How I got the Monbusho Research Scholarship (Part 4 of 4)

Welcome to the fourth and final entry in a series about my successful application for a Monbusho Research Scholarship. If you haven’t already, I recommend reading parts one, two, and three first. This final entry deals with the interview process.

In June 2007 I received word that I had passed the initial application stage and had been selected to for an interview and a series of language proficiency exams.

The Tests

Proficiency in Japanese is not necessarily a prerequisite for receiving a Monbusho Research Scholarship, (in fact I’ve heard that some people have gotten the scholarship despite knowing no Japanese whatsoever) but nevertheless all applicants who make it to the interview stage are required to take a three-part Japanese test. In the U.S., applicants also have the option to take an English proficiency test if they choose (I believe in countries where English is not spoke as a native language, this additional test is required).

For the Japanese Tests: The Monbusho Japanese tests roughly equates to the JLPT, if the JLPT was reconfigured to only have three levels of difficulty instead of four. (If you don’t know what the JLPT is, here’s the wikipedia article about it.)

So the easiest Monbusho Japanese test is like a combination of JLPT levels 4 and 3, the middle Monbusho test is like a combination of JLPT levels 3 and 2, and the hardest Monbusho test is like a combination of JLPT levels 2 and 1.

Since my Japanese level was between JLPT levels 3 and 2 when I took it, I aced the easiest Monbusho test, did okay on the middle one, and bombed the hardest one (at least I think so; they never actually told me what my scores were). I’m in no position to offer study advice for the hardest one, so if you think your Japanese might be good enough to pass that, you’re on your own. But here are my thoughts for studying for the easier two:

The Monbusho Japanese tests from the past few years can be found here:
This goes without saying really, but take the aforementioned tests and get a sense of what they’re like. I recommend taking at least one set of tests the way you’ll take them on the actual day of the test; give yourself 60 minutes per test, and take them all in succession.

Bone up on the nitpicky differences between the particles, verb tenses, etc. You may think you have a good grasp on them, but I found I was often not 100% sure about whether I should use wo or ni or de, or whatever. Review the rules for which particle is used when, because that makes up a lot of easiest test. Also make sure you know your way around the politeness levels, the different ways to say give and receive, and stuff like that.

Here are some of the study aides that I find worked well for me in preparation for the Japanese tests:
For kanji: hands down the best flash cards I’ve ever found are the ones made by Rabbit Press. They’re well organized, durable, and set up specifically for studying for the JLPT, so if you want to study for that too, you’re set. [Amazon link for the cards: JLPT levels 3 and 4, and JLPT level 2]
For grammar, vocab, etc.: I’ve always been partial to the Minna no Nihongo series. Once you’ve outgrown that, I found An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese published by the Japan Times, to be good.

Finally, the English Test. For our group of applicants in the United States, it was optional. Most people in my group chose not to take it, and left for lunch as soon as the Japanese test was done. I took it, because I figured it couldn’t hurt, and since I’m a native English speaker, I figured it’d be pretty easy. It was. It only took me about twenty minutes. Again, past versions of this test can be found here:
As a native English speaker, I have no advice for non-native English speakers for that test. If any non-native English speakers have any thoughts about that, please leave a comment to this entry.

The Interview
After a lunch break, they started with the interviews. To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t think I did so well on the interview. In fact, and maybe I’m wrong about this, I feel that I got the scholarship in spite of the interview, rather than because of it. So while I don’t feel like I’m the best person to give advice about that, here’s basically how it went down.
I interviewed with four people; two Japanese, and two American. One of the Americans, a college professor from a local university, dominated the conversation. I had prepared for a few questions (like “Why do you want to study in Japan?” or “Why do you want to study calligraphy since you’re a cartoonist?”) but she didn’t ask any of those questions. Instead, she asked about a few random things, and then at one point seemed to question if my research proposal even counted as “research” in the first place!
Now, I certainly don’t think that what I was proposing was a significant as the search for a cure for cancer or anything, but I felt it was important in its own small way. And since I had reached the point in the application process where I had been invited in for an interview, I wasn’t expecting a line of questioning that seemed to imply that my research proposal might not even have any value in the first place. But then, I don’t have much experience with interviews of this sort, so maybe it’s par for the course; maybe they just want you to “defend your thesis” or something. In any event, I was totally caught off guard, but sputtered out some sort of response as best I could.

