• Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India

    Engineer

    Selvaraj Thomasprabhu

    Hiroshima University
    Graduate School of Engineering,
    Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering
    Graduated in 2013

  • Jakarta, Indonesia

    Sales, General Trading company

    Hindra Martono

    Kyushu University
    Graduate School of Bioresource and Bioenvironmental Sciences
    Graduated in 2015

  • Bangkok, Thailand

    Insurance Company
    Senior Auditor, Internal Audit Department

    Pimprapai LERTAMORNKITTI

    Keio University
    Graduate School of Media Design (KMD)
    Graduated in 2015
    (CEMS Exchange Student)

  • Vienna, Austria

    Research and Development engineer

    Tytus WOJTARA

    Chiba University
    Graduate School of Science and Technology
    Graduated in 2005

  • Naryn City, Kyrgyz Republic

    Joint Researcher at Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asian and African Studies
    Teaching Assistant for the Dean of Institute of Japan Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
    Kyrgyz Instructor at TUFS Open Academy

    Jakshylyk AKMATALIEVA

    Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
    Graduate School of Global Studies
    Graduated in 2014

  • Muang Chanthaburi, Chanthaburi, Thailand

    Project Assistant Professor

    Phakkeeree Treethip

    Kyoto Institute of Technology
    Doctoral Program of Materials and Life Science
    Graduated in 2017

  • Quezon City, Manila, Philippines

    Video Game Company
    Game programmer

    Fabian Lorenzo Dayrit

    Nara Institute of Science and Technology
    Vision and Media Computing Laboratory
    Graduated in 2017

  • London, England, UK

    Research / Education

    Warren Stanislaus

    International Christian University
    College of Liberal Arts
    Graduated in 2011

  • Alaska, the United States of America

    Researcher

    Patrick W. Galbraith

    Sophia University
    Graduate Program in Global Studies
    Graduated in 2008

  • Seoul, Korea

    General Manager & Innovation Producer Consultant

    Ilgi Kim

    Hosei University
    Faculty of Economics,
    Department of Economics
    Graduated in 1997

  • Uzbekistan

    Industrial Equipment manufacturing company Marketer

    IBRAGIMOV Shohruhbek

    Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
    College of International Management
    Graduated in 2010

  • Sfax, Tunisia
    (An industrial town with one million citizens; considered the second largest governorate in Tunisia)

    Project researcher

    Akram Ben Ahmed

    The University of Aizu
    Department of Computer and Information Systems
    Graduated in 2015

SIGMA CORPORATION

Quality Engineer, Quality Assurance Department

Selvaraj Thomasprabhu

SCAD College of Engineering and Technology (Affiliated to Anna University)

PROFILE

Born in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India, Selvaraj Thomasprabhu studied mechanical engineering at SCAD College of Engineering and Technology. He spent two years studying in the Graduate School of Engineering of Hiroshima University as part of the Hiroshima Prefecture’s monozukuri global human resources training program, specializing in mechanical science and engineering. After obtaining his master’s degree, he joined Sigma, a company based in Hiroshima Prefecture that boasts high-level technological capabilities, where he still works.

Coming to know the nature of Japan by studying here

Before I came to Japan to study, my impressions were of a country with high-quality manufacturing and hard-working people. As someone who had studied mechanical engineering in India, it had long been my dream to study in Japan, which is outstanding in all mechanical fields. When I found out that my own university and Hiroshima University had signed an agreement on academic exchange and cooperation, there was nothing for it but to try and go to Japan to study. What was again brought home to me in my studies in Japan was the high level of technological capability. I studied every day with the aim of making what I learned through research into part of myself, and taking it home to contribute to the development of my own country. As I had heard before I arrived, Japan is a peaceful country and the Japanese people are very kind. I also felt that I had much to learn in addition to my research, such as social rules and manners with respect to other people. When I had just arrived in Japan I was sometimes anxious and lonely, but I was supported by my teachers and colleagues in the laboratory. I actively took part in cultural and international exchange events, and my student days were busy and enjoyable.

Putting to use things I could only have learned in Japan

I am now working as a quality engineer in the Quality Assurance Department of an automobile parts maker in Hiroshima. Not only is the research I carried out at university proving useful, but in my present job I am using everything I learned during my studies. For example, the 5S methodology (sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain) is something that I was only able to learn at a Japanese university. The concept of ensuring that work goes smoothly by arranging the working environment rather than the task itself, and thus improving quality and productivity, has left a strong impression.

It’s important to go ahead and try without being afraid of how big the world is

What I have come to realize after studying in Japan is the importance of having the ability to think that the world is a small place. In Japan, I took classes from world-class teachers, and met students who had come from all over the world. Before coming to Japan to study, I thought the world was an immensely big place and I was completely unequipped to cope with it, but now I think that if you plunge in and give it a try it will become familiar. If you have this ability, you will be able to forge ahead without hesitation, whatever country you are working with. I want to carry on venturing into the world without forgetting this feeling. In future I hope I can engage in work that brings together India, Japan, and the entire world.

Researcher

The University of Tokyo
Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies
Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies

Patrick W. Galbraith

Sophia University
Graduate Program in Global Studies
Graduated in 2008

PROFILE

Born in Alaska in the United States of America in 1982, Patrick W. Galbraith first came to Japan in 2004 as an undergraduate at the University of Montana on an exchange program with the Faculty of Comparative Culture (now the Faculty of Liberal Arts) at Sophia University. In 2006, he entered Sophia University’s Graduate Program in Global Studies, and earned an MA in Japan Studies in 2008. While studying, Galbraith led tours in Akihabara and worked as a freelance journalist and translator. He went on to enroll in the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies at the University of Tokyo, where he earned a Ph.D. in Information Studies in 2012. Returning to the United States, he earned a second Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology at Duke University in 2017. Author of books such as The Otaku Encyclopedia (2009), Otaku Spaces (2012) and The Moe Manifesto (2014), and co-editor of books such as Idols and Celebrity in Japanese Media Culture (2012), Debating Otaku in Contemporary Japan (2015) and Media Convergence in Japan (2016), Galbraith is currently a researcher affiliated with the University of Tokyo Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies and a part-time lecturer at Sophia University.

