Home University: Columbia University
Field of Study: Computer Science and Materials Science and Engineering
Current Status: Freshman
Expected Graduation Date: May 2020
Host Lab in Japan: Keio University – Dept. of Applied Physics & Physico-Informatics, Itoh Laboratory
Why Nakatani RIES?
The Nakatani RIES Fellowship is an incredible opportunity to learn about and participate in the cutting-edge research that is being conducted in Japan. I decided to apply to this program because I wanted to explore my passion for Materials Science through hands-on research. I have previously conducted research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and I’m curious to learn about the similarities and differences between research laboratories in the United States and in Japan.
Additionally, the program offers a unique cultural experience that will enrich my knowledge of Japanese language, history, and tradition. The Nakatani RIES Fellowship is unique because it provides students with an opportunity to understand and experience Japanese culture to an extent that is not possible without living in the country. The program is the perfect avenue to explore my intellectual pursuits abroad, in a country that I have always wanted to visit.
Goals for the Summer
- To attain a conversational level of proficiency in Japanese language
- To gain a depth and breadth of knowledge in my research field
- To build meaningful and lasting relationships with research mentors and other participants of the Nakatani RIES program
Excerpts from Rose’s Weekly Reports
- Week 01: Arrival in Japan
- Week 02: Language Learning & Trip to Mt. Fuji Lakes
- Week 03: Noticing Similarities, Noticing Differences
- Week 04: First Week at Research Lab
- Week 05: Critical Incident Analysis – Life in Japan
- Week 06: Preparation for Mid-Program Meeting
- Week 07: Overview of Mid-Program Meeting & Research Host Lab Visit
- Week 08: Research in Japan vs. Research in the U.S.
- Week 09: Reflections on Japanese Language Learning
- Week 10: Interview with a Japanese Researcher
- Week 11: Critical Incident Analysis – In the Lab
- Week 12: Final Week at Research Lab
- Week 13: Final Report
- Follow-on Project
- Tips for Future Participants
Week 01: Arrival in Japan
Upon arriving in Japan, I was extremely surprised by how clean and organized the entire city of Tokyo was. I had heard that Tokyo was a very tidy place because people do not dispose of their trash in public places, but it was shocking nonetheless. Compared to New York City, where I have lived for the past year, Tokyo seemed much larger but surprisingly easy to navigate with the extremely efficient subway system. I hate waiting at the subway station for upwards of half an hour when there are delays in NYC, but so far, this hasn’t happened in Tokyo.
As expected, the food in Tokyo is amazing. On the Sunday when we arrived, the entire Nakatani group ate ramen in Azabu Juban, near the hotel that we were staying in. The next morning, I tried the udon breakfast from the Sanuki Club, which was also delicious! For lunch, I stopped by a bakery in Azabu Juban and ate a savory pastry and Hokkaido milk bread (it was gigantic so I split it with Aaron, another Nakatani fellow). Some other noteworthy foods I have consumed include Teppanyaki in Azabu Juban, a glazed banana pastry from the same bakery as before, Korean bulgolgi beef from a food truck, and a green tea parfait from Nana’s Green Tea café by the Skytree.
One thing I found surprising about Japan was the fashion. Most Japanese women in the Minato area seem to dress quite modestly, always covering their shoulders and wearing pants or knee-length skirts. People here are extremely fashionable, and I wish I could pull off clothing like this in the United States. I visited Shinjuku and Tokyo Midtown to shop, and I was amazed by how gigantic the shopping malls were (and by how expensive the clothing was!).
I was extremely nervous for the first day of language class because I had zero experience with Japanese, aside from memorizing the Hiragana and Katakana alphabets. I found the first class to be quite challenging, but I definitely learned a lot of useful phrases to use around Japan. I realized during the second class that I had accidentally bought the Kana version of the Japanese for Busy People textbook, instead of the Romanized version, which was why I had so much difficulty during the first class. Thankfully, I was able to share the Romanized textbook with another student in my language class. Throughout the week, I learned a lot about numbers, time, days of the week, months of the year, and grammar. I also learned how to introduce myself in Japanese, and say my name, school, major, and hobbies. I was able to practice Japanese out in the city over the weekend, which was terrifying, but I somehow got by (which a lot of English mixed in with Japanese)! I think the best strategy to learn Japanese is to try to use it out in Japan, and I’ve been taking my Japanese notebook with me when I go places in case I forget a certain word or phrase.
During the week, we had a Japanese culture seminar with Mr. Gibbs, who is a teacher at a senior high school. I learned a lot about the Japanese education system, which I really enjoyed. I was surprised to learn that extracurricular activities are encouraged in Japan and that people often practice sports for hours every single day. This seems really different from China, where most students focus all of their time and energy on either studying or sports (by training for the competitions such as the Olympics). Mr. Shikata’s talk about Japan-China relations and Japan-North Korea relations was extremely fascinating. I learned a lot about the TPP trade agreement, and it really piqued my curiosity in foreign affairs. I hope to learn more about foreign relations in the future.
