The reason I am in Japan is for kendo. I was recently successful in being accepted into a Japanese university to study sports and coaching through the medium of Kendo. I will be here for two years at the end of which I will produce a Masters thesis. The 3 goals I hope to accomplish during my stay in Japan: Better Kendo; better Japanese; and a relevant post-grad degree I can use to take advantage of an ever-growing industry… (sport, not Kendo!)
Mine is a unique situation that would not suit every Kendoist in the ‘Kendo World’. However, for the sake of a few, and for general interest of the others, I would like to give a run down of the incredibly convoluted process of applying and being accepted into a private Japanese university.
At the risk of over-simplifying it, this process can be broken down in to several parts; (1) paperwork (2) paperwork (3) more paperwork (4) language ability/entrance exams (5) the Benjamins (money!) So then, in the order that it happened to me, let us begin the journey into the Japanese university…
From the get-go, having decided that “Yes, I want to go to school in Japan next year”, and hearing the “OK, we’d better get started last month then!” there is a large amount of paperwork that you must consider. It was understandably important for my chosen university to have proof of my undergraduate degree, but be aware that I also needed proof of sporting aptitude (in the form of newspaper articles), photographs, important people’s signatures and letters of recommendation. Not to mention detailed accounts of who I am, what I have done until now, what I want to do from now, what high school I went to, my coaching history, what I had for breakfast, and a myriad of other things that need considerable time to organise.
Communication in this sense is difficult in many ways, whether you are organising things from overseas, or you are at the reception desk of the university. My advice is certainly to have someone in your corner who knows the ropes to make sure that you have EVERYTHING they require, before the due dates.
All this, of course, can be avoided…or perhaps lessened if you choose to go the route of an exchange student or some other established study program where there are people who have it in their job description to assist you with all these things.
(Rest assured, the miles of red-tape and hoop-jumping doesn’t end just yet!)
Having supplied the university with my application ‘novel’, I was now able to journey to Japan (from NZ) to sit my exam. (Don’t forget to pick up some insurance before you leave! It’ll save you a world of bother!)
Do your best to find out about the entrance exam in advance! That is to say, will the exam be in English or Japanese? What area(s) will you need to know about? Is it an essay or a bunch of multi choice questions?
As it happens, my exam required me to write an 800 character essay in Japanese. But as I had made inquiries about the nature of the essay I was able to do some valuable preparation beforehand. Evidently it was sufficient!
FYI - the question I ended up with was “… what is the difference between modern-day sports training methodology and the traditional ideals found in ‘keiko’?”
Along with the hour long examination, I was also required to pass an interview. As I sat before 5 of my future lecturers and kendo teachers, I was extremely nervous. Despite having a fair idea of the nature of questions I would be asked, my ability to speak was momentarily faulted! Having forced out a few incoherent syllables, I began to relax and muddle my way through the next 10 or so minutes. My interviewers were very interested in the books I have read concerning budo etc…and I only wish I could have told them more!
FYI - Expect the question “why did you choose XXX university?” Of all the people I talked to that have been through this process, this question was certainly a common one.
Next week I will catch you all up with the rest of the process. Including the physical check-up, the adventures with immigration department and the ongoing saga with the cheques!
I am due to start classes on/around April the 2nd, and there is plenty more paper work to be completed!
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