Dr Samuel Illingworth (2010)
The phrase ‘life-changing experience’ is one that seems to be banded around ever too frequently these days, but in the case of my experiences with the Daiwa Scholarship it is a phrase that really fits the bill. As a 2010 Scholar I was fortunate enough to be exposed to and become integrated into a culture that whilst demanded a lot of hard work and effort, gave back what I put into it ten times over. In short the whole Daiwa experience enabled me to experience things that I would never normally have been able to experience, to meet people that have had a profound effect on my life, and to develop a sense of understanding that has become integral to my view on the world.
Upon entering Japan the first seemingly insurmountable barrier that I was faced with was the language, however little by little and under the expert tutelage afforded to me by the teachers at the Naganuma language school I began to make progress, and by the time of my homestay and work placement I was able to not only ‘get by’, but to engage with the people that I lived and worked with on many varied and interesting topics. It was at this point that the splendour of the Japanese culture really began to open up to me, and living with a Japanese family, being taken in and treated as a member of their household and exposed to their customs and warmth is an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
During my work placement I was fortunate enough to work at Saitama Theatre under the tutelage of the internationally renowned Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa, which was an incredible honour and also greatly inspired my work at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, where I lectured a course on ‘Dramatic Communication’. During my time at the University I was able to develop and teach a module about the importance of scientific communication and how it can be improved by the use of theatrical technique, along the way meeting some truly inspirational students and teachers, and at the end of the academic year I was invited to Beijing, to lecture at Tsinghua University as part of the University’s centennial celebrations. All of these opportunities have definitely helped to shape not only my future career prospects, but also my outlook on life.
I am now working as a researcher at The University of Manchester, investigating the effects of Arctic methane emission on global warming. In this era of scaremongering and lazy journalism it is my unbridled hope that I am able to continue my research and teaching into the importance of effective scientific communication, and also that I am able to continue to forge the links that I have made with both the academic and theatrical communities within Japan. I am forever indebted to Daiwa Securities and the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, as without them I would never have been afforded these truly life-changing experiences.
Andy Bryant (2009)
I can say that the Scholarship has been a fantastic experience and a memorable 19 months. It has had a significant impact not just on my appreciation of Japan, Japanese people, the Japanese language and culture, but also the challenges I have undertaken over the last 19 months have taught me a number of things about myself. I will be sure to take with me the skills I have learnt and the impressions made on me by the experience and put them to good use. Certainly, it was a significant decision to take 19 months out of my early career and this was not without its compromises, but I can say it was definitely the right decision for me.
I have spent his career to date accumulating a unique skill set, in an effort to make myself distinctive within today’s competitive working environment. I now seek to leverage my abilities in engineering, management, business, finance and Japanese to enter a senior position in industry, with a plan to start my own company within 5 years. The experience gained from the scholarship, both professional and personal, will be of great benefit in my endeavours.
Andy is currently working for BDA (Business Development Asia LLC, Tokyo Office), a boutique investment banking firm, advising on cross-border mergers and acquisitions involving Asia.
Jessie Cope (2009)
For me the move from being a student at the University of Birmingham to living in Japan was very smooth, and in many ways it felt very much like the logical “next step” for developing professionally and personally.
Of course, making the transition from being at university in that student bubble to living independently in a foreign country is quite a big one, but it’s definitely not as extreme as perhaps it initially might sound. You have a great level of support from the DAJF Japan office whilst out here, and you come out with 5 other interesting and like-minded people to join a great network of former scholars who still live in Japan. Most Daiwa scholars choose to live in a similar area, so you tend to get the advantages of living alone (kitchen as clean or messy as you like and no-one steals your milk!) but with plenty of friends nearby to join for a couple of beers and a good chat. The language school you attend is also between two of the trendiest and “youngest” districts of Tokyo (Shibuya and Shimo-kitazawa), so there is somewhat a continuation of that student vibe. Tokyo is also a vast and wonderfully exciting city to live in with a huge range of things to offer to suit almost any taste.
Jessie is currently studying at Tokyo University on a Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship.
Charlotte Payne (2009)
The experience definitely lived up to and at times exceeded all of my expectations – 2 years later, I found myself leaving Japan with several new-found passions for things I never expected to grow to love, including (but by no means limited to) the Japanese language, the tea ceremony, rural Japanese agricultural traditions, living and making friends in downtown Tokyo (‘shitamachi’), and singing extremely bad. I was extremely lucky to have a wonderful homestay placement in Shimonoseki and two very interesting work placements, both of which had an important impact on what I have chosen to do since leaving Japan.
