10th Anniversary Blogs

As of January 2020, UTISA, the University of Tokyo Indian Students' Association, celebrated its 10th anniversary since its founding on January 23rd, 2010. The association has been providing support and assistance to Indian students studying at the University of Tokyo for a decade.

On this occasion, many members of UTISA, past and present, shared their experiences and memories of the association. They reminisced about the sense of community and belonging they had felt as part of UTISA and how the association had helped them to navigate the challenges of studying abroad. They also highlighted the cultural events and activities organized by UTISA, which allowed them to connect with their own culture and heritage while away from home.

Many members also expressed gratitude towards the association for providing them with a support system and a sense of home away from home. They talked about how the association helped them feel more connected to India and other Indian students and how it had played an essential role in their university experience.

The 10th anniversary of UTISA was a time for members to reflect on the association's impact on their lives and to express their appreciation for the support and community it has provided over the years.

Blog No. 1, by Rahul Garg

Japan’s Friendly Police


Me: “Bhai thoda tez bhaga” (Bro! Faster)

My Friend (D): “Ye sabse tez hi hai bhai! Meri mamachari hai” (This is the fastest I can go. My bicycle is mamachari type)

After 15-20 min when I can’t see my friend behind me. I stopped and called him.

Me: “Kahan reh gya?” (Where are you?)

D: “Bhai Police ne pakad liya?” (Bro! Police caught me)

And boom!

Well! This is not a crime story but surely an unforgettable incident for me and my friend. It happened when one day we decided to go to Yokohama from Mitaka on our bicycles. We started at around 8 ‘o clock in the morning after having double espresso shots from Lawson. Opened google maps, set our destination as Yokohama red brick house and started our journey right away. On our way we saw some beautiful views of river Tama. Enjoying our ride while following the google maps, a flyover came and without giving it much thought, we took that flyover. Soon, we realised that there is no cycling lane on this flyover. So, we slowed down and discussed:

Me: Arey yahan cycle chala sakte kya? (Can we ride bicycles here?)

D: Lag to nahi raha. Cycling lane bhi nahi hai. Vapis chalen? (Doesn’t seem like. Even cycling lane is not there. Should we head back?)

Me (disappointed): Hmmm. Maybe we can take the next exit from this flyover.

When the next exit came suddenly a motorcycle passed and our evil mind woke up and said: “yaaaaar agar motorcycles allowed hain; to cycle me bhi kya hi dikkat hogi?(If motorcycles are allowed, then there shouldn’t be any issue with bicycles also). In India, motorcycles are also not allowed on expressways. So, this is not an expressway. Let’s keep going.”

D: Han, zayada se zayada kya hi hoga. Chalte hain. (Yeah, what’s the worst that can happen anyway? Let’s go)

And we continued. After cycling for around 5 km, I told my friend that let’s take a break at the next stop. On google maps, it showed that there is some convenience store nearby. I didn’t zoom in much and just assumed that it’ll be okay. So, informing my friend that we will take the next exit on the left. I started riding faster and after around 2 km I reached that left turn. I stopped and realized that I can’t see my friend anywhere. I waited for 5 min and then called him. That’s when he told me about the encounter with police. He told me to go ahead. When I continued to that exit, I realized that it was a toll exit and I was surprised because we didn’t enter from any toll gate, so how do we exit? Adding to my surprise, there was police waiting there for me to come. Lol. Yes! The police which caught my friend informed these toll guys and thus they were already waiting for me. I went to them and parked my bicycle. They asked me where’s my friend and I told he is behind and will come soon. Suddenly, another police guy came out and told, “Just wait here, my colleagues are bringing your friend too”. I waited and after 10 min my friend arrived in a police car. I was scared that it’s gonna cost a lot and I just hope they don’t inform my professor or something (I know it’s stupid to think but you know right? It was that moment when you just start thinking every negative thing possible. Haha).

We pretended that we didn’t know Japanese AT ALL and were just following the google maps. The police guy took my mobile and told me that there is an option to avoid highways (I told I didn’t know what he was asking for :P because; ‘No Japanese’). He checked our student ID card and guess what? It was the last day of my student card validity. Yes, it was the 31st of August. Lucky enough? Lol. They informed us not to ride bicycles on the road with green signs (expressways) however, blue ones (highways) are okay. They let us go from some back gate which was locked. Also, luckily we didn’t need to pay any fine. One of the guys told “NO MONEY” and we understood (Phew!).

