skip to content

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Drawing of the Aoi Pavilion viewed from the south

Japanese Studies Scholarships provided by the Aoi Foundation of Japan


Cambridge Aoi Scholars

Aoi Scholars from Japanese institutions

Click here to view a short video about the construction of the Aoi Pavilion 

The Aoi Global Research Award, initiated in 2014, is generously provided by the Aoi Foundation of Japan. Each year we will be able to offer ¥500,000 to three postgraduate students in Japanese Studies. The scholarship is intended to support travel and research in Japan and can be used anytime after the student has passed their first year PhD review. The scholarship does not come with any visa provisions because it is intended for short-term use (less than 3 months).

One scholarship comes with an affiliation to Keio University through their Graduate School of System Design and Management and students will able to use the Keio library. The second scholarship comes with an affiliation to Kyoto University and will offer use of their library as well. The third scholarship comes with an affiliation to Waseda University. There may be subsidized housing available at Keio if students apply early enough.

Even though students will have an affiliation with Keio and Kyoto, the award does not require that research be conducted in either city (though this is recommended) and students conducting research within any field in Japanese studies (modern or pre-modern) are encouraged to apply. If you have any further questions, please get in touch with Prof Laura Moretti directly.

Eligibility: these scholarships are only available for graduate students currently enrolled in the Japanese Studies Section of this Faculty. Only those who have passed their first year progress exams are eligible to apply. Students who have submitted or are about to submit their dissertation but have not yet passed their viva at the time of application are also eligible to apply.

How to apply: application deadlines are usually in early August each year; applications for the current round of scholarships have now closed. 

Submission Guidelines: in support of your application, you must provide

  1. A full CV, including publications, talks, experience, etc.
  2. A 1-2 page research proposal.
  3. A financial plan detailing how and when the scholarship funds will be used, explaining your financial need, and how the funding will assist in the advancement of your dissertation scholarship.
  4. The following details 
  • Name
  • Year of degree course at Cambridge (you need to have passed through first year progress exams)
  • Research topic
  • Period of proposed stay(s) in Japan

Please note: on completion of the scholarship applicants will be required to write up and submit a 1-2 page summary in Japanese of the research conducted and a paragraph in English for our website.

Cambridge Aoi Scholars


Elena Follador

Thanks to the Aoi Foundation scholarship, Elena Follador was able to go to Japan twice during her second year of PhD to collect the primary sources essential for her dissertation on early modern Japanese literature. Elena Made use of her second trip to visit private collections and to use the library of the affiliated Keio University to access secondary sources not available in the UK.


Rosa van Hensbergen

Through the generous support of the Aoi Foundation, I spent several months in Tokyo researching the work of choreographer Hijikata Tatsumi. This was extended to a period of five and a half months with the help of a JSPS pre-doctoral fellowship. My aim was to reconstruct the scores of at least two of Hijikata’s performances: Story of Smallpox and Costume in Front, and to establish relations between these scores and the notational records housed in the Hijikata Archive. Working with dancers who performed in these works—Waguri Yukio, Yamamoto Moe, and Kobayashi Saga—and with the Hijikata Archive, I was largely able to complete this task. Alongside this, I gave a number of talks through Keio University, where the archive is housed: a lecture to undergraduates in Japanese on contemporary American and European dance, a lecture in English to visiting students from Thailand introducing Hijikata’s butoh dance, and a talk in Japanese to the Nishiwaki Junzaburō society on Nishiwaki and T.S. Eliot. In September, my research collective POHRC (Perspectives on Hijikata Research Collective) worked with the Hijikata archive and Kamaitachi Museum to organize a workshop, screening, and performance event in Akita focusing on Hijikata’s work. 


Mujeeb Khan

On 21st January, 2016 Mujeeb Khan, a Graduate Student at the Faculty, received the Aoi Global Research Award from the Aoi Scholarship Foundation in a short ceremony at its headquarters in Nakano, Tokyo.

In Michaelmas 2015 Mujeeb attended the Aoi Luncheon at Cambridge with last previous awardee, Aiko Otsuka, members from the Aoi Scholarship Foundation , and faculty members from the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

On 1st February, 2016 he gave an academic talk in Japanese entitled "Japan as seen through Ishinpō" at Keio University's Hiyoshi Campus at the Graduate School of System Design and Management, to which he is officially affiliated as a research student for the duration of his stay, coordinated through the Aoi Global Research Award Program.

