Category Archives: Fun Activities & Student Life

5 new GPES student entered in september 2016

After Kylie’s arrival two years ago, Nicolas’ 6 months later, this september was marked by the entrance of 5 new master students.

We are therefore currently 8 master students and 4 PhDs, including Kylie and Kim who are already leaving us next month ūüė•

I am looking forwards to cooperate further with all our new incumbents.


Odaiba Trip November 2014 – Karaoke, Food and Kim’s Birthday

Hello everyone,

At the beginning of November 2014, the GPES members went to together on an exciting trip to discover the mysteries of one Tokyo’s most renowned entertainment districts. Odaiba is an artificial island that is divided between the Koto, Shinagawa and Minato wards.

We stopped at Tokyo Teleport station to visit many of the most famous sights in Odaiba such as a huge Gundam robot figure, a small replication of the Statue of Liberty, whose original can be found in New York City. We visited the Fuji Television headquarters, which was filled with memorabilia for Japanese TV drama aficionados.

Then we went on to the main event, an extensive of one of Japanese favourite pastimes, Karaoke, which is¬† a form of entertainment that originated in Japan in the 1960’s and since has found success in many countries all over the world. It is basically a form of musical rendition of famous songs, in which the original voices and singing are muted and amateur singers then attempt to recreate the original singing parts as true to the original as possible.

As the we met on a national holiday, the place was already entirely occupied upon our arrival so we had to wait for approximately one hour. In the meantime, we explored another of Japan’s many peculiar attractions: UFO catchers. Although these are not limited to Japan anymore, the variations and sophistication of the machines in Japan is certainly unique, there was even a Haagen-Dazs ice cream (!!!) catcher. We tried our luck and some of us actually succeeded in catching one of these sought after stuffed creatures.

Soon thereafter we got the sign that our personal Karaoke booth was ready, so set a song playlist among a wide array of Japanese and English-language songs and just sang our hearts out.

After that, we went to Andi’s home to enjoy some the DELICIOUS Indonesian food that he did prepare. The taste was awesome and the whole dish underlined once again Andi’s star chef-like cooking skills:)

And to top off this great day, my fellow GPES friends surprised Kim with some very creative gifts (a Ted-dy bear and a lush wig to let Kim dwell in past and better times..;-);  and  an original cake in the form of a cup of Ramen noodles.

All in all it was an amazing day with great times shared among good friends. I hope you will enjoy the pictures, have a look.

Best regards,

The GPES Student Group

(Pictures ©2014 Lewis & Amelia)

65th Komaba Festival on the University of Tokyo Komaba Campus (Nov. 22-24, 2014)

Picture courtesy of the Komaba Festival Comittee

Hello everyone,

I would like to direct your attention on the upcoming 65th edition of the Komaba Festival at the Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo. The festival is organized by the students who are based on Komaba campus and will offer a variety of activities and events that will span for three days from Saturday, November 22 to Monday, November 24, 2014, each day from 9:00(am) to 18:00(pm).

Please check the official website (soon available in English as well):

Directions: Please use the Keio Inokashira Line (Local train) from Shibuya station the Komabatodaimae station.

Lewis says HI;-)


Hello everyone!

The GPES Student Group has the enormous pleasure welcoming a new member amongst our mids.

Lewis from England is a GPES Ph.D. student in chemistry and entered the University of Tokyo in October 2014.

To find out more about him and his hobbies, please have a look at his short introduction:



Best regards,

The GPES Student Group

(Pictures ©2014 Lewis & GPES Student Group)

GPES Soup Curry Meeting (October 2014)


Hello everyone,

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.

Please have a look:

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.

Best regards,

The GPES Student Group


(Pictures ©2014 GPES Student Group)

Experiences in Northern Japan (Tohoku & Hokkaido Trips Summer 2014)

Hello everyone,

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” (, 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.

Best regards,


Please enjoy the pictures from northern Japan:




(Pictures ©2014 Kim)

Toilet Exposition at the Miraikan Museum in Odaiba, Tokyo (August 2014)


Hello everyone,

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.