After leaving them, we went to the nearest convenience store and laughed so much about the whole incident. My friend bragged that he came in a car for 2 km as if he did something great. Haha. We were pretty close to Yokohama by then anyways, so we reached in another one hour. It was one heck of a trip for us which we are definitely not forgetting for a long time. 😉 Though my friend does have one regret from the trip:

“Yaar! Maine 2 km kam cycling ki” (I rode 2 km less on bicycle).

<Please respect all the traffic rules. They are for our own safety>

Blog No. 2, by Rahul Garg

During our stay in Japan, we get multiple opportunities to expand our field of knowledge by attending conferences and visiting other reputed universities around the world. But since we (Indian passport holders) need visa for most countries, sometimes going to another country becomes burden as we are not very aware of the visa process and suddenly your schedule gets hectic.

Also, we often go back to our family in India to enjoy time with them. There are multiple airline options ranging from 40000 yen to 90000 yen (a general range, you can find cheaper and expensive also). Further, often we have connecting flights having transit in another country which confuses us more about how to go?

So, this blog is to give you an idea about what to expect when travelling from Japan to another country so that you don’t get frustrated and enjoy your journey.

For Japan to India:

1. Visa – Your entry visa on the passport to Japan has an expiry date but since you have residence card once you enter Japan, it is enough for getting entry in Japan again. Do not forget to fill the form and state that you will come back to Japan within one year.

2. Cost – The direct flight cost to Delhi is around 65,000 yen. Depending upon the season and when you book, it may vary. Booking one month before you can expect around 80,000 yen. Indirect flights are of course cheaper.

3. Via China –

a. Shanghai – There are two main airports (Hongqiao and Pudong) in Shanghai. So, make sure that you check if your connecting flight is from the same airport or a different one. If same, no problem. If different; you will need a temporary visa. Because you will exit one airport and then go to another. If you don’t get a transit visa in advance, you can get it at the airport also but then keep sufficient time margin so that you don’t end up missing the next flight.

b. Beijing – Mostly your connecting flight will be via capital airport (PEK). Keep sufficient transit time when travelling. One and a half hour is sufficient but it’s risky because if the flight from Tokyo gets delayed a little bit, you’ll end up missing your next flight.

4. Via Hong Kong –

a. Transit at Hong Kong airport is simple. If you have longer transit time and you wish to go out, you can …………

5. Via Bangkok –

a. There are two airports in Bangkok so book your flight carefully. If

i. Changing airports – It takes around 1 hour (traffic) to change airports. And you need a visa to go out of one of the airports (you can get it at the airport itself). So, keep enough time for your transit if you have to change airports. Not recommended if you have a lot of luggage with you.

ii. Not changing airports – No problem, best option. But if you want to go out as you have a long transit time, you can get a visa on arrival.

Visa Process

1. To the United States – You can apply for B1/B2 visa if you wish to visit for leisure or conference. The process doesn’t take a long time (unless your documents are not complete). You can get your visa within one week.

2. To Europe – The visa time depends on the embassy to which you apply for a Schengen visa. The process may take some time. For programs like Musha Shugyo, they will need an invitation letter from University professor.

3. To Australia –

4. To China – The visa process is not very tedious but they are very specific about the application rules. If you don’t do as exactly written thinking that ‘this will also be fine’, chances are that they will tell you to change it. With all the correct documents, it doesn’t take much time.

Blog No. 3, by Prakhar Misra

मैं कई दिनों से वह दोबारा करना चाहता हूँ। पर अब जब वैसी दुस्साहसी हरकत करने की उम्मीद ठंडी होती दिख रही है तो बेहतर होगा कि इसे ब्लॉग के माध्यम से UTISA की आने वाली पीढ़ियों पर उगल दिया जाये। मेरे लिए उस एक ट्रिप ने अकेले ही जापान के सबसे सुन्दर चेहरे को सामने कर दिया।