Mujeeb has consequently featured in the Aoi Scholarship Foundation magazine.


Aiko Otsuka

Aiko Otsuka was the first recipient of the Aoi Scholarship at Cambridge University

Aiko writes:

As part of my PhD thesis in Japanese history, I have been working on the identity of military officers and soldiers who fought in the Asia-Pacific theatre during WWII. A generous grant from the Aoi Scholarship Foundation enabled me to conduct extensive archival research in Tokyo, Japan, in the spring of 2015 and to travel frequently to important archives, such as the Yasukuni Archives (Yasukuni Kaiko Bunko), the Military Archives in the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) and the National Archives of Japan. As a result of this research experience I was able to identify and collect a substantial amount of essential military-related materials from the period between the 1930s and the 1960s.



Nanase Shirota

My PhD research project is an ethnographic investigation of listening behaviour in Japan to provide a better understanding of human interaction and the dynamics of Japanese communication.

      I am planning to carry out three different observations of occupational listeners in my three months of fieldwork supported by the Aoi scholarship. First, I will work as a hostess in a hostess club, Tokyo, to observe communications between hostesses and customers. Second, I will work as an active listening volunteering member to understand a different type of listening. Third, I will regularly visit bars to observe bartenders and customers. Hostesses, active listening volunteers and bartenders are said to be good listeners in Japan, and so I focus on them. I aim to analyse how power relations, including gender, occupation, generation and the presence of money, influence listeners' unwritten rules, what a good listener is and what being a good listener means in Japan.


Chris Tso

My PhD project is a sociological investigation of contemporary male grooming practices in Japan with particular focus on how salarymen (male white-collar workers) care for and understand their bodies. With the support of the Aoi Scholarship, I plan to conduct fieldwork in Tokyo, interviewing salarymen about their bodily practices and how they negotiate ideal appearance. I will also interview those in the beauty industries, such as cosmetics manufacturers and publishing, in order to better understand how ideal male appearance is produced and sold.


Fieldwork Report:

With the support of the Aoi Global Research Award I conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Tokyo from December 2017 till March 2018 for my PhD research, a sociological investigation of men’s grooming practices in contemporary Japan. My fieldwork consisted of two main parts; first, to explore men white-collar workers’ (sararîman) everyday practices and experiences in relation to grooming and appearance. Second, to better understand, through insider accounts, how the beauty industry operates and its influence on ordinary individuals.
I completed semi-structured interviews with twenty-three sararîman, employed in various industries with regards to appearance and bodily care and their relation with corporate culture. Some preliminary findings include participants performing a multitude of bodily practices in order to conform to explicit or implicit corporate rules which then disciplines them to be constantly aware of their own and others appearance. Interviews with eight people in the beauty/grooming industry were conducted. These included those working for cosmetic manufacturers, shaving manufacturers, advertising agencies and men’s fashion/lifestyle magazine editors. I was able to obtain accounts of 
how these companies approach profiting from selling men’s grooming products which will provide useful to better understand their role in (re)producing social norms related to appearance.
The data gathered from this fieldwork, the second of three trips, will form the basis of my dissertation. I wish to thank the Aoi Foundation for their generosity in supporting my research.


Aoi Scholars from Japan

Eugenia Hui, 
Keio University

Research abstract: 

Food Manufacturing Behind Bars - A System to Redefine Japanese Prison Labour

For centuries, prison has been a place to physically and psychologically isolate the offenders from the society. However, the value of prison is at doubt if it fails to restore and transform prisoners into “better” individuals. The research proposes a new prison-labour system hitherto unheard-of in Japan. The system – to be called a “co-branding” one – aims at connecting the prisoners and restoring their self esteem. The successful precedent found in the U.K. constitutes the essence of the proposed system. The research describes the U.K.’s experience using systems approach in general and SysML in particular to prove its availability in different circumstances such as in Japan. The paper compares the proposed system with what Japan has long-implemented to highlight the value of the former. 

