From Scholars to Scholars in Kansai

As international students in Japan, questions such as ‘What are the options I have once I graduate?’ lurk in the mind of almost every scholar. As the country goes through the process of internationalization, the importance of answering these questions are increasing day by day. MEXT Scholars Association understands the gravity of this situation and is taking initiatives to deliver at least some kind of direction to MEXT Scholars in particular and the international community at large.
With this motivation, on Sunday, July 8, the Kansai division of MEXT Scholars Association organized an exchange of information between current scholars and alumni which we call “From Scholars To Scholars (FSTS)”. The venue was the prestigious Kyoto University in Japan. Three speakers coming from different backgrounds shared their experiences and tips with the eagerly listening audience. Around 25 people, from different universities in the Kansai area joined the interactive program.

The first speaker was Oula Aabkari, a scholar from Morocco and currently a 2nd year Master student at the Graduate School of Engineering, Kyoto University. She recently cracked a job at a construction consulting company and shared her job-hunting experience targeting a general audience.

The second speaker was Fernando Palacio, a scholar from Argentina, who came to Japan with the MEXT scholarship in 2004 and finished his Masters and PhD at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. At present, he is a “Program special senior lecturer” in Kyoto University at the International Strategy Office and shared his experiences both as a student and a professional.

The third speaker was Austin Zeng, a Singaporean scholar, who graduated from the University of Tokyo in 2017. He is currently working for multiple startups in the Tokyo tech scene and is a member of a research group at RIETI researching about the laboural scene for foreigners in Japan. He is also the current President of the MEXT Scholars Association. He shared his career experience and his knowledge on the difficulties and opportunities as a foreigner looking for a career in Japan.

After the three speakers finished their presentations there was a Q&A session where the audience freely interacted with the speakers and cleared many of their doubts.

The event had a special attendee. Yukari Mitsuhashi, the Vice-Director of the International Strategy Office Kyoto University decided to surprise us with her humble presence and addressed the students with a short speech.

 

MEXT Scholars Association would like to thank everyone who joined us and made this event a success. We will try our best to bring more and more career related events to the Kansai area in the future!

Click here to download the presentations

Pictures taken by Fabian Hia

Reception for MEXT Scholars 2018 in Kobe

On Saturday, 16thof June, MEXT Scholars Association (MSA) joined the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology in Japan (MEXT) and Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) for the reception of MEXT Scholars in Kobe, Hyogo. The event witnessed a participation of more than 250 scholars from the majority of the universities in the Kansai area and beyond. MSA volunteers took a leading role in organizing many activities for the newly arrived scholars and a booth was set up for consultation and on the spot registration purposes.

Some of our senior MSA volunteers organized seminars and shared their experiences in Japan so far. The newly arrived scholars also had the opportunity to clarify many doubts and get motivated for their life in Japan.

At the main reception, a senior MSA volunteer greeted the scholars and gave a senpai speech, sharing his tips and suggestions for the eager listeners.

A short presentation on the MSA activities was also made to introduce the newly arrived scholars to our community.

This time we introduced a puzzle game as an icebreaker before the networking party. The scholars participated with much zeal and enthusiasm.

We thank all the scholars for participating in the event and hope that everyone took back home something new from that day. On behalf of MSA, we wish everyone all the very best for their life in Japan and looking forward to meet everyone again at one of our events.

Pictures taken by Fabian Hia & Yeekien Chong

Food Party at Osaka University

The MEXT Scholarship for Undergraduates is a 5 year program, for students out of high-school to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Japan in Japanese. They are split between Tokyo and Osaka, while the U-Program is for the Osaka based students. For many of the students this is their first time abroad (in Japan) or even learning Japanese. We thought an event by MSA could provide a good opportunity for them to get to know each other, try multiple cuisines and learn more about MSA, so we organized a food party at Osaka University for undergraduates on the 1st of June.

Since the MEXT Undergraduates will stay in Japan for at least 5 years, it would be nice to have a proactive bachelors community. That was one of the reasons the MSA Kansai team wanted to organise this event for them.

There was a brief introduction about MSA, its goals and its purpose and then everyone joined in to eat! The food was really tasty, so our Kouhai will be able to feed themselves in the future.

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

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)