imperial Palace, Kyoto

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 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 Bamboo Forest, Kyoto

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!

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 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.  

At Demachiyanagi station, Kyoto

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.

Mt. Hiei, Kyoto

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.

Hike to Enryaku-ji, Mt. Hiei, Kyoto
Near Enryaku-ji, Mt. Hiei, Kyoto

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.

Photographs by Fabian Hia and Anirban Chakraborty

Fall Intake Kohai Meetup Schedule Out!

With a new year comes a new batch of MEXT scholars. And we want to welcome them as warmly as we can!

Because of this MSA will be holding a whole string of welcome meetups for scholars throughout Japan. The details of which are below.

Please note that these meetups are open to ANY MEXT scholar, whether new, current or graduated! Also, the list below lists suggested universities but feel free to participate in the one that is the most convenient for you.

If you are interested please signup on the form here.
We really need to estimate the number of people attending so we appreciate your cooperation! Also, we will only be sending out the contacts to people who have signed up.

— List of events below —

KANTO

Primary Contact: info@mextsa.org

Shinjuku / 15th Oct

Meeting place: Shinjuku station JR East Exit
Event Date and Time: 15 October, 5pm
Recommended for: Waseda (all campuses), Saitama U., Meiji U. (Izumi), Sophia U. and other universities towards Saitama
Activities: Introduction of all MEXT scholars, dinner at izakaya, karaoke.

Hongo / 14th Oct

Meeting place: Hongo 3-chome Marunouchi station
Event Date and Time: 14 October, 5pm
Recommended for: U. of Tokyo (Hongo), Keio (Mita), Meiji (Surugadai), Chiba U. and all other universities in east of Tokyo and Chiba.
Activities: Introduction of senpais and kohais, walking around campus, dinner together.

Kunitachi / 14th Oct

Meeting place: Kunitachi station
Event day and time: 14 October, 12pm
Recommended for: Hitotsubashi U., Chuo U. (Tama), Tokyo Metropolitan U. and other universities near to Hachioji
Activities: Lunch at famous 海鮮丼 (Kaisen-don) restaurant, then strolling around Kunitachi

Shibuya / 14th Oct

Meeting place: Shibuya station, Hachiko statue
Event Date and Time: 14 Oct, 6pm
Recommended for: Tokyo Inst. of Tech, U. of Tokyo (Komaba), Keio (Hiyoshi) and all others within the Shibuya / Setagaya area
Activities: Introducing senpais, a light dinner and karaoke.

Yokohama / 21st Oct

Meeting place: Sakuragicho Station
Event Date and Time: 21 October, 4pm
Recommended for: Yokohama National U. and all others within the Kawasaki / Yokohama area.
Activities: Sight-seeing of Port of Yokohama, Chinatown then afterwards karaoke with dinner.

Tsukuba / 29th Oct

Meeting place: Tsukuba University, In front of Central Library
Event Date and Time: 29th October, 12noon
Recommended for: Tsukuba U. and all others within Ibaraki prefecture or within parts of Chiba nearby.
Activities: Interaction with Senpais, Lunch.

KANSAI

Primary Contact: kansai@mextsa.org

Kyoto / 14th Oct

Meeting place : Clock-Tower, Yoshida Campus, Kyoto University
Event Date and Time : Saturday, 14th October,2017 | Time: 5:00 PM
Recommended for: Kyoto University and all other universities within Kyoto
Activities: Introducing with Senpai(s), Stroll around Kyoto, Dinner.

Kobe / 22nd Oct

Meeting place : Sannomiya Station, Kobe
Event Date and Time : Sunday, 22nd October,2017 | Time: 3:00 PM
Recommended for: Kobe University and all other universities within Kobe / Hyogo.
Activities: Introducing with Senpai(s), Stroll around Harbour land, Dinner.

Osaka / 13th Oct

Meeting place : Central Terrace Cafe , Suita Campus, Osaka University
Event Date and Time : Friday, 13th October,2017 | Time: 4:30 PM
Recommended for: Osaka University and all other universities within Osaka.
Activities: Introducing Senpai(s), Dinner.

TOHOKU

Primary Contact: tohoku@mextsa.org

Sendai / 27th Oct

Meeting Place: International Interaction Building (国際交流棟), Kawauchi campus
Event Date and Time: 27th October, 2017 | Time: 5.00 pm onwards
Recommended for: Tohoku University
Activities: Introducing senpais, interaction.

KYUSHU

Primary Contact: kyushu@mextsa.org

Fukuoka / 21th Oct

Meeting place: Tenjin Subway Station, Kuko line central gate (underground).
Event Date and Time: Saturday 21th October ,5 pm
Recommended for: Kyushu University, Kyushu Institute of Technology
Activities: Introduction of all MEXT scholars, light dinner / karaoke.

Don’t forget that the sign-up link is here.
Looking forward to see you!

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 10,000 fireworks are blasted into 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 quantity of fireworks had been increased, making it the biggest fireworks display in Kansai area.

Near Port of Kobe, Kobe

The 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 their Japanese friends who came out to help out with the preparation. Slowly, people started to gather and the seemingly empty space was filled with chattering and excitement. By 5:30 pm, most of members had arrived and the wait for the fireworks continued. At that time, 23 people from all over Kansai area joined the event and MSA was very happy to see many known faces from the last event in Kyoto.

Kobe Port area city-scape, Kobe

The Kobe Port area view is amazingly beautiful even without any fireworks. As wait continued, the group witnessed a beautiful sunset-show with the Port Tower area in the background. Then they 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.

Kobe Port area nightscape, Kobe

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 them 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.