2018 Activity Report

August Activity Report

31 August 2018
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Sofiia Pasivkina

This month HSE has finished admission to different study programs and started preparations for the new semester. Students are still having summer vacation, yet I have decided to interview HSE student Ms. Liza Golovastova, who participated in ‘TUFS Short Stay Summer Program 2018’ and ask about her experience.

The following is the interview with Liza.

Sofia: What is your major at HSE?

Liza: My major is International Relations. I’m a student of the HSE and the University of London dual degree program.

How long have you been studying Japanese?

I’ve been studying Japanese for about a year by now.

Ms. Liza (upper right corner) together with other participants

How did you become interested in Japanese language and culture?

When I was 5 or 6 years old, I watched “Spirited Away”, one of the masterpieces of the great Hayao Miyazaki. I was very impressed by the movie then.

Also I really love reading since my childhood. One of my first books was a book with the Tales of Different Peoples of the World, and I remember, that I preferred Eastern tales – Japanese among them.

Later, when I became older, I found other Miyazaki’s movies and opened a huge world of Japanese Anime for myself. So, yes, as many teens, I continued to get my knowledge about Japan from anime, but I have never been obsessed with it (except my favorite Hayao Miyazaki’s movies).

Actually I received information from everywhere: from teachers at school, from music, from my family, from the Internet and TV etc. Now I think, I’m not able to say, when exactly I became interested in Japanese language and culture. Probably it happened with my first try of Sushi. But I can say for sure, that I felt something different and very special reading those tales and watching the “Spirited Away” for the first time. I still feel very special about it even today.

Truth to be told, that was my farther, who first talked seriously about learning Japanese. He just said that I should go and try, because I love it and I’m able to learn such language. That’s a true fact, that obsession with Anime is not enough to keep learning this very difficult language. People mostly quit learning it at the elementary level. 5 out of 11 students left my language group during the first semester. But I think it’s already not my story. Japanese language was just a dream for me, and I never believed that I would learn it. But I tried! And I keep trying now! Thanks to my family! Dreams come true! I feel like I found something very important in Tokyo this summer.

How did you get information about the TUFS summer school?

My Japanese professor suggested it to me. She found the announcement on the HSE web site and sent me a link.

Ms. Liza together with her professor

What did you do to apply?

I followed the link my professor sent and saw there some basic information about the program – deadlines for application and e-mails to get in contact. And the link of TUFS university, of course. So I just used the e-mail and sent the first mail. As far as it was my first study trip, my friends and professors helped with registration, but mostly, TUFS provided everything to do registration yourself. The site of TUFS gives all the information in a very comprehensive, clear way, and even if you want to know something else or don’t understand anything, you can always ask by e-mail and wait for a short period of time – they will answer for sure.

How long were you in the school? When did you get to Japan?

My trip took 19 days in full. The departure from Moscow was on 23 of July, and the date of arrival back to Moscow was 10 of August.

Where did you stay?

At dorm located on the territory of the University campus. My international dorm №3 was new and very pleasant inside. So I was lucky! And it took only 4-5 minutes on foot to get to the classroom, which was located in the next building.

What was the place like? What was the weather?

The place was very beautiful. The university is located in a very nice green area, a very quiet district. People were very friendly there. There were some shops near there, and Tama station was very close to the campus.

The weather was extremely hot. On our third day the temperature reached +40*(degrees) – historical record! But there still were cloudy days sometimes, and we faced a storm twice and felt an earthquake ones.

Tell about your classes. How were they organized?

In a quite common way. Some new grammar and vocabulary were explained very coherently at first, and then we had some writing, reading, speaking tasks. The classes were conducted in Japanese mostly, but in some relatively law-level groups, teachers could speak English and were ready to help and give answers to the questions in English. They really care about you and your understanding of the material, and they are trying to do everything to explain new things and teach you something!

Ms. Liza’s ikebana

Did you work alone or in groups?