For my work placements, I worked in the Kobokan community centre in Sumida-ku, and also as a researcher on Yakushima island, in Kagoshima. I left Japan at the end of the scholarship, and since leaving I have worked with an NGO in India, and with the Medical Research Council and Department of Public Health at the University of Oxford. Next year, I hope to return to Japan as a MEXT scholar, to study the nutritional implications of entomophagy (the practice of eating insects) in rural communities.
Anne Gilbert (2008)
I spent my six-month work placement in the parliamentary office of a Japanese Diet Member. I did a real range of things from him – from answering phones (in very formal Japanese!), arranging his travel, writing/editing English letters to various dignitaries through to policy work (researching and writing briefs) and accompanying him on campaign trips. It was a really challenging but an absolutely incredible experience; often very stressful but extremely rewarding and it was absolutely incredible for my Japanese.
In terms of summing up my experience in Japan, I can honestly say that accepting the Daiwa Scholarship is the best decision that I have ever made. I absolutely fell in love with Japan and I really think that the Daiwa Scholarship is one of the best ways of experiencing it. The Scholarship itself is incredibly generous: you are able to attain a really high level of Japanese in the time that you are there (to rival those doing full time Japanese degree courses) and the Foundation’s Tokyo Office tries very hard to find worthwhile work placements. And there really aren’t any requirements on you once you finish. That’s not to say that there aren’t challenging parts.
The work placement can mean long hours and adapting to Japanese office culture. The language study can also be very tough. The language school is a bit of a shock to most people, even those who have language degrees and are used to spending all their time learning languages. The teachers can be pretty strict and the style is pretty different to what you may be used to in the UK. I also found it very hard work. Although classes are only in the mornings, my afternoons were filled with homework or extra Daiwa classes. But if you put in the time and effort, then it’s very rewarding and you learn pretty quickly.
After the Scholarship I moved to San Francisco where my husband’s job was located and ended up working for a non-profit organisation called Kiva, which was actually sort of connected to the work that I did for the Diet Member.
I am now back in London and working for Kiva remotely.
Jonathan Hill (2007)
No matter how many layers you try and peel away through experience, Japan will always fascinate. For me, as for so many of my peers, the Scholarship was an unparalleled chance to explore the country’s fantastic and sometimes bewildering contradictions.
Tokyo can be tough and Naganuma unforgiving. It’s easy to get caught in a bubble of everyday routine. But put in the effort and things begin to make sense. The wonders to be found in everyday life still amaze me – whether they be aesthetic charms or intellectual intrigues.
Two years after leaving the scholarship, Japan is still a big part of my life. As a reporter for Chunichi Newspapers, my understanding of Japan is what frames the way I tell news stories, connecting my readers with European affairs.
I have yet to meet another scholar who doesn’t look back on their time with affection.
Jonathan is currently a Senior Correspondent with the Tokyo Chunichi Shimbun.
Edward Knight (2007)
Learning Japanese on the Daiwa scholarship is definitely a huge challenge, but the support to achieve this is fantastic and the rewards of understanding Japanese make it all worthwhile. A highlight for me was my homestay which I actually spent working on a Japanese apple orchard in the foothills of the Japanese Alps. This was September 2008 so while the financial world was collapsing I was largely oblivious, living the simple life under a mountain in Nagano Prefecture and fully immersed in a Japanese community! After work we would often visit the local onsen, relaxing tired muscles in a hot bath while overlooking the Alps.
I then returned to Tokyo and the realities of the financial crisis to spend 6 months at Daiwa Institute of Research. The experience of working in a traditional Japanese company within an all Japanese department is something very few Westerners can experience. My Japanese colleagues were always very welcoming and fortunately as an intern I escaped the worst of the Japanese overtime hours!
Ed currently works for KPMG.
Dr Melanie O’Sullivan (2006)
In the first week I arrived in Japan, I went to visit the research group I would work for as my work placement the following year, and met all the students who kindly greeted me in English and took me for tea. Fast forward to a year later, and I was carrying out my day job entirely in Japanese, lunching with my colleagues in Japanese, and going out in the evenings with them in Japanese. I could have done my job in English, but as an American colleague enviably pointed out, the language skills and the cultural knowledge that the Daiwa Scholarship equipped me with transformed my experience working there. Invariably the language is tied with up with the culture, and the understanding of both allowed my colleagues to become friends, some of whom I am still in contact with.
Learning Japanese in a year is intense, but I still found plenty of time to explore most of the country, develop an obsession for onsen and sumo, learnt to ski (badly), climb lots of mountains, and butcher renditions of ‘Champagne Supernova’ while being accompanied by a tambourine. I enjoyed ‘Naganuma’. The teachers never speak English- and from month three when you’re integrated with the rest of the school, most of your classmates don’t either, and the immersion and reliance on Japanese to communicate is a lot of fun and very rewarding. It’s a fantastic exercise in patience, perseverance, and learning to grin at your continual (and sometimes embarrassing) mistakes.