Question of the Week
Why do shops and restaurants close so early when Japanese people apparently have long working hours?.
Overview of Orientation Activities
The pre-departure orientation at Rice University was a great time to bond with the other Nakatani fellows and learn more about expectations for Japan. On Wednesday, after the majority of us arrived at the hotel, we ate tacos at Torchy’s and got to know each other a bit. On Thursday, we went through a few icebreakers with all of the fellows and shared what we were most excited to experience in Japan. We then received a general laboratory safety training and training for laser use. I had to take my last final examination while others were in an Introduction to Japanese Language and Culture seminar. We then had a BBQ with many people involved with the Nakatani RIES program, and were able to talk to several participants of NanoJapan in previous years, which was extremely helpful and comforting. Everyone really enjoyed their past experiences with the program, which made me extremely excited for the summer. On Friday, Sarah gave a talk on Health and Safety in Japan, which I found to be extremely helpful. Several of the fellows went to Target afterwards and bought some last minute supplies for Japan. Overall, I really enjoyed spending time with the other participants of the program and I found the talk on Health and Safety especially useful in helping me mentally prepare for the trip.
During week one of orientation, we had several seminars and group activities after language class, which was every day from 8:30 AM to noon. On Monday, Ogawa-san gave a lecture about the Nakatani Foundation and led us on a tour to the nearest JR station, where we all purchased a Suica card to use on the subway. We also walked about Azabu Juban, the neighborhood that we were staying in. On Tuesday, we visited the University of Tokyo and were given tours of several high-tech laboratories. We also had a discussion with several students from University of Tokyo, and they were all really nice! I actually became friends with one of them on Facebook, and I’m hoping we’ll keep in touch throughout the summer. On Wednesday, we visited the Edo-Tokyo museum and learned a lot about Japanese history. Afterwards, we attended a Sumo Tournament. The next day, we listened to a seminar from Mr. Gibbs, a teacher at the Super Science High School in Japan. He gave us a lot of helpful tips to living in Japan and taught us about cultural differences between Japan and the United States. Later during the day, we had a discussion about Japan foreign affairs with Shikata-san, who worked at the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On Friday, we attended Professor Nishikawa’s seminar about Science and Engineering in Japan, and learned a lot about Biology and its applications for the future. Overall, I thought that week one of orientation was a great introduction to Japanese culture and science in Japan. I particularly enjoyed the discussion about foreign affairs and the Sumo Tournament. Both were extremely informative and interesting to learn about. It was a busy week, but I learned so much!
Research Project Overview
My research topic over the summer will be related to the quantum sensing project using diamond at Itoh-sensei’s laboratory at Keio University. The overarching goal is to determine measurements that can’t be taken by conventional procedures by utilizing the laws of quantum mechanics. Itoh’s laboratory is currently investigating single nuclear spin magnetic resonance sensing using diamond, through which a single electron is placed in diamond and used to measure the magnetic field from nearby objects. A single carbon atom in the diamond is replaced with a nitrogen atom, which causes a nitrogen vacancy center (NV center). This NV center is a defect that will attract a single electron and creates a magnet. When a proton is placed above the NV center on the surface of the diamond, the magnetic field from the single electron nuclear spin can be measured. An applied external magnetic field will then create proton nuclear magnetic resonance. Electromagnetic radiation will freely change the direction of the proton nuclear spin and allow for nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) detection of single proton nuclear spin. NMR is widely used in physics, chemistry, and the medical field for structural determination of new molecules and identification of extracted chemicals. Currently, NMR requires at least 1018 molecules of the same substance for measurement, but the Itoh laboratory’s research has potential applications in measuring NMR of a single molecule.
High density nitrogen-vacancy sensing surface created via He+ ion implantation of 12C diamond
The purpose of this experiment was isotope purified diamond growth, nitrogen doping, and helium ion implantation in order to create a high density of nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in diamond for magnetic sensing. A high density of NV centers is desirable because it allows for higher magnetic sensitivity. A key challenge was to create this high density, while preserving desirable spin properties of the NV centers.
The methods include incorporating nitrogen in situ during diamond growth via chemical vapor deposition on an electronic grade substrate. In situ doping enables uniform nitrogen incorporation in the sensor and doesn’t disrupt the carbon lattice structure. To create vacancies in the lattice structure, the nitrogen-doped substrate was then implanted with He+ ions in an array. The sample was annealed so that NV centers would form from the doped nitrogen, and the sample was annealed again to convert the centers to a negative charge state because only the negatively charged state of the NV can be used for magnetic sensing. The negative charge state of the NV centers (NV–) was characterized and compared to single NV centers in a controlled sample, and it was confirmed that the centers were in the desired negative charge state.