The shock of experiencing another culture changed my life

In part, I decided to study overseas to escape from a narrow world. Living in rural America, I wanted to meet people from different backgrounds, and encounter new ideas. The exchange program at Sophia University provided me with an opportunity to do so. I also had less elevated motives. A fan of manga and anime, which filled my head and heart with dreams of “Japan,” I thought that studying at a university in that country would get me closer to those dreams.
The shock of encountering the reality of “another culture” is hard to forget. Gone was any illusion of “Japan” in general, and there before me was the specificity of real people and places in the world. For me, visiting the Akihabara neighborhood of Tokyo was foundational. Never before had I experienced the terror of understanding nothing, along with the thrill of stepping into something new. Confused and curious, I started hanging out in Akihabara on a daily basis. Spending increasingly long periods of time with manga and anime fans in the neighborhood, I began to think that I might be able to do worthwhile research. So, after the exchange program ended, I applied to the Graduate Program in Global Studies at Sophia University to continue dwelling with others in Akihabara.

Facing the unknown deepens your understanding of yourself and others

Studying in Japan, I was a gaikokujin, a foreigner and member of a minority challenged to adopt ways of life different from what I had known. Changing habits is difficult, and I made mistakes. I often felt like a fool, and no doubt acted the part. But I have come to admire people who take that risk, and encouraged me to do so. You have to put yourself out there, and swallow your pride. Making mistakes and learning from them is how one comes to think and see things differently. These experiences give you a better understanding of not only yourself, but also others. My early experiences in Japan helped me to learn from differences and fostered a sense of tolerance.
In conducting research, and in everyday life, it is important to always be curious and continue to face the unknown. There is something familiar in the strange and strange in the familiar, if we care to notice. We all know far less than we often like to pretend, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The world is full of surprising people and places. Keeping an open mind allows us to make new discoveries, which are not always earth shattering, but certainly help us consider our positions and the possibility of others. Through my research, I aim to contribute, in a small way, to imagining and creating a world in which diverse people can live together and learn from one another.

University of Oxford, Faculty of Oriental Studies

PhD Candidate

Warren Stanislaus

International Christian University
College of Liberal Arts
Graduated in 2011

PROFILE

Originally from South East London, Warren first came to Japan in 2006 as a gap-year volunteer. He returned to Tokyo in 2007 as a full-time undergraduate student, and is one of the rare breed of British students that completed their first degree overseas. In total, he has spent over 8 years in Japan, with work experience across the private, public and non-profit sectors, as a consultant at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu LLC, education officer at the British Council, and a researcher at an independent think-tank. Most uniquely, Warren served as the executive research assistant to Yoichi Funabashi, former editor-in-chief of the Asahi Shimbun, gaining extensive experience in thought leadership related activities such as crafting speeches and article writing for major publications and high-profile international fora. He is currently working towards a PhD in Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford, splitting his time between Japan and the UK.

Searching for an international university in Japan

I was reluctantly counting down the days until I had to leave Japan. It was coming to the end of my six-month ‘gap-year’ volunteer programme based in a small city in the south of Aichi prefecture. Eager to extend my stay before returning to the UK to begin university life, I frantically searched for language courses or internships that would keep me in Japan just a tad longer.

A friend opened my eyes to the possibility of studying at a Japanese university – I wouldn’t need to wait several years before returning. Naturally, I was skeptical of this suggestion. My Japanese was conversational at best. Would I be able to adapt to the culture and make friends as an international student, and especially as an ethnic minority? Could I study my chosen discipline? Would this be a wise investment of time and money? What would I do after? In other words, would I be able to find a truly international university of the highest standards in Japan?

I found the International Christian University in Tokyo. My concerns were instantly alleviated by the university’s promise to bridge Japan and the rest of the world. Though a hackneyed statement, I was convinced of ICU’s commitment to serving as a bridge. It was apparent that this mission permeated every fibre of the university: the admissions process for international students; the broad range of class offerings in English; the targeted Japanese language instruction; the diverse student body; and an on-campus dorm experience.

Feeling at home in Tokyo, and the world

ICU was a meeting point.

I lived in the on-campus ‘Global House’ dorm for the duration of my 4-year course. This was more than an accommodation; it was a community of over 60 students, half male and half female, half Japanese and half international students. This created a dynamic and multicultural environment. It is no exaggeration to say that I made friends from across Japan and all over the world.

It was also the best thing that ever happened to my Japanese. I was forced to communicate in Japanese beyond the classroom and immerse myself in the culture. I learned what it was like to live as a Japanese student: eating curry rice or noodles on a daily basis, devoting a significant amount of energy to club activities, preparing events for seasonal festivals, and learning to navigate the grueling job hunting process clad in the infamous recruit suit. Japanese culture rubbed off on me.

But so did the Russian food prepared by my roommate from Moscow, and my passion for everything Italian thanks to a dorm mate from Florence. Indeed, as a high-school student, it was an ambition of mine to study in the U.S., and with several American students in the dorm, I was able to, in a small way, realize this dream. ICU was not just a bridge to Japan, but also a gateway to the world.

And I definitely influenced others. A Japanese roommate and still one of my best friends today, had never studied abroad. Yet through our long nights chatting in a sometimes awkward mix of Japanese and English, he improved his English to become better than most, and perhaps this experience led to his decision to pursue a master’s degree in my hometown of London.

ICU: The isolated crazy utopia

Whether it was the curriculum or campus life, ICU was an integrated campus in every sense of the word. Japanese and international students do everything side by side. This is not always easy, particularly in the classroom. Both the international and ethnically Japanese students need to be catered to, with different levels of English and Japanese fluency on both sides.

