While getting a degree is already an accomplishment on its own, students from India also aim higher by grabbing opportunities to study abroad. Globally, India is one of the largest sources of international students. According to India’s Ministry of External Affairs, over 750,000 students from India were studying abroad in 2018, second only to the number of students hailing from China.

While most international students from India choose to study in English-speaking countries like the US, UK, and Canada, some of them also take on the additional challenge of studying in places where English is not the first language. For instance, Japan is one of the top non-English speaking study abroad destinations in Asia. So, what is it like to study abroad in Japan from India? Well, let’s hear from Indian scholars in Japan about life in the land of the rising sun.

Study abroad in Japan from India: How do students fund their studies?

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

MEXT Scholarship

The Monbukagakusho Scholarship is a fully-funded government scholarship that covers tuition and school fees and includes a monthly stipend to cover basic housing and living expenses. The scholarship is awarded to foreign students (non-Japanese citizens) by the government’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology or “Monbukagakusho” (文部科学省) in Japanese. The scholarship is also often shortened as “MEXT Japan” or the “MEXT scholarship.” The scholarship has many categories and is open to over 160 nationalities. The only challenge with this scholarship is that slots are limited and thus can get highly competitive.

The MEXT Scholarship has six main categories (4 for Undergraduate Level and 2 for Graduate Level):

  • Undergraduate Level
    • Undergraduate Student (Bachelor’s Degree)
    • Japanese Studies Student (Short-term Study Exchange)
    • College of Technology Student (Associate Degree)
    • Specialized Training College Student (Diploma, Advanced Diploma)
  • Graduate School Level
    • Research Student (Non-Degree, Master’s Degree, Doctorate Degree)
    • Teacher Training Student (Short-term / Certificate Course)

Generally, the application and screening process is conducted by the Embassies of Japan in several countries. In India, the Embassy of Japan is located in New Dehli. After the screening of the Embassy of Japan in India, the Embassy then recommends a handful of candidates to the Ministry of Education Culture Sports and Technology (MEXT) in Japan which finally awards the scholarship. Check with the Japan Information Center of the Embassy of Japan in India to know more about the specific requirements and deadlines of the Embassy-Recommended MEXT Scholarship in India.

Japan Information Center
Embassy of Japan
50-G, Shantipath, 
New Delhi 110021.

Tel: +91-11-4610-4810/2412-2970-2
Fax: +91-11-2410-6976
Website: https://www.in.emb-japan.go.jp/itprtop_en/index.html

Opening Hours: 09.00 to 17.30 hours
(Closed on Saturdays, Sundays & Public Holidays)
General information and reference services on Japan.
Co-ordination of various exchange programmes.

MEXT Scholarship from India: Sourav Kumar Modi’s Story

Sourav Kumar Modi is a MEXT scholar taking up a Master’s Degree in Mechanical and Space Engineering in Hokkaido University. He started studying abroad in Japan from India in October 2018. For Modi, applying for the MEXT Scholarship had an extra step. Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, and Technology also partners with different government and non-government entities in various countries. For Modi, the Ministry (MEXT) had a Memorandum of Agreement with the Indian government.

Modi, who was a government employee at Indian Railways during the application period, explains that he found out about MEXT through the Indian Railways website. “This Scholarship is not well known in India but fortunately my employer was having an MOU with the Japanese Government to train 20 officers of the Railway Ministry through this MEXT Scholarship. I got to know about it from my employer’s website.”

For Modi, even before applying through the Embassy of Japan in India, he had to pass through a screening conducted internally by Indian Railways.

“It was not very easy because I had to find a research topic which should have been relevant to Indian Railways as well as the Lab of the University in which I was interested,” he explains. “I took some time and read several research papers of my interest field (Fracture Mechanics) and at the same time tried to find about the scope of improvement in Railway systems in the field of Fracture Mechanics.”

“In our case, there was a preliminary selection before even the main embassy selection which was conducted by the Railway Board of Indian Railways. After I was selected in this round, my application was confirmed and was sent to the Embassy of Japan in India for further screening.”

Study abroad in Japan from India: Studying in Top Universities in Japan

Kyushu University photo by Luis Hernandez

Like Modi, international students from India studying in Japan are often enrolled in excellent programs in some of the top universities in the world. Vijayeta Lapalkar is a master’s student in Kyushu University majoring in Language, Media, and Communication.

