College Essentials

Writer: Rama K.

Editor: Bermet K.

The majority of international students at TIU shared the same experience while waiting for the long-awaited call to the land of the rising sun. Indeed, as the pandemic is still haunting everyone and the borders are not yet open, you find yourself in your lovely room, holding a ticket to Japan, imagining all the scenarios you look forward to once you arrive. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Well, two years have passed, and now you are probably in Japan, preparing to satisfy your curiosity with all the new things and becoming fully immersed in a new culture. Nevertheless, a lot of us tend to forget one of the most crucial steps or are even unsure of how to start preparing to go to campus! No need to worry. In this post, we provide a list of necessities for college in hopes of making the transition to life in Japan easier for TIU students.


  1. Why is preparation necessary?

As a college student, 24 hours seem insufficient, given all the hustle and bustle of university life. On top of attending classes, we are occupied with after-school activities and clubs. As we all know, these daily routines involve plenty of preparation. Why? Well, even if it may seem insignificant, preparation is necessary since, without it, we wouldn’t be able to grasp the controlling levers that determine our subsequent actions. Thus, with careful planning, we can do our tasks much faster and give each person more time to engage in other, more enjoyable activities.

  1. Then, what are the types of items to prepare?

Following conversations with several sources from TIU, the author has compiled and broken down these essentials into two different categories, namely physical and non-physical:

  1. Physical

For the first group, these are tangible items that can be recognized and have respective purposes in a student’s day-to-day life.

  1. Non-Physical

In addition to the physical, the next category, non-physical, consists of apps and tools that are on our devices. Take it easy, everything listed here is free! In other words, it won’t drain your wallets!

Without further ado, let’s see what each group has!


Must bring:

  1. Backpack

Choosing an adequate backpack for college can be very confusing at times. What are some criteria for a great backpack? Use the questions below to help you decide on the perfect backpack that fits you!

  • Will your laptop fit?
  • Is there enough space for a water bottle?
  • Are there extra organizational pockets?
  • How durable is the backpack?
  • Is it comfortable? – Well, the majority of backpacks made by reputable hiking/outdoor brands will be perfect!
  • Will there be any space to store your valuables? Perhaps an internal pocket?
  • Do you intend to use it for other activities such as hiking?
  1. Device & Charger

Choosing an adequate backpack for college can be very confusing at times. What are some criteria for a great backpack? Use the questions below to help you decide on the perfect backpack that fits you!

  1. Stationeries

Although manual note-taking has been replaced by apps, it never hurts to be safe, right? Just don’t overdo it. A pair of a B5 notebook and a pen should do the trick.

  1. Snacks

Last but not least, Snacks! It is common knowledge that listening to information or attending a lecture on an empty stomach is not the best way for a college student to learn. Well, It would not hurt anyone to carry one or two small snacks in your bag. Plus, you might even use them to get to know people!


After loading your backpack with handy essentials, remember to double-check that the following apps are readily available on your devices!

  1. Weather forecast apps

As is commonly known, TIU students live around the Kanto region. It can be inconvenient for them to travel soaking wet or, conversely, wearing thick clothes when the weather is scorching. Therefore, it is worth setting aside just five minutes every morning to check the weather forecast app!

  1. Google translate

As an international university student, you may not want to miss the opportunity to meet new people. However, one of the most common issues we face has to be the language barrier. Even when we need it the most, striking up a conversation with strangers can be intimidating. Worry not, it is much easier now with the existence of free translation apps!

  1. Money manager

The interviewees highlighted the importance of learning how to be financially wise. One of the reasons behind it is that the spending and saving habits you developed during your college days are likely to remain long after you become a member of society. Therefore, utilizing money manager apps will make the process more efficient.

  1. SNS

Living in a data-driven era where interaction is not limited to your inner circle or family, we have pushed ourselves to connect with people from different parts of the world through a powerful tool called social networking sites! Enough said: SNS is the best way for college students to stay in touch with friends! They will keep you updated with local entertaining activities based on your location and help you find out what’s happening around the world.

  1. News

It is crucial for students to keep up with the current trends! And there are numerous app options available from either the Play Store or the App Store.

  1. Notes

Last but not least, studies on learning have shown that actively engaging with the topic by listening and then summarizing what you hear helps you understand and remember the information later. Thankfully, we no longer have to bother with various writing tools as they are readily accessible through note-taking apps! A few great and free examples are Notion, Google Keep, and Microsoft OneNote.

Thank you for reading up to the very end. What is missing from the list? By having these items in advance, we assure you that there will be nothing to worry about as you start your day. Moreover, it would be a pleasure if any of the tips introduced in this article proved practical and made it easier for you. Stay tuned for the next article!

Best ways to learn English, by TIU students.

Writer: Kuroto B.

Editor: Karen W.

Translator: Bermet K.

            There are a lot of students learning English in Tokyo International University. I asked 3 students who are extremely good in English about how they learned English.


Firstly, let’s hear from TIU graduate student Naoki Moriyama, who is currently pursuing an E-track master’s degree.  He kindly shared the secret of achieving a level of English that allows to be enrolled in an English program.