The result of the research is a method for creating an ensemble of high-density NV centers with narrow spin-resonances, which reduce power requirements for magnetic sensing. The 100nm-thick sensing surface has a 1017 cm-3 nitrogen-vacancy density, which is 10 times less than the highest NV densities reported in previous research. However, the observed 200 kHz linewidth is over 10 times narrower. Future work can be conducted to optimize initial nitrogen density in the doping process, which could further decrease the optically detected magnetic resonance linewidth. The uniformity of the nitrogen incorporation during the diamond growth must also be investigated in order to ensure a false magnetic signal, as deviations in nitrogen incorporation densities will result in spatial variations over time and false magnetic signals.
Kleinsasser, E. E., Stanfield, M. M., Banks, J. K., Zhu, Z., Li, W., Acosta, V. M., . . . Fu, K. C. (2016). High density nitrogen-vacancy sensing surface created via He ion implantation of 12C diamond. Applied Physics Letters, 108(20), 202401. doi:10.1063/1.4949357
Week 02: Language Learning and Trip to Mt. Fuji Lakes
Language class has been extremely challenging but rewarding. I love all three of the teachers that we have; they are so helpful, funny, and supportive. However, we learn so much every single day and I find it difficult to remember or retain the vocabulary and grammar that I learn. The most successful experiences I have had with Japanese language include being able to order at restaurants and ask for more water or for the check. The most frustrating aspect is that I often remember learning something in class, but I can’t remember the specific word or phrase for what I want to say. This happened during a conversation I had with a teacher from AJALT at the AJALT office. My mind completely blanked and I forgot how to say even the most basic sentences, and could not remember a lot of the grammatical sentence structure that I remembered learning. Luckily, the teacher that I spoke to was very kind and understanding, and reminded me of a number of phrases that I had previously learned in class. I was able to remember how to ask him to come with me to the ice cream shop (probably because I am obsessed with ice cream). My language goals are to study more vocabulary and grammar with Japanese students in my dormitory, and review everything that I have learned in class so far. I intend on creating a Quizlet for the vocabulary that I have learned so that I can review it every so often and ingrain the words into my long-term memory.
Over the weekend, the Nakatani US and Japanese fellows went on a trip to the Mt. Fuji Lakes area. We left from the Sanuki Club on Saturday morning in a bus and arrived at Mt. Fuji lakes in the afternoon. The lakes were beautiful, and I really enjoyed learning about the history and meaning behind each lake. Surrounding flowers also reflected off of the lakes, which created dazzling designs in the water. We also toured a temple by Mt. Fuji and learned about its significance. After visiting the temple, the Japanese fellows from Nagoya joined the rest of the US and Japanese fellows for a delicious lunch. We all introduced ourselves and were able to get to chat with each other at the lunch tables.
After lunch, we drove up the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji on the bus and stopped at the 5th Station to take pictures and explore the souvenir shops. The view of Mt. Fuji was absolutely surreal. It looked like it was out of a magazine! Several of the US and Japanese fellows and I asked one of the other Mt. Fuji visitors to take a picture of us. We asked Tomoyuki-san to ask someone to take a picture of us because he was obviously the most fluent in Japanese, but he actually asked someone in English! It turns out the people that he asked also spoke Chinese.
We then checked in at the hotel that we were staying at and ate dinner at a buffet nearby. Later that night, I went to the onsen with Savannah, Katelyn, and Shivani. It was so relaxing, and the hot water felt especially nice with the light breeze from outside. The next morning, we had a buffet dinner and then visited the Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium. Will discovered his deep sea spirit animal, the flapjack octopus. We then ate grilled seafood for lunch. We were each given plates of raw fish and shellfish, and barbecued everything on a grill in front of us. It was super fun and the most delicious meal I’ve had so far in Japan. We then drove to the Mishima Sky Bridge and walked across the suspension bridge. We were able to view a never-ending forest of trees. It was such a spectacular view, and especially refreshing because I don’t have the chance to see many trees in Tokyo or back home in New York City. After the trip to the Sky Bridge, we went strawberry picking. Strawberry picking in Japan is quite different from strawberry picking in the United States. In the US, we usually pick strawberries from an outdoor field and place them in a basket. We then pay for them by the pound or by the container and take them back home to wash and eat. In Japan, the strawberries are inside of a greenhouse, so they are clean and ready to eat. We picked them off the stem, dipped them in condensed milk, and ate them on the spot. It was so yummy!
I had so much fun during the Mt. Fuji Lakes trip, especially because I had the chance of meeting and interacting with the 2017 Nakatani RIES Japanese Fellows. I learned that there are many cultural differences between Japan and the US. For instance, I learned that friendly contact (such as hugs) between males can make others uncomfortable, while the same contact between females is perfectly acceptable. However, there are many more similarities that bring us together. We are all so passionate about our studies and our research, and I really enjoyed talking to the Japanese fellows about their academic and non-academic interests. I can’t wait to see them again during the mid-program meeting!
