Email magazine for Former Study-in-Japan Students  No.5  Jul. 4, 2008


Dear former Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship students,

The G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, which will be held for three days beginning July 7, is just around the corner. We bring you this 5th issue of our Email Magazine for Former Study-in-Japan Students as the world's attention is being focused on Japan.

In this issue, we bring you an assortment of information including an introduction of the environmental considerations being made at the Summit venue, a look at Japanese wind-chimes which bring relief to the summer heat and university-wide agreements between Japanese and overseas universities.

Please click here for the Japanese version of the email magazine.
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Experience Japan in Your Country • The Culture of Japan

Finding Ways to Cool Down: The Cooling Charm of Furin Wind-Chimes

The rainy season with its overcast or wet days will be over soon in Japan, and it will be replaced by clear blue skies, towering cumulonimbus clouds and the green of trees shining under the hot summer sun. What kind of memories do you have of your summers in Japan?

Did you see any wind-chimes in summer, swaying gently as it captures a breeze and producing a pleasant ringing sound?

Called Furin in Japan, the wind-chimes are small bells made of materials such as metal, ceramics or glass. In the middle of the bell, a clapper hangs with a strip of paper, etc. attached to it. The strip of paper catches the wind, forces the clapper to strike the wind-chime and makes it chime.

Furin are depicted even in Edo period Ukiyo-e prints from about 250 years ago. They have been a seasonal tradition that is indispensable to Japanese summers.

Nambu Furin is made using ferrous casting techniques which have a 900-year history in Japan. The sound made when the clapper strikes the iron bell is long-lasting and high pitched. It is a beautiful sound that Japan's Ministry of the Environment chose as one of the top 100 sounds of Japan which we would like to see preserved.

Edo Furin is made of glass that is colorfully painted so as to present a feeling of coolness. When the wind blows, it makes a short clinking type of sound as the clapper scrapes against the glass bell. Glass wind-chimes became a familiar object to commoners towards the end of the Edo period, reaching their peak of popularity during the Meiji period (1868-1912).

The sound that Furin make is quite pleasant to the ear. It is said that this is because it has the same kind of irregular tones and fluctuation as the sounds of nature, like the babbling of a brook or the chirping of birds, that soothes the soul. In other words, the secret seems to be in the fact that the wind-chimes ring with a changing, irregular and overlapping rhythm as the paper strip catches the breeze.

The origin of the Furin is said to be Chinese Futaku, which arrived in Japan together with Buddhism. Futaku were used to predict good or bad luck through the way they sounded or to fend off evil. It was believed that people living where they could hear the clanging of Futaku hung at temples were protected from meeting misfortune.

The Futaku underwent various changes in Japanese culture, with its shape and tone gradually changed until it became a unique Japanese device for helping to bear the summer heat though its pleasant sound.

Hanging wind-chimes and enjoying its sound is a custom that can be seen outside of Japan. However, using them only during summer to feel coolness through the eyes and ears may be something that resulted from the Japanese appreciation of the four seasons and a lifestyle that made the most of nature.

Why not hang a Furin under the eave of your house and spend some time reminiscing about the summers you spent in Japan?

Japan Update • What’s New in Japan

Environmental Consideration of "IMC The Main"

The G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit; Consideration for the Environment and the Environmental Showcase

The G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit will be held for three days between July 7 and July 9. One of the main themes of this summit is the environment and climate change. Various considerations are being made towards the environment in the preparation and operation of the Summit.

CO2 emissions will be thoroughly reduced in the operation of this Summit. Carbon offset measures (the canceling out of emissions through CO2 reduction projects, etc.) will be introduced for emissions that are inevitable. Furthermore, the application of energy conservation and environmental consciousness has been requested to relevant bodies. Ecological consciousness will be a part of the whole Summit, from the procurement of office machinery and stationery to waste management.

This is also true at the International Media Center as well where measures to reduce the load on the environment have also been taken in its construction and operation. The 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) will be thoroughly practiced here. For example, snow stored under the building will be utilized for air conditioning and for toilet flushing after melting. Solar panels made of see-through materials enabling a view outside have been adopted for the exterior wall. Other green measures include the use of environmentally friendly materials and installations, such as sound absorption and heat insulation materials made of bamboo fiber.

