Life at WISH, the largest international student house in Tokyo

Life at WISH, the largest international student house in Tokyo

Fri, Oct 30, 2015
Life at WISH, the largest international student house in Tokyo

This September, students from 20 countries around the world moved into the Waseda International Student House (WISH) located within the Waseda University Nakano International Community Plaza. This year, approximately 40 percent of new WISH residents are international students. WISH is symbolic of the internationalization of Waseda, which ranks number one in Japan for international students and students studying abroad. WISH provides Social Intelligence (SI) Programs for residents, which are “designed to hone skills necessary for becoming talents capable of meeting the needs of society.” We met with WISH residents to learn more about what makes life at this revolutionary dormitory special.

About WISH

  • Who can apply: Newly admitted students (excluding RAs)
  • Length of residency: Students admitted in April – 2 years
    Students admitted in September – 1.5 years
  • Building: Reinforced concrete, 11 floors and 1 basement floor
  • Rooms: Four students per living space (4 individual rooms and 1 communal living room)
  • Facilities: Multipurpose rooms, fitness rooms, music rooms, bathrooms, washrooms, community kitchens, shower rooms, laundry rooms
  • Access: JR/Tokyo Metro (9 minutes from Nakano Station)

Mari Brameld (Australia)
Third year student at School of Advanced Science and Engineering and WISH RA


I am from Sydney. I lived in a private dormitory for female students during my first two years at Waseda but grew interested in supporting students as an RA and applied to become a WISH RA through the Waseda-net Portal website. I have been an RA since this Spring and as an RA, I speak with students and organize events for them to socialize and form friendships. WISH is a different world from Nishiwaseda Campus where I usually attend class. Every day is a stimulating experience. You can feel the international atmosphere of WISH just by being in the kitchen and smelling various foods from around the world. I am considering entering graduate school to study more about applied physics, particularly about radiation and particle acceleration. There are RAs from various departments here so I would like residents to talk freely about their courses.

Community classes

WISH participates in a number of community activities, one of them being community classes for Nakano junior high schools. In these classes, groups of two WISH residents (one Japanese student and one international student) teach junior high school students topics such as the difference between Japan and American fast food, games for children, and more in order to deepen intercultural understanding.

Julian Smart (USA)
First year student at the School of International Liberal Studies


I went to a high school that specialized in music and majored in violin. My mother is from Japan and wanting to familiarize myself with her culture, I decided to study abroad. WISH has a soundproof music room where I can practice violin. I really want to enter Waseda’s Orchestra! The SI Program provides great opportunities to interact with Japanese culture and learn about new perspectives.

Seiu Mitsuyama
Second year student at the School of Political Science and Economics


Last year I came in first at the Shorinji Kempo (an esoteric Japanese martial art) national championship. I love cleaning and the moment I notice clutter in the communal living room, I take it upon myself to start cleaning. Let us just say my roommates value my presence…It is important to minimize the amount of things you leave around.


Jeanne paule marie Ebendinger
Second year at the School of International Liberal Studies


The area around WISH, which is located around 30 minutes from Waseda Campus, is wonderful, especially the sunny park next door. Staff say, “have a nice day” and “welcome back” when we go to and from the dormitory, which makes the environment feel like home. Every day is fulfilling whether it is cooking with other students in the kitchen or studying in the communal living room.



My favorite things about WISH:

  • The location
  • The modern, bright building
  • The kind staff
  • The communal living rooms in our living spaces
  • The large community kitchens

WISH’s unique SI Program

“What are Japanese meetings like? Are they like golf? Or perhaps rugby?” asked a SI Program instructor to new WISH residents. The SI Program aims to deepen students’ intercultural understanding and enable them to communicate smoothly with people from various cultural backgrounds. One characteristic of the SI Program is its focus on group work that requires students to utilize what they learn and experience in their coursework. After the SI Program instructor asked students whether Japanese meetings were like golf, where attendees raise their hand and wait for their turn to speak, or like rugby, where attendees freely jump into the conversation at will, students split into different groups to discuss their points of views before presenting their opinions to the class. The SI Program focuses on cultivating several skills such as communication abilities and techniques on how to reach agreements with others. The program is held from Monday to Friday from 19:00 to 20:30 and residents are required to attend at least once a week. Students with exceptional performance in the program are awarded the chance to participate in business situations domestically and abroad.

Yutaro Kurahashi
Second year student at the School of Political Science and Economics

My business experience in Malaysia

I traveled with nine other residents to Malaysia and surveyed four stores located inside a shopping mall. Based on our survey results, we noticed that although there is a need to adjust prices based on products and local needs, the most popular products sold at the shopping mall were not all that different from Japan. This experience taught me about my own strengths and helped me find out what I need to improve upon in the future. During my trip, not only did I develop close friendships with my partners, but I was also able to utilize things I have studied. Overall, it was a very fulfilling experience.


“I want students to develop mutual understandings with countries across the world and develop long-lasting relationships,” said 1971 alumni and UNIQLO CEO Tadashi Yanai when discussing WISH and its education program. WISH has received generous donations from Yanai, Masaaki Ogino and Hong Kong entrepreneur Ronald Chao. WISH receives donations from many alumni and uses them to relieve the financial burden of students. At WISH’s opening ceremony last spring, Yanai offered students the following words of encouragement: “In today’s world, everyone has the chance to work anywhere in the world. I hope that you all will leave here as global citizens and lead the world in a positive direction.”

Article originally from Waseda Weekly

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