“Choosing the right University is a very important decision and also a very difficult one,” Lapalkar shares. “With so many Universities and so many programs, one can easily get confused. After applying for a scholarship in Japan the next step was to apply to a university there. The National Universities of Japan are very prestigious and I wanted to get into one of them. Being one of the top ten universities of Japan and one of the seven National Universities , Kyushu University was a dream university for me. As I researched further, Kyushu University stood out because of the new programs it was offering for foreign students.”

More than being a prestigious university, Lapalkar also knew that Kyusu University offered the kind of learning environment that she was looking for. “Kyushu University is well-known for its first class resources for research and academic activities,” she added. “Getting into this school means exposing yourself to a wide array of facilities that you can expect only from top universities. Also, the Graduate School of The Integrated Sciences for Global Society of Kyushu University really piqued my interest. It offers different subjects across various disciplines (Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences) and students have the freedom to combine subjects according to their research interests and future goals. This course is available in English and Japanese both. The research environment of this University and the new course that it offered were the deciding factors for me.”

Study abroad in Japan from India: Experiencing the beauty of Japan

Oyo farms in Tendo-shi, a shrine near Kitayama Station, Nanakita Park.
Photos by Aditya Saha.

Finally, studying in Japan is not just a good academic opportunity, it is also an opportunity to experience the beauty of Japan’s natural landscapes and the charms of Japanese daily life and culture.

Aditya Saha is also a MEXT Scholar from India and is a graduate student in the Department of Finemechanics at Tohoku University, which has three beautiful campuses. Saha shares that she enjoys the environment of the Aobayama, Kawauchi, and Katahira Campuses. “A lot of my activity is split between three different campuses of Tohoku University,” Saha explains. “Most of my classes are held in Aobayama Campus which is on top of a hill. Aobayama is really nice campus that has a really beautiful road running down its middle lined with trees. But my favorite part is actually a small windy trail that goes down from the hill towards Kawauchi campus. It cuts right thought the woods that cover the hill and always changes depending on the season or weather.”

Aobayama Campus photo by Aditya Saha

“Kawauchi Campus is right below Aobayama Campus and houses the University’s main library and most of the clubs and sports facilities,” Saha adds. “Needless to say, this is a pretty lively campus. My favourite spot here is a small space in a park right across the road from Hagi Hall (no pictures cus it’s my little secret 😉 ). It’s a really nice place to relax and has the best autumn colours on campus.”

Park in Katahira Campus photo by Aditya Saha

“Katahira Campus is Tohokudai’s oldest campus and the best spot here without contest is the small park in the center of campus. It is one of the best places to enjoy a hanami during April (the blooming season in Tohoku).”

Sendai Castle foundations overlooking Sendai City photo by Aditya Saha

Finally, Saha also shares what she does on weekends to unwind. “Every weekend is different,” Saha shares. “Sometimes, I could be too lazy to leave from my room. Other times, I go out on small trips. The Tohoku region is the best for going on weekends trips with your road or by train. Places like Matsushima, Yamadera, Ogawara and many other beautiful places are just 40 mins to a few hours away by train. A casual trip along the Hirose river on my bike feels refreshing sometimes. Another part of my weekends goes into preparing and experimenting on the different recipes I found, usually with my own twists. On Sundays I usually, attend a meeting for one of the events I’m organizing.”

Ready to take on the challenge?

Photo by Anubrata Nath

Fulfilling their dreams to study abroad in Japan from India was not easy, but these senpais are proof that this dream is not impossible to achieve. Here, Krishna Soni, a MEXT Scholar from the northern region of Dehradun, India pursuing Aerospace Engineering at Tohoku University shares how you can also make your dreams of studying abroad happen. “Before coming to any decision about your major or college think about it very hard and carefully because this is going to define you and your life,” Soni shares.

“This will help you in leading a happy and satisfied life instead of a frustrating life because you don’t like what you do. After, deciding a major, search and research about the universities providing you with the best opportunities and start working towards getting admitted to it by improving your profile and working hard. Also try to always have a back up plan. You will face many failures and rejections on the way, but you should not let your potential go in vain for that, instead learn from the failures and get better and better until you finally achieve your goal.”