Feel the Earth (On exhibit at Summit Navi-Gate)

Feel the Earth (On exhibit at Summit Navi-Gate)

The Environmental Showcase, where exhibits and demonstrations of Japan's world-class state-or-the-art environmental technology will be held, will be set up at the entrance lobby of the International Media Center as well as outside. One of the featured items is "Feel the Planet Earth," a digital globe that will project the long-term changes occurring in the Earth's atmosphere, oceans and surface, such as the destruction of the ozone layer, the rise in temperatures and the El Nino phenomenon. Visitors can place their hands on the globe to scroll and rotate the images of the Earth.

Feel the Planet Earth is on display from Thursday, June 19 until Wednesday, July 9 at Summit Navi-Gate, a PR booth set up by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Roppongi, Tokyo. At the venue, you can see shoppers and business persons from the area gazing seriously at Feel the Planet Earth or answering a quiz or questionnaire related to environmental conservation.


University-wide Agreements • Information

Waseda University is a long-established private university with a history of over 125 years. It is also the university in Japan with the largest number of foreign students enrolled. As of May 1, 2008, there were 2,830 foreign students studying at Waseda University.

While Waseda University has 13 undergraduate and 22 graduate schools, all classes at the School of International Liberal Studies, which was established in 2004, are carried out in English. There are currently 519 foreign students enrolled there. Meanwhile, at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific studies established in 1998, students can earn enough credits through English language courses alone to complete a master's degree program. There are currently 330 foreign students enrolled at this graduate school. The School of Science and Engineering is also scheduled to establish courses in English only, starting with first year students, in the next academic year. University-wide agreements with overseas universities and institutions are at the core of such acceptance of foreign students.

Waseda University currently has university-wide agreements with 386 universities and institutions in 74 countries around the world. The number of agreements with overseas universities and institutions increases to 560 universities and institutions in 76 countries when departmental agreements are included.

Such university-wide agreements make it possible for the tuition of exchange students to be waived or for credits to be transferred between universities. Furthermore, since the 2005 academic year, Waseda University has implemented double-degree programs with Peking University and Fudan University in China. Under these programs, students are able to earn degrees from Waseda and from one of the two universities in China by studying for the prescribed period and earning the prescribed number of credits from both universities.

With the globalization of universities and the spread of credit exchange programs, student exchange and the mutual dispatch of students through the conclusion of such university-wide agreements with universities and institutions around the world are now being actively advanced by many Japanese universities.

Some of the scholarship programs being offered by the Government of Japan for short-term student exchange are being executed on the basis of such university-wide agreements.

The Short-term Student Exchange Program supports short-term (within one year) foreign exchange students studying in Japan under such university-wide agreements while remaining enrolled in a university of his/her home country. Furthermore, many students who come to Japan under the Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship through university recommendation study at a university that has a university-wide agreement with his/her university back home.

University-wide agreements are not limited to student exchange but also include the promotion of research exchange. Moreover, efforts to advance research under a global network by forming consortiums with multiple overseas universities with these agreements as a pillar are also being promoted.

It is common for such university-wide agreements to be tied after researchers at a Japanese university build up relationships with overseas researchers through joint research or academic exchange.

We are sure that there are those of you among our readers who are currently active as a researcher at a university. There are expectations on your success so that it may lead to the conclusion of a meaningful university-wide agreement or the vitalization of student exchange and research exchange on the basis of already concluded agreements.

Alumni Associations • Introduction

There are many people in your country and around the world who have experience as a foreign student in Japan. They have established Japan alumni associations in their country or across national borders and are fostering friendships and collaboration among former study-in-Japan students. In fact, there are already more than 270 such organizations in over 90 countries.

We urge you to contact a Japan alumni association in your country. You can find a list and contact information at the following URL.

Furthermore, Japanese embassies and consulates provide support for launching Japan alumni associations as well as the vitalization of alumni association activities. For details, contact the person in charge there of foreign students. To find a Japanese embassy or consulate closest to you, please refer to the list at the following URL.

Letter from the Chinese Students and Scholars Association Returned From Japan

The Chinese Students and Scholars Association Returned From Japan is a private sector group that was established on November 22, 1992 in Beijing. Organized by Chinese persons who have studied at a university or undergone training in Japan, it is China's first domestic Japan alumni association. It is a member of the All-China Youth Federation and receives the administrative guidance of the Sino-Japanese Youth Exchange Center.