In addition to the Mt. Fuji Lakes weekend trip, the US fellows also attended many cultural outings and seminars. On Monday, we visited Chinatown in Yokohama and ate delicious food. I particularly enjoyed the Taiko drumming on Wednesday and the IMAGINE ONE WORLD KIMONO PROJECT talk on Friday. We practiced for over an hour and learned how to play a song on the Taiko drums. It was tiring and my hands were a bit sore afterwards, but it was really fun! I enjoyed the KIMONO talk because I loved learning about fashion and the cultural significance behind the kimono.
Question of the Week: What are the most iconic regional foods of Japan?
There are so many! Check out the Regional Foods & Specialties of Japan section of our Food in Japan resources page. Also, when taking weekend trips in Japan, remember to ask your lab mates for suggestions of what you should eat or what treats/foods are specialities of the city or region you are traveling too. They’ll likely have great tips and this can give you insight into what type of omiyage the lab might most appreciate if you brought back to share with them.
Introduction to Science & Engineering Seminars
Itoh-sensei, my host professor at Keio University, gave a guest lecture during the Introduction to Science and Engineering seminar on Tuesday, after Professor Kono lectured about Quantum Mechanics. I learned more about the Itoh laboratory’s projects in quantum computing, and how Intel has recently invested a lot of resources into developing a quantum computer. The quantum computing process can essentially be divided into three components – initialization, operation, and read-out. Initialization orients all the qubits (quantum bits) in the same direction, operation runs programs to rotate the qubits, and read-out provides the output direction, up or down. Quantum computing has become more feasible as it has become possible to store quantum information for 1 second in order to implement error correction.
Professor Itoh also briefly talked about quantum sensing, which is the project that I will be researching on over the summer. This project will grow diamond composed of 100% 12C and put nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers into the diamond. The NV center is extremely sensitive to changes in the magnetic field, and spin speed can be used to measure the magnetic field at a higher precision than any instruments that currently exist.
I considered the questions that Kono introduced during his first lecture. The material that is used to research quantum sensing is diamond with a nitrogen-vacancy (N-V) center. Standalone diamond is an electric insulator but an excellent thermal conductor. Diamond has 3D characteristic dimensionality. A unique characteristic of diamond is that it is the hardest known naturally occurring material. Diamond with crystal defects have a variety of applications because of their unique optical properties. For instance, NV centers can detect and measure magnetic and electric fields based on quantum mechanical reactions with the spin state of the NV center. Singular NV centers can be implemented for nanoscale sensing. A desirable property of NV centers is that they can operate at room temperature.
In addition to the Tuesday seminar, we visited JAMSTEC on Monday in Yokohama and learned about supercomputers. On Thursday, Professor Kono talked more about quantum mechanics and Kawata-sensei from Osaka University gave an interesting lecture about the research in his laboratory. Overall, I really enjoyed all of the science and engineering seminars from week two.
Week 03: Noticing Similarities, Noticing Differences
All the people riding public transportation in Tokyo seem to follow a set of unspoken but understood rules in order to ensure order (or perhaps the rules are listed in the subway station but I just can’t understand them). People always sit in such a manner that will take up the least space possible. They will put any bags that they are carrying in their lab or in front of their feet if the subway is not too crowded. Standing commuters will face the seated people, which I find quite interesting. In New York City, it would seem awkward to stand facing another person you do not know, but perhaps people in Japan do so because having their backside facing someone may be rude. When the subways are busier, such as during rush hour in the morning or the evening, people will do their best to conserve space. When trains are relatively empty, people seem to sit spaced out so they are a comfortable distance from others on the train.
Typically, people are using their phones or listening to music. I don’t often see people having conversations with others on the subway, or if they do, they do so very quietly so they do not disturb others on the train. They also do not eat or drink on the subway cars. When compared to New York public transportation, people in Tokyo seem much more polite and respectful of others.
Commuters are also extremely kind and willing to help others. For instance, today I was taking the Namboku line from the Sanuki Club to Hiyoshi Station so that I could check in to my dormitory. I was carrying two suitcases, one approximately 50 pounds and the other less than twenty. While I was taking the escalator into the station, another commuter saw me struggle to get both suitcases onto the escalator, and she took my lighter bag and helped me carry it down to the station. Even after I tried to refuse her help, she continued to carry my bag and even directed me towards an elevator after I swiped into the station. I am extremely appreciative of her help, and these acts of kindness inspire me to be more helpful towards strangers in my everyday life.
The transit system itself seems to be more efficient in Tokyo than in New York, for the most part. Trains generally arrive exactly on time and follow the schedule, whereas there are always delays on the New York Metro. I have also never seen a door come close to closing on a person in Tokyo. In New York, I often hear “please stand clear of the closing doors” as people almost get cut in half by the merciless subway doors. My only complaint is that the Tokyo Subway system does not operate 24 hours. However, this has not really affected me in any way (but it did make me more hesitant to visit the Tsukiji fish market at the crack of dawn).