  •   Firstly, I think that following the example of your professors and seniors play an important part for beginners. Here in TIU, there are plenty of opportunities to learn English from professionals like GTI professors or by visiting E-plaza. In my situation, I did my homework properly, tried to imitate the way natives speak and tried to absorb absolutely everything they said in my head. This is something that you can’t normally experience in Japan. I tried to fully use the wonderful English-speaking environment that TIU has. Sometimes I would go to E-plaza every day, full of enthusiasm to learn the best from my teachers and seniors. The knowledge I got at that time, became the base of my later studies. However, there were times when I would feel so frustrated because I still couldn’t speak English. Whenever I felt like this, I used my frustration to focus on my language weaknesses and thought about methods to help me improve. (Luckily, we have the internet to assist us nowadays!)

[Naoki Moriyama is on the left]

   An important step to upgrade to intermediate level is to know what you need to work on. For example, I wanted to improve my speaking abilities, but without studying abroad, so I applied to be a Peer Assistant, a student who helps international students in university. While helping countless international students with translations, I was able to acquire the English ability to deal with various situations, like going to the hospital or government facilities. Also, when I entered the school my TOEIC score was around 300, but I was able to significantly improve it. Although I used the “TOEIC(R) New Format Selected Mock Test” textbook for preparations, I feel like the foundation I laid at beginner and intermediate levels became a crucial part of my improvement.

  Right now, my goal is to become an advanced student, who can understand E-track classes. I spend my days staring at dictionaries, learning advanced vocabulary and grammar structures that I encounter daily. Personally, books like “English Grammar and Writing” and “Practical English Grammar for Expressions” have been a great help. I recommend using them as well. Nevertheless, having a strong English base is more important.  I don’t think that other subjects require as much effort as English. Although after that it’s important to keep individual learning goals to become an advanced English speaker, luckily TIU students have a lot of learning resources for that. The rest is to simply believe in yourself and trust your knowledge. Let’s roll up our sleeves!

2.      Sakiko Uchino/Department of International Relations Media major/ TOEIC 795

Next, we interviewed Sakiko Uchino. Despite being the youngest among three respondents, Sakiko Uchino has outstanding speaking skills. Let’s hear how she managed to achieve such an impressive level within only three years.

  •   I have a lot of motivation to learn English, but one of the strongest is to communicate with people who have different cultural backgrounds and those who can open my eyes to a bigger world. I have never been abroad, nevertheless, I’ve been trying to improve my English skills in Japan. There are two ways in which I improved my English skills. Listen to English a lot and speak English even when I am not with people. The first one, “listening” is in my opinion the easiest one. I’ve been constantly watching movies, YouTube videos, tv shows, and so on, all in English. But the important thing is not to think of them as  studying. I watch those things while enjoying them, even though I cannot understand the contents perfectly. The other one, which is “speaking”, maybe harder than listening. Although it is common to speak English when I am with people who don’t speak Japanese, what I’ve been doing is practicing English when I’m alone.

    For example, when I have something on my mind, I talk to myself in English. The method is called “hitorigoto” in Japanese. I’ve been practicing it in English since freshman year. When I do it, things like grammar or “right or wrong” don’t bother me as I just speak and speak. This habit made it easier for me as I got used to thinking in English. By the way, I didn’t talk about reading and writing a lot, but of course, they are also important. I’ve been improving those skills through reading English books and writing in a diary. These are the things anyone can simply start doing, which is why I highly recommend them. I did not use any textbook materials to learn English outside of classes. The best material for you is your motivation. Don’t be afraid of mistakes, just try and communicate in English!

2.      Tsudzuru Sasaki/ TIU Department of International Relations 2021 graduate/TOEIC 960, TOEFL 150

Lastly, we interviewed Tsudzuru Sasaki. Tsudzuru Sasaki is a TIU alumnus who got a very high TOEIC score during her senior year. She told us how to get the most of TIU. 

  •   There are students from all over the world at TIU, but it would be a waste not to talk to them and learn about their culture and values. “Let’s communicate in English”-is what I thought. Now that I have made friends at TIU, I will have made friends that will be my local guides when I travel abroad.

    What’s more, TIU has English Plaza, GTI classes, and SLI allows you to practice English. I was able to practice English every day (motivation). “Although I can’t speak English now, I would be at such a loss if I couldn’t communicate with international students.”- I thought to myself. In my case, a friend I’ve been friends with since I couldn’t speak English in the first grade, complimented me just before I graduated, saying: “Your English has really improved!”. I think for me, getting complimented on improvement has also become a motivation.

[Tsudzuru Sasaki is in the middle]

  As for specific study materials, I used all the TOEIC textbooks in the TIU Library (from the 2nd floor to the M3rd floor of Campus 1, and the Campus 2 library) to improve my score! It is not like I really read all available materials, but I did consult with TIU Library staff to find the best-suited study materials. Thanks to that, I got over 900 in about 7 months, although it is not a perfect score…The regret that I didn’t get a full score will be my motivation! As I mentioned above, I improved my academic writing skills in English Plaza and GTI classes, and my speaking/discussion skills in E-track classes. As for listening and reading, I watched and listened to a lot of English music and movies. Also, I listened to BBC and CNN news on YouTube and podcasts every morning from the time I woke up until I went to class. Even if I couldn’t completely understand the context, I tried to imitate the rhythm and pronunciation of English, as well as shadowing practice. This helped my ears and mouth get used to English speech and improve my listening and speaking skills. As for reading, I only read foreign books. Campus 1 2F / M3F has many foreign books, so at first, I read short novels and journals that I was interested in, and as I got used to that level, I gradually changed the complexity level! And as a bonus, as I read aloud, my mouth practiced pronunciation and my ears got used to hearing English in your own voice. Simply reading books kills two birds with one stone.


