My Japan Stories Vol.1


Initially, I wanted to study in UK or NZ
“As I liked animals from a young age, when I thought of acquiring higher education, I wanted to study biology and/or biotechnology. I was also hoping to study abroad in the UK or New Zealand, which is full of nature. UK was also where I was born and grew up until I was 5 years old.
In the course of searching for available scholarships, my high school teacher suggested an option to study in Japan. I of course knew the country, but never in my mind have I thought of studying in Japan.
I thought about it for a while, and decided to take a chance to study at a Japanese university. Japan too offers beautiful nature with four distinct seasons. I have also found out that there are good universities in Japan that offers education that I wanted to pursue.
The biggest challenge was studying Japanese language.
Gas leak at AAJ!?
After completing my secondary education and before travelling to Japan, I studied at Ambang Asuhan Jepun (AAJ) for two years literally from morning to night. First year at AAJ, we studied Japanese language, as well as each subject in English. Second year, we studied the same subjects, but this time in Japanese.
When I look back, I wanted to tell my 18 year old self, “Girl, you are doing a really good job”. Imagine you studied a totally unfamiliar foreign language just within a year: and the following year, you have to study pre-university level subjects in that language!
So, as you can see, two years at AAJ was quite tough and challenging. But I have so many good memories too. One day, Mr. Tamura, one of our AAJ teachers from Gifu Prefecture, was wandering around the campus with a panicked face saying “Emergency! Emergency!” “I smell gas, it must be leaking!!
No, it was not an emergency. Gas was not leaking either. It was just that one of our classmates brought in some durian for an afternoon snack. All of us were laughing so hard! Even now I laugh to myself when I think about the incident.
Any one heard of Bacillus Thuringiensis?

I enrolled at the Department of Applied Bioscience of Hokkaido University. By seeing my academic performance, a professor, who later became my academic supervisor, suggested that I join his research lab.
For a while, Japanese language was still challenging for me. It was as though a Form 2 student was studying at a university. I was grateful for my Japanese classmates and other foreign students helping me. Especially, a student from Indonesia who really helped me out.
The theme of my graduation thesis was the effect of  Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) on diamondback moth. Bt is a kind of bacteria also used in pesticide. After I joined Yakult back home in Malaysia, I studied Gut Health and obtained Master’s degree. Bt and gut bacteria are obviously quite different, but the research I conducted at Hokkaido University is the very foundation.
Japanese drama, karaoke and Kamiyama-san
I was absorbed in my studies, but for a bit of relaxation, I enjoyed going out with friends, chat with them over delicious sweets. We also liked to go to karaoke.
Watching Japanese dramas was not just for fun, but really helped improved my Japanese language. I believe the same thing can be applied to any language you are studying.
I must also mention about Kamiyama-san. She was a huge part of my life in Hokkaido. At first, she was just a Japanese lady who liked dressing kimono on foreigners. Eventually, I would often seek for her advice, and was my mother in Japan. Kamiyama-san even kindly attended my Graduation Ceremony on behalf of my parents in Malaysia.
Know and Like the benefits of gut bacteria!
After graduating from Hokkaido University, I returned to Malaysia and worked for a foreign company for two years. One day, I came across an ad that Yakult was opening a branch in Malaysia, and was recruiting someone that can handle both public relations and science matters. I instinctively felt that the job was for me - this was a Japanese company that will be operating in Malaysia, and that I can make the most of what I specialize in. I sent my application right away.
From the time of the factory opening in 2004 to this day, I am working for Yakult with an ardent hope that more people will know about and come to like Yakult. Actually, my constipation was treated after I started drinking Yakult. I even studied while working at Yakult to get a Master’s degree in Gut Health so that I can use more knowledge at work.
In December 2021, Yakult hosted a charity Match to assist Malaysia’s deaf soccer team, “Malaysia Deaf Tigers” to participate in the Deaflympics. As someone in charge of public relations, I hope that we can host more activities to make social contributions.

Experience Japan!
For those Malaysians who are considering of studying in Japan, my message is simple: just go and experience. Study and life in Japan are not easy. But it is well worth the challenge. There are many warm-hearted people in Japan. I cannot think of any negative factors of studying and living in Japan.