In short, Japan became my second home, where I made a lot of dear friends, and mastered a fascinating language. I am exceptionally grateful for the opportunity that the Daiwa Scholarship gave me to live and work there, and would recommend the experience to anyone.
Melanie is currently a Post Doc in Organic Chemistry at the University of Oxford.
Dr Carl Randall (2003)
The Daiwa Scholarship allowed me the opportunity, as a young UK artist, to focus on learning Japanese whilst having daily exposure to Japanese culture and society. This experience has taken my own work in new directions, and provided a wealth of subject matter for the future. I am presently continuing the work I began on the Scholarship.
I have been based in Tokyo as an artist since 2003, having been awarded a Daiwa Scholarship, followed by a Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship. This extended period has been used to develop my interest in cities and portraiture, responding to the people and places of Tokyo. During this time I completed a Master’s Degree and Doctorate in Oil Painting at Japan’s prestigious Tokyo University of the Arts, was selected to be artist in residence in Hiroshima City (to meet and make portraits of survivors of the Atomic Bomb), and was chosen to represent Japan as artist in residence at the 2007 Formula 1 Races. I have also exhibited widely in Japan, including Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Arts, and Tokyo Art Award 2009.
In September 2012 Carl exhibited Notes from the Tokyo Underground, a series of line drawings made on Tokyo trains, at The 2012 Jerwood Drawing Prize, London, 12 September – 28 October. More information can be found here .
In 2012 Carl won the Nomura Art Prize which is organised by Tokyo University of the Arts (Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku) to assist with the purchase of outstanding works of art produced by its Doctorate graduate students, and to preserve them at the University Museum. The prize aims to promote fine arts in Japan and to support young artists by collecting, preserving, and exhibiting their works in the Museum. The Nomura Painting Prize was awarded to Carl Randall for his Doctorate Graduation exhibition, one of his paintings being bought by the University Museum for their permanent collection.
He has also been awarded the prestigious 2012 BP Travel Award at The National Portrait Gallery in London. All 55 exhibitors (BP Portrait Award 2012) were eligible to apply for this award.
Carl will use the Award to travel to Japan to create paintings based on The ‘Tokaido Road’ (or ‘Great Coastal Route’). Connecting Tokyo and Kyoto, the road was for centuries the most important road in Japan – scenes along the route being famously depicted in the prints of the Japanese woodblock artist Ando Hiroshige (1797 – 1858).
Just as Hiroshige made prints documenting Japan 200 years ago, Carl will be making images that document Japan today.
Carl Randall will be creating modern equivalents of these prints, depicting scenes along the road as it exists today, forming a small solo exhibition to be held at The National Portrait Gallery in London, June – September 2013 (as part of next year’s BP Portrait Award).
Carl will also have a solo exhibition at Daiwa Foundation Japan House in early 2014.
Dr Christopher Harding (2004)
The Scholarship experience was a fantastic deep-end drop into Japan, encouraging me and fully equipping me – in terms of the language, job opportunities and broad personal and financial support – to explore the place in my own way.
It has opened up a rich new dimension to my life, helping me to get started in my teaching and research career at the University of Edinburgh and to write about Japan in more general settings such as TheBoredomProject.com.
Alongside my work at the University of Edinburgh I’ve set up a blog and community site, The Boredom Project, dedicated to exploring the ways that religion, social politics, spirituality, and psychology come together – colourfully and controversially – in everyday life, both in the UK and further afield.
The Daiwa Scholarship has ended up altering my understanding of the world in ways that only comprehensive immersion in a new culture really can.
Dr Christopher Harding is a lecturer in Asian History at the University of Edinburgh. He is currently on a one year JSPS postdoctoral fellowship at Keio University, Japan.
Dr Jonathan Batchelor (2001)
Ever since first visiting Tokyo as a volunteer at the Kobokan Community Centre in 1995 with GAP Activity Projects (now Lattitude Global Volunteering), Japan has always played a very important part of my life. The Daiwa Scholarship gave me the perfect opportunity to combine my growing interest in Japan with my medical career, by allowing me to develop my language skills further and to make new contacts with doctors and researchers in the field of dermatology. I was also able to rekindle the friendships I had made previously with staff and volunteers at the Kobokan and my greater ability in Japanese meant I was able to help run various activities there and even help interpret for Cherie Blair when she visited the Centre!