The university’s unique bilingual approach meant that all could thrive and have a wealth of courses and major options to choose from in both English and Japanese. Furthermore, all were encouraged to grow through the rigorous language programme, and the provision of classes where lectures are in Japanese with written assignments in English (J/E), and vice-versa. At one point I found myself taking a seminar in American literature and discussing an English book, in Japanese with my Japanese classmates, before answering a final exam in English, responding to questions that were written in Japanese. I know, it’s confusing!

That is precisely the beauty of the university. Its flexible liberal arts curriculum encouraged the students to carve out their own unique paths, discover their identities and mature at their own pace. At ICU, everyone was the same, because everyone was different.

Becoming a global leader

When discussing leadership skills for the 21st century, Japan is often overlooked. My university experience tells a drastically different story.

Japan is a high-context culture, and so there is less emphasis on direct verbal communication and greater weight given to context and implicit forms of communication. In other words, learning the language is only half of the battle. This can be extremely challenging as group projects and club activities play a central role in Japanese university and social life. You have to quickly learn how to read between the lines and understand tacit group dynamics. In this way, although welcoming on the surface, Japan can be a closed society. Misunderstandings and miscommunications are common, and navigating this minefield was perhaps my biggest test as an international student. I soon discovered that building strong personal relationships was the key to successfully working within a team and leading one. This means that instead of arguing my case in a meeting, I would gradually build a consensus by individually approaching members and taking their perspectives into account. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, these are precisely the cultural competencies that are relevant and essential to the increasingly global and multicultural workforce.

Today, I am a communications and education professional, operating in both Tokyo and the UK. I have worked in Japan for nearly 4 years, with time at the British Council promoting educational exchange; as a project manager and foreign policy researcher at the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation, a think-tank; and as a political risk consultant at one of the big four. Studying in Japan equipped me with the intellectual nous and cultural sensitivity to pursue a career that is centered on fostering ties across borders, in addition to confidently leading meaningful international and multi-sector engagements.

From October 2017, I will be embarking on a PhD at the University of Oxford’s Oriental Institute with a goal of returning to Japan as a university professor. It seems that the allure of Japan is still as strong as ever!

A message to future students

Choosing a university for your full degree or as a short-term exchange destination can be one of the most arduous choices to make. Naturally you want to go somewhere that will give you a quality education, good future career prospects and amazing ‘instagrammable’ experiences. Studying in Japan gave me all of these, but above all, it broadened my horizons and helped to develop a grander vision of what I could achieve. I put this down to Japan’s infectious culture of excellence that becomes the air you breathe.

At the same time, being an international student in Japan is challenging, and none of the positives that I mention are guaranteed. Nothing is served to you on a silver spoon and some fall by the wayside. But what I can guarantee is that the opportunities are abundant, the doors are there to be opened, and what lies on the other side will be above and beyond your expectations.

Kyoto Institute of Technology,
Research Strategy Promotion Center

Project Assistant Professor

Phakkeeree Treethip

Mahidol University,
Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry

PROFILE

After obtaining a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Mahidol University in Thailand, Phakkeeree Treethip worked for a year in a private company. With her desire to carry out research, she came to study at Kyoto Institute of Technology, which has an academic partnership agreement with Mahidol University. She completed the 2-year master’s course and 2.5-year doctoral course under the supervision of Professor Yuko Ikeda, completing her Doctor of Engineering in Materials and Life Science. She subsequently became a project assistant professor at the Research Strategy Promotion Center at Kyoto Institute of Technology, where she now works.

The dream of constantly making new discoveries inspired me to take a job in Japan

I work as a project assistant professor at Kyoto Institute of Technology, where I am researching rubber science. My home country of Thailand has the world’s largest production of natural rubber production, but in terms of technology there is still room for improvement. I am engaging in research every day because I want to acquire the ability to move forward with research and education on natural rubber, and contribute to the science and technology of rubber in Thailand. I decided to take a job in Japan to further the knowledge and research skills that I acquired during my studies here. I also hoped that I would be able to make new discoveries. My student life in Japan was so attractive to keep me in this country even after my studies were complete.

I acquired many new abilities studying abroad. This country was full of surprises

I first started thinking about studying in Japan when I was a student at Mahidol University and had the chance to spend a month conducting research at Kyoto Institute of Technology. I was impressed by the kindness and the high-level research skills of the other persons in the laboratory, and continued to feel that I would like to study further in Japan. I found out that there is a MEXT scholarship program for Mahidol University students and graduates. I applied and was accepted. That enabled me to study full time at Kyoto Institute of Technology.
For over 4 years, my life as a graduate student in a Japanese university was one long series of surprises. I had many opportunities to perform experiments at SPring-8, which uses powerful synchrotron radiation to track, almost instantaneously, the deformation behavior of rubber as it is stretching and contracting. In addition to the excellent facilities, I was also deeply impressed by the Japanese students with whom I was working. To carry out experiments efficiently within a limited timeframe, they planned meticulously and practiced over and over again, becoming familiar in the actual experiments, with what they had learned from their mistakes while practicing. They worked perfectly as a team to achieve good results. I had many opportunities to take part in experiments in this fashion, and found it unlike the way things are done in my home country. I learned a great deal. I think I have become capable of taking various approaches to research, making use of the good points of both Thailand and Japan. Something else from which I gained a great deal was attending classes with people from many different countries. I was able to make connections not just with Japanese students, but with persons from countries around the world. What I gained was the ability to collaborate with people from various cultural backgrounds who spoke other languages. The ability to work together on a single task while respecting both my own culture and that of others is something I could not have learned on a short trip, but only by moving to Japan and firmly rooting myself here as a student.

I want to use the abilities I have gained studying in Japan to help Thailand become a world leader in science and technology

I am currently using the skills I learned in Japan to help students carry out research while also engaging in my own research. In the future, I want to use my experience in Japan to contribute to the development of my home country, Thailand. I myself hope to become a bridge between Thailand and the world. I would like to convey the inspiration I received in Japan to young people in my own country, so that it can nourish their growth. I think my mission is to train enthusiastic young scientists and improve science and technology in my country to a world-class level. I am sure that my experience in Japan will help me achieve this.
If you are thinking about studying in Japan, you should have clear objectives and keep on working to achieve them. The key is not to give up. Your chance will surely come. Gaining experience in a different country is bound to improve your life. I wish you every success.