In general, Japanese culture tends to emphasize respect towards others and towards the environment. The emphasize on harmony (“wa”) is extremely evident when examining subway protocol, where I often notice that members will put the peace of the entire subway car above their own interests (such as talking loudly or eating). This is not really the case with foreigners who ride the subway, but I think people do tend to notice when actions are inappropriate or unacceptable and try to avoid doing them.
Question of the Week
Where did the clear plastic umbrellas originate from and why are they so popular? Is there a quality difference between an umbrella from a hyaku yen shop vs a more expensive clear plastic umbrella?
- It is quite simply very convenient and inexpensive to be able to quickly buy a clear, plastic umbrella at any convenience store, kiosk, or 100 Yen shop when you most need it. Just like vending machines, on rainy days there is almost always a clear umbrella you can buy very nearby.
- Also, since you must often leave your umbrella outside of the buildings (and not all buildings have umbrella locks or they are sometimes full) it is easiest if all the clear, plastic umbrellas are essentially the same. That way you just dump yours in the bin and when you leave fish out the most convenient one to grab. Since they are all almost alike there is no way you could find ‘yours’ in the bin most times and the fact that they all cost about the same amount means the one you grab will likely be a similar design and cost to the umbrella you left in the bin. Of course, if you can find ‘your’ clear umbrella its best to take that one, but if you stand and try to figure out which one is yours long enough someone else will probably come by and just grab the closest one and go without any worry.
- The History of Clear Plastic Umbrellas in Japan (Iromegane)
- Enjoy Rainy Days with a Japanese Umbrella (Japan Monthly)
Introduction to Science & Engineering Seminar Overview
This week, Professor Stanton of the University of Florida facilitated two Introduction to Science and Engineering Seminars, and we also listened to two guest speakers. I particularly enjoyed Dr. Futaba’s talk on Carbon Nanotubes, and I found his cultural tips for living in Japan as an American to be entertaining and helpful.
Over the summer, I am studying nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in diamond, which contain ground and excited states that are spin triplet and can be split into 3 spin sublevels. NV centers can be excited between the ground and excited states with wavelengths in the range of 530-640. There is an additional metastable single state with a much longer lifetime than the excited state (250 ns vs 25 ns).
NV centers absorb green light and emit broadband photoluminescence signals of different wavelengths for neutral and negatively charged NV states. NV defects in diamond can thus be easily detected using optical confocal microscopy. The photoluminescence of the NV centers is also perfectly photostable at room temperatures, whereas other solid-state emitters such as quantum dots are not. This is utilized in the field of biology, where NV centers are used as fluorescent labels. The spin state of the NV center is coupled to the luminescence, allowing for the detection of the local magnetic field through measurements of the luminescence.
My project is to design an antenna that will utilize the angular momentum of a rotating magnetic field and ultimately change the quantum states of the NV center from ms = -1 to ms = 1. I am currently reading papers related to microwave engineering and technology, but I am still a bit confused about the overall purpose of this microwave antenna and what exact role in plays in the process. I plan on continuing to read papers and consulting my mentor but it would be helpful to learn more about magnetism and optics, as I don’t think my introductory physics class has prepared me very well for this research.
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Week 04: First Week at Research Lab
I took the subway from Azabu Juban station to Hiyoshi station on Monday and met up with Shogo, a bachelor’s student in my laboratory. Shogo helped me check in at my dormitory (even though we got a little lost on the way there). Afterwards, we walked to the laboratory, which was on Yagami campus, and I was introduced to several members of the lab. At 11:30, the laboratory had a welcome lunch for me, with Japanese-style pizza. Afterwards, Kento, my main mentor, showed me around the basement labs and explained the laser setups. At 3:30, I had a meeting with Professor Itoh, Kento, and Professor Monnai from a neighboring lab. We discussed my project and how I would be collaborating with the Monnai Lab and the Itoh Lab.
Kento is extremely smart and knowledgeable about his field. I read a few papers on my second day, and had some questions, so I asked Kento. He explained the very basic concepts in a very understandable manner, and it was extremely helpful. However, Kento is fairly busy, and it’s been a bit difficult to find a time for another meeting between me, Kento, Professor Abe (another mentor), and Professor Monnai.
Everyone in my lab seems to speak English well and can understand me, especially if I speak slowly. However, most casual conversations are in Japanese, and it’s a bit difficult for me to participate. I attended my first group meeting today, which was entirely in Japanese, aside from the PowerPoint slides. A bachelor’s student was presenting his research, and bachelor’s students are allowed to present in Japanese. However, master’s students must present in English, so future group meetings should be more understandable. My limited Japanese knowledge should not impede the actual research that I’m doing, but it is difficult to become friends with my lab mates. There is only one other international person in my lab, and he doesn’t seem to socialize much with the rest of the lab either.
