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Mind The Gap: April 2007

Author: Kate Neath, Issue: April 2007, Topic: Education, Mind the Gap, News, Newsletters, Students

Hi Everyone! Welcome to new students arriving in April, and good luck to those of you entering Masters/PhD at Tsukuba University! The Entrance Ceremony is on 9 April. Enjoy Hanami and the warm weather! Kate

Join Tsukuba Students Mailing List!

We have a new mailing list specific for international students of Tsukuba University!

To join, register at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tsukubastudent/ (use yahoo.com email).

Everyone is encouraged to join this mailing list so that we can tell each other what’s going on in Tuskuba University, we can organise parties, give advice and answer questions, send reminders about exams and visa extensions, etc.

Health Examination

I was surprised when I realised we had to go for a health examination every year in Tsukuba University, as I’d never had to do any health examinations in Australia before. However, annual health examinations seem to be standard practice in Japanese universities and companies. For Tsukuba University, all registered students are required to have a health exam in April.

Health Check Dates:

Graduate Students: Tues 17th - Thurs 19th April

Undergraduate (2nd, 3rd, 4th year students): Thurs 12th - Tues 17th April

Undergraduate (1st year students): Fri 20th - Tues 24th April

Check the day of health examination for your department (ask your kekyushitsu friends). Go to the University Hall (Daigakukaikan) and show your student card. You will receive a record sheet, and someone will guide you where to go for – blood pressure, weight and height measurements, urine test, eye test, and X-ray. Male and female students undergo examinations separately, except for blood pressure and eye test. There are some extra tests for females for their first health examination, please ask the International Student Center (ISC) for further information. Note: for X-ray you have to take off all jewellery/metal (as it interferes with X-ray) and put on a hospital T-shirt. Although noone seems to speak English at these health exams, the guides are very friendly, so don’t hesitate to ask questions if you have any!


If you are applying for a job with a Japanese company this year, usually the company will require a copy of your recent Health Check. In this case, go to the Tsukuba University Health Center (near the ISC/Daigakukaikan) after your Health Check and ask for a certificate of your results (kenkoushindan-shoumeisho). You will need to show your student ID card to receive your certificate. Also, it will take one week for them to make the certificate, so make sure you ask the Health Center at least one week in advance to get it on time.

Tsukuba Science Week

Tsukuba “Science Technology Week“ will be held from 16 – 22 April. This is a great opportunity to visit the research institutes in Tsukuba, such as AIST, NIMS, NIES, and learn about the latest technology.

Here is the website: http://stw.mext.go.jp/stw/search/searchEvent.php

The JAXA space center will have an open house on April 21.

Here is the JAXA website: http://www.jaxa.jp/visit/tsukuba/index_j.html

Tsukuba Orientation Day

On 28th April, an orientation day will be held for the first time for foreign residents of Tsukuba, with the cooperation of Tsukuba City Hall, Alien Times, and other local organisations.

Date: April 28th, 2007

Time: 12:30-4pm

Place: Tsukuba Capio Ninomiya House

Website: http://www.alientimes.org/Orientation/News

There will be presentations and your questions will be answered on topics such as being a student, researcher, or working in Tsukuba/Japan. Also there’ll be handy advice on lifestyle, society, and having a family in Tsukuba/Japan. This is an excellent opportunity to talk with people who have experience with living in Japan, and is highly recommended for everyone to attend!

Car Tax

Annual car tax payments are due in May. You will get a notice around the end of April from the Tsuchiura Tax Office that will detail the amount that you have to pay.

Deadline for car tax payment - May 31, 2007.

The payment is based on the size of your engine and the prefecture that your car is registered in. If you want to get an idea of how much your bill is going to be, have a look at the 2006 figures on the following page (in Japanese).


Average costs: White plate car tax - cost approx. 30,000yen to 40,000yen per year Yellow plate car tax – cost approx. 4,000yen to 7,000yen per year

As you can see, the car tax for white-plate cars (large cars) is really expensive. On top of shaken (car registration every 2 years), a white-plate car will cost you around 100,000yen per year, just to have it on the road. That’s why I’m so happy with my trusty little yellow-plate car – it’s much cheaper!

Note – the person who owned the car on 1st April is charged the car tax (even if you have sold the car). Therefore, if you sell your car, it may be a good idea to include the cost of car tax in the price of the vehicle.

Bicycle Parking in Tsukuba Center

Are you running up a nice list of yellow warning stickers for parking your bicycle outside the Tsukuba Station entrances? Well, now there are some solutions, with new parking spaces just opened up behind the Police Box on the corner, and along the path on the west side. It is recommended to buy a Monthly or Yearly Card, as most of the parking spaces operate by card machine only. Some have one-day-parking available (pay by coins in machine), but these become invalid when all the monthly cards are sold-out. The best bicycle lot for day-parking is the Central Bike Lot. Information on all the bicycle parking lots in Tsukuba Center, including a map and some handy hints, is available on the Alien Times. The new parking lots (behind Police Box) have not been updated yet. Here is the website:


Where can I buy Monthly Card for Bicycle Parking? Bicycle lot cards can by purchased from the Central Bike Lot Office (under the bridge next to Bus Depot). You’ll need to purchase a card first, before you put your bicycle in the parking lot (see “Handy Hints” on website above).

YOUGAKUSEI COMICS by Herb Fondevilla


Views from the Shokudou

Do you celebrate the changing of the seasons in your country? In Japan, the changing of the seasons is really celebrated, as you can see now Hanami parties under the cherry blossoms! How about your home country?

Elin Edwald, Iceland, 2nd Year Masters, Life and Environmental Sciences

In Iceland, where I come from, the weather is not good for most of the year, so whenever the weather is nice and sunny (15°C) everyone goes outside and lies on the grass. People who are working leave their offices on sunny days, role up their shirt sleeves, and enjoy the sun. Also hiking, and swimming especially, is popular in sunny weather in Iceland. One of the things I really like about Tsukuba is there are always flowers, even in the dead of winter, which seems so surreal.

Abdel Monem Naifer, Tunisia, Computer Science, Exchange student

In Tunisia, we don't exactly celebrate the seasons, but in spring we usually go to the North and enjoy the forests! Summer is fun at the beach with friends or going for diving in the North! In Autumn, the most beautiful places are the oases in the South of the country, the Sahara and Matmata, where Star Wars was filmed. Winter brings with it the most delicious oranges in the world! Come and check it out sometime!

Moses M. Ngigi, 3rd Year of PhD program, Life and Environmental Sciences, Geoenviromental Sciences

Well, well, spring is here with us; the cherry blossoms, bright and beautiful. It just reminds me of the moment that I arrived in Tsukuba a couple of years ago. The jovial mood on all the faces of the new comers, especially the undergraduate students. I did not know the meaning of the celebrations, but now I do. I even developed a hobby in taking flower pictures, especially in spring . After a hectic week of moving from one residence to another at the end of March, it is a good time to enjoy the parties and the beautiful scenery. In my country, Kenya, we do not have celebrations to mark the change of seasons as the changes are not very distinct. But nonetheless, in Nairobi, the Jacaranda tree blossoms in October; some parts of the city are all purple for a week and a half, and it is the beginning of "short rains" season. To all the new comers in Tsukuba, All the best.

Comments, Questions, or Information?

Please email to Kate Neath at: mindthegaptsukuba[a]yahoo.co.jp We will try to include them in the next issue!

<< Yoga Community Group in Tsukuba | Master Index | Tsukuba City Hall Newsletter: April 2007 >>

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