Even though it is difficult to improve your English in Japan, our interviewees proved that it is by no means impossible. If you follow the advice of these people, you are likely to find the study method that best suits you.

Sharing Baito Experiences

Writer: Juri.A
Editor: Karen W.
Translator: Ezekiel K.

Do you work? Japan is regarded as one of the hardest-working countries in the world. Money is essential for enhancing and adding value to our lives. As a student starting a new life, you always want to have a source of income to keep your lifeline connected. However, beginning something new might be frightening. Even if you have the guts to apply for a part-time job, you could experience anxiety: “What if it’s hard? I don’t want to get into trouble.” These feelings are difficult to get rid of. But after you give things a try, you’ll grow accustomed to them and the barriers will go away. I have had more than ten different part time jobs and I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of business through the experiences of myself and some friends. Please use this as a guide, make the first move, and give it a shot.

※ Keep in mind that the specifics may vary by location and store from what is represented here, so please just use this as a guide.

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on
  1. Simple part-time job, convenience store

Don’t you picture yourself working as a cashier at a convenience store when you consider part-time jobs? Unfortunately, the author has never worked in sales, therefore I will share my friend’s perspective with you.


  • You may be able to directly find a full-time position at the convenience store’s company when you graduate! (This largely depends on the area or region, but in most cases convenience stores have few number of staff)
  • You can remember the brand of cigarettes (what’s the benefit?)
  • I received food for disposal when I worked the extended night shift (depending on the store, of course).
  • There are stores all over the country, so once you learn a job, you can apply it anywhere.
  • Most stores have self-checkouts, so it is much easier.
  • Easily accept international students
  • There are many stores so you can choose to work at a location near you.
  • You can easily be employed


  • Low hourly wage
  • A lot to remember
  • (Depends on the store.) Shifts are set, with no flexibility.
  • Difficult when crowded.
  • Difficult to remember the names of cigarettes.
  • Difficult to deal with bills and other payments
  • Afraid of robbers(?)

It is advantageous to approach the convenience store company where you work when job hunting, because I once had a major convenience store company ask me in their screening process whether I had worked at a convenience store. Obviously, no; however, HR will be able to inform you if this will benefit you; this should not be a disadvantage.

  1. Restaurants

Restaurant halls are among the most popular part-time jobs available. I’m sure there are family restaurants and upscale restaurants, but here are some general thoughts!


  • Good hourly wage (depending on the store)
  • There are tips
  • You can meet new people
  • Get to be friends with customers
  • You can learn polite japanese expressions and dining etiquette at high-end restaurants
  • You can easily be employed
  • You can have some free time
  • (Depends on the store) You can get cute uniforms.
  • You can learn how to make menus
  • An easy challenge for international students


  • Not worth the hourly rate.
  • Very busy 
  • Uses physical strength
  • A lot of things to memorize
  • It requires teamwork, you can’t fit in if you don’t learn to cooperate
  • You get to handle complaints from customers
  • (Depends on the store.) Some people can be absent on their shifts.

Personal view is that the customer base at fine dining establishments is of a higher caliber and more generous and kind! Additionally, many of the employees are polite and educated… However, low-cost eateries like izakayas are the best venues to meet new people.

  1. Manufacturing industry

The author worked in a manufacturing company, which is frequently viewed as a one-day, short-term part-time job. The following are the advantages and disadvantages based on both one-day and long-term work!


  • There are some places where hourly wages are very high.
  • The work is easy
  • Almost no communication is needed.
  • You can be absorbed in your thoughts


  • Monotonous and tiring work.
  • Requires to work more than one shifts
  • Single shift has fixed working hours.
  • May be required to work under deplorable conditions

All of the above make this a perfect spot for someone who dislikes interacting with others and just wants to earn a little extra money!

  1. Services

Receptionists and information desk staff would fall under the service industry category. Numerous individuals may seek jobs in this industry in the near future. It might be a good idea to try it as a part-time job once.


  • You can learn polite japanese expressions and manners
  • Fun for people who like to talk to others.
  • A lot of opportunity to use a second language
  • (Depending on the nature of the job) It doesn’t require a lot of physical strength.
  • Increased knowledge


  • Difficult to get hired
  • Should exercise caution while using language
  • A lot of things to memorize
  • It’s difficult if you don’t have proper telephone manners

Students studying English will find the service industry to be an ideal atmosphere. Because there are so many foreign tourists in the city center, you will need to know English if you work there. Working in the service industry in the city center is definitely a good way to earn money and improve your English.

There are many more job types besides the five mentioned above. Trying out a part-time job and determining if it’s a good fit will lead to full-time employment. Be courageous and apply for part-time jobs you are interested in!

Books you should read as a student

Author: Soum Y.
Editor: Karen W.
Translator: Ezekiel K.

Do you enjoy reading books? We have fewer opportunities to read books now that we can get a variety of information instantaneously on the internet, don’t we? I have some bad news for all of you. In fact, reading material on the Internet is fundamentally different from reading books. That is, the way you select material on the Internet is like a “buffet,” and you will unavoidably wind up picking and choosing only what you like. This obviously leads to a narrow viewpoint when perceiving things. In contrast, books are “a head-to-head struggle between the author and your own sense of values.” Books are thought to be excellent not only for expanding your knowledge but also for boosting your concentration and communication skills. What are your thoughts? Even if you don’t normally read books, this narrative may have piqued your interest. On the other hand, for those who read books on a daily basis, it may have altered your perspective on reading slightly.