Business Consultants, Inc.

General Manager & Innovation Producer Consultant

Ilgi Kim

Hosei University
Faculty of Economics, Department of Economics

PROFILE

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Ilgi Kim came to Japan as an undergraduate to study at Hosei University, graduating from the Department of Economics. After graduation, while working he completed an MBA at Korea University Business School (South Korea) and the SAPM at Stanford University (USA), and is currently studying for a Doctorate in Business Administration at KEDGE Business School (France). He has held positions in companies in a range of different sectors, including semiconductor device manufacturers, and currently works for Business Consultants (BCon), a business consulting company. He has previously headed BCon Korea, Inc, managed BCon’s Overseas Business Division in its Japanese headquarters, been responsible for its US operations, and managed its Global Business Solutions Division and is now its General Manager and Innovation Producer Consultant. He is an International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI) Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and is certified by the All Japan Federation of Management Organizations as a Master Management Consultant.

Japan, which I thought I was visiting as a tourist, changed the course of my life

I first turned my eyes to the world over 30 years ago. This was sparked when I was a student, when I read a book by a famous Korean businessman that made a deep impression on me. It said that rather than being shut into a narrow world, if you looked out into the world at large there were many things you should do. I thought that I too would like to see the wide world for myself and expand my horizons, and decided to go and study in America. Before going to America, I had the idea that I should visit a country closer to home, and the country that I thought I was visiting as a tourist in fact changed my life immensely. That country was Japan. What moved me was encountering its people. Interacting with wonderful people who were kind and polite aroused my interest in Japanese language and culture, and I decided to study in Japan.

The skills I honed studying in Japan have proved truly valuable for working in other countries

At Hosei University, where I studied, I belonged to an international finance seminar. The professor taught me a great deal, both academically and in other ways. I learned matters that gave direction to my subsequent career, including what can be accomplished in society and global career formation. I also actively took part in volunteer activities, including being a Tokyo Metropolitan Government Disaster Prevention Language Volunteer and participating in international networking events. Meeting a wide range of people – old and young, men and women, people from other countries – left a lasting impression. Through these experiences, I acquired cross-cultural communication skills and the ability to think for myself and make decisions, as well as the capacity to learn from experience. I feel that the skills I honed studying in Japan have proved truly valuable for leaving familiar places and working in other countries. My four-year experience of studying overseas was undoubtedly the turning point of my life.

To have a good effect on other people, I have to be constantly improving myself

I am now working for a Japanese business consulting company, helping clients’ businesses to run more smoothly. What is most rewarding is to see the people and organizations with which I am involved improving before my eyes. In order to continue to have a positive effect on people, what I have to try to do is to be constantly improving myself. Since graduating from university, I have undertaken graduate studies while working and obtained an MBA, and I am now in the middle of a doctoral program. In addition to the academic study, another attraction is the fact that this enables me to meet all sorts of other people. Even today, every time I meet people whose values are different from mine, I am painfully aware of my own smallness. Having my intellectual curiosity stimulated by all sorts of encounters on a daily basis, I feel a deep sense of accomplishment.

Don’t stay shut inside your own shell, but work toward your dreams.
You are strengthened by everything you experience.

After I retire, I would like to do something on a global theme to contribute to society. I would particularly like to use my own experiences to tell young people in Japan and South Korea how interesting it is to live globally, and how important it is to learn from each other’s countries.
There are two important things I want to say to anyone reading this. The first is not to stay shut inside your own shell. Engaging with the nation of Japan, and with local people belonging to a different culture, are both important. Abandon your preconceptions and be proactive, engaging in as much cross-cultural communication as you can. Meeting people will teach you far more than any other sort of experience can. The second is to have dreams. Rush headlong toward the future you imagine for yourself, with complete absorption. If you have an unshakeable dream, a roundabout road and the effort entailed will be no trouble at all. You are sure to be strengthened by everything you experience.

Foreign insurance company

Senior Auditor, Internal Audit Department

Pimprapai LERTAMORNKITTI

Keio University
Graduate School of Media Design (KMD)
Graduated in 2015
(CEMS Exchange Student)

Reason for choosing to study in Japan

Similar to most kids my age growing up in Bangkok, I have been exposed to Japanese culture since I was very young through manga and anime. I remember that I started reading Doraemon when I became able to read around grade 2. Since then, I started to absorb and become familiar with Japanese culture without even realizing it. During junior high, my interest in Japan became stronger when I discovered Japanese music. I started learning basic Japanese as an elective lesson in junior high and high school. However, since the lessons were only available at beginner level, I began studying by myself. My interest in Japan and Japanese culture was at its peak and I considered doing undergrad in Japan. Although my dream back then did not come true as my mother did not want me to study abroad just yet, I had the chance to realize my dream again when I was studying my Masters in France and picked Japan as my first choice for doing an exchange semester. For me, it was only natural to choose Japan, as I have been so deeply immersed in Japanese culture for almost all my life.

Most impressive experience while studying in Japan

During my CEMS exchange semester at Keio University Media Design, I had a chance to work with Nomura Securities during the business project, which is a part of our CEMS program. It was a unique, valuable experience where our group of four was given a task by Nomura and had to come up with a proposal to present to the executives at the end of the semester. Through weekly meetings with a team from Nomura Securities, we learned not only the business aspects of the project that we were working on, but also Japanese business manners, thought processes, and how things are done at Japanese companies. For example, important business matters are not discussed in the meeting room but during dinner, and nomikai are vital for improving relationships among colleagues. We considered ourselves very lucky that Keio University helped prep us on essential Japanese business manners, and coordinated and accompanied us to the meeting every single week. This helped me gain insights on what it is like to work in a Japanese company especially when I was applying for jobs in Japan afterwards.