Thanks to the Aoi Award, I am able to conduct extensive research at the University of Cambridge and visit its Prison Research Centre. At Cambridge, I hope to conduct hearings with the penology expert to validate my proposed system. Besides that, I will also be participating at the International Corrections and Prisons Association Conference and visiting a prison in London.


Wu Shuping, 
Kyoto University

Research abstract:

Recently, more and more people in Taiwan begin to re-explore their own national identity. Especially after the Sunflower Student Movement, this phenomenon is getting more and more common. As a researcher born and raised in post-Cold War Taiwan, I was one of the students who firstly received the newly-reformed education—which paid more attention on Taiwan but China. Hence my national identity is hazier than the generation of my parents; I recognize that I am culturally Chinese, however, I acknowledge that Taiwan was colony of the Netherlands, Qing China, and Japanese Empire. I feel hard to convince myself that I am a pure member of the Chinese nation. And that is the reason why I feel sense of responsibility on figuring out what are nationalism and Pan-Asianism.

In what kind of form did ‘Asia’ and ‘Asian’ exist in the world? In what kind of form did ‘China’, ‘Japan’ exist among the ‘Asia’? To answer these questions, I believe that the best point to start is the period from late 19th century to early 20th century, which is the time when modern nationalism and Pan-Asianism began and took shape. And in this period, the Xinhai Revolution is especially important. The revolution is not only the turning point of Chinese nationalism, but also the key point that Sino-Japan relations changed.

 Consequently, I took ‘Nationalism, Pan-Asianism and proposals on Sino-Japan cooperation in the period of Xinhai Revolution’ as my research topic. And I pick Sun Yat-sen(孫中山) and Inukai Tsuyoshi(犬養毅) as my research objects. They have their own different standpoints, however they both advocate the cooperation between China and Japan. In other words, they both have their own Pan-Asianism thoughts, trying to make China and Japan closer. On the basis of the Pan-Asianism thoughts of them, I will also research on their words and deeds during the period of Xinhai Revolution, hoping it will make us know more clearly about how nationalism and Pan-Asianism work in the domain of diplomacy. I believe that if we figure out the proposals or process of Sino-Japan cooperation during the period of Xinhai Revolution, maybe we can find a way to pursue peace of East Asia.


Urara Satake
Keio University

Research abstract: 

My master thesis project is to design a system which improves the connections of neighbours, especially connections among relatively young generations, including mine before it becomes too late to have enough numbers of connections between neighbours regardless of their strength.

I’m from Graduate School of System Design and Management, Keio University, Japan, which is a kind of design school where most of the students try to implement their designed solution as a thesis project.

My project is to design and create a system which helps people to make connections with their neighbours by sharing dinner. The system – tentatively named as “Tonari de bangohan” which means “Dine at a neighbour” – has similar functionalities as Airbnb which is familiar to most of the people. While Airbnb supports people those who have available rooms to share, mine supports to share a usual, casual meal for dinner with their neighbours instead of their places.

Japanese society is the most rapidly ageing in the world. Also, our population has already begun shrinking from about ten years ago and family size is also rapidly diminishing. Besides, there are many surveys which indicate that the interaction among neighbours is getting weaker and weaker. I feel it as reality.

Spreading social solitude and loneliness could cause substantial social problems, including the increase of social welfare cost, heavy demands on long-term care service, and low life satisfaction. However, it looks there are very few measures against these inconvenient estimations taken in our country. It seems that private organisations have not done noticeable activities neither.

On the other hand, in the U.K., the Prime Minister remitted the role of cross-government work on loneliness to the Minister for Sport and Civil Society in January 2018, which inherited Jo Cox’s work. Many private organisations are conscious and active in trying to connect people and tackle loneliness. With the support of the Aoi Global Research Award, I’m honoured and pleased to have such a wonderful occasion to conduct fieldwork in the U.K. from January 2019 till April 2019.

Thirty years later, I’ll turn to be 75.

They estimate more than half of the household will be those of living alone and more than 35% of the population will be 65 or older in my country. These are only the estimations. However, we cannot ignore them. I don’t want to wait until the unwilling future comes without making any effort to create a better future.

I wish to find hints in the U.K. for a better future.