I am staying in the Hiyoshi International Dorm, which is a fifteen-minute walk from the laboratory. The dormitory was just built in this past March, and is designed to foster interaction between Japanese students and international students. There are units of 4 students, 2 Japanese and 2 international. The units contain a shared bathroom, couch, and TV. There is also a shared kitchen on every single floor. While the individual rooms are a bit small, it’s not much different from my dormitory in NYC, and everything is so much newer.
The people in my dormitory are also really friendly, and I’ve made some good friends already. I met Michiko in the kitchen when I was cooking pasta, and she introduced me to Jenny,
Elena, Meng Si, and a few other people on my floor. Elena is on the same campus as I am, so we ate taco rice together on Friday for lunch. Elena is from Germany, and has a lot of German friends. I met three of them during lunch, and was added to their group chat on Line. On Saturday, I went to the Vietnam Festival in Harajuku with Michiko and met some of her other friends from an international program with Keio University. We spent the whole day together in Harajuku and Shibuya, and had a lot of fun! At night, I met up with Elena, Jenny, and a few of the German guys, chatted, and ate some ice cream. On Sunday, Jenny helped me do my laundry, and I later went to the supermarket with Jenny and Elena. I cooked dinner with Elena, Jenny, and one of Jenny’s friends on another floor. We cooked curry chicken and rice, and it was delicious! I was initially pretty worried about making friends in my lab and in my dorm, especially when I first moved in on Monday. Everyone seemed nice, but I didn’t really feel included until I met Michiko. Now, I’m extremely happy with all the friendships that I have formed. I really hope I can keep in close contact with everyone, even after I leave Japan.
Reflection on Three Week Orientation Program in Tokyo
Overall, I really enjoyed the orientation program. We were often very busy, with language class and seminars, but I loved spending time with the other Nakatani Fellows and exploring Tokyo. After three weeks, I was looking forwards to settling down at my research laboratory, and meeting people in my dormitory and in my lab. I think the program really helped introduce some basic Japanese phrases that have helped immensely while getting around. I’ve also learned a lot about my travel habits and preferences during the orientation. For instance, I prefer to explore places either alone or with up to one or two other people. Especially in Japan, small groups are much quieter than large groups, and I try not to be disruptive to others, so the smaller groups work very well.
Question of the Week
How are experiences in Japan different for foreigners who look obviously foreign vs. those who are from other Asian countries that tend to blend in with Japanese people?
- Please see the section on Being a Foreigner in Japan on our Life in Japan resources page. Some of the articles listed on here may give you some insights on your question.
Research Project Update
The goal of my project is to design a microwave antenna that will excite electrons from a nitrogen vacancy center in diamond from the -1 spin state to the +1 spin state. The antenna should apply a rotating magnetic field to the diamond sample, with the field always oriented in the same direction at every point. If this project is successful, the results would allow for more control of the spin states in NV centers. Previously, electrons have only been excited from ms = 0 to ms = -1, or ms = 0 to ms = +1 using circular polarization, but never from ms = -1 to ms = +1.
I will be designing an antenna on the CST Studio Suite, which is an electromagnetic field simulation software. The CST Microwave Studio simulates high frequency devices in three dimensions and can be used to design and analyze microwave antennas. I will be working with the CST suite and hopefully have a design by the beginning of July. In early July, the design will be sent to another company to be created. We should receive the completed antenna within a week or two, and then we will perform preliminary tests on the antenna starting in the middle of July. If the preliminary tests show favorable results, more detailed tests will be performed until I have to leave the laboratory. During the few weeks that I am waiting for the antenna to arrive, I will be brainstorming ideas for improving the antenna and adding additional features, such as frequency tunability.
In the past week, I have received a bit of training with the CST software. Professor Monnai shared a guide with me that explained the basics of the program and I followed the tutorial to make a conducting pipe. I have also been learning more about nitrogen vacancy centers in general through reading papers, and I have read papers about the two antenna designs that were published in papers by the laboratory last year.
Week 05: Critical Incident Analysis – Life in Japan
Two weeks ago, I took an early train from the Azabu Juban station to the Hiyoshi station. I dragged two overstuffed suitcases back and forth along the platform, looking for the exit. This was the day I was supposed to move in to my dormitory, and I was frantically searching for the person from my lab that volunteered to pick me up and help me check in. Looking back at it, Hiyoshi station is really not that complicated. There are three levels, with the top level being the exit, the middle level being the platforms for the majority of the subway lines, and the bottom level being other forms of underground transportation. However, that day, I was just completely and utterly lost.