Current job and tasks

I am currently a senior internal auditor in a foreign insurance company in Tokyo, Japan. My role requires writing and speaking skills in both English and Japanese to communicate with various stakeholders, which is one of the things I like most about my job. This requires me to balance and switch between English and Japanese, not only in terms of language but the culture as well. I believe my experience in the business project during the exchange semester helped familiarize me with this kind of environment.

Aim and dream for the future

I don’t have any big dreams yet. I still enjoy living and working in Japan, so I would like to work here at least for the foreseeable future. For now, I would like to gain more experience as an internal auditor, as well as improve my Japanese to be able to conduct a meeting in Japanese smoothly. I am also studying for the Certified Internal Auditor examination.

Message to students who are considering studying in Japan

I would say that studying in Japan, or being in Japan itself, gives you a unique experience that you cannot get anywhere else. The culture, the people, the food … you have to live here to truly explore and understand the various aspects that Japan has to offer. Not only the quality of academia, but the quality of life is also very high in my opinion, and everything is very convenient! If you would like to live life as well as get a quality education at the same time, I would say Japan could be your best choice.

Kojima Productions Co., Ltd.

Fabian Lorenzo Dayrit

Nara Institute of Science and Technology
Vision and Media Computing Laboratory
Graduated in 2017

PROFILE

After finishing his BS in Computer Science at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines in 2012, Enzo continued his studies at Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) in Japan. Passionate about video games and art, he chose to enter the Vision and Media Computing Laboratory to do research on human motion reenactment using RGB-D sensors. Since receiving his PhD from NAIST in 2017, he has been fulfilling his passion to develop video games and is currently working for Kojima Productions in Japan.

How I came to study at NAIST

I came to study in Japan through the help of my professors back in the Philippines, the professors at NAIST, and the generous Docomo scholarship. Professor Jon Fernandez of the Ateneo de Manila University recommended me to the Docomo scholarship, Professor Hiroyuki Seki connected me to NAIST, and Professor Yokoya accepted me into his laboratory. What influenced my decision was Yokoya-lab's profile. I thought that his lab's research projects were genuinely cool, and the fact that a close friend was also coming to Japan at the same time. Anyway, I went to NAIST for three days to take the entrance exam and present my research proposal, and not very long afterwards I entered NAIST as an official Master's student.

My first impressions of NAIST and Yokoya Lab

At NAIST, before starting our proper studies, we had an introduction to our laboratory and its research. My laboratory was Yokoya-ken, the Vision and Media Computing Lab, specializing in computer vision and mixed reality. We were given a tour of the experiment room, and projects such as a 3D reconstruction program working in real time, an augmented reality headset, and an image inpainting program. I was really impressed! At the time, the applications were like magic to me. I had heard of some of the technology, and imagined that some high-tech company would be using them in this way, but to be able to see them in action, and to think that I would be working with similar projects from then on was exciting!

What I learned from my time at NAIST

Probably the one thing that was most emphasized at NAIST was the importance of communication. Conducting experiments and creating applications are worthless if one cannot communicate one’s ideas. I vividly remember listening to and giving progress reports for my lab, both in Japanese and English, for classes, for my paper and for my journal. For my professors, the amount of progress that we made was just as important as the way we presented it. They demanded clear graphs with properly labeled axes, consistent terminology, logical reasoning for each step, and plenty of pictures. Basically, they wanted to know exactly what we did, and how and why we did it. At my current company, Kojima Productions (KJP), we programmers have to do a progress report daily, attend afternoon progress report meetings, and submit clear and consistent code. Everyone hears what everyone else is doing and offers advice, and everyone knows what everyone else is working on. This way, I know who to ask if I have a question, and everyone knows to come to me if any bugs appear in my code.

Working at a game company

At KJP we are working on a game right now. What I appreciate most was that programmers of Kojima Productions interviewed me sincerely and carefully. The professional programmers took time to give me feedback on the source code I had written. That was a very valuable experience for me. As a content programmer, I receive requests from game designers saying what kind of objects (items, creatures, effects, people, etc.) they would like to have in a game, and we make it happen. I enjoy it because it is connected to so many things: pure game design, 3D models and animation provided by the artists, and characters’ artificial intelligence (which we also work on)! It is engaging and stimulating, especially when we get to see our work inside the game. I feel very fortunate to be challenged by tasks to develop higher levels of game programming. I hope to still be working here when we release the game, because I want to see it through to the end, and I want to get better at Japanese so that I can give better and more constructive input, and I want to create a game like this from start to finish. In the past, I worked on small games, games that took at most a month to finish with just me working alone on everything. Game development is possible only with abundant financial resources, high-quality human resources, and top-level technology. Working at a game company, on a game of this size, one person cannot do everything, and in fact must communicate and work closely with everyone for things to go smoothly. So, my dream is to be able to say that I shaped a game like this! I want to build my career as a content programmer.

A message to future students

To all students currently thinking of studying in Japan: don’t hold back and send that application letter! You’ve got nothing to lose. Japan has excellent universities (and excellent ramen) and you won’t know what will happen unless you try. I didn’t think I’d be accepted by NAIST but I was, and I similarly didn’t expect to be working at KJP, but here I am! Good luck and work hard.

Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory Ltd.

Research and Development engineer

Tytus WOJTARA

Chiba University
Graduate School of Science and Technology,
Division of Artificial Systems Science

PROFILE

Born in Poland at a time when Europe was still gripped by the Cold War between East and West, at the age of 12 Tytus Wojtara moved with his family to Austria, and after graduating from high school he entered the Technische Universität Wien (Vienna University of Technology). During his student days, he became interested in Asia as a result of his experiences backpacking in Indonesia and the Philippines. After graduating from university he joined the German-based multinational company Siemens, but was unable to let go of his yearning for Asia, and applied for a scholarship from MEXT. He left Siemens to study in the Graduate School of Science and Technology of Chiba University. After completing his studies he worked at RIKEN before starting up a company engaged in research and development of autonomous drone technology together with his Chiba University supervisor.