2015 के सितम्बर में एक रात दो लड़कों ने सगामिहारा के एक जापानी ठेके पर मादक पदार्थों का सेवन किया और अगले दिन तड़के टोक्यो से फुजि पर्वत तक साइकिल से जाने का षड़यंत्र रचा। साथ ही उन्होंने मुझसे भी पूछा चलने को। गियर वाली साइकिल का इंतज़ाम भी था। ये वो दिन थे जब मेरे सिर्फ एक कोनीचिवा बोल देने पर कई सुन्दर जापानी युवतियाँ दिल फेंक कर “निहोंगो ज्यूज़ू देसने” बोल दिया करती थीं तो कॉन्फिडेन्स का लोटा दिन-रात भरा ही रहता था। फिर बिना सोचे समझे हाँ बोलने में भारतीयों का मुकाबला कर भी कौन सकता है। ऐसे आकर्षक अवसर को तो नकार पाना असंभव ही था।

हमें जाना था यामानाका-को। दुनिया भर का सामान, पंक्चर किट , एनर्जी जेली , लिटरों पानी और हल्दीराम लादे हुए हम तीन लड़के निकल पड़े। पहले दस-पंद्रह किलोमीटर तो मज़े से निकले। मन में आया की ऐसा तो हर हफ्ते किया जा सकता है । पर फिर पहाड़ी चढ़ाई शुरू हुई । ऐसी ऊंची लम्बी चढ़ाई कि जिसके सामने "दूर से देखा तो साइकिल आ रही थी , पास आकर वो ट्रक निकला" जैसे चीज़े भी फ़ीकी पड़ जाएं। बाकी दोनों मंजे हुए धावक थे। एक तो iron -man की तैयारी कर रहा था और मुझे शक था कि उसने योकोहामा में दुधारी भैंस भी पाल रखी होगी। वहीं मैं खुद अभी गुड़गांव से नौकरी छोड़ कर नया-नया पीएचडी करने आया था। तब तक मुझे साइकिल चलाये ३ साल से अधिक हो चुके थे । वहां गुड़गांव में गाड़ी वालों से ठोके जाने का खतरा था और उसके पहले कानपुर में गाड़ी वालों द्वारा थूके जाने का। और इस tanθ = 1 स्लोप पर मैं एक ऐसी 6 गियर वाली एक मामाचारी साइकिल चला रहा था जिसके ३ गियरों ने मुझसे भी पहले दाँत खड़े कर दिए थे। हाँ आगे एक केरियर ज़रूर लगा हुआ था जो खड़खड़ाते हुए घंटी की कमीं मिटा रहा था ।

खैर करते-कुराते बॉयज़ ने आधा रास्ता निपटाया। अब तक दिन चढ़ चुका था। रस्ते में छोटे-मोटे गाँव आते जा रहे थे। जापानी दादियों को हम देखते और हमें वो आशीर्वाद भरा "गमबात्ते" कहतीं जाती। कुछ एक ने तो यहाँ तक नमस्ते तक कह दिया (अतिशयोक्ति के लिए क्षमा )। कभी ऊपर से दुसरे प्रोफेशनल साइक्लिस्ट्स वापस आते तो हम सर झुका कर “कोनीचिवा” अदला-बदली कर लेते। बल्कि कुछ एक गाड़ी वाले हमारे बगल से निकलने पर धीमे हुए और "क्योत्सकेते ने " करते हुए निकले। जनता में हमें लेकर बहुत उत्साह था। मुझे यकीन है कि उस रात दूर गाओं तक आग फैल गयी होगी कि आज हमने तीन डूड लड़के मामाचारी चला कर फुजि की ओर जाते देखे। इस यकीन का कारण यह है कि बहुत जल्दी ही हमारे पीछे से रेंगते हुए पुलिस की एक कार आई और आगे जाकर रुकी। पोलिस वाले भाईसाहब कार से निकल कर अपनी तरफ आने लगे और पूछे कि भई कहाँ जा रहे हो। ऐसी दशा में मैंने एक गुप्त जादुई मंत्र पता लगाया था, कि हम Todai के गकुसेइ हैं। ये वैसे ही सीनियर्स द्वारा बताई जानीपहचानी बात है कि कॉलेज-फेस्ट में DU की नवयुवतियाँ तुम्हारे लिए ही आ रही हैं, बस एक बार नहा लेना। लेकिन उसके बाद पोलिस वाले भाईसाहब से जो बात हुई हमेशा याद रहेगी। पोलिसवाले ने चेताया कि इस सड़क पर कई सारी चढ़ाई-ढलान हैं और अंधे मोड़ (blind turn ) हैं। तुम लोगों के पास न तो हेलमेट है न ही कोई राइडिंग ग्लव्स (riding gloves)। ऐसा करो मैं एक सुरक्षा पट्टी देता हूँ उसे पहन कर चलाना तो बाकी गाड़ियों को तुम लोग दूर से दिख जाओगे। फिर उसने कार की डिक्की से ३ चमकीली बेल्ट दीं और हमें "गमबात्ते" कह कर आगे चला गया। पोलिस का काम सुरक्षा सही में होता है क्या !