Both alone and in groups. There were only 4 Russian students there – me and my friends, and 3 of them are my HSE groupmates. So groups were international. There were students from Egypt, America, Canada. But the majority came from the neighboring countries of the region – from Laos, Korea, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong. Mostly, we made speaking tasks in groups. And there was at least one Japanese student called “supporter” in the classroom. So, I made a lot of friends there, in such conditions!

How big was your group?

I think there were around 10 students.

What activities did you like the most?

Honestly, I liked everything. The program provides not only Haiku lesson, Japanese classes, Yukata try-on, Study trips to the National Museum and Safety Learning Center, Ikebana lesson and Home Visit, but also it provides very nice Japanese students with their own interesting ideas. They have a lot of places to arrange different events and activities, so we went to Kamakura, to the Japanese holiday and had a lot of fun together.

Ms. Liza with her groupmate from Hong Kong during Home Visit

What was the atmosphere like?

It was very friendly. I even don’t know what to say more. The most friendly atmosphere I’ve ever been in.

What is your overall impression of TUFS summer school?

Very good one. I liked everything there and didn’t want to leave, of course! It was very hard to do.

What did you like and dislike?

It’s true – I liked everything. Even the weather!

Did you get inspired to continue your studies?

Yes, of course! I was very much inspired by this trip! I have a very strong desire to come back to Japan next summer, probably even for a longer period of time. It seems to me now, that I really want to develop in this Japanese direction.

Do you have any suggestions to organizers and advice to future participants?

It would be great if one day the organizers opened a program for a month, two months, or even more. Also that could be even better than now, if they could invite more Japanese students to participate in classes. As for the future participants, I would recommend just to have a good time and to make new friends. And don’t forget to do your homework!

July Activity Report

31 July 2018
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Sofiia Pasivkina

July is the first month of summer break at HSE. It is the time to participate in different summer schools, special seminars, lectures, camps, etc. Every summer students majoring in Japanese studies and International relations go to Japan. This year for the first time five students from HSE attended the “TUFS Japan-Russia Business Summer School” held by TUFS in conjunction with the Inter-University Exchange Project undertaken by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan. One of the participants, first year student Mr. Andrey Okhrimenko, shared his experience and impression both in English and Japanese languages.

“Hello! My name is Andrew and I am an international relations student of the National Research University Higher School of Economics. I will tell you about my first experience of being an international student in Japan.

I have been keen on Japan from long ago. During my childhood I often played computer games and read literature about Japan which inspired me to choose Japanese language in the university. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the academic year I was not at all expecting to get to Japan as an international student.

After Christmas holidays my Japanese language professor informed me that I could compete for JASSO scholarship and win a 12 day trip to summer business school in Tokyo. Of course I decided not to miss the opportunity. Fortunately, my application was approved, and after getting a visa I headed for Tokyo University of Foreign Studies to explore the wonders of Japan.

The summer school took place between 16 and 28 of July. On arrival we were met by university staff and transferred to a small hotel, and after a few days we moved to students’ dormitory. Both hotel and dormitory were equipped with all the necessary facilities and impressed me by their tidiness and comfort. Generally speaking, this is what the whole Japan is about – unbelievably clean streets and flawless roads both in the city center and the suburbs. The communication between the area where TUFS is located and Tokyo is done by the network of suburban trains and subway lines which are notorious for their sophistication of usage. However, a couple of days of practice and Google Maps app easily compensate for this inconvenience.

The weather in Tokyo happened to be, so to say, extraordinary. During my stay a historical temperature record of 40 degrees was set up in the city of Tokyo. On the other hand this meant the complete absence of rain (though a typhoon started right after my departure back to Moscow) which allowed to walk around the beautiful city of Tokyo with easy soul after lunchtime, when the heat used to retreat.

The actual learning process was divided into two parts – the first week was devoted to tandem work and the second to lectures on culture, politics and economics of the Land of the Rising Sun. Moreover, two days were reserved for excursions and 1 day – for visiting Japanese firms, while Sunday remained free of any activity. The tandem work appeared to be the most challenging but also the most productive part of the course. During the studies the students were divided into “Russian-Japanese” pairs and discussed various topics in both Russian and Japanese languages. As I study Japanese for only one year, my command of the language was often limited, but the Japanese students were very helpful and always ready to clarify any details in Russian or English when necessary. After several days of studies my confidence increased dramatically and, what I think is even more important, I was able to make good acquaintances with my tandem partners.