This time we asked two TIU professors for one book each that you should have read while you were a student! What exactly are the books that the professors, who are always there for you in your lectures and student life, recommend…? Let’s get right to the great books!

The first book is “The Devil’s Choice” (Author: Frederick Forsythe, Kadokawa Bunko Publishing, volume two). This book was recommended by Prof. Takayuki Ogasawara. Here is a summary of what Professor Takayuki Ogasawara had to say:

When the war in Ukraine began, I was reminded of a novel I had read as a student. It was a novel titled “The Devil’s Choice” by Frederick Forsyth. In this novel, set in the world during the Cold War, operatives from various countries engage in a variety of espionage activities. Then, as a result of a combination of intrigue and miscalculation, they reach a crisis that is about to erupt into World War III in a few moments. However, the crisis is averted through the efforts of the protagonist, a British agent.
This may sound like a story with a happy ending, but the reality is far more complicated. The protagonist had paid a great price for the avoidance of World War III. The price was the abandonment of Ukrainian activists seeking independence from Russia. The protagonist was not in favour of Russian domination of Ukraine. However, if World War III broke out in the nuclear age, the world would be doomed. Therefore, the protagonist’s action was a “devil’s choice.”
Unlike when this novel was written, Ukraine is an independent country today. As long as the Ukrainian people continue to resist the Russian military, the international community will continue to support them. At the same time, however, the security interests of Russia as a major power cannot be ignored. What position should be given to Ukraine and Russia in the world after the war is over? Without considering this question, a sustainable peace will not be realised without considering this question. This novel is a useful teaching tool for international politics..

The second book is “Introduction to Speaking” (Author: D. Carnegie, Sogensha Publishing Co. This book was recommended by Prof. Tetsuro Shioguchi. The following is a summary of his talk.

For more than 60 years, this book has been read as a gentle, basic, and practical guide to the art of speaking, from speeches to everyday conversation. You can benefit from this book in all kinds of situations, such as when you have a problem with a friend or when you have to give a presentation at school. For example, in Chapter 1, Cultivating Courage and Confidence, the author says, “If you want to be brave, you have to use all your willpower and act like a brave person.” Eventually, fear will take the place of fearlessness. It is written,
In general, when people lack confidence, they fall. Generally speaking, when people lack confidence, they feel depressed. And with that, they become more and more reluctant to take action. This is not good for the future. Therefore, Carnegie dares to be playful. The key word is “acting.” If you stand up straight, tell yourself that everyone listening to this speech owes you a debt, and speak confidently, you will not be a wimp. In this way, Carnegie shares many tips on how to “speak” well from his own experience in a funny, yet easy-to-understand way. The book is written in a way that makes you want to put it into practice as soon as you read it. You can read it once, but you should also read it over and over again. That is how rich the contents of this book are. I am convinced that this book will definitely be useful for you in your future life as a student and when you get a job in the future.

Now that I have introduced the two books, there are, of course, many other books that students can read and that will be useful to them now or in the future. Yes, but these books were introduced to me by two professors at TIU, and I can recommend them to you in an outstanding manner. As I write this article, I have also read “An Introduction to Speaking” (author: D. Carnegie, Sogensha Publishing), which contains detailed tips on how to speak in all kinds of situations. Although the title of the book says “Introduction to Speaking,” you can learn everything you need to know about speaking from 1 to 10. I’m really glad I came across this book, because I myself am not very good at public speaking, and I felt that I could overcome this problem if I followed the advice in this book. Of course, the other book, “The Devil’s Choice” (Author: Frederick Forsyth, Kadokawa Bunko Publishing, volume two) is another book I would love to read because it will get me thinking about peace! Why don’t you all join us and be swept away by the endless waves of knowledge? There are various wonderful books in the world.
The two books introduced here are definitely the golden waves among them that will enrich your life. And they are available at too low a price to change your life. Everyone, hurry to the bookstore!

Living Alone ~Supermarkets in Kasumigaseki

Author: Souma. Y
Writer: Karen W.
Translator: Ezekiel. K

Do you frequently visit a supermarket? (Also refers to Supa.) Supermarkets provide a vast range of foods and daily necessities, which makes life easier. This article will compare the features of the supermarkets “LawsonStore100,” “YAOKO,” “TAIRAYA,” and “Belc,” all of which are located near Kasumigaseki train station. We will provide you with information on how to choose the best supermarket for your daily needs. Please take a look! Also, we have put together a set of articles with information that might be useful for “living alone.” Kindly check the additional “Living Alone” articles as well.

Lawson Store 100″ (4-minute walk from Kasumigaseki Station)

The first one is “Lawson Store 100.” Perhaps you might be wondering to yourself, “Isn’t it a convenience store?” The answer to your question is “yes.” But when you think about the four things below, it’s not surprising that “Lawson Store 100” can also be called a supermarket.

  • Open 24 hours a day
  • It’s 100 yen and affordable, making it simple to use.
  • Basic necessities are available.
  • There is a Matsumotokiyoshi next door.

Since Lawson Store 100 is the nearest grocery store to TIU, you can visit it if you forget to buy lunch or if you suddenly find yourself in need of some groceries.

YAOKO” (3 minutes walk from Kasumigaseki Station)

My next introduction is “YAOKO.” In the fall of 2021, a new supermarket called “YAOKO” was opened. You have undoubtedly visited there at least once, given that it is close to Kasumigaseki Station. It has the following three key characteristics

  • Freshly prepared side dishes are served.
  • (Lunch Box goes on sale from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)
  • It has a hair salon available.
  • Photographs, ATM, courier service, wheelchairs, etc. are available.