Living in Shitamachi (downtown Tokyo), with its winding streets and traditional shops, and becoming part of its close-knit community gave me a deeper understanding of Japanese life and culture. My homestay in Akita prefecture gave me an unforgettable insight into life in rural Japan. I visit Japan whenever I can and keep in contact with many of the people I met whilst living there; my wife and I were privileged to have several friends from the Kobokan come to the UK for our wedding in 2007. I have also been able to act as host to Japanese doctors and researchers visiting the UK, trying to pay back- at least in part- the tremendous warmth and generosity shown to me by my Japanese friends and colleagues during my two years in Japan, the memory of which I shall always treasure.
Jonathan is currently a consultant dermatologist at Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust and researcher at the Centre of Evidence-Based Dermatology at the University of Nottingham.
Richard Buttrey (2001)
I have been extraordinarily lucky to have spent time in Japan in three different guises – as a JET, as a Daiwa Scholar and latterly as a diplomat in the political section of the British Embassy. Never once during the enforced exhibitionism that was English teaching in rural Kagoshima did I imagine I would later come to discuss the merits of JET directly with Japan’s Foreign Minister. But for me it was on the Daiwa Scholarship that I developed the most profound and long-lasting relationships with Japanese people and where I learned most about the soul of a nation that continues to surprise and delight me in equal measure. I salute the Foundation’s generosity and look forward to doing what I can in the future to help further develop Anglo-Japanese relations.
Dr Stephan Gale (2001)
During my work placement at PREC Institute Inc., my line manager put me in touch with one of his former colleagues who had left to take up a position at a botanic garden in the Southwest of Japan. I subsequently arranged a trip to Kochi Prefecture to visit him, and in so doing had the very good fortune to spend five days at the Makino Botanical Garden. I was bowled over – by the design of the gardens, by the beauty of the surrounding mountains and by the earthy good nature of the people I met. Something clicked and I was offered a job as a research botanist.
At the end of my Daiwa scholarship, I moved to Kochi and spent the next five years working at the Makino Botanical Gardens. My job allowed me to walk many rarely trodden paths in the Shikoku mountains and visit many other interesting places throughout Japan. I learnt a great deal about the Japanese flora and saw first-hand the many and varied ways in which plants underpin Japanese culture. And what stays with me to this day, is the thriving, friendly local community in Kochi of which I became a part. My work led onto a doctorate and I graduated from the University of Sussex in 2009. That in turn led onto projects on the flora of China and the flora of Thailand, and I now work at the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, an environmental NGO in Hong Kong, where I coordinate projects for the conservation of rare plants and their habitats in South China and the region.
Mark Crossley (1998)
Whilst on the Scholarship, the most intensive and enriching learning experience of my life, Japan and its people changed my perspective and priorities dramatically. I learned the value of responsibility and good service, was humbled as my ideas about language were revolutionised and moved by my homestay family’s warmth and generosity. The Scholarship even allowed my parents to discover a culture which they would otherwise have not. I’ve retained an interest in Japanese art and culture, and as a recent President of the Daiwa Scholars’ Alumni Association, I maintain links with past and present Scholars.
Professor Hugo Dobson (1993)
Although it may sound like a well-worn cliché, I really would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the Daiwa Scholarship. My career plan was to complete a PhD in the short term and become an academic with a special interest in Japan in the longer term. However, the missing piece was the fact that I didn’t know any Japanese. First and foremost, the Daiwa Scholarship filled this gap but this was only one of many benefits. It’s humbling to think that almost twenty years have passed since I was first considering applying for the Scholarship but everything keeps on coming back to this unique formative experience. Thanks to the Scholarship I met my future PhD supervisor (now colleague), made the contacts that enabled me to return to the University of Tokyo as a visiting PhD student and later visiting professor, and built working and personal relationships with Japanese scholars that have resulted in numerous workshops, conferences and publications.
In addition, it’s not all work. Without the Scholarship I wouldn’t have made lifelong friends with my fellow Daiwa Scholars as well as a number of Japanese friends, in particular my homestay family from Morioka in Iwate Prefecture. It’s incredible to think that when we first met my homestay ‘sisters’ were six and nine and eager for me to teach them games in English as well as play games in Japanese. Today, they are young, successful women and we are still in touch with each other.
There really is no other programme quite like it and long may it continue.
Hugo is currently Professor in Japan’s International Relations, University of Sheffield.
Professor Edmund De Waal OBE (1991)
The Daiwa Scholarship unlocked many possibilities for me. It helped me do two things: it gave me the chance to work alongside young contemporary Japanese ceramicists and to do significant primary research into a neglected part of the history of ceramics. Above all it led directly to a real change in the way that I work: it allowed me to make connections between my life as a maker and as an artist. I continue writing and researching on Japanese art as well as exhibiting and lecturing in Japan.
On 8 July 2010 Edmund de Waal launched his book The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance at the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation: http://www.dajf.org.uk/event/the-hare-with-amber-eyes-a-hidden-inheritance-by-edmund-de-waal .