Top Resources for Expats and Students in the Kansai Region of Japan

While working on a presentation for new MEXT scholars on how they can advance their careers as Japanese Government Research Scholars, I thought it would be valuable to create a collection of the top resources for both expats and students in the Kansai Region of Japan, which primarily includes Nara, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe.

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An Insider’s Look Into the English Programs at Kyoto University’s Economics Department — PART 1

What is the Official Title of the Program?

The title of the program is extraordinarily long, so no one seems to use the official title. Instead, when we reference the program colloquially, we say we are part of the “EA Program.”

The official title is: "International Graduate Programme for East Asia Sustainable Economic Development Studies.”

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Katrina Navallo — An Unexpected Love Story in Japan

When Katrina Navallo first arrived in Japan in April 2016 from the Philippines with a laundry list of tasks to accomplish, such as setting up a Japan Post Office bank account, moving into her new dorm room, and starting an Intensive Japanese Language program through the MEXT Scholarship program for 5 months at Kyoto University, she had no expectations of what was to come her way.

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Katrina Navallo — A Filipino Expat in Japan, Pursuing a Ph.D. in Southeast Asian Studies in Kyoto University

With a wealth of diverse experiences ranging from consulting for the Asian Development Bank and Civika, a local NPO to working in the Asian Center at the University of the Philippines, Katrina Navallo was ready to embark on a fresh new challenge — one that would take her to Japan to research about migrant workers in the social sciences field at Kyoto University. But it wasn’t without challenges. In fact, she was initially rejected in her first attempt to earn the prestigious Monbukagakusho MEXT Scholarship. Through grit and determination, she studied how to earn the MEXT Scholarship, and crafted a winning application the following year.

After learning about her acceptance, Katrina took an enormous risk by packing her bags, saying 'goodbye' to loved ones, and moving to Japan with close to 0, Japanese language skills. All of this was done, to pursue her dream of earning a Ph.D. in the Graduate School of Asian and African Studies at Kyoto University, in a topic that she was truly passionate about.

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7 Surprising Facts about the Meat Industry! Who Knew? Need a New Year's Resolution? Here's Some Ideas!

Happy New Year! As we all bask in the wonderful holiday season, full of good cheer and slightly larger waistbands, we may begin to think about our New Year's Resolutions. As such, I felt like this article would potentially spark some revitalized or brand-new interest in trying to eat less meat this year. Or some readers may do something more dramatic — attempting a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle for an entire year. Regardless, I hope this article teaches you something new. 

As part of a final presentation at Kyoto University, our group presented about the environmental impact of the meat industry. We wrapped up our presentation by sharing our key recommendations to create a more sustainable world. We did our best to answer this question:

“Why Should I Care?”

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Venturing Into Silicon Valley's Top Technology Companies — Part 2 | シリコンバレーのトップテクノロジー企業の冒険

Over the course of 5 days in early August 2017, 6 Kyoto University undergraduate students, my Professor — Chihiro Suematsu— and I, visited 6 top technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. We were fortunate enough to visit my former colleagues and extended network at Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Airbnb, and Google.

I’d like to express my deep appreciation to our countless hosts, both this year and last year, as well as my professor for making this Silicon Valley trip a reality.

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Venturing into Silicon Valley's Top Technology Companies — Part 1 | シリコンバレーのトップテクノロジー企業の冒険

Over the course of 5 days in early August 2017, 6 Kyoto University undergraduate students, my Professor — Chihiro Suematsu — and I, visited 6 top technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. We were fortunate enough to visit my former colleagues and extended network at Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Airbnb, and Google.

I’d like to express my deep appreciation to our countless hosts, both this year and last year, as well as my professor for making this Silicon Valley trip a reality.

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Cultivating Women Entrepreneurs and Female Founders in Japan

In July, I had the great fortune of presenting at a fantastic Non-Profit Organization or NPO called Kyoto SMI (Kyoto STEM Cells, Smart Materials & Innovation. 

The goals of the presentation were the following: 

  1. Provide an overview of my background, 
  2. Share major highlights about the research I've done so far regarding female founders in Japan, and
  3. Offer a few recommendations on how Kyoto SMI can cultivate and support more women entrepreneurs in Japan. 

Thank you very much for taking a look at this presentation.

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Let's Bring on the Sunshine & Positivity!