This “YAOKO” appears to provide nearly all the services that students might require. For those who live on the north exit side of Kasumigaseki Station, the best feature is that it is convenient to get to school because it is close to the station.

TAIRAYA” (12 minutes walk from Kasumigaseki Station)

Following that, I’d like to introduce “TAIRAYA” supermarket. Various apartments and mansions are located close to “TAIRAYA,” so many of you who are reading this article probably shop at this supermarket frequently. This supermarket has three main features.

  • All relatively inexpensive
  • There is a general merchandise store.
  • There is a 100-yen store.

This “TAIRAYA” is relatively distant from Kasumigaseki Station, but it has more than enough beauty to make the trip worthwhile. As stated previously, the costs at this grocery store are lower than those at other stores. Vegetables and chicken thighs are among the many goods available at discounted prices. Also, the general merchandise section has a lot of things that you can’t buy at other supermarkets. It seems likely that this is a supermarket that Kasumigaseki residents may want to check out.


The last one is “Belc.” If you live close to Matoba Station, this supermarket might be a suitable choice for you since it is only a 9-minute walk from Matoba Station but a 20-minute walk from Kasumigaseki Station. “Belc” is distinguished by the following two characteristics:

  • A money-back guarantee system is available.
  • The local vegetable area creates a sense of confidence by allowing customers to view fresh produce and the farmers who grew them.

Also, it’s interesting that they are working on reducing food waste and doing things to teach people about the importance of food, as well as taking the SDGs into account.

After talking about what’s good about each supermarket, we’ll talk about how their loyalty card systems work. When you use these, you will undoubtedly save money.

At “Lawson Store100”, PONTA CARD is accepted. You can earn 1 yen in points for every 200 yen you spend with this card. You can also get more points by buying eligible items during the promotion’s time frame. At the counter, the accrued points are usable at will. 

At YAOKO is a YAOKO CARD, as its name suggests. Similar to the “PONTA CARD,” this card awards 1 yen worth of points for every 200 yen spent. However, when you earn 500 yen worth of points, a shopping voucher is printed on the receipt; therefore, you should not throw it away.

At TAIRAYA, there is a “HAPPY CARD.” This card, like the two preceding ones, is worth 1 yen for every 200 yen. When you earn 500 points with this card, you will receive a gift voucher for that amount. At the time of billing, accumulated points can be spent without restrictions. In addition, there is a recharge machine, which makes it easy to use electronic money.

The “Belc Card” is issued at “Belc.” Unlike the previous three cards, you earn 1 point per 100 yen spent. For every 200 yen spent using cashless payment, 1 point is awarded. When you acquire 500 points, you will receive a 500-yen gift certificate.

※ You can get these loyalty cards by asking the cashier or visiting the websites of the various supermarkets. They are free, and we would love to obtain one!

Now, how did it go? If you compare the supermarkets you usually shop at, don’t you find that each one has its own advantages? These supermarkets are essential for us students at Tokyo International University and the neighboring residents. I would be happy if everyone of you could utilize even a small amount of what you have learned in this article. I wish you all a pleasant shopping experience.

Language Exchange Workshops (2022)

Writer: Karen W.

Editor: Theo F.

Translator: Theo F.

The 2022 Academic Year ended. The new 2023 academic year will start in April. Last academic year was a wonderful year for our Campus Globalization team. Thanks to all of you. Especially to those of you who took part in the six language exchange workshops we had during the year, thank you for coming along and making it all worthwhile! Through this article, we hope that we can spark your interest in participating in one of our intercultural workshops in the future.

1 (Spring) Language Diversity ~Key for Mastery~

During this cross-cultural exchange, the participants discussed the languages they had acquired and discussed what they needed to do to learn a language. The participants had a wide range of first languages, and the focus was on the differences and similarities with other languages they had learnt, making them more familiar with other languages.

Due to rain and train delays, the number of participants was low on this day. However, the participants actively engaged in the discussion and it was very lively and informative.

2 Difference in Perspective

(Link to the poster:

Through this language exchange workshop, we learnt that the way we see colors changes depending on our culture and personal experiences! I learnt that the impression of colors varies greatly from country to country and culture to culture – I used to think that the rainbow had seven colors, but in other countries it has two or eight. I also deepened my cross-cultural understanding by focusing on how different languages and generations have different ideas and perspectives.

3 (Fall) World’s Children Games

(Short video of the actual event:

So many people from diverse backgrounds took part in this cross-cultural exchange! We shared many games such as how to play cards, tag and other childhood games, and compared how these games are called differently depending on the country and culture. Overall, it was a very interesting experience as we got to learn about childhood games in different countries.

4 Urban Legends

(Link to the poster:

(Promotional videos:

The promotional reel videos for this language exchange workshop were quite unique! A wide range of cultures were shared, from Japanese urban legends to stories about dark organizations around the world. The organization ‘Freemasonry’ is very well known in Japan and it was very interesting to hear stories about it.

5 Beauty Standards

(Short video of the actual event:

This language exchange workshop dealt with recent topics such as ‘lookism’ and ‘beauty diversity’. The participants compared the differences in attitudes towards beauty between Europe and Asia, and shared information on various topics such as make-up and clothing.