There was also a section of the interview where they asked me questions in Japanese; I read somewhere that this would take up half of the full twenty-minute interview, but in my case it was probably only two minutes (though it you were studying, say, Japanese linguistics or something, it might be a bigger part of your interview). The purpose of that is to determine what your level of listening comprehension and speaking ability in Japanese. The questions were of the conversational variety.

Once that was over, they asked if I had any questions for them. I can’t remember what, but I asked them a couple things. It’d probably be a good idea to have a couple questions for them prepared. And with that, the interview was thankfully over, and I got out of there as quickly as I could without running. The end of a very long day.

Again, since I don’t feel I did so well on the interview, I’m probably not the best person to give advice about it. I will say this: one thing I wished I had done, but never got around to doing, was doing a practice interview. Ask a friend or colleague to look over your application and make up a few questions about it, some friendly, some adversarial, and then try to answer them on the spot, without allowing yourself any time to think about it first. This would have been great practice for me, and I wished I had done it.

The Long Wait
After the interview, the wait to find out if I had passed the interview stage was pretty short; less than a week, if memory serves. Then it was a matter of waiting for the “letter of recommendation” form to arrive from the consulate, turning around and mailing that to the professors in Japan, waiting for them to mail it back to me, and then mailing it back to the consulate. Even though I had done all the legwork for getting a professor to agree to work with me, and all I was doing was mailing sheets of paper back and forth, it still felt like I was strapped for time to meet the deadline. So once again, I would recommend doing at least some (preferably most or all) of the legwork for contacting professors/securing a commitment from them to serve as your advisor ahead of time.

So I got my letters of acceptance to the consulate, there wasn’t anything to do except wait. It was an anxious time of course, but it also felt like there was a big weight off my shoulders, because I had finally reached the point, some ten months after I started, when I didn’t to devote any more time to Monbusho Scholarship-related stuff. I’ve heard that Monbusho Scholars often hear about their acceptance by late January, but the notification can come as late as the end of February. In my case, I finally found out I was in around mid-February. And so that was that.

Since I spent hours writing this long-winded account, I hope you’ll forgive me if I put an unrelated plug in here: if you found this guide helpful, and/or if you’re interested in comics/Japan, please consider supporting this starving artist by purchasing my graphic novel Tonoharu: Part One from your local book store, or at, or directly from me. Thanks.

And for more about my new life in Japan now that I’ve gotten the Monbusho scholarship, check back in this site again. I update every Friday, and my experiences as a Monbusho scholar are certain to be the subject of many of those entries.

So I guess with that, I’ll bring this account about the application process to a close. I hope this helped Monbusho applicants in some small way on their applications, and wish them best of luck. Ganbatte kudasai! And if anyone out there with prior Monbusho experience feels I missed the mark on my advice, or just has a different take on things, please leave a comment to this entry. Thanks!

Part 1 of 4–Introduction/Disclaimers
Part 2 of 4–Writing the Research Proposal
Part 3 of 4–Filling out the Application & Contacting Professors
Part 4 of 4–The Tests, the Interview, & the Long Wait

  • none

    Thank you.

  • saeid

    I am wondering to know your idea about Japan compare to Europe or USA. I have possibility of doing PhD in Japan or Norway. I am confused to pick one. which one would you pick?

  • Lars Martinson

    Hello Saeid,

    To be honest with you, I’m not really qualified to answer your question. But I have lived in both Norway and Japan, and I can tell you they’re both really expensive places to live, so maybe pick the country that offers you a better scholarship? Again sorry, I don’t really know much about grad schools in Europe, so I can’t offer you meaningful advice. Good luck though!


  • Yogesh

    Hi Lars,

    I am aspiring for the Monbukagakusho Mext schols this year.