Even after starting work, I couldn’t give up the idea of studying in Japan

While I was an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to spend two months as a backpacker in Indonesia and the Philippines, and my experiences then aroused my interest in Asia. It was then that the idea started to grow of experiencing in depth a culture completely different from Europe, where I had grown up. Japan was the country for which I felt the greatest attraction. This was because I had heard that it has advanced robot-related technology and research, so I could make use of what I had learned in university. Although for a time I took a job with a German company, I couldn’t shake my longing for Japan, and left the company to take on the challenge of studying there. I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from MEXT, and to be able to study at Chiba University.

Japan’s distinctive culture has given me a sense of responsibility to my team

As I had hoped, I was able to study and engage in research in top-class robot technology at Chiba University. In that learning environment with a different cultural background, there was much that I needed to learn about the attitude toward research itself. One thing I learned was to work as part of the team in everything. Everyone in the laboratory, including the supervisors, worked collaboratively together not only on research but also in cleaning the laboratory, moving, and extracurricular activities. As I started to think of myself as a member of the group rather than trying to stand out from everyone else, I developed strong feelings of responsibility and solidarity with its members. Whenever someone was at an impasse in their research, everyone looked for solutions, and found new breakthroughs. I think this sort of everyday group awareness is a distinctive part of Japanese culture.
Chiba University also accepts overseas students from many other Asian countries, so I was able to engage in cultural exchanges with students from countries other than Japan. My contacts with them meant that I encountered ways of thinking unlike my own, and greatly expanded my horizons. Thanks to this experience, now that I am employed I can work smoothly with people from any country.

I started a company with my supervisor at graduate school.
Now I’m doing something worthwhile every day

I am now working as a research and development engineer in a Japanese company carrying out research and development of autonomous drone technology. I took the job as the result of a single phone call from my Chiba University supervisor. After being asked whether I would help set up a company to develop drone technology, I left RIKEN, where I had found a job after finishing my studies at Chiba University, and started planning to set up the company where I now work. We had no experience of setting up a company ourselves and had many difficulties, but I think I have been able to choose a rewarding, interesting life, and have no regrets. I want to carry on being actively involved in new drone technology, which is constantly improving, and to contribute to the advancement of drone research.
If you have any interest at all in studying abroad, do go for it with everything you’ve got. The experience of being in Japan, a culture completely unlike that of Europe, is sure to change how you look at things. The diverse viewpoints this fosters are sure to be helpful for you as global personnel working on the international stage.

Office for the Dean of Institute of Japan Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

Jakshylyk AKMATALIEVA

Kyrgyz National University named after Jusup Balasagyn
Department of Japanese Studies

PROFILE

Born in the Kyrgyz Republic, Jakshylyk AKMATALIEVA experienced the collapse of the Soviet Union when she was in high school. She studied Japanese language at Department of Japanese Studies at the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Kyrgyz National University, and first visited Japan during her fourth year of study. She subsequently came to Japan in 2006 on a Japanese government scholarship program, and enrolled at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) as an international research student. She went on to the Graduate School of TUFS, obtaining a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Area and Cultural Studies in 2009 and a doctoral degree from the Graduate School of Global Studies in 2014. She currently is a teaching assistant at the Office for the Dean of Institute of Japan Studies at TUFS as well as teaching Kyrgyz in the TUFS Open Academy. Since 2017 she has also been active as a joint researcher in the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa at TUFS.

While my home country in turmoil, I came to Japan to broaden my horizons

When the Soviet Union collapsed, I was a high school student. I was faced with making choices about my future study just after Kyrgyzstan had become independent and was establishing itself as a new nation. The whole country was in turmoil, and I was not sure what to do but from the little information I had it was clear that going abroad was a good idea. I was already interested in foreign countries, but what impelled me the most was my father’s words that “If you study a foreign language, your horizons will expand.” While my friends chose to study languages such as Chinese, Arabic, and Persian, I entered the Department of Japanese Studies, which had recently been established in the university. I knew nothing about Japanese language but precisely for this reason, I chose to study it. I wanted to find out about this unknown world. When I started studying, the thought of visiting Japan and being able to learn Japanese in the country spurred me on. In my fourth year, I was lucky enough to have the chance to take part in a Study-Tour Award Program for outstanding Japanese learners at the Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Kansai, achieving my long-cherished goal of visiting Japan.

New experiences in seminar classes helped me grow immensely

What helped me grow and develop immensely during my studies in Japan were the university seminars. In Kyrgyzstan, we had nothing like the seminar classes that are held in Japan. I thought that all classes only involved the teacher talking, so the seminar style of students surrounding a teacher and engaging in intense discussion of a topic was a completely new experience. In those classes I could learn not only from the teacher, but also from the opinions expressed by my fellow students. More than anything, it was a wonderful experience which taught me the importance of thinking and discovering things on my own.
Through these seminars, I learned that a single issue can be viewed and understood in many different ways. I have become aware that there are many ways of thinking including ones different from my own, and these should not be rejected, and openness to accept different ideas is necessary. I think rather than thinking “It’s because they are Japanese” or “It’s because they are Kyrgyz,” having the attitude that “It’s because they are a person who’s different from I am” is useful in many situations.

Continuing to try and reach new horizons with sincere gratitude

I am currently a teaching assistant for the Dean of the Institute of Japan Studies at Graduate School, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, while also teaching Kyrgyz language classes in the TUFS Open Academy. While exploring what I can do to help my home country, I have become increasingly conscious that it is important for more people to know something about its language and history. Through my research and classes in the Kyrgyz language, I want to tell people in Japan about the culture, people, and lifestyle of Kyrgyzstan, and convey something about the country today.
I have made the leap from a small village in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan to the world at large. Although it involved great worry and uncertainty, I was able to come to Japan and encounter a world that was wider than anything I had ever known. I am grateful for my family and friends who gave me this opportunity and for the society in which I have been able to work, and for everything that has happened. If I do not forget this spirit of gratitude, I will be able to grow by absorbing many things around me, and receive new opportunities. I will continue to move forward without being afraid to try new things, trusting that I will encounter another new horizon ahead.