उसके बाद गांव-देहात की जवान हवा से हाथ मिलते हुए, वृद्ध परन्तु बुद्ध वृक्षों का आशीर्वाद लेते हुए हम देर रात यामानाका-को पहुंचे। 70 किलोमीटर की दूरी और 1500 मीटर ऊँचाई 12 घंटे में तय करने के बाद जब ओनसेन में बैठे तो सारी थकान मक्खन की तरह पिघल गयी। सार्वजनिक सुरक्षा (public safety) के लिए "lead by example " बहुत ज़रूरी है और ये जापान से अच्छा कोई नहीं जानता। उसके बाद पूरे पीएचडी भर जब कभी साइकिल चलायी, वो चमकीली बेल्ट अपने साथ रखी।

Blog No. 4, by Shreya Thusoo

जापान से जुड़ी यादों के बारे में लिखना है और मेरी जापान की सबसे अच्छी यादें तो UTISA से ही जुड़ी हैं। तो सबसे पहले मैं UTISA को १० साल की यादें इकट्ठा कर लेने पर बहुत बहुत बधाई दूंगी। पहली बात ये कि मैं TokyoTech से हूँ लेकिन खुद को आधा UTokyo का मानती हूँ। 😜

उसके बहुत से कारण हैं जैसा कि आप आगे पढ़ेंगे।

मैं याद करती हूँ तो मेरी जापान की यादें उस ही पल से शुरू होती हैं जब, 2015 की दिवाली की रात को, मैंने Komaba Dorm के किट्चेन की खिड़की से बहार दिये पकड़े हुए कुछ 6 7 लोगों को देखा। मैं तो सोच रही थी कि घर से दूर पहली दिवाली Maggi खाकर मनाऊंगी। पर मुझे इतनी दूर भी इतने दोस्त मिल जाएंगे ये मैंने कहाँ सोचा था? मैं Maggi वहीं छोड़ के तुरंत दौड़ के सब से मिलने गई और तब ही मैं पहली बार Prakhar, Chaitu, Nikhil और Vishakha इन सब लोगों से मिली जो अभी मेरी जिंदगी के इतने ज़रूरी हिस्से बन गए हैं।

मज़े की बात तो ये है कि मैं आज तक 3 MayFests देख चुकी हूँ मैं लेकिन एक भी TokyoTech Fest नहीं देखा। कितना ज़रूरी रहा है UTISA मेरे लिए जापान मैं उसका सबसे बड़ा उद्धरण ये है कि UTISA के लोगों, ख़ासकर Yasmin दीदी, की वजह से मैं अपनी बहन को UTokyo लाने का सोच पाई जो अभी खुद भी UTISA का हिस्सा हैं। अरे!! मेरा तो UTISA से रिश्ता इस हद्द तक गहरा है कि अभी का UTISA President यानि के Deepanshu संयोग से मेरा BHU का "Tech Grandson" है! 😂

आज UTISA परिवार इतना बड़ा हो गया है कि न सिर्फ UTokyo के बल्कि Tokyo के और यूनिवर्सिटीज़ के बच्चे भी UTISA के अपनेपन को महसूस करते हैं। 10 साल पूरे होने पर सबसे बड़ी बधाई तो इसी बात पर दूंगी। सोचिये कि कितना ज़रूरी रहा है UTISA TokyoTech के लिए कि अगर UTISA न होता तो मैं ISAT भी बन नहीं पाता। इसलिए मैं यही चाहती हूँ कि UTISA परिवार ऐसे ही बढ़ता रहे। अपनी ही नहीं दूसरी यूनिवर्सिटीज़ मैं भी अपनी छाप छोड़ता रहे और जापान आए बच्चों कि यादों का हिस्सा बनता रहे।