6 Prom and Karaoke Night

(Short video of the actual event:

On the day of the event, we had a karaoke competition – a Japanese tradition, and a dance prom – a western tradition. We shared unique cultural traditions and had people who were crowned kings and queens of the prom and karaoke events! Thank you very much for making the event so exciting. The songs and dances were very beautiful.

In 2022, we were able to organize six intercultural exchange workshops. In 2023 we plan to organize more interesting events where you can compare cultures, values and ways of thinking of people from different countries! Please look forward to them! You are welcome to register for the events via the QR code on the posters or just turn up on the day. 

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Campus Spots for Studying

Writer: Prashan J.
Editor: Audrey S.

To many students, both new to the university and those who are on campus for the first time due to online classes, it may be a challenge to figure out the spots on campus that are ideal for studying. But worry not! In this article, I will discuss the best spots on campus for studying and the pros and cons of each spot.

The university library is one of the best places for studying out of all the places on this list. I interviewed many students about the best spots for studying on campus, and the library itself seemed to be the most popular among students. The library is also my personal favorite spot for studying.

The library is quiet, which makes it an ideal place for studying. For students who want to make use of the books and computers available in the library, there is even more of a reason to consider studying in the library. The library has many tables equipped with power outlets, it is ideal for working on your laptop or other devices.

However, for students who want to study in groups, the library is perhaps not the place to go as students must maintain silence in the library at all times. My best suggestion for students who want to study in groups would be to use the GLS rooms in the English Plaza area which is on the first floor of the same building, just below the library. If you reserve one of these rooms, you can have uninterrupted discussions with your fellow students, and also benefit from the HDMI screens or whiteboards which are available depending on the room.

The auditorium was also a popular choice among students who wish to have a quiet place to study. The auditorium seems to be a quiet place except during lunch or when there is an event such as the orchestra practice going on. However, most of the time, the auditorium is quiet and there are some power outlets that can be used for keeping your laptop charged even though they may not be as plentiful. Much like the library, the auditorium may not be ideal given the structure of the tables and the quiet nature of the place. Please note that reservation is required if students want to use the auditorium when the 2023 Spring semester starts.

Student Plaza and Café Lounge
If you look for a quiet spot to study, the Student Plaza and Café Lounge may not be the best places for studying, especially during the lunch time given that there are many students having lunch during the time. However, on an occasion when you fail to reserve a GLS room in the English Plaza, it could be a good alternative. At the Student Plaza and Café Lounge, these areas and since the table arrangements are more group-friendly, it could work as a good study spot as long as it is not too crowded. Typically early morning or later in the evening, there seem to be fewer students and these places are less noisy. As both the Student Plaza and Café Lounge have adequate power outlets, it will not be difficult to find a place to charge your device.

Japanese Plaza
The Japanese Plaza or usually referred to as J-plaza, is a nice place for studying Japanese and to practice Japanese conversation with Japanese interns, as it is relatively quiet and comfortable with some seats with a window view. I personally like this spot a lot (window view near the automatic door) for my study and it does seem that many students feel the same way given that this spot’s seats are almost always occupied by students. As the J-plaza has very limited seats, it may be hard to ensure that there will always be free seats here. However, if you ever happen to find an open seat here, I recommend you give this spot a try!

The outdoor sitting area next to Building 3
If you prefer to step outside for some fresh air but want to continue studying, this is the spot to go! Sitting out here to study during the autumn or spring can be quite refreshing. However, do keep in mind that this spot does not have many seats, lacks power outlets, and it might get too hot or cold during the summer or winter!

We hope this article will be helpful for your university life!

Preparing to Move to Japan

Writer: Prashan J.

Editor: Audrey S. 


For students who are becoming freshmen and who will arrive in Japan for the first time, you might be wondering what good preparation needs to be done before moving to Japan. In this article, I will discuss what you need to prepare for a smooth transition and acclimation to life in Japan.

Pre-plan budget and finance

Planning and managing finance is a very important aspect of moving to a new country. As the average expense and income can be vastly different between countries, it is important to do the necessary planning and calculations to know how you will fund your life in Japan as an international student. The main expenses as a student in Japan will include rent, food, transport, and tuition expenses. It is a very wise choice to pre-plan these core expenses and how they would be afforded before coming to Japan. For students who will not receive financial support or will only be supported partially, it is good to do some research on scholarship opportunities as well as part-time jobs.

Find a place to live in Japan

One of the main expenses as well as necessities for an international student in Japan is renting a place to live. For most freshmen who will be coming to Japan, university dorms are always a popular choice. However, for students who cannot get into the university dorms or simply have other living preferences, it could be quite hard to find a place to live. However, there are housing agencies that are foreigner-friendly and English-friendly which could help a lot in finding a good place to live.

Regardless of whether you eventually choose to live in the dorm or find your own place to live, there are important factors to consider when moving. The location should be considered carefully to make sure that necessary facilities such as train stations and grocery stores exist in the vicinity. As a student, the two most important factors are perhaps affordability and being near the campus. Luckily, here in Kasumigaseki where the main campus is, the average rent cost is fairly cheap compared to the more urban areas of Tokyo. For those who are looking to share living space, rent in the Kasumigaseki area is even more affordable. 

Get to know basic Japanese

Despite being a developed country, English is not a language that is widely used in Japan. While it is possible to get by in Japan without knowing Japanese, it would make life here so much easier with even a little bit of Japanese knowledge. As a student, you may have to visit banks and city halls from time to time. You will also receive a lot of mail in Japanese. While PAs (Peer Assistants) of TIU can help students with the aforementioned tasks, it would be very helpful to know even some basic Japanese to be independent in certain situations. For example, as an international student, Japanese skill is perhaps the one skill that can increase part-time job opportunities for students in Japan the most. Furthermore, for students who want to continue life in Japan by working after graduation, Japanese skill is all the more important. So why not learn some basic Japanese and gain a head start before arriving in Japan?

