By Laura Leung-How
- The rise of Asia
Renowned for combining both the ultra-modern and remarkably traditional, Japan has long been the destination of choice for students and professionals from around the world.
According to the International Business Times, the number of billionaires worldwide increased by 7 percent this year, with Asian entrepreneurs constituting roughly 30 percent of this growth. With the rise of Asian economies, employers are paying increasing attention to students who have gained an intimate understanding of the people, language, and development of the region’s key economic powers such as China, South Korea, and, of course, Japan. What better time to brush up on your chopstick skills and start applying for your student visa?
Whether you are a student of Japanese looking to cement your skills in the language, or one of Business, Economics or the social sciences, Japan’s dedication to education at both undergraduate and graduate level caters to international students of all trades and interests.
According to the QS University Rankings this year, 6 Japanese institutions are amongst the top 20 universities in Asia, with the University of Tokyo edging into the top 10. Although other Asian countries, such as China and Singapore, are fast progressing through the ranks, Japan remains a longstanding exemplar of academic excellence, with the aforementioned University of Tokyo, and the University of Kyoto, consistently ranked in the top 50 universities worldwide.
Work hard, play harder
Whilst most of what we know and love about Japan probably relates in some way to anime, geisha or sushi, there are plenty of other opportunities to broaden your knowledge of Japanese culture, be it through study, travel, or work. University courses are relatively lax compared to other parts of the world, leaving you plenty of time to explore your surroundings, and perhaps make a decent amount of pocket money on the side! Teaching English is the clichéd Thing To Do, but it pays well and allows you to interact frequently with Japanese locals.
And Tokyo is not necessarily the be all and end all when it comes to choosing your university. If you are looking for tea ceremonies, shrines and temples, Kyoto might be more to your tastes, with universities such as Kansai Gaidai, Ritsumeikan and Doshisha all offering competitive language and culture courses for international students.
Travel a little further down the archipelago and you reach Hiroshima, where Hiroshima University’s Study Abroad Programme (HUSA Programme) welcomes undergraduates and graduates from across the world to participate in 6 month to year-long exchanges with Japanese students.
If the sciences are more to your liking, then Tohoku University, currently ranked at no.18 in the whole of Asia, could be for you. The institution specialises in research, and its notable alumni include Koichi Tanaka, who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2002.
The Japanese government aims to play host to 300,000 foreign students by 2020, so rest assured that there are a variety of grants available to get you there. These include, but are not limited to, the coveted Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) scholarship, and the Japan Student Services Organisation (JASSO) scholarship -- difficult to secure, but considering they fund both tuition and living expenses, definitely worth the effort!
Top 5 student destinations
5 - Miyajima Island. The Istukushima Shrine, sometimes known as the ‘floating’ gate, is the main attraction on the island, though whether or not it is really ‘on’ the island is up for debate. The gate remains partially submerged in the sea during the day (hence ‘floating’ on the waves), but becomes accessible on foot when the tide is low.
4 - Hiroshima. Along with Nagasaki, one of the sole places on earth to be hit, and obliterated, by a nuclear bomb. The city has since been rebuilt but forever bears the scars of its wartime past, the salvageable parts of which are featured in its educational Peace Memorial Museum.
3 - Osaka. All the bustle and heyday of Tokyo topped off with a dash of southern Japanese charm. Infamous for being populated by gangs of yakuza (Japanese mafia), the Nanba and Umeda districts offer a much more lively nightlife than neighbouring cities Kyoto and Kobe.
2 - Kyoto. The cultural hub of Japan. Home of the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine featured in the 2005 film, Memoirs of a Geisha. Also the host of a wealth of beautiful temples, including Kiyomizudera, Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji. The city of Nara is a relatively short bullet train ride away, and worth a visit if only for the deer and giant Buddha statue at Nara Park.
1 - Tokyo. Home to some of Asia’s best universities, the capital of Japan is the largest metropolitan area in the world. Tired of trawling through the densely populated urban jungle? Taking a day out to climb Mount Fuji is an extremely worthwhile and rewarding experience. The Tsukiji fish market deserves an honourable mention, but if getting up at the crack of dawn to look at tuna does not appeal, then Roppongi, Shinjuku and Shibuya should answer all your needs for anything from shopping to bar-crawling and wild nights out.
Find out more about Studying in Japan:
Japan Study Support: www.jpss.jp/en/
Find out more about studying in Asia