I approached someone in a uniform who seemed to work at the station, hoping to be pointed in the correct direction. However, my mind blanked and I could not remember the Japanese word for ‘exit,’ so I was stuck improvising with a broken combination of English and Japanese. “Exit wa doko desu ka?” Unfortunately, the person that I approached did not understand what “Exit” meant, and had an extremely confused look on his face. I tried to explain that I did not speak Japanese very well. He called over another uniformed man and spoke rapidly in Japanese, and then directed me to an elevator. They both made several hand gestures and spoke more Japanese, as I nodded but did not really understand what they said. I rolled my massive suitcases into the cramped elevator and took the elevator in the only direction that it went, which was down. I quickly realized that the bottom level of the station was not where I wanted to be, and took the same elevator back up to the platform. The officer noticed me come back up the elevator, seemed even more confused, and tried to talk to me again in rapid Japanese.
My phone started ringing with a notification from LINE – the student from my lab that was picking me up had arrived at the station. I picked up and told him that I was a bit lost, and sent him a picture of the platform that I was at, and he was able to find me very quickly. Embarrassed, I said “Arigato gozaimashita” to the officer and introduced myself to my lab mate, Shogo.
While this was only a minor miscommunication, I probably wasted 20 minutes walking around the station and going up and down the elevator. I’ve now learned that the word for exit is “Deguchi” and that the proper phrase would be “Deguchi wa doko desu ka?” which is good to know for future reference, although I may not understand the response in Japanese.
Aside from minor miscommunications, I don’t think I have had any major incidents or disasters in Japan yet, and hopefully it will stay that way. I have, however, had a lot of fun adventures! On Saturday, I went to a water park in Yokohama with Michiko and met Michiko’s friend, Mew. Later that night, I ate delicious ramen in Hiyoshi with Michiko and Mike, who is one of my friends from the US. Mike is studying Japanese over the summer at a language program in Shinjuku. On Sunday, I went to Kamakura with Michiko, Jenny, Elena, and Josh (from the Nakatani program), and saw the Daibutsu at the Kōtoku-in temple. It started pouring, so we sat in a café and just talked for a few hours, which was nice. For dinner, we ate a delicious seafood meal in Kamakura!
Question of the Week
What are the ideals of beauty in Japan and how do they compare to those in the United States?
- Beauty is in the Language of the Beholder (Tofugu)
- Ono no Komachi and the Standard of Female Beauty (Tofugu)
- Why Japan Historically Hates Mustaches (Tofugu)
- Articles on Japanese Fashion (Japan Times)
- Japanese Women and Fashion (Huff Post)
- Japan: 100 Years of Beauty (Video)
- The Fair Face of Japanese Beauty (Nippon.com)
Research Project Update
I’ve spent my week continuing my project as planned. I had a meeting with Professor Monnai, Professor Abe, and Kento on Tuesday and we discussed specific design requirements for the antenna. The antenna will have 8 copper loops arranged in a circular shape, and it will emit microwaves and generate a magnetic field, with a Pi/2 delay between each loop. I began designing the antenna on the CST software on Wednesday, and continued for the rest of the week. Initial designs are finished but I need to run simulations and alter parameters to maximize the magnetic field that is generated and ensure that the generated field behaves as expected. I have been talking with Kento a lot and he believes that the antenna design will be successful. I also need to consider whether there are more efficient designs. It is sometimes a bit difficult to use the CST software because there are also other people in Professor Monnai’s laboratory who need to use it, so I can reserve up to 4 hours of time with the computer per day.
Next week, I intend on talking with Professor Monnai and Kento again about the simulation results, and continue making alterations to the antenna design. I also need to figure out a way to couple this antenna with another antenna that will excite electrons from ms = 0 to ms = -1, so I will work on that after altering the current antenna design.
Week 06: Preparation for Mid-Program Meeting
Last Monday, my mentor randomly asked me if I liked ramen, and then invited me to join several other lab members at dinner. I was pleasantly surprised because while I have been friendly with all of the Japanese people in my lab, my relationship to them was closer to that of a co-worker, rather than a friend. We went to a ramen restaurant in Hiyoshi, my lab mates translated the menu for me, and gave me recommendations for what to order. The food was delicious, and I had a lot of fun talking to my lab mates and laughing at their jokes. We have this running joke now about Okinawa because I mentioned that I wanted to go but couldn’t drive so it would be difficult to get around the island. However, this was misinterpreted as “I don’t have a license so I can’t drive to Okinawa,” and they thought I was trying to drive across the water. Throughout the week, my mentor and I have been talking about more casual, non-research related things, and I am becoming closer with my other lab mates, as well. On Wednesday night, I went to a yakiniku tabehoudai with the majority of my lab, Itoh-sensei, and Itoh-sensei’s lovely wife. While there are occasional miscommunications and language barriers, I am really happy to get to know the members of my lab.
I think my biggest personal accomplishment thus far has been meeting so many people and making friends from all around the world. In addition to my Japanese lab mates, I have become friends with people from Thailand, France, Italy, Germany, Korea, Taiwan… and the list continues to grow. I have learned so much about different cultures, more than I could have ever imagined.