Please check out their website for further information:

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.

Best regards,

The GPES Student Group

(Pictures ©2014 Kim)

CWAJ Foreign Student’s Circle Activities 2014


Hello everyone,

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.

Website link:

Best regards,


(Pictures ©2014 Kim)

Sushi breakfast at Tsukiji


Photo courtesy of Kim

The one thing I appreciate about living in Japan is the availability and ease of eating fresh sushi. Back when I was in the US, sushi for me was usually considered a dinner affair, and commonly came with good ‘ole americanizations like the addition of cream cheese and mangoes, accompanied with names like “Dragon Roll” and “Caterpillar Roll”. While neither a fanatic nor a strict purist, I must admit I prefer¬†the traditional style of sushi and since beginning my studies here in Japan, I have¬†yet to¬†pass up a chance to consume it.


Photo courtesy of Kim

During our recent field trip to the Institute of Energy Economics Japan (IEEJ), it was suggested that we have a little GPES bonding session by eating a sushi breakfast at the Tsukiji Market. Good company and good food first thing in the morning? How could I refuse!

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Photo courtesy of Yue Chin

Off we went to the market at 6am (it takes about 1 hour from Komaba 1 campus). Initially, we had a difficult time deciding between the various¬†restaurants, but in the end, settled for Itadori, a cozy sushi bar located somewhere in the inner folds of Tsukiji. There, we were served by a senior sushi chef and his apprentice. Everything was prepared fresh before us, and boy, was the food better than the ones at the canteen¬†good! There were periods of comfortable silence when everyone was just enjoying their food, and I couldn’t help but feel despite the numerous hiccups in the program, how lucky I was to be in this wonderful city, learning with and from this group of wonderful people.


After our meal, we wondered around a little¬†(Fun fact: Tsukiji is in fact, not only a fish market but also a vegetable market! So when you visit, please make sure to explore around. You will be sure to find some delightful shops!) before leaving the market with satisfied tummies, ready to learn at our meeting with IEEJ. You can read more about this visit from Kim’s blogpost:¬†IEEJ INSTITUTE OF ENERGY ECONOMICS VISIT JUNE 13, 2014.

Till next time,


GPEAK/GPES Mount Fuji Tour May 31, 2014

Helly everone,

The University of Tokyo GPEAK (GSP & GPES) students recently participated together in a day trip to Mount Fuji, famous UNESCO world heritage site and most sacred of mountains in all of Japan.

It takes approximately 2 hours by bus from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji, and we were lucky enough to be blessed with nearly flawless weather, so that our view of the mountain (although technically a dormant volcano) was untainted for most of the day.

With is majestic 3776m of height, Mt. Fuji dominates large parts of the landscapes of central Japan and can be seen from faraway  locations such as Tokyo and even from Nagoya (on a clear day).

Mount Fuji can be climbed by tourists and hikers, however only during the summer months because throughout the rest of the year the mountain is ususally covered by snow and thus attempting to climb to the top would be too dangerous.  There are then stations at Mt. Fuji which denominate the respective height for potential climbers, so that they stay informed how many more meters they still need to climb to reach the top.

Our group drove by bus to the 5th station, which is the last that can be accessed by car or bus. This station has many shops and restaurants and offers a fairly decent of view of the mountain.



Lunch concluded the first of half of the trip’s program.

The second part consisted of a trip to a nearby artisanal and folklore village called “Saiko Iyashino-sato Nenba”, where people can experience traditional Japanese arts & crafts, such as woodcarving, glass-making or silk-weaving.

We as GPES students chose a bit more unconventional route and decided to indulge in the lost art of Edo period re-enactment by putting on samurai battle gear or kimonos.


This was a lot of fun and was actually very interesting, since it allowed us to understand to hardship of combat first-hand, most notable the heavy armor and limited agility.

We engaged in fearsome fights with local ninjas and came out triumphant.



So all in all, this was an extremely fun experience thanks to the setting, perfect weatherand the awesome people of the GPEAK programs.