The excursions were also a part of the tandem work. This means that sightseeing was organized in such a way that the Japanese could become the guides while the Russians could share their impressions from the new experiences. This brought such an important element of diversity into a usually monotonous process of sightseeing. The sights themselves, however, were also incredible. The pagodas of Sensou-ji temple, Edo-Tokyo museum and other major tourist attractions in Tokyo do not need additional advertisements.

When it comes to lectures, they covered the very basics of almost everything. This gave me an opportunity not to get stuck into the quagmire of theory, but, at the same time, learn a lot about those aspects of Japanese life which were not previously my point of interest. For instance, I really enjoyed a lecture on traditional Japanese music.

On free time after studies I used to go shopping and try the specialties of Japanese cuisine with my new friends. Tokyo allows for all kinds of shopping imaginable. Just think of anime and techno heaven Akihabara, or the Mecca of fashion-lovers Harajuku, or Shinjuku, which tries to suit each taste. This is especially relevant also because many famous clothes and electronics brands are much cheaper in Tokyo than, say, in Moscow.

On the only free Sunday I got on a super fast Shinkansen and went to Kyoto, a city of shrines and the former imperial residence. It takes only 2h. 17m. to get to Kyoto by Shinkansen, which is rather impressive when taking the distance into account. After a brief shopping on a station I made my way through ancient streets straight to Fushimi Inari Shrine, where I spent the rest of my day. After 15 minutes of climbing the Inariyama maintain the crowds of tourists and visual-key concerts on the entrance were replaced by harmony and sounds of nature while the chain of red gates to the world of spirits, torī, seemed to have no end and led to the peak itself, which was to be reached by only the most persistent. Luckily, resting points with souvenirs and water were placed along the whole length of the path, which made the task a bit easier. Being constrained by time, I was not able to reach the top, but, nevertheless, the visit to this magnificent shrine and the city of Kyoto will always remain as one of my best memories about Japan.

The typhoon was slowly approaching. Recently bright blue sky were covered by heavy rain clouds, and the shore wind was getting stronger. The youngsters were joking nervously, while the professors anxiously warned about possible flight cancellations. With the accompaniment of the deafening noise of the raindrops hitting the glass, the bus was rushing through the wall of rainstorm to Narita airport. As appeared, the whims of whether were not an obstacle for brave Arab pilots from Etihad Airways to do their job. An enormous Airbus got off and left the infuriated Raijin behind its wings. Goodbye, Japan! Can’t wait to see you again!”

Andrey has just finished the first year of undergraduate studies, yet he also expressed his impression of attending “TUFS Japan-Russia Business Summer School” in Japanese language.



東京外国語大学の「日露ビジネスサマースクール」は7月16日から28日までありました。成田空港に着いた時、大学の教員に会ってホテルまで送ってもらいました。4日後、学生のアパートに移動しました。空港やホテルやアパートや東京市は全部すごく綺麗で、便利でした。東京の地下鉄は少し複雑でしたが、Google Mapsを使ったら大丈夫でしょう。天気が非常に暑くて、雨が最後の日だけに降りました。毎晩授業の後で少し涼しくなってから、東京を散歩できました。




We hope that the success of the first “TUFS Japan-Russia Business Summer School” will become a great start for new projects between TUFS and HSE in the future.

June Activity Report

30 June 2018
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Sofiia Pasivkina

This month at HSE, it was dedicated to final exams for 2017/18 academic year. As one of the instructors in Basic Japanese courses, I had a chance to assign first-year students takes for their Japanese language knowledge and ability to react to different language situations.

Some of the students performed extremely well. They not only tried to speak fluently, but they also chose pretty difficult topics for their speeches. For instance, one of the students presented Tadao Ando’s Garden of Fine Art in Kyoto (京都府立陶板名画の庭).

