Hiroshima University and Surroundings

This April I started school again after almost 3 years in the workforce at Hiroshima University in Japan. The school isn't actually in Hiroshima city, but rather in a rural suburb of Hiroshima called Higashi-Hiroshima. It is 30-40 minutes away from Hiroshima city by train.

I received the Japanese Government Monbukagakusho Scholarship for graduate studies in Transport Planning and Engineering after an application process that lasted for one year. All scholarship recipients spend the first 6 months in Japan on Japanese language training. After that we will enter our respective graduate schools. I will be entering the Transportation Planning Lab in the Graduate School of International Development and Cooperation at Hiroshima University because the faculty operates completely in English.

All international students who first come to Hiroshima University stay at the International House, a dormitory for international students. According to the guidelines, international students are only allowed to stay there for a maximum period of 6 months after which time they are required to find another dormitory or private housing. I will probably move to another dormitory as there are 3 other dormitories in the Hiroshima area.

The view from my room. All rooms are one person private rooms. The other building is designated for families of visiting researchers or professors.

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More pictures from the balcony of my room.

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Inside my 13.3 square meter room.


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I moved my desk around since I first took those pictures. This is my current setup.

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The ridiculous location of the phone jack. I use this to access the Internet. It uses something called a "VDSL modem". Beside the VDSL modem is the free wireless router I received when I signed up for my iPhone. If I didn't have the wireless router, I would have needed to really long network cable to reach my computer.

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The outside of the dormitory.

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The 6 speed bike that I bought used for 6000 yen (~$60) from an international student from China. I asked the Japanese people and they all said that it was impossible to buy a used bike from a shop but the international students from China had an Internet buy-and-sell forum and that is where I got my bike from. The original owner bought the bike for 15,000 yen (~$150) in November 2009 and just used it for 1 month before he got a car so its practically new.

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Next I walked to the campus of Hiroshima University. The size of the campus reminds me of my alma mater, the University of British Columbia (UBC). It takes about 20-30 minutes to walk from the north end of the campus to the south end just like at UBC. The only difference is that at Hiroshima University, they have the same bland uniform architecture throughout the entire campus, the bathroom tiled buildings that you see all over Japan.

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From the south end of the campus.

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The view of the International House. The location that the choose is very weird. They built it on the side of a hill.

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Next I went to the "Main Street" of the university "town".

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The big box store called "you me town" that everyone shops at. Luckily for me there is a McDonalds there as McDonalds Japan is so much better than their stale overpriced counterpart known as McDonalds Canada.

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It seems that everyone has a car in this area. Doesn't this shatter your image of Japan? "Japan isn't supposed to have places that look like the United States"

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The good thing about the Japanese suburb is that you can also rely on the bicycle to get around if you don't have a car. There are so many bicycles being used that all the shops have designated bike parking areas.

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As we get further away from the main shopping strip, it turns more rural.

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A nice looking traditional Japanese style house near the main train station. Its weird how it faces the main factory of the "Satake Corporation". Maybe its the president's house?

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Note how residential and industrial areas blend seamlessly. In North America, the factory would look all run-down and dirty and would be located in a seedy area.

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The bus loop in front of "Saijo Station". The main connection to the Hiroshima city. It is a 20 minute bus ride or 30 minute bike ride away from the International House.

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13 comments:

Kin said...

Great post since your move to Japan. You still have the knack of taking pictures of places and make them look deserted! Just like you said, the place does look super boring.

UTA said...

That is because I took these pictures on a Saturday and there was nobody there on Saturday. Its like going to UBC on a Saturday, totally deserted.

On the weekends, all the families just pack the malls and McDonalds with their kids.

Adrienne said...

Do you have a bathroom in your room or did you just not take a photo of it?

Looks like you are in a nice little town! Looks very quaint!

UTA said...

There is a washroom, the entrance is in front of the fridge...

Sonny Beast said...

If my application doesn't get rejected by mext at the final stage, I'll probably be heading to Hiroshima next year. How are you liking it there?

UTA said...

@ Sonny Beast

It's good for studying but the town is really isolated as there isn't much going on and its really quiet.

If you are used to city life then you will be bored to death. It is no different from any American suburb.

Hiroshima city is only half an hour away by train but transportation costs are quite high.

Luis Gustavo Sánchez Silva said...

I will probably go there next year because I got the mext scholarship. I am wondering, where can you life after leaving the international house? Do you recommend to buy a car there or a bike is good as well?

Luis Gustavo Sánchez Silva said...

I will probably go there next year because I got the mext scholarship. I am wondering, where can you life after leaving the international house? Do you recommend to buy a car there or a bike is good as well?

UTA said...

@ Luis Gustavo Sánchez Silva

After you leave the international house you can either do the following things:

1) Apply for the dormitory operated by the prefecture which is located near the JR Saijo Station (30 minutes by bike away from campus). Cheap and comes with furniture. You can stay for a maximum of 3 years I believe. This location is more convenient for living as more shops and amenities are located nearby.

2) Rent your own apartment closer to the campus. You will have to buy your own furniture and stuff. The downsides are that there is not much near the campus in terms of shops or amenities. This is good if you like to be near the campus with a minimal commute.

I personally just use a bike because the gasoline prices are really expensive here. They are about 150 yen/litre ($1.70~/litre). So it depends what you want to use your scholarship money for. You can either use it to support your car or you can use your money for travel.

I personally choose not to get a car (even though I got the Japanese drivers license) because I wanted to save money for traveling ^^

UTA said...

@ Luis Gustavo Sánchez Silva

After you leave the international house you can either do the following things:

1) Apply for the dormitory operated by the prefecture which is located near the JR Saijo Station (30 minutes by bike away from campus). Cheap and comes with furniture. You can stay for a maximum of 3 years I believe. This location is more convenient for living as more shops and amenities are located nearby.

2) Rent your own apartment closer to the campus. You will have to buy your own furniture and stuff. The downsides are that there is not much near the campus in terms of shops or amenities. This is good if you like to be near the campus with a minimal commute.

I personally just use a bike because the gasoline prices are really expensive here. They are about 150 yen/litre ($1.70~/litre). So it depends what you want to use your scholarship money for. You can either use it to support your car or you can use your money for travel.

I personally choose not to get a car (even though I got the Japanese drivers license) because I wanted to save money for traveling ^^

Luis Gustavo Sánchez Silva said...

Thank you very much!.
What about the city? is a safe place? how much is a bike?

Best

UTA said...

@ Luis Gustavo Sánchez Silva

Generally, Japan is very safe no matter where you go. There are no problems with walking or biking home at night even at 12 am.

The university is not located in an actual city, per se, but in a suburban environment full of strip malls and big box stores. If you want to go to the actual Hiroshima city, you have to take a train for 30~ minutes or a bus for 50~ minutes.

With regards to bikes, they are expensive and lousy in Japan. A 3 speed bike costs at least 11,500 yen and all of them rusts easily.

It makes more sense to just buy a 2nd hand bike because the extreme weather (hot and humid in the summer and freezing cold in the winter) will damage the bike.

Luis Gustavo Sánchez Silva said...

What things include your room rent? For example, that refrigerator are include in your room?