    Could you email me the format/s of “Letter of Acceptance” which you must have procured from your professor/s please ? (in english)

    This is because my prospective professor is keen on guiding me (and I am grateful to him) and wants to frame the letter as is best suitable for me so as to successfully land with the schols.

    thanks !

  • Lars Martinson

    Hello Yogesh,

    Sorry, but I don’t have copies of the letters of acceptance with me here in Japan, so I can’t honor your request.

    I will say, however, that both of the professors who were kind enough to write letters of acceptance for me both wrote them in Japanese, so I don’t think it needs to be in English, if it’d be easier for your professor to write it in Japanese.

    Good luck!


  • Jeffrey Kotyk

    Very useful, thank you.

    I recently applied and am waiting for their initial response to my application. Here’s hoping.

  • Nekomaru

    Oh…thanks a lot!!!
    I made the test for two years ago (this is my last chance >.<) and I’m a little nervous (because I’m not an english native speaker).
    I love to draw too (I love manga and draw it xD!).
    Thanks for share your knowledge to other people and nice to meet you!


  • Hi Lars,

    Thank you for this valuable report. I can’t say how happy I’ve been to read your comments about this. I’ve just received word from this scholarship from a Japanese research fellow who is just about to go back to Japan after a 2 year attachment to our medical faculty.

    There are numerous arguments that compel me to apply:

    1. I have a very clear and outlined research objective (viral hepatitis), a field of study which I’m already taking up here in Belgium. Since I work with a local professor on this, I think getting a recommendation here would be of reasonable difficulty.
    2. I’ve recently been on a short attachment to Hong Kong, and have references from a professor there.
    3. At my medical faculty, there is a professor (of microbiology) who specifically went to Japan himself as a research student. Most likely it’ll have been a Monbukagakushou program too. I haven’t contacted him about it, but could very soon.
    4. I have a profound interest in Japan and Japanese culture. Although my Japanese is limited to hirigana and anime-fed oneliners (ie, probably JLPT level 4), I’ve had numerous cordial contacts with Japanese people (including that Japanese fellow). This is something I am really motivated to do – and being in a scholarship is so much more enrichening then just go on a holiday.

    There are however a few boo-boos as well:

    1. I think medicine is a harder faculty to get into. If I’d want to do clinical work, I’d have to apply to the Ministry of Health as well. However, I could also limit myself to a research position.
    2. I don’t know how I can fit 1,5 or 2 years in my curriculum. I’m a med intern, doing my 6th out of 7 years of medschool. I guess I need to discuss this with my faculty.
    3. The application deadline is, 25th June, 2008. I don’t think I can make that deadline – I should try to aim for next year, right?

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing your thoughts and experiences in this, and,

    Dewa mata,

    Erwin Ho

  • Lars Martinson

    Hello Erwin,

    Yeah, I think it would probably be best to focus on applying for next year. That would give you the time to really get everything in order; the whole process takes longer than you’d think, and I’m sure that for medicine it’s all the more complicated. In fact it might not hurt to start contacting people and researching your options now.

    But anyway, good luck to you!

    Lars Martinson

  • aspiring

    Hi Lars! I’ve been reading your blog eversince I submitted my application. Yesterday I got a message from the Japanese embassy that I passed the initial screening and that I’m scheduled for an exam next week. It will be Japanese and English exams. I’ve indicated there in my application that my Japanese language ability is low (almost non-existent). I know the screening commitee won’t say any particular reason for accepting my application nor any reason why I passed the initial stage. However, I wonder what criteria they look into during the initail stage. does it mean my research proposal and my school grades were good? I’d like to know your opinion. And I worry too much about the Japanese language test that I must take. I hope they won’t decide on my application based only on my Japanese proficiency. Thanks a lot for putting very useful info on your site.. God bless!!

  • Lars Martinson

    Hello Aspiring,

    I’m not going to pretend to know how they evaluate applications, but I have heard that people who literally know NO Japanese whatsoever have gotten the Monbusho, and since it’s possible to spend the first six months of your scholarship doing intensive Japanese study, they clearly don’t expect everyone to be speaking perfect Japanese from day one. In any event, I sincerely doubt they’d accept or reject your application based exclusively your Japanese ability alone.

