2019 JAPAN FOUNDATION JAPANESE-LANGUAGE PROGRAM FOR SPECIALISTS IN A CULTURAL FIELD

JUNE 5-JULY 31, TWO-MONTH PROGRAM REPORT
Aijie Shi, UNIVERSITY OF Wisconsin - Madison

During this past summer, with the supports from Japan Foundation, I was able to participate in an intensive Japanese-language training program in Osaka, Japan. As it is stated in its objectives, the program is exclusively dedicated to the postgraduate students and junior researchers, whose field of research is, or, will be, significantly related to Japanese studies. As a PhD student working on the history of science in modern East Asia, I am privileged to be a part of the 2019 program, which has been effectively facilitated the development of my research.

The program is primarily filled with Japanese-language training courses. After being placed to different levels of language courses, we are able to receive grammatical and Kanji instructions that better suit our individual needs. The program also offers courses that help to build up our communication skills in Japanese, including the ones on academic interview and formal presentation. 

What I personally found the most beneficial of the program is how much it has been customized to the research plan of each individual. At the beginning of my study at the Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Kansai, I was able to thoroughly discuss my research objectives and potential problems with my tutor and librarians. This allows me to receive their instructions and assistances more effectively through the courses that was exclusively designed for my research including the ones for individual reading, online research, information collection and the composing of a key-word list for further research. During the second half of the program, participants conducted a four-day self-research trip in Japan. This allows me to practice the academic interview skills that were taught earlier and to further explore the primary sources that otherwise cannot be obtained. As my research is about pearl-cultivation in modern Japan and China, I was able to launch a field trip to the birthplace of Japanese pearl-cultivation in Toba and Shima. I was also able to collect useful archives regarding the Japanese and Chinese scientists working on pearl-cultivation at Kyoto University. The information obtained from the trip, after being further organized and analyzed, will undoubtedly help to yield productive results for my research.

Last but not the least, with a lively cohort of fellow students and researchers who are passionately engaged in their intellectual pursuits of Japanese studies, the program provided me with an informative and encouraging academic network. We became familiarized with each other’s research topics though courses, presentations, and more importantly, daily conversations for the entire two months. I kept receiving comments, enlightening questions, and all kinds of information that potentially related to my research from my cohorts even after the end of the program.

I am grateful for the possibilities the program brought into my doctorate study, and the wonderful cohort of colleagues into my academic life. I highly recommend it to those who major in Japan-related studies.