The association currently has about 1,800 members. The director is Jianbao Lee, President, Hainan University and Professor, Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Tsinghua University. Professor Changen Wang, Director, Department of Life Sciences, National Natural Science Foundation of China and Professor Zandong Li, College of Biological Sciences, China Agricultural University are the executive deputy directors. Professor Farong Wan, Dean, School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Science and Technology Beijing; Professor Danxing Zheng, Director, College of Chemical Engineering, Beijing University of Chemical Technology; and Professor Yiping Xu, Director, Beijing Center for Japanese Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University are deputy directors.

The office is conveniently located near Yuanmingyuan Park outside the West Gate of Tsinghua University.

Correspondence Address´╝Ü Rm. 2418, Bldg. Kefang, P.O. Box 2653, Haidian District, Beijing 100084, China
Phone/Fax: 010-62575323

In the 16 years since its establishment, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association Returned from Japan has constantly followed its original purport to become a pillar for the building of the homeland and a bridge of friendship and goodwill between China and Japan. It has created a wide network between former study-in-Japan students, made hardworking efforts under the spirit "One is one and two is two," which refers to November 22, the date of its establishment in 1992, and carried out a wealth of wide-ranging activities.

The association is growing steadily as a private-sector organization for developing a network of former study-in-Japan students under the interest and support of related government divisions and people from all quarters of society. Since being established in 1992, it has carried out many down-to-earth activities to promote exchange between widely between those who have returned from studying in Japan as foreign students. It is thought of highly and welcomed by members.

In its future activities, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association Returned From Japan must continue to firmly maintain its policies including deepening friendships, reinforcing exchange and promoting cooperation, enhance the pride of former study-in-Japan students, carry out even more activities for strengthening the sense of solidarity, provide more opportunities for members, and make new contributions toward the development of Chinese society and the promotion of amicable relations between China and Japan.

Alumni association details (PDF)

Letter from Japanese Branch of Western Returned Scholars Association Chinese Overseas-Educated Scholars Association

The Japanese Branch of Western Returned Scholars Association Chinese Overseas-Educated Scholars Association (WRSA/COESA) is affiliated with the Chinese Overseas-Educated Scholars Association (COESA) and acts as an important bridge for contacting those who have returned to China after studying in Japan and for deepening their bonds.

The Japanese Branch of WRSA/COESA encourages friendship and exchange among former Chinese scholars who have completed their studies in Japan and are currently active and playing central roles in their respective fields. It also provides opportunities for exchange with people in various Japanese industry segments as well as with friendship organizations. Furthermore, it contributes to the great initiative of encouraging goodwill between Japan and China.

The major undertakings by the Japanese Branch of WRSA/COESA are as follows.

  1. Collaboration with Chinese students studying in Japan as well as with related organizations and provision of opportunities for exchange or collaboration in various fields including science and technology, economy, culture, education and medicine. In this way, it encourages current and former Chinese study-in-Japan students to contribute to the homeland.
  2. Provision of various economic consultation services for the development of the national and regional economy in China as well as the encouragement of economic exchange with Japan. The utmost effort is made in this regard, including sharing and developing ideas.
  3. Encouragement of exchange and friendship between current and former Chinese study-in-Japan students. This is carried out in various ways and through various channels and includes the reinforcement of academic exchange and the hosting of various entertaining activities.
  4. Provision of various services for current and former Chinese study-in-Japan students by reflecting their opinions and desires, protecting the legal interests of members and emphasizing the work and lives of members.
  5. Public recognition and fosterage of talented current and former Chinese study-in-Japan students and proactive referral of human resources.
  6. Proactive development of contact and exchange with Japanese agencies, organizations and people present in China, and the deepening of mutual understanding and goodwill through private-sector exchange.

Address: Western Returned Scholars Association Chinese Overseas-Educated Scholars Association, Beijing Nanheyan Street 111hao
Phone: 010-65592511
Fax: 010-65130268

Alumni association details (PDF)

Postscript • Letter from the Editor

Do you remember what day July 7th is? It is the day Tanabata or the Star Festival is celebrated in Japan. According to legend, this is the day that two lovers, the stars Altair (the weaver) and Vega (the cowherd), who are separated by the Milky Way, are allowed their once-a-year meeting. Wishes are written on strips of green, red, yellow, red, white and black paper and hung on bamboo branches.

This Email Magazine is brought to you in the hope that former study-in-Japan students will become a bridge between your home countries and Japan. If you have any questions, comments or topics that you would like to see featured, please send an email to: Please send any notices of changes in your email address to the aforementioned as well.