    But in any event, it can’t hurt to bone up on your Japanese now as much as possible before the tests, and see if you can’t pull out a decent score on the easiest one. Good luck to you!


  • Flo

    I am so thrilled to have found this site. I’m a monbusho applicant (Research Student)from Nigeria.The deadline is giving me sleepless nights!Wish I’d got this earlier. Still not sure what the study program should contain…Any tips pls?
    And thanks for all the advice.

  • Michelle Yee

    Hi Lars! Thanks for narrating a first-hand experience. You’re right about the feeling of an aspiring applicant — knowing other people’s experience, though how relative it will be to mine, is really a big help.

    I’m planning to give it a try at Monbusho and I have scanned through the application requirements and process and I kind of feel “lost” with all of it. I’d like to get into the field of Computer Science and I’m thankful that quite a number of universities in Japan offers degrees on this field. My level of Japanese is I guess at level 4 in JLPT though I have not taken the exam yet, so what I have is really basic knowledge.

    Huge thanks to you, I’m gonna go ahead and give it a try at applying for a scholarship after I’m done with half the load of work that I have to do.

    To your Japan education, ganbarimasho!

    Mata ne,

  • Anys

    Hi Lars,
    First of all I wanna thank you for this helpful guide;THANK YOU VERY MUCH
    Your guide helped me a lot, I’m from Algeria (=>none native speaker) studying Master in Electronics and I have to pass an English test on Thursday.

    Here, unfortunately, they give only 3 scholarships, so it would be very difficult to get it, but I’m a little confident and hope I will succeed.

    Thank you again a good luck!

  • Lynn

    Dear Lars,

    Thanks so much for taking time and effort in sharing all your experiences regarding this scholarship. I do have an intention to apply for a 2010 entry, and I have this question in my head that’s been bugging me since FOREVER.

    I’ve studied Japanese since 2004 but because I’ve never lived in Japan, I don’t feel like I am fully equipped with the skills to study in a Japanese university. However, you also said that it is not necessary to have prior knowledge of Japanese for this scholarship? How does that work out then? Do the scholars attend classes in Japanese, or…? Should I do something about my Japanese proficiency before thinking about applying? I don’t want to cry throughout the course working on assignments written IN Japanese! :D I was just wondering how do you guys survive this massive language barrier, studying such complicated stuff in a foreign language!

    Thanks heaps!


    thanks for the information, i applied for the MEXT scholarship since july 11th, 2008, but I am yet to hear from them. how long does it take them to reply? I am will still wait for them. Thanks

  • Lars Martinson

    Hey Lynn,

    Okay, I’m getting back to you so late that you’re probably not checking for a response anymore, but in case you ARE, here it goes:

    Once again, I’m not an expert on how the Monbusho works, but my understanding is that the language ability is a case-by-case thing. If you’re studying, say, Japanese Linguistics, then obviously your language skills need to be superior. If you’re studying painting or something, or if your advisor speaks fluent English, you can probably get by with less. There’s also the option you to take a six month intensive course before you begin studying if your school thinks you need it.

    In any event, you want to convince the people reviewing your application that your Japanese is good enough to get by, so the more Japanese you know, the better. So hit those books! My Japanese was between JLPT 2 & 3, and I think it’d be a good idea to be at LEAST at that level (again, I’m just speculating here).

    Anyway, best of luck!



    That question would probably be best addressed to the consulate or embassy you applied through. I don’t really know the turnaround times for different countries, etc…

    Good luck though!

  • noel

    hi sir,

    I would like to ask sir if you can give a link oa site where i can learn japanese.

  • angelofdevotion

    Hi! Thanks for sharing with us.
    I am considering the scholarship next year, i am still doing my Masters degree in Asian Studies in Sydney University so i will apply next year. I am from Thailand by the way, just internationally educated since i was young)

    I am really interested in the scholarship…..reading your steps to how you get the scholarship is really helpful….

    Between… I am focusing on Japanese Contemporary Society, would like to focus on Masculinity and femininity in popular culture or something related to that….I am currently doing a thesis research essay on Portrayal of Heroines in Japanese and Korean dramas. Maybe i could show this to them along with my new proposal?

