JSPS Summer Program

Past Programs

June 9 – August 19, 2015

  • Don't be afraid to try Japanese at any opportunity; the Japanese people are in general friendly, polite and willing to help. Take the chance while you can to explore a beautiful country with rich history and culture. This program can be a vital first step into working in Japan long term, but even if you that's not your goal, the experience is invaluable for anyone interested in international research, or broadening your picture on the world.
  • Bring a good translating app whenever eating at a restaurant. And be willing to try new things and talk to your colleagues at your research institution.
  • Take the Japanese lessons seriously during the integration week, even have an idea of Japanese languages before coming is a good idea! Counting only on your English is NOT an option. Including in research institution. If you don't know anybody in Japan, make friends at the integration week. If not for tourism together, at least to help you in case of problems. Be open to any opportunities, 2.5 months is short :)
  • Taking Japanese language lessons before arriving in Japan.
  • Do things with your colleagues from your host institution outside of the lab and work day. Also make time to experience different places throughout the country as Japan is a beautiful place with a rich cultural.
  • 1: Get a pocket Wi-Fi router! You can get Wi-Fi anywhere you can get a cellphone signal. This is really important as there is no public Wi-Fi in Japan. You should also look into getting a global plan for your cellphone so that you can call the US if needed. Some of the rental companies offer SIM cards/rental phones that work in Japan. 2: Consider shipping your luggage from your living accommodation to the airport. 3: Try to learn some useful Japanese phrases before you get here, including some words in Hiragana. 4. Talk to your host before you go to Japan! Schedule your time wisely. 10 weeks might seem like a lot, but it's not. So, come prepared! 5. Make time to travel, and make this clear to your host from the beginning. I told my host I wanted to travel to Nagoya, and she turned my wish into a great professional visit for me. Your host knows Japan best, so they will give great advice!
  • Always expect things to take about a week longer than you think they will.
  • Work on learning Japanese. Get out to restaurants, and make an effort to talk to people.
  • Treat this experience as a job, but don't be afraid to have a little fun too! The experience was very rewarding because I was able to accomplish much of what I set out to do. If you put really hard work into the program in the beginning, you can have fun at the end!
  • Most Japanese (also Ph.D. students) only know basics in English. A preparatory Japanese language course is very helpful for daily life and to communicate with other students.
  • Even if you can understand a little Japanese, people may not be willing to speak with you around town or on campus. Do not assume it is simply because you are a foreigner. Sometimes they are not confident in their English-speaking skills, and Japanese people tend to be very social within their 'cliques' exclusively. When finding essentials for setting up your living space, a good 100-yen store to consider is Daiso. They have many of the essentials including trash cans, brooms/mops, shower curtains, glass and stoneware, silverware, and towels.
  • Learn some simple Japanese words and phrases before you come. Just so you can be polite, order food at a restaurant etc. People really appreciate it.
  • Practice Japanese as much as you can. Learn about Japanese cultural differences. Don't be afraid to explore Japan outside of your host institution's area.
  • Work hard and play hard! Get to know that people you are working with. Get out on the weekends and see as much of Japan as you can! Come early or stay longer! Take everything with a grain of salt. Find another JSPS fellow in your area that you can travel and commiserate with. Drink a lot of water and laugh often!
  • Make attempts to learn the language on your own (or through other means) before you arrive at Japan.
  • I already had some Japanese language experience before joining the program, i.e. I could read Hiragana, Katakana, and some Kanji. I heard from other fellows with no Japanese experience that they wished for more in-depth language lessons, such as grammatical constructions, everyday Japanese, etc.
  • Be as organized as possible. Plan ahead as far as possible but be ready to adjust to changes. Communicate often with your colleagues and professors. Share personal and cultural aspects of your life and life in your country with Japanese people. Respectfully help them with their understanding and use of English.
  • Make friends, especially with Japanese people. They after pretty shy at first but if you show interest and go and talk to them they will be really happy to become friends.
  • Make an effort to learn at least some Japanese before you leave. Being illiterate in a foreign country is extremely stressful and difficult.
  • I would advise learning some Japanese before you arrive and to make the most of all the opportunities you are given whilst here!
  • Try to learn as much Japanese prior to arriving as possible. Even a tiny bit of knowledge (Hiragana etc.) will greatly benefit. The locals will quickly warm to any attempts to engage with the language and culture of Japan.
  • The summer is very hot and humid, so bring quick drying clothes.
  • My best advice regarding culture is simply to explore as much as possible - especially around your home. I think many people get stuck just going to tourist locations and may not take the time to appreciate the everyday life of the people around them. And, don't be afraid to try new things! Don't let yourself fall into a rut of just staying home or doing/seeing the same thing all the time, but try to vary it. Also, depending on where the fellow is located, there may be much less nightlife than they expect (even in Tokyo!), since many places close at 8 pm.
  • *Small gifts for homestay family, group and host researcher; bring omiyage back from visits. *Transport Smartcards: Often work in many cities, used on some vending machines. Get PASMO in Tokyo, load credit, use/top up as necessary. Leftover credit can buy things at Narita airport. *Buy a water flask; never be dehydrated. *White cottons are better than black synthetics. *Japan Rail Pass: get one. *Know SIM card/Internet options beforehand so you can call home. *Buy boxes from the post office and send non-fragile home in the post. *Don't complete your thesis three days before flying out(!), make sure you're well rested so you can physically and mentally adjust.
  • To take Japanese lessons before the arriving in Japan
  • Don't be shy or hesitate to ask your host researcher and colleagues questions. Develop a plan and schedule at the beginning and try to stick to it. The weeks fly by very quickly. Also, figure out where you want to travel in Japan and plan that early on. Getting a rail pass would definitely be worth it. Don't be afraid to try new foods and experiences and make new friends!