He chaired the “Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of Tokyo Electric Power Company” that was set up by the National Diet of Japan in the aftermath of said nuclear disaster in order to assess whether or not this incident could have been prevented and evaluate the level of human error. This committee produced the final report in July 2012 (http://naiic.go.jp/en/).
We had great talks with him on energy policies in general and nuclear power in Japan, and how the current government is dealing with the current almost absolute dependence on energy imports due to the complete temporary shutdown of all of the country’s nuclear power reactors.
I hope we can have interesting discussions in the future again as he is one of the very public figures and national researchers that is openly criticizing the various Japanese governments (past and present) that enabled a relatively smooth operation of nuclear power stations without any significant stifling regulation such as strict safety standards or frequent security assessments.
So please check his work and his personal profile.
At the start of last October, the GPES Student Group members all gathered to go and enjoy some delicious “Soup Curry” in the Shimokitazawa in the western part of Tokyo (in the Setagaya-ward to be more precise). Soup curry is a dish that reputedly originates from Sapporo, Hokkaido, although that fact is hard to verify.
A restaurant called “Magic Spice” had built up quite a reputation for itself over time and we wanted to find out what all the talk was about. We went on a weekday, but to our surprise the place a packed and I doubt that we would’ve be able to get a seats for a 6-people party without prior reservation.
The decor and atmosphere are definitely unique and intriguing to say the least. This place seems to be literally “out of this world”. This theme does not halt at the menu either which surprises the irritated guest with strange spice combinations and denominations that only remotely relate to the actual ingredients contained in those spice mixes.
Anyway, thanks to the inspiring atmosphere and the fun conversations between the GPES students, this turned out to be truly great evening that was crowned with the birthday celebrations for Yue Chin and Amelia.
I want to show you some of the impressions I got this summer while I travelled through the North of Japan. I had the privilege of being able to take some time of from my intense research and visit some of the less touristic parts of Japan. I hiked through tiny villages and enjoyed Onsen (Japanese hot spring) in giant, almost surreal hotels in the middle of nowhere.
I travelled with two great friends that I got know while being enrolled at the Todai language school.
So please have a look at these picture that were taken during two separate trips, the first in the Tohoku region of northern Honhsu (Japan’s main island). I used the a special Japan Rail discount ticket called “Seishin 18 Kippu” (http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/seishun18.html), that allows to travel an unlimited distance during 5 days (consecutive or non-consecutive) on local or rapid JR trains. This a truly awesome way to experience some more remote areas of Japan and be able to get know places far off the beaten paths. Our Tohoku itinerary was Tokyo -> Mototate (Yamagata) -> Akita -> Morioka (Iwate) -> Sendai (Miyagi) -> Tokyo.
For the second trip in Hokkaido (Japan northernmost island), we rented a car and travelled the rural east of the least densely populated island in Japan, which allowed a unique immersion into the island’s culture and the unique natural beauty of its landscapes. Our Hokkaido itinerary was Sapporo -> Obihiro -> Ashoro -> Lake Akan -> Kitami -> Asahikawa -> Asahidake -> Furano -> Sapporo.
Two GPES students (Yue Chin and Kim) recently joined a group of international students from Todai to visit the Miraikan a.k.a The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, located in Odaiba, an artificial island with the Koto-ward of Tokyo.
The main purpose of our visit was the ominous “Toilet Exposition”, which is supposed to be an informative and fun way to educate people on toilets and the roles the latter play in the lives of people in industrialized countries such as Japan. Since people nowadays, at least in the more developed parts of our world, seem to take toilets and human waste disposal for granted, this exposition wants to teach people that toilets are more than just a piece of equipment to rid ourselves of our excrements. They are a device to keep our living environments clean and sanitary and thus prevent the spreading of diseases. Given these obvious advantages, people should have more respect for toilets as well as for the purpose they serve in our societies.
The exposition was structured in a way that people could experience first hand what it means to be a toilet or human waste. On their path through the exposition, visitors were guided by the toilets or pieces of human waste who highlighted their personal views and feelings on what feels to be a toilet or a piece of poo. That being said, the most fun parts were undoubtedly the “Toilet Slide”, in which people, dressed as poos, could slide through a large-sized toilet and walk their way through the sewers until they’ve reached the ocean, their final destination. At the end of the exposition, a singing “Toilet Choir” concluded the tour outlining one last time the virtues of toilets and how they benefit mankind.
This was a unique exposition and definitely something that makes Japan kind of unique in the way they present knowledge regarding delicate themes.
The exposition is usually held from July until October each year, but even outside these dates, the Miraikan is definitely a museum that one should visit while in Tokyo, and if only to see the giant LCD globe in the main hall.
Throughout this year I participated in activities initiated by an organization called the College Woman’s Association of Japan (CWAJ).
Despite their name, they also offer certain programs that are addressed to both genders and aim at introducing traditional Japanese culture and costums to foreign university students. The Foreign Student’s Circle (FSC) organizes several activities each year like attending cultural events or taking students to walks during which students are exposed to traditional Japanese landscapes and can truly immerse themesleves in Japanese culture, or even put their Japanese language skills into use. The nice FSC mentors are always happy to tell students intersting anecdotes about Japan and its people or history.
Earlier this year attended for example a cultural walk in the historic Tokyo neighborhood of Asakusa where the famous Sensoji shrine and pagoda are located. We were introduced into the history of the shrine and could even observe a traditional Japanese shinto wedding (no pictures allowed, sorry…).
In November, I attended a traditional martial arts festival in Yoyogi park where many ancient practices were showcased and thus one could get a very clear idea of how these were applied during past periods in Japan.
If in the future you would like to participate in one of these events, please have a look at their website, and after a quick sign-up you will be able to attend every FSC gathering.