    Since it is a research scholarship, does it mean i can proceed a PhD or do i need to do another masters? I am confused about the research though.

    I am really concerned about professor, must they be supervisors in the PhD sections or just any Professors from the University who might be interested in my field?

    Sorry for asking so many questions.
    I really wanna get this scholarship ^^
    I am addicted to anthropological research


  • jc

    I am already through with sending the acceptance letter of the professor of my choice to the Japanese embassy here in my country. I’d like to know what are the chances that I would be given the scholarship?So far no one has really been able to tell me what my chances are. I need to know because there are other opportunities that I would have to turn down just to WAIT for the decision of the Japanese government. I don’t want to regret in the end and I have been researching about this scholarship and have always come up short.


  • Talia

    Hi Lars,

    Thank you so much for your detailed account!! It’s really a huge help…

    Just one quick question, I heard that when searching for a professor, it’s better to look towards public universities over private. Apparently the Japanese government are more inclined (rightly so) to accept you into the program if you have gained approval from a public university?

    Thanks again – you’re a lifesaver!!


  • Pawit

    Hi Lars,

    Thanks to your account, i managed to not get lost in the application process (tho i have to admit, i found this site a little too late). Nevertheless, now that i’ve got the letter of acceptance, i just have to wait for the confirmation.

    I was just wondering whether your placement is ‘pretty much’ guaranteed once you’re at this stage, since my research project is very specific, and it took me hell to manage to find my advisor. And, because i’m applying to a private university, i’m afraid that i might not be accepted ‘due to budget’. Any input would be most helpful!

    Also, i was wondering whether there are any sites keeping statistics of scholarship recipient’s choice of university.

    Thanks again!


  • I’m really interested to read your story further, please continue, It’s really helpful and inspirative for people who are planning for monbusho scholarhip.

    I’m planning to apply this scholarship around 2010, even though I was graduated two months ago, I realized I lack of time to produce a quality research proposal.

    I wonder if sometime in the future, I could ask your opinion about research proposal? If you arent’ willing to, it’s okay.

  • san

    hi lars
    first of all… thanks a bunch!
    very detail, very helpfull

    okay, here’s the thing
    i applied 2 years ago, but didnt succeed.. my bad, lack of preparation :) and this year i want to try again

    my BA is architecture, but my passion is always in art and design, so i want to apply for art/design scholarship
    i know its tough, because different major
    but hey, chances always there ^^

    i saw ur proposal and yes it is very personal
    i always wondering, art/design research proposal is very much different with engineering
    so i’m a bit confuse writing the proposal, what do you think about this? (based on your experince now in the university, comparing with other students research there)

    i’m also currently looking for prospective professor in japan that i can contact, but like u said, not easy to find their email address
    so i just wondering if u know any professor that interested in ”art/design and their relation for children” or ”illustration for children” ar any link that i can use to find art professor?

    thanks again

  • Rolly

    Hey, thanks for writing this guide. I`m a current JET up in Tohoku who`s thinking about applying for a monbukagakusho in a few years, and I`ve got a much clearer idea of what to expect now. Thank you, and congrats on getting yours.

    One question I have is about the links to the (studyjapan) Japanese and English tests up near the top of the post — they seem to redirect to a different URL .
    Just thought you might like to know.

    Thanks again!

  • Lars Martinson

    Thanks for the heads up about the misdirecting link–it’s fixed now.


  • Lars Martinson

    Belated response to San:

    “my BA is architecture, but my passion is always in art and design, so i want to apply for art/design scholarship”
    The guidelines say you need to apply for something in the same field or a related field as your undergrad. You could argue that architecture is related to design, so you might have a shot; my major was graphic design and now I’m studying calligraphy, so it’s possible, at least. I would try to strongly emphasize the link between architecture and your proposed field of study.