Blog No. 5, by Gunjan Joshi

My association with UTISA began before I came to Japan. Since I knew no one in Todai I contacted the embassy to connect me to any senior in Todai. The embassy linked me to one of the senior UTISA members and thus began my journey with UTISA. When I landed in Japan, I was helped a lot by the people who had never seen me before starting at the airport when another UTISA friend who was on his way back decided to selflessly wait for me (even though my immigration took close to 2 hours :P ) My journey started with a bit of sickness as I caught chickenpox on my second week in Tokyo. I obviously was at my wit's end, having never experienced chickenpox before, I did what everyone does at the slightest moments of doubt. Googling symptoms on WebMD (we know what that always leads to. I then called up a UTISA friend who connected me to other members in Hongo campus, where I was advised to go for a check-up. This ordeal took hours, and on my train ride back home to Komaba, I wondered what this sickness brought to me apart from the virus. It brought to me friends. And though some of the people who helped me that day are now my closest friends, I think nothing beats discovering new friends in a foreign land in a doctor's clinic while simultaneously rolling eyes at the doctor proudly diagnosing chickenpox as acne…

And that kids ..... is how I met UTISA....... :D

Blog No. 6, by Sylvan Koyagura

In November of 2019, there was the Momiji Festival, so my friend and I climbed up Mt. Takao and the nearby mountains to see it. I would like to talk about that day.

We got up early and went to Takao Sanguchi Station. When we arrived at the station, it felt incredibly cold but as we climbed the mountain, it felt pleasant as our bodies began to warm up from the climbing. Ascending the mountain was a bit difficult but was more fun than anything else. Many things happened along the way too. For example, all the Japanese people who were also either climbing the mountain or descending it would say "Konichiwa" to us. It was a nice feeling see exchange such pleasantries along the arduous climb. I even talked to them a little in Japanese. It was mostly simple conversations, but I was glad to be able to carry out some conversations in Japanese.

After all the struggles in climbing up, the scenery I saw at the top of the mountain was breathtaking. Mt. Fuji could be clearly seen as well, plus the Momiji Trees were a beautiful sight to behold. After reaching the summit of Mt. Takao, we climbed another nearby mountain. In total, Mt. Shiroyama, Mt. Kagenobu, Mt. Dodokoro and then Mt. Jinba. It took about 5 hours for the entire trek. It was a long and tiresome journey but ultimately a fun one. The sights we saw along the way and the people we talked to had made the journey a lively one. On reaching the final summit of Mt. Jinba, I felt a level an incredible sense of accomplishment. There is a big statue of a horse on the top of Mt. Jinba so seeing that as I reached the summit felt like a nice wrap to the entire climb.

By the way, there are usually many shops on the mountain pass, but on that day all the shops were closed due to Typhoon No. 19. My friend was really hungry but couldn't eat anything for a long time. It was a bit hard for him but a shop was open at Mt. Jinba. He ate a very delicious bowl of udon at that restaurant and felt incredibly satiated after that.

One problem we encountered was that we were not sure how to go descend the mountain. At the udon shop, we tried reading some of the menu which was in Japanese. On seeing us do so, one of the customers present there noticed us and began talking to us in Japanese. It was a fun conversation, we also asked him how we could descend the mountain. The person was not sure but he had asked the shopkeeper for us and told us the route and which bus to take to reach the nearby train station. It was very helpful. However, the bus had already left by the time we reached the bus stop because the road going down the mountain was a long one. There was a house next to the bus stop and one old man was there too. I asked him how could we get to the train station and e suggested us various methods. The next bus would arrive 90 minutes later so he even suggested taking a taxi. So my friend and I thought that it would be better to simply walk to the station as it would take an hour or so. Thus we began to walk. However, 30 minutes later, that same old man arrived in his car and said that he was also going to the train station and offered us a ride to go there. We happily got into the car and went to the station. We were so glad about that. I talked with the old man about various things in Japanese as well. Finally, we reached the station, we thanked the old man and rode the train back to Tokyo. In the train, we also saw members of the South African Karate team, which was quite a surprise.

I walked a lot that day, but it was very fun. Talking with a lot of people in Japanese made me very glad about my Japanese speaking skills. Truly it was an unforgettable day.