The best part about having friends from different groups (my lab mates, students my dormitory, friends from Nakatani program, friends from back home who are visiting Japan) is that I am able to join in on diverse experiences and adventures. I enjoyed authentic ramen from a small ramen shop with my lab mates, a place I never would have discovered on my own. I attended a Keio basketball game with friends in my dorm. I explored Shibuya at night with a German friend who also works on my campus. I am so excited for all of the exciting adventures to come, and I know I have an amazing network of friends to explore Japan with.
My biggest challenge was yesterday, about two hours after getting lunch in the Keio University Yagami Campus cafeteria with several of my lab mates. There was a special dish this week, containing rice, yamaimo (mountain yam), seaweed, and tuna. I normally don’t particularly enjoy eating tuna, but I decided to try it because it was so well-advertised in the cafeteria (with posters of this dish everywhere). The dish was interesting, not exactly unpleasant, but quite slimy because of the yamaimo. I felt fine after consuming it, and continued on with my research in the laboratory. I began to feel a bit nauseous a few hours later, in the middle of talking to my mentor about the simulation that I was currently
running. I realized that I had food poisoning, most likely from the meal in the cafeteria, and I spent the next hour in the bathroom, sitting on the ground in a cramped bathroom stall with a toilet conveniently at my side. Needless to say, this has been my most uncomfortable experience in Japan. Around 2:30 pm, I decided to leave the laboratory and return to my dorm to get some rest. I spent the next few hours lying in my bed in fetal position, trying not to think about slimy mountain yams and vowing to never eat tuna ever again. These things happen, but I’m a bit hesitant to return to the Keio cafeteria from now on.
Question of the Week: Why is the Shinkansen so expensive? Even more than plane tickets sometimes?
- There is a lot of infrastructure and staffing that go into building and maintaining the Shinkansen lines and you are also paying for convenience. While the initial cost of the ticket might be cheaper to fly, you still have to pay to get to the airport, if you are traveling with large suitcases you might need to pay to send your bags to the airport via Takuhaibin so you don’t have to lug them on the subway, and you also lose out on additional time since you have to get to the airport early to check-in and then wait at the baggage carousel and then spend another hour travel time (usually) to get from the airport back to the center of town.
- When traveling via Shinkansen, trains typically depart and arrive at fairly central stations, there is easy luggage storage right on the train, the seats are very comfortable, and you can rest/relax or work if you need to. You are paying extra for the convenience and the comfort of the Shinkansen and when you add in all the additional costs with flying then the cheap discount airfares might not be as huge a cost-savings as you might think at first.
- But yes, there are plenty of very cheap flight options in Japan and it is sometimes surprising for foreigners that it can be cheaper to fly than tot travel by train in Japan. There are even special discount air passes that are similar to the discounted JR Rail Pass that is open to foreigners in Japan.
Research Project Update
I designed a preliminary model of the antenna on the CST software and ran simulations on Monday, which took a few hours. The simulations run fairly slowly, so there is a bit of downtime while I wait for results. The magnetic field generated was a different phase than expected, but my mentor and I quickly realized that the phase switched for one half of the antenna, so we were able to “fix” this problem. On Wednesday, Kento and I met with Professor Monnai to discuss the results of the first iteration simulation. We decided that we would need to scale the antenna up to a more feasible size, a size similar to the antenna created last year by a German masters student. We also discussed the line impedance of the copper loops and how it needed to match the SMA connector for connecting the coaxial wire to the antenna sides. The current impedance was around 200 ohms, but it needed to be around 50 ohms (impedance of SMA connector). To fix this, we are attempting to add a layer of copper to the back of the substrate to act as a capacitor with the copper lines. We also want to know the relationship between the width of the copper lines and the span between the two copper lines that make up the loop. We then discussed the shape of the antenna, and Professor Monnai suggested that we vary the angle that the antenna loop sides made with each other to reduce the sharp edges so that current can flow better through the loop. At the end of the meeting, Professor Monnai asked me if I had experience with simulation software before. When I replied “no,” he said that I must be a natural at CAD and simulations.
For the rest of the week, I worked on implementing the changes that Professor Monnai, Kento, and I discussed. It was a bit difficult to schedule times to use the CST software because members of other labs have also reserved it, but I think I am making decent progress on the project. Hopefully, a finalized design can be created in the next week or so.
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Week 07: Overview of Mid-Program Meeting & Research Host Lab Visit
Coming this summer!
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Week 08: Research in Japan vs. Research in the U.S.
Coming this summer!
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Week 09: Reflections on Japanese Language Learning
Coming this summer!
Week 10: Interview with Japanese Researcher
Coming this summer!
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Week 11: Critical Incident Analysis – In the Lab
Coming this summer!
Week 12: Final Week at Research Lab
Coming this summer!
Week 13: Final Report
Coming this summer!
Coming this summer!
Tips for Future Participants
Coming this summer!