    “i saw ur proposal and yes it is very personal i always wondering, art/design research proposal is very much different with engineering so i’m a bit confuse writing the proposal, what do you think about this? (based on your experince now in the university, comparing with other students research there)”
    I’m actually the only Monbusho scholar at my school; in fact, I’m the first one ever! As for writing the proposal, I pretty much wrote all my thoughts about that in part two of the “How I got the Monbusho Scholarship” series, as well as a link to my research proposal… beyond what you read there, your guess is as good as mine…

    “i’m also currently looking for prospective professor in japan that i can contact, but like u said, not easy to find their email address so i just wondering if u know any professor that interested in ”art/design and their relation for children” or ”illustration for children” ar any link that i can use to find art professor?”
    Sorry, I don’t know anyone from the art department from my school.

    Good Luck!

  • Edna

    Thank Lars, this is very helpful, Im just out of patience waiting for my final acceptance and Im so glad to read your page. So Im hoping ill receive news this month…. Do you always get your priority university?? I hope I will… and is there a way to skip that first year learning japs…? Coz I learnt the language b4 wen I did my undergrad….Anyways, fanx again

    edna from samoa

  • Lars Martinson

    Hello Edna,

    “Do you always get your priority university?? ”
    Usually, but not always.

    “and is there a way to skip that first year learning japs…?”
    Your host university decides if you need that or not.


  • edna

    thanks lars

  • I just finished taking notes from your blog on the App. process. It sure took a lot of stress out of the process and inspired a few ideas.

    I contacted the Japan Student Services Organization ( to ask for guidance and also contacted my home consulate where I was hired for JET to ask about Monbu recipients and contacts for help.

    I think the website is a great idea too! Yours picture is scary, and reminds me of the Managers picture they have up at fast food restaurants like Mr. Donuts.
    I uploaded the comics I have been making about Japan to my website, but will make another more professional one soon.
    Thanks again for your informative blog and your comic. It is nice knowing I am not the only one who feels like I don’t fit in because I don’t complain vehemently about Japan and JET.

  • Lars Martinson

    Hello Michael,

    Good luck with the application process!

    And the Mr. Donut manager look was what I was going for, since that’s what I’ll be doing in five years time.


  • Will B

    Hello Lars,

    Very nice blog you’ve got there. Thanks for your efforts and insight into this matter.

    I graduated last year with my BSc in Science (major: computer science) and I voluntarily wrote a thesis with my professor in order to prepare for my postgrad studies. I’ve got almost a year of experience as an IT consultant and my Japanese level is between the 2nd and 3rd JLPT levels.

    That being said and done, right now I am considering expanding on my previous thesis (it was about optimizing transportation modes in my hometown) and apply it to Japan, since it has a very different transportation system. Its already mid-march and I haven’t contacted any professor or Japanese university yet, although I did a few professors in my field of interest.

    Given the lack of time, do you recommend me applying for the monbusho this year or shall I save it for next year? I appreciate your advise :)


  • K Ro


    I wanted to add onto Lars’s comment about the whether your intended field of study for postgraduate studies should be related to the major you received your bachelor’s in. I actually had the same question and asked the person in charge of the scholarship questions at Chicago consulate general, and he said it doesn’t have to be.

    my question, verbatim, was:
    I received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Administration but am considering Japanese Literature for my master’s. Will this work as a disadvantage against my candidacy?

    The answer I received:
    This will not work as a disadvantage. However, you need to have some familiarity and knowledge of the subject you wish to research. So, while you needn’t have been a Japanese lit major, we do need that you have a thorough knowledge of Japanese lit and will be able to conduct your research accordingly. That knowledge should be demonstrated in your research proposal.

    Hope this helps, good luck to everyone who’s applying for the scholarship.

  • joel

    hi Lars,
    Do you have any idea about the date of compliance of documents for monbusho 2010? Does it vary from country to country?Thanks a lot..

  • tingyik90

    there are no more past year test papers available, I think…. T^T

  • ebs

    wow– thanks so much for all the information. as you (and all of your readers) know, there is so little information out there, and at times it seems like the real test is interpreting all the esoteric directions. and since i don’t have any monbusho alums, i have been at a loss. (one of my friend’s best advice was to dye my hair blond for the interview since the interviewers will like blond gaijin).

    i just passed the first stage and have my interview/test next week. i’m also a jet alum applying in the arts (photography), and it is nice to know that some of us artists succeed.

    thanks again for all the advice (and hope)!!