YANMAR CO., LTD.

Marketing strategy Group,
Marketing Department Marketer

IBRAGIMOV Shohruhbek

Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
College of International Management

PROFILE

Originally from Uzbekistan, Shohruhbek Ibragimov first became interested in Japan when he watched the movie “The Last Samurai.” He decided to study in Japan, and specifically at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, whose multicultural environment, with students with diverse cultural, academic and professional backgrounds, appealed to him greatly. Graduating from the College of International Management (APM) in 2010, he joined Yanmar Co., Ltd. in 2011. Having worked on dispatch to Yanmar Logistics Service and the Corporate Strategy Division at Yanmar Holdings, both companies in the Yanmar Group, he was transferred to the Marketing Division at Yanmar Co., Ltd. in 2016. At present, he mainly focuses on market and customer research, as well as analysis of the external environment and competition.

Watching “The Last Samurai” movie...

After watching the “The Last Samurai” movie, my interest towards Japan and Japanese culture increased. I was interested not only in Japanese tea ceremony, language, and cuisine but also its nature as Japan is home to some of the world's most breathtaking natural terrain and historical landscapes.

Mini version of the earth on the top of Jumonjibaru Mountain

One of the main reasons for choosing APU among other universities in Japan was the opportunity to meet international students from almost 100 countries including Japan. By meeting students with different cultural backgrounds, it is possible to experience their culture and traditional foods in one place without actually visiting those countries.

Towards global business person

Doing many different activities with students who have different cultural backgrounds, I was able to look at and understand things from a different perspective and gain global business communication skills. Now I work as a marketing specialist in a Japanese manufacturing company, Yanmar Co., Ltd. The skills I gained at APU gave me the flexibility and ability to work with people from different cultures.

Living an amazing multicultural experience

Apart from studying and organizing business-related activities, I participated in the “multicultural week” of Africa, Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan and Oceania. One of the best moments was performing the Haka dance with other fellow students during Oceania week. By taking part in these events, I could build a close appreciation of the cultures of these countries.

Contributing to society, country and company

My short-term goal is to set up a representative company in Central Asia. By doing so, I will be able to contribute to society, help the company expand its businesses and improve people’s lives in Central Asia.

Never afraid of challenging new things

Although Japan is an island country, it offers many wonderful opportunities for all international students. Plus, if you're hoping for a glimpse into a fascinating and completely different way of life, Japan is the right place.

Keio University

Graduate School of Science and Engineering
(Project researcher)

Akram Ben Ahmed

The University of Aizu
Department of Computer and Information Systems
Graduated in 2015

PROFILE

Born and raised in Sfax, the second largest city in Tunisia, Akram Ben Ahmed has always been interested in computer science. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from his hometown university in 2010, he decided to pursue his master’s and PhD degrees in Japan. He believed that it was the perfect place for him to start his career as a VLSI researcher while enjoying the uniqueness of a completely different country from his own.
Following five wonderful years at the University of Aizu, he joined Keio University as a postdoctoral researcher and continued with his research in hardware design and engineering.
After living in Japan for more than seven years, he still believes that coming to Japan was the best decision he has ever made.

Why I chose to study in Japan

In my early high-school years, I became really interested in computer science and information technology. This interest deepened once I entered my hometown university and pursued my bachelor’s degree in computer science. After graduation, I wanted to obtain my master’s and PhD degrees in hardware design. However, I always thought that every student around the globe should study abroad for a while, not only to obtain their degree, but also to expand their personality by experiencing different environments.
Being a Tunisian, the first destination for studying abroad would be Europe (e.g., France, Germany, or England), as it is not too far and there are basically no language barriers. But I was never interested in studying in Europe because the life style is not very different from that in Tunisia. In fact, although Europeans have their own interesting culture, Tunisia is a special case where we have a mixture of different cultures and life styles including ones from Europe. I believed that studying in Europe would get me the degree but nothing else. So, I looked for a different country with a completely different culture so I could get my degree and also enrich my personal cultural knowledge.
I thought that the best such country was Japan due to the long distance separating us. Not only that, but I also believed that no other country could perfectly fuse the pureness of its traditions with the huge technological, social and economic advancements.
Since I was a kid, I've always had great respect for Japanese society’s attachment to their history and traditions. I believed that no nation can make a bright future without accepting its own origins and history while being open to new changes. Japan has been for me the perfect example of such a nation.

Remarkable experience during my studies

Since arriving in Japan in 2010, I have been lucky enough to experience remarkable events that I never had the chance to try back home. Such experiences include the conventional cultural ones, like visiting traditional shrines/temples, sightseeing in different Japanese prefectures, participating in traditional festivals, interacting with local people of Aizu-Wakamatsu, and many, many others.
One traditional event that I had the privilege to participate in was the 300-year-old “Iizaka Kenka Matsuri” (fighting festival) where international and Japanese students carry a large “mikoshi” (portable shrine) and parade around the town. Later, the locals carry two big mikoshi and start “fighting” by slamming the mikoshi against each other. Coming from a country like Tunisia, such an experience was really impressive and interesting for me, as we don't have such festivals back home.
Another experience I had was surprisingly funny and strange at the same time.

In February 2011, I participated in a “snowball fighting” competition with some of the University of Aizu staff. Our team did very well, and with some luck, we were invited to participate in the “Snowball Fighting World Cup” in Sapporo. Yes, there is a world cup for such a discipline! It turned out to be a really serious competition with teams coming from all over the world.
The most remarkable experience I had was witnessing the huge March 11, 2011 earthquake that hit northeast Japan, and its aftermath.
Such an experience may look tough, but it somehow changed me in a very good way. I learned a lot from Japanese people about their impressive solidarity and the amazing way they handled such a huge natural catastrophe. After five years studying in Japan, I came to the conclusion that I had become a skillful researcher and, more importantly, a much better human being.