I. Why Do You Blog?

Originally, I built my website as a portfolio of what I planned to accomplish, if I were fortunate enough to earn the Monbukagakusho MEXT Scholarship. Fortunately, I did receive the scholarship, and decided to make this an online resource for Japanese women who are thinking about starting their own business. And now, it's evolved into a collection of inspirational stories of Japanese female entrepreneurs, plus my musings of living abroad as an expat in Kyoto!

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Why This Professional Networking Service is Excelling in Japan

Confident. Transparent. And approachable. These are the 3 words that I would use to quickly describe Akiko Naka, founder of Wantedly — the game-changing, professional networking service in Japan that offers two unique services.

One, Wantedly allows candidates who are interested in a particular company to visit the offices of the potential employer — a highly unusual service in Japan. Two, Wantedly’s mission is to create: “A world where work meets passion.”

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A Quickie // The Complexities of Throwing Away Trash in Kyoto

One of my first “adventures” living in Kyoto was deciphering the mesmerizingly complex trash dispensing system. No, it’s not as straightforward as “trash” versus “recycling.” Instead, there’s at least 6 different ways to separate trash. Not only do you have to learn what exactly goes into a “プラ” or plastic bag, but you also have to clean the interior of all items such as bento boxes, almond butter cans, used natto containers, etc. Most places even require you to remember what days specific types of trash can be thrown out.

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Experiencing the Startup Life in Silicon Valley | A Self-Initiated Mega Tour Part 2

Recently, my professor Chihiro Suematsu of the Graduate School of Economics and Management at Kyoto University sponsored 5 MBA students to join him in a weeklong tour of Silicon Valley startups (GoogleEchoUserChewse), and universities (StanfordUC BerkeleyUSF). Through both my professor’s connections and my contacts, we scheduled a whirlwind, often back-to-back tour of Silicon Valley companies and highlights.

In Part I, enjoy an FAQ-style overview about Silicon Valley. In Part II, you will learn something unique about each of the places we visited.

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Experiencing the Startup Life in Silicon Valley | A Self-Initiated Mega Tour Part 1

Recently, my professor Chihiro Suematsu of the Graduate School of Economics and Management at Kyoto University sponsored 5 MBA students to join him in a weeklong tour of Silicon Valley startups (GoogleEchoUserChewse), and universities (StanfordUC BerkeleyUSF). Through both my professor’s connections and my contacts, we scheduled a whirlwind, often back-to-back tour of Silicon Valley companies and highlights.

All in all, we all felt it was an outstanding success! Thank you very much Professor Suematsu and Kyoto University for allowing us to participate in such an enriching and positive experience.

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Wisdom from Founder of Women 2.0 — Shaherose Charania

In a brand new co-working space called Galvanize in SOMA, San Francisco, I was fortunate enough to meet the founder of Women 2.0 — Shaherose Charania.

For those who don’t know, Women 2.0 is one of the most impressive organizations that can safely say its made a difference in the lives of 55,000 women who attended its 500 events in 25 different cities around the world — eight of which I have personally volunteered for and attended. In addition, a whopping 5,000 articles were posted by female entrepreneurs on the Women 2.0 website. Beyond events and articles, the organization has empowered over 100 women to start pre-seed companies with people they met at one of the events.

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The Essential Guide for Traveling Overnight in Japan

What’s It Like to Ride on a Night Bus? The Essential Guide for Traveling Overnight in Japan.  

Towards the end of June, I rode my first overnight yakkou bus in Japan. Although many Kyoto University students ride this inexpensive type of bus for long-distance travel, very few will recommend it. As such, I asked around, read an online blog, and figured out how I could make it the best experience possible. After all, I relish new experiences and this was most definitely, a unique experience.

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A Day in the Life of a Kyoto University MEXT Scholar!

One of my dreams was to live and work abroad. Thus, I applied for the MEXT Monbukagakusho Scholarship. I am writing this with the hope that it will be valuable for future MEXT scholars, and anyone who is seeking to pursue a graduate degree in another country.  

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A Natural Way to Get ~1 Hour of Free Stair Master Exercise with Mt. Daimonji Hike!

Looking for a way to de-stress, or just want to discover more places around Kyoto? Then, hike this awesome Daimoji trail. Although it’s not as clearly marked as trails in America, these pictures should help you find your way. 

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