Gladly from now on such students can participate in different TUFS’ study and exchange programs. Next month the first group of HSE students will go to Summer Business School. Shortly after that, Short Stay Summer Program will also welcome some of the HSE students. As a GJO’s coordinator, next month I am going to meet the first participants of the both programs to talk about their experience and impression.

May Activity Report

31 May 2018
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Sofiia Pasivkina

This month the main cultural event was Oriental Crazy Day organized on May 20 by HSE’s Professor Yulia Korovina and volunteer students of School of Asian Studies. This annual event is dedicated to cultural exchange of traditions and knowledge of different Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, China, and the Arabic region. This year the meeting was held for the fifth time. As 2018 is proclaimed to be the year of mutual cultural exchange between Japan and Russia, a lot of activities were related to Japanese culture. TUFS’s Global Japan Office Moscow also took part as one of the partners of the Oriental Crazy Day.

The program of the Day started with presentations. At special booth GJO Moscow coordinator presented the Office itself together several programs possible for admission since TUFS and HSE signed the Academic Exchange Agreement in May 2017. First year students (4) were interested in short programs. Second and third year students (5) asked mostly about exchange study programs. Some students participated in a quiz about Japanese culture and got prizes from TUFS’s GJO. The booth was also visited by high school students who are going to apply for admission to HSE this or next year.

The sign of GJO Moscow
The booth of GJO Moscow
Yulia Korovina (R) and GJO coordinator (L)
Students who participated in quiz

After that guest, professors and students participated in different activities like calligraphy (Japanese, Chinese, Arabic), sumi-e (墨絵)painting, tea and coffee ceremony, origami, uta-garuta, (歌かるた)etc. Volunteer students wore traditional costumes.

Origami (折り紙)
Shodō (書道)
Tea ceremony(茶道)

The main part of the Oriental Crazy Day was the concert organized by students. They sang songs and recited poems in Asian languages, danced and made presentation about distinguishing features of the cultures and language they are majoring at. A group of students staged Japanese play “Shibiri” 痿痢 (in English “Cramps” or “Pins and Needles”). The original text of this kyōgen play is anonymous. Students’ performance was based on the YouTube video (URL:https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=sZFWpbC4u7U, accessed 05.06.2018).

Korean dance
“Shibiri”  痿痢(しびり)
“Shibiri” 痿痢(しびり)

TUFS’s student Mr. Anzai Yoshihide, who is currently taking course at Moscow State University, also participated in the event. The following is his impression stated in Japanese.

安西義英さんのコメント/ Mr. Anzai’s Impression

「Oriental Crazy DayはHSEが主催する催しでアジア圏の言語を学んでいる学生がその国の文化等に関して紹介する場でした。アジア圏の文字の紹介や文化の紹介をするブースト学生達による舞台での催しがあり、舞台では各国の詩や歌、劇やダンスが行われました。

私はOriental Crazy DayについてはHSEの友人から日本の出し物について協力してくれないかという事で参加しました。私は会場で日本のブースの手伝いをし、その後は劇を見ていました。」

“Oriental Crazy Day, an event run by HSE, is a place where students learning the languages of Asian countries can introduce the cultures of these countries. There were booths introducing Asian alphabets and culture, and performances put on by students including poetry recitals, songs, plays and dances.

I heard about Oriental Crazy Day from a friend, and was asked to help out with a booth. I helped run a Japan booth at the event, and watched a play afterwards.”

April Activity Report

5 May 2018
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Sofiia Pasivkina

April marks the beginning of the 4th, and so the last, semester of the academic year 2017/2018 at Higher School of Economics. We did not have any cultural events this month, so it was mostly dedicated to studies and research.

However, our office started to make preparations to participate in one of the biggest events of HSE’s School of Asian Studies ― Oriental Crazy Day that will be held in May. This event is aimed at the cultural exchange through the presentation of original traditions and customs among students, who are majoring in different Asian languages: Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and also Arabic. As far as the year of 2018 was proclaimed to be a year of cultural exchange between Japan and Russia, the introduction of Japanese culture will become the main theme of the event. Global Japan Office Moscow will participate as one of the partners of the Oriental Crazy Day for the first time.