Prepare to bring your necessities or buy them once you move to Japan

It is important to plan everything that you will need for your life here in Japan before arriving here. For example, many students who come from hot countries may forget to consider bringing winter clothes with them. In the case that you do not have winter clothes, you could either buy some before coming to Japan or buy them once you move to Japan.

Make sure you have the necessary documents to move to Japan

While this is often not an issue, there are required visa procedures before coming to Japan as a student. Make sure that all the necessary documents are obtained in preparation for moving here. If it is your first time traveling abroad, a passport is absolutely necessary! You should make a checklist of necessary documents before you leave your country for Japan. 

Doll’s Festival

Writer: Karen W.

Editor: Souma Y.

Translator: Kurooto B.

Coming to Japan for the first time, maybe you’ve been busy getting used to the new life here and couldn’t enjoy “Hinamatsuri”? If you don’t know what it is? No problem! This article is for you!

1. Doll’s What is the “Hinamatsuri”?

Hinamatsuri is a Japanese custom that originated from a combination of two events. One is “Joushi-no-Sekku,” the ancient Chinese annual event, and the other is “Hiina-Asobi,” which used to be held in the aristocratic society of the Heian period (794-1185) in Japan. Joushi-no-Sekku was an event to remove your bad luck by entering the water. However, the custom changed a little bit when it was imported to Japan. Instead of entering the water, people put their impurities into “Hitogata” or “Katashiro” (dolls made of plants, trees, and paper) and threw them into the water. Today, an event called “Nagashi Hina” is often seen in rural areas, and it is said that “Hitogata” and “Katashiro” are the origin of the “Nagashi Hina.” This “Nagashi Hina” was connected with aristocratic women’s view on marriage in the Heian period (794-1185). Women in this period started playing with dolls to imagine their future married life and success in business, which are the origin of “Hinamatsuri.”

The large seven-tiered platform where the dolls are put represents the wedding ceremonies of the Heian-period aristocrats. Since weddings in the Heian period were held at night, the platform is decorated with lights to illuminate the darkness on the tier of the bride and groom dolls. These bride and groom dolls are called the “Uchiuri-hina.” It is often misunderstood that both the bride and groom dolls are called “Uchiuri-hina” but, in fact, the term is used only when the two dolls are put together. And, the seven-tiered platform is called “Hina-dan-dori” and each tier has a specific doll to be placed. The first tier consists of male and female dolls who play the leading roles in the wedding ceremony while the second tier has three courtesans who take care of the Uchiuri-hina. The third tier consists of five musicians who enliven the banquet, and the fourth tier consists of two attendants who guard the Uchiuri-hina, the right minister and left minister. The other tiers also have specific dolls to be placed.

 The way to display the dolls is different between the Kansai region (mainly Kyoto) and the Kanto region (mainly Kyoto). In the Kansai region, there was a concept in the aristocratic life of the Heian period (794-1185) that the left side of the dolls was higher in rank than the right side. Therefore, since men were considered to be higher in rank than women, the male emperor doll was positioned on the left side of the female queen doll, and this arrangement custom remains. In the Kanto area, the emperor doll stood on the right side and the queen on the left since the late Meiji period (1868-1912) when the  Western marriage style was imported.

2. What do you do in Hinamatsuri?

There are two major things to do for Ohinasama. The first is to decorate the platform and place dolls on it. As mentioned before, the platform, Hina-dan, consists of seven tiers. However, currently, the only first tier is decorated where the Uchiuri-Hina dolls are placed.

It is better to start decorating the Hina-dan in late February than the day before the Hina-matsuri because it takes time for decoration. One thing you have to be careful about is that you should not put away the decoration before or on the day of Hinamatsuri because it represents the divorce right after marriage. Moreover, you should not display them through March, or you would miss the chance of marriage. So, it is better to keep the platform with dolls for about two weeks after the day.

 Another thing to do on “Hinamatsuri” is to prepare special food for the event. There are seven typical foods: “Shirozake(white sake),” “Amazake(sweet sake),” “Hishimochi”(water chestnuts which are peach, white, and green from the top),” “Hinaarare (rice crackers, which is sweet in the Kanto region while it’s seasoned with soy sauce and salt in the Kansai region),” “Sakura Mochi(a peach-colored rice cake wrapped with cherry leaves),” “Chirashizushi (a rice bowl topped with mushroom, egg, lotus root, shrimp, and salmon roe),” “Temari Sushi (a bite-sized pieces of sushi rice topped with ingredients that you like),” and “Osuimono(a soup) with clams.” Clams are eaten in Hinamaturi because the two shells represent the soul mate for marriage. All of these dishes are easy to find in supermarkets and the menu is simple.

Temari zushi

Chirashi zushi

I hope you learned a general idea of what to do for Hinamatsuri through this article. Now let’s see how some TIU students spent their time on Hinamaturi.

A: “I decorated the platform and placed dolls. It was pretty easy because my set of the platform and dolls has only one tier! It is like a portable simplified set of Hinamatsuri!”

B: “I made and ate Chirashi sushi with mushroom, a boiled egg, vinegared lotus root, and shrimp!