  • marina (hisashiburi)

    hi again Lars!
    i am the spanish woman who wrote you few monts ago about my animation research proposal.
    I passed the first seletion!!! so now we ‘re 20 people aspiring for 11 schoolarships….wowh!

    I also have the enterview next weekend, and i am so nervous about the tests and so one…
    I just want to thank you all the advises and things you told me, because i reached this point following your words.
    Thank you Lars!
    i will try to make them think art is too much important as cancer cure as well! wah hahaha XD

    demo ima kara ganbarou!

  • Nobuko

    Hi Lars,

    Thank you very much for all the information!

    I am a Japanese living in the U.S., helping my Mexican friend apply for the scholarship. I read official info. and my friend went to the Embassy’s informational meeting, but since we don’t know anyone who actually received the scholarship, it has been difficult to figure out what is expected. (At one point I felt like this is a big test to see if you still like Japan after going through all this process!)

    I wish had found your site much earlier; I found it only three days before the due date for all the documents. It is very helpful nonetheless, and I really appreciate your effort.

    I have one question; did you use JASSO (Japanese Student Service Organization) for getting information? My friend sent an inquiry email and didn’t hear back from them, but it seems that many questions people have should be answered by such an organization…


  • Anonymous

    Thank you for all the information and side comments which I found funny. ^o^ I passed my requirements last month and am currently banned from coffee because of They said it would take at least a month for me to be contacted if I was able to make it to the interviews and tests but I didn’t know it would take that long to find out if you have been accepted or not…T,T. I also love Japan and its culture and am self-studying Japanese since college but not being able to focus on it a lot because of other things. This blog of yours is very informative albeit based on your personal experience. Thanks a lot!

  • balaji

    dear sir,
    i am an engineering student from india and i wish to know if i can take my masters in english language in a japan university?i have jlpt level 2 proficiency in japanese..but i wish to do my masters in english in it possible?

  • Justin

    Hi Lars

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights about the Monbunsho Scholarship, which I would say the most sought scholarship for non-Japanese citizens… it was a great help indeed. I really admired your perseverance and passion. By the way, your graphic novel was a good one, it’s ‘impression’-alistic.


  • Segi

    Hi Lars

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I am thinking about applying for Monbugakusho next year. But I don’t have any thesis. Would I be eligible for the scholarship as research student?

  • C Charles

    Thank you for such a well written, informative and entertaining article. I knew most of the information about the process already but the article did an excellent job of showing the timeline of the application.

    The idea about creating a small profile site for professor to look at is brilliant. I will definitely be stealing your idea for that one.

    Now I just got to work on my research proposal. Could you give us an idea of how long research proposals generally are?

    Thank you

  • Lars Martinson

    My research proposal from 2007 can be found here:

  • Rheizka

    Hi Lars,
    I found this website very helpful to me to really set up my mind to get the scholarship. Thank you very much for writing this.

  • melissa

    Thanks so much. This site more than any other has given me an idea of what the process would be like. I’m planning on being a student of vocational studies and applying for the monbusho. SO
    question #1 : Is asking professors to be your advisor strictly limited to the research applicants? Is it required, or is it simply a wise move that can only work for you?

    question #2 I’m planning to take the JLPT level 2 this summer, but I’ll be taking it in Japan. I’m afraid this might conflict with my application process, so about when are the interviews and tests held?

  • salem


  • Firas

    thank you very much

  • Konny

    Hi Lars,

    What a nice info :)
    I’d plan to grab manbusho scholarship and just pass my TOEFL test yesterday.
    I’m living in Indonesia, a country which not acknowledge English as mother language so I need to take my TOEFL.

    Could you please kindly advice me, how they pic the research study theme ?
    I plan to take my doctor title (.phd) specific in Marketing field…
    Actually I never been to Japan before and I’m not sure that there’s an applicant from Indonesia who choose to research about Marketing.

    Is there any Manbusho who ever taking Marketing as research subject ??
    Could you please kindly suggest me the person, if any… ?

    Many Thanks for all the help