My current job and experience

After obtaining my PhD degree in March 2015, I joined Keio University as a postdoctoral researcher to pursue my research in hardware design and engineering. After learning the survival tools for a researcher when I was a student, the time has come to polish my skills and become a professional.
I consider myself very fortunate to be part of Keio University, especially my research team. Every day, I realize more and more that I am far away from becoming a professional. This is because every day I am learning new things and my knowledge keeps expanding exponentially.
Even after spending five years at the University of Aizu, the Japanese working environment never stops fascinating me. All the means are available for success as long as you have the will to succeed. The level of professionalism in my current environment is very motivating and it pushes me every day to compete with myself so I can be a better researcher, be more organized, and even become a better person to be a valuable member of society and be able one day to contribute to the good of mankind.
During my research stay at Keio University, I had the chance to meet some of the greatest researchers in my field of study, both Japanese and foreigners. Until now, I could only read the names of such bright minds on very famous articles. I was very fortunate to engage in constructive discussions with them and get some advice on my current research as well as for my future research.

My dream

After all these years in Japan, and hopefully many more in the future, I would like to go back to Tunisia one day and work there. My dream is to pass on the knowledge that I have gained to my compatriots so that together we can make Tunisia one of the most influential technological and economical hot-spots in the entire world.
Nevertheless, I want to keep as close as possible to Japan, and I hope to become one of the many bridges that connect Japan to Tunisia. I dream of doing projects for the benefit of both countries, which would allow me to give at least a little back to the two countries dearest to my heart.

Why should you come and study in Japan?

I have been in Japan for more than seven years now, and I have never once regretted coming to this part of the world. Studying in Japan can be an important landmark in your life. Professionally, you can have the chance to work in a unique environment that pushes you to exploit all your potential. More importantly, after your studies in Japan, I guarantee that the way you look at things will have changed and your perspective on very basic things will have shifted, of course in a good way. Getting closer to the Japanese traditions and people will enrich your experiences and enlarge your sphere of knowledge. Japan has a tremendous cultural heritage; you will constantly discover and learn new things when traveling from one prefecture to another, and even from one city to another. If you want to fill your life with unforgettable memories and be an active professional in your community, I believe without a doubt that Japan is the right place to come to.

Mitsubishi Corporation

Grain, Oilseeds, and Feed Materials Dept.
Living Essential Resources Division, Living Essentials Group

Hindra Martono

Kyushu University
Graduate School of Bioresource and Bioenvironmental Sciences

PROFILE

Born in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1989, after completing high school at the age of 18 Hindra Martono came to Japan to study with the support of a scholarship from MEXT. As part of the scholarship program, he spent the first year studying Japanese at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, after which he joined the School of Agriculture of Kyushu University. During his undergraduate days he was affiliated with a research laboratory studying microorganisms in hot springs, and after graduation he continued on to graduate studies at Kyushu University. He is now employed in the Grain, Oilseeds, and Feed Materials Dept. of the Living Essential Group of Mitsubishi Corporation.

My time at university, studying Japanese in a fantastic environment, was the turning point in my life

I had always wanted to study overseas in search of new experiences, and chose Japan as the most advanced country in Asia, both economically and in terms of science and technology, and a place where I could learn a language other than English. Another major reason was the attractive content of the scholarship program offered by MEXT. In addition to four years at university, it also included an extra year in which to learn Japanese, which meant I could acquire good Japanese skills before starting proper research.
Something that made a deep impression during my studies were the classes on Corporate Entrepreneurship held at the Robert T. Huang Entrepreneurship Center of Kyushu University (QREC). Listening to talks by people who had made the move from general trading companies to become entrepreneurs aroused my interest in starting up a business. Now I realize that this was the turning point in my life. Until then I had wanted to be a researcher pursuing a single subject in depth, but those classes made me want to satisfy my own curiosity by engaging with a wide variety of sectors in sales and marketing. The various skills of accounting knowledge, problem-solving abilities, and leadership that I learned in those classes are of great use to me in my current job. I also found my lifelong hobby and made friends in the Kyushu University Mandolin Club. I think that through extracurricular activities I was able to acquire Japanese skills, and knowledge of cross-cultural communication and Japanese culture that cannot be learned in classes alone. I am currently a member of an amateur mandolin orchestra in Tokyo that meets at weekends, and have been able to make connections with my new community even in this unfamiliar location.

Acquiring broad knowledge and communication skills while engaging with food

At university, because I had studied aspects of food including nutrition, hygiene, production, and analysis, my aim was to join a general trading company where I could acquire a broad knowledge while engaging with the food industry. My present job involves importing soybeans from major regions of production such as North America and China and selling them to food manufacturers of soybean-based foods such as tofu, soy sauce, and miso. Because I can see the entire process on the ground, from production to distribution, storage, and retail sales, I am learning about a wide range of fields, just as I had hoped.
I have realized that what I have learned about communication through my work is valuable everywhere in the world. Although it can be difficult to convey information in Japanese and English, neither of which is my mother tongue, I have found that this can be overcome by working out different ways to say things. Am I speaking logically, trying to think from the other person’s perspective, and conveying information accurately and efficiently? I try and keep these points in mind so that customers won’t say “I can’t understand what that foreign staff member is saying.”

Helping to improve people’s lives in my home country with the business knowhow developed in Japan

In future, I would like to use the business knowhow that has been developed in Japan to develop similar businesses in my home country of Indonesia. Convenience stores, for example. Indonesia has nothing as convenient as Japanese convenience stores. The company for which I currently work has convenience stores among its subsidiaries, and is proposing to expand various business projects in Indonesia. I am sure this will improve the lives of people in my home country and make them more convenient.
My decision to rise to new challenges as a result of studying in Japan has led to my learning many new things, and shaken my resistance to the unknown. If you too become actively involved in any field, this is sure to make you more aware of your own potential.