C: “I had Sakura mochi. I bought it at a supermarket!”

D: “I had Hinaarare. It was delicious!”

 Finally, thank you for reading this article. We will post other interesting articles this month as well, so please stay tuned!


Writer: Karen W.
Editor: Karen W.
Translator: Trang D.

How is everyone spending this winter vacation? In my January article, I already introduced Japanese New Year’s celebration and I hope you enjoyed reading it. I really enjoy the Japanese New Year, which I expressed in that article. (This link’s Japanese New Year’s celebration article
How about you? I hope that our articles on Japanese culture will help bring you closer and closer to the unique traditions of Japan. I am writing a series of articles on “Japanese culture” with the hopes that TIU students, especially our E-track students, can get to learn more about Japanese culture. So, for this month’s article, I would like to introduce the traditional Japanese, Setsubun.

  1. What is Setsubun?

Setsubun (literal translation: seasonal division) is said to have its origins in an event called “Tsuina,” which was held on New Year’s Eve in the Heian period (794-1192) in the Imperial Palace (where the Japanese emperor used to hold political affairs). It is said that this event was a ceremony to drive away the “Toneri”, who dressed up as plague demons, by the “O-shonincho”, who became the “Ho-sou-shi” (a demon-chaser), wearing a four-eyed mask. It is said that the chief priest who participated in this ceremony would use a peach bow and a reed arrow to protect the “O-shonincho”.

Do you know why Setsubun is held in February although it is considered to be a New Year’s Eve event? This is because the calendar used in the Heian period and the modern calendar are different. 

The calendar used today is the “Gregorian calendar (also known as solar calendar),” which is based on the movement of the sun. The lunar calendar used in the past was called the “lunisolar calendar,” and a month started when the new moon cycle began. Since the cycle of the new moon averaged a total of 29.5 days, it was about 11 days shorter than the “solar calendar” year. Today, the “solar calendar” is used but the same date in the “lunisolar calendar” is different from year to year. This New Year’s Eve in the lunisolar calendar was February 3, 2022.

  1. Things to do on Setsubun

 There are two main activities during Setsubun in Japan.

The first activity is “bean-throwing”, which is also done in the “Tsuina” ceremony introduced in the previous section. This year, Setsubun is held on February 3, right before Risshun (February 4), the day markingthe division of two seasons, winter and spring. It is easy to feel the change in temperature when the seasons part, and it is said that we are more prone to colds and other illnesses during this transition time. Therefore, in order to lead a healthy life, it is necessary to drive these “demons” away. The most common way is to throw beans. Since ancient times, “Setsubun” has been held in many parts of Japan as an occasion when people ward off bad luck and wish for happiness in the new year. Exorcising bad luck in Japan is one of the traditions done on New Year’s Eve. Another important thing to remember is when you are throwing beans, you should also shout this out loud: “Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi. (Devils out! Fortune in!”). It is believed that by doing this, we can get rid of “demons” (illness and disasters) and invite “good fortune” (health and happiness) into the house.

The second ritual of Setsubun is to eat the “ehomaki” in silence, facing the direction of the year’s – “eho” (the direction of the god Toshitokujin, which is considered to be the most favorable direction of the year). Ehomaki is a thick sushi roll wrapped in rice and seaweeds, with different types of ingredients from eels, eggs, mushrooms and so forth). It is said that by doing so, one can enjoy prosperity and good health. At the same time, it can be somewhat difficult to eat the ehomaki, you should not cut it into rounds and eat it together with other dishes. This is because “cutting the ehomaki” is said to bring bad luck, since it is associated with the word “karma, meaning that a person’s relationship with another person will be hampered. In my family, we were told that, “If you can eat ehomaki facing the direction of Eboshi without saying a word, your wish will come true. By the way, this year’s direction is “North North West”. As I only know the simple the direction such as east, west, north, south, and northwest, I use a compass every time before eating to confirm the direction. You can check the link below.

  1. How TIU students spend Setsubun

When I asked TIU students, most J-track students (students studying in Japanese track in TIU/ non-Etrack students) answered that they would usually throw beans on Setsubun. That shows how familiar Setsubun is to J-track students. Indeed, I have took part in Setsubun in kindergarten, schools, and in various places as a child. Here is how everyone has spent their “Setsubun“:


Student A

“We throw beans at people wearing demon masks, and the number of beans we eat equals our age.”

Student B

“We usually use soybeans for bean-throwing, but in my family, we want to eat beans without wasting them, so we prepare peanuts.”

Student C

“I buy ehomaki at the supermarket and eat them facing the direction of the year’s blessing.”

Student D

“I enjoy making ehomaki with my family and I always add my favorite ingredients.”

Student E

“I usually go to the Setsubun Festival at the shrine near my house.” 

I experienced my last “Setsubun” at my part-time job, as I finally reached the age when I can start working.”

Student F

I made ehomaki at the sushi restaurant where I work. The pay was higher than usual so we were quite happy, but it is undeniable that we were all exhausted after the busy shift.”

 Thank you very much for reading this article about Setsubun. I hope you learned something new about the culture of Setsubun in Japan! If you have just arrived in Japan and have never eaten ehomaki before, you can always buy them at convenient stores and supermarkets, so please give them a try. When you do, make sure you don’t cut the ehomaki, and try to eat the whole thing in silence. It’s harder than you think! Anyway, that’s all for today’s article. Please look forward to our next article on Japanese culture, which will be on a special cultural event in March called Hinamatsuri (Doll’s Day)!