Posted 1 year ago

I visited Kyoto two days before I left Japan. It seemed like most of the other students who were studying abroad had done it, and they all said it was beautiful…so I thought it would be a good idea to go. A friend gave me the good advice of using an all-day bus pass to go to Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kiyomizu-dera, and Kinkaku-ji. I was able to go to the first two, but by the time I got to the last one, it was unfortunately too dark, so it was already closed. 

I took the Shinkansen to Kyoto. I made the mistake of ordering a “free ticket” instead of a “reserved seat ticket”; the day I went was a Friday, and it was apparently a holiday, so it was the first day of a 3-day weekend. Naturally, the Shinkansen wound up having many users going out for tourism, so…I ended up having to stand up on the train for the entire two or so hours going to Kyoto x___x

(Of course, I realized my mistake and bought a reserved-seat ticket on the way back)

Kyoto in general had a great feel to it. Like Hokkaido, there was a lot more nature in the area than in Tokyo. I took a train down towards Nara for a bit and got to see a lot of the countryside…it was very quiet and peaceful, and there weren’t really any tourists (again, much like Hokkaido). But the red autumn leaves, or kouyou, were definitely really nice to see…although, after a while, I was wondering, “…how long can I really just walk around taking pictures of red leaves before I get bored? .____.”

Posted 1 year ago

A friend asked me to go to Odaiba and take pictures of stuff, so I visited it during my last week in Japan (i.e., after I had finished all my classes).

In Odaiba, there was a giant model Gundam and a little “Gundam Cafe” next to it where I bought a bunch of Gundam stuff for friends back home. I don’t know much about Gundam, but I hope they like the stuff.

There was also a colorful Ferris wheel called the Daikanransha, which was very similar to the the Cosmo Clock 21 I saw at Yokohama.

The city in general reminded me a lot of Yokohama, with the nice air from the water and the generally relaxed atmosphere. It had a nice feel about it.

Posted 1 year ago

It’s been a while. Sorry.

I haven’t really done anything outside of school, and I didn’t want to keep posting feelings about school…because I could do that in America too, so that’d just be lame.

I had been avoiding going out on weekends simply because I’ve usually just been exhausted from the week, and also because…well, I don’t really have any options other than going out by myself, or playing with the tennis club I’m in. So I usually choose to stay in and sleep, watch YouTube videos, and do homework.

However, about a week or 2 ago, my Quantum Physics TA invited me to a community event (held on Saturday, October 13th) nearby ICU where we’d be helping little kids from the community celebrate Halloween (a little early, I know). I’m not sure why, but I didn’t even feel a single bit of resistance to her invitation…which is unusual for me. Perhaps it was because she went out of her way to talk to me. Perhaps it was because I wanted to interact with kids again. Perhaps it was because she’s female (okay so I lied, there’s ONE female in my science courses. But she’s not even a student, and she’s at least 30 years old…). But for whatever reason, I told her I’d do it…which was an interesting process in and of itself; since I was awkward when speaking Japanese with her in class, when she emailed me with the full event itinerary and invitation, she also tried her best to provide an English translation…so when I replied with good, not-crappy Japanese, saying “Thanks for the translation. I can actually read Japanese and mostly understand when I listen, but I suck at speaking…so you don’t have to translate every time” and whatnot, she kinda freaked out. 

At any rate, I biked down to ICU on Saturday.

just like this

just like this

The event was basically a little Halloween thing for some nearby community kids. The event was run by a bunch of adults from the nearby community, most of whom were parents of some of the kids. The helpers were Japanese youths, in their late teens and early 20s, and students studying abroad here in Japan (such as myself), most of whom were from the University of Electro-Communications (電気通信大学 Denki-Tsūshin Daigaku) and were in their mid-to-late 20s. A few of those students were invited by my Physics TA; she had apparently taught some of them in the past or something. At any rate, they were cool people too. Some were quite fluent in Japanese, and others not so much. But we all were able to work together and have fun with the kids and whatnot.

We first decorated the room that the kids would be using to do their little arts and crafts. Then we ate a little lunch, and waited for the kids to come. After the kids came, we separated into groups, and then helped the kids make these little crafts, visible in 1 or 2 of the pictures, I think (the little orange-and-black arch thingies). We then stayed in our respective groups, and went around the neighborhood “trick-or-treating”. It was actually going to 4 specific places in the neighborhood (a convalescent home, 2 homes of kids in the program, and 1 little shop…I recognized the guy at the shop from ICU, so that was cool), and at each place, the kids would do a little puzzle/game thing (singing a song to the old people, playing rock-paper-scissors with the guy at the shop, trivia, etc.), and then get candy after they finished/solved it or whatever. Afterwards, we headed back to the community center place, took pictures, and then said goodbye to the kids and cleaned up all the decorations. All of us helpers then ate a small meal together consisting of a bunch of various Japanese snacks, candies, and drinks, and talked with each other for a bit. This all went from about 11 AM to 6 PM.

The kids were pretty funny. They were mostly between the ages of 7 and 9, and they were pretty lively. There was this one noisy kid in my group who kept grabbing long twig things and tickling people with them, so me and the other helpers in my group trolled him by tickling him with little twig things and then hiding the twig things before he could turn around and see us.

I was really grateful to my Physics TA afterwards. In some Facebook chat correspondence after the event (chatting in Japanese, omg D:), I explained to her that I hadn’t really been able to make that many Japanese friends here (pretty much the only Japanese people here I’m really acquainted with besides my teachers and host family are some of the students in the tennis club I’m in. The tennis club people are really funny and kind, but I only see them once a week, and I don’t go out drinking with them, so I guess I’m not especially close to them…), so I really really appreciated her being so kind to me by going out of her way to invite me and whatnot, and that it made me feel a bit more welcome. She claimed that most Japanese people are just really shy, but because she is used to “rikei danshi" (guys who do science stuff…basically, nerds), she was much more "shameless" in approaching me and inviting me to the event. She said she’d like for me to meet her family (I think just a daughter and husband?) sometime, so I’ll try to do that before I go. I am glad that I made the effort to wake up early on Tuesdays and Thursdays to audit a class that I can’t even fully comprehend.

She mentioned that none of us who attended the event should post clear photos of the kids online (at least, not without their parents’ consent), because apparently people take photos of kids’ faces and swap them onto pornographic images. Because of that, I had to wait a few days to get her permission to upload the photos here with kids in them…she helped me crop out a kid’s face in one photo, and she said 3 of the photos that I wanted to use were just too clear to use at all, so there are no photos of us “trick-or-treating”. Sorry.

…Although, it made me think about all of my previous photo/video uploads of kids…but, my host families have seen my blog, so I think I’m okay. Though I still went back and changed the privacy settings on my related Facebook uploads…

I spent like 2 or 3 hours playing with my host mom’s 1-year-old granddaughter on Sunday. It made me want to have kids someday.

A friend asked that I do a blog post about what I’ve learned in my Quantum Physics. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’ve learned too much…the math quickly turned into stuff that I’ve never done before, and I don’t have the time/skills to go and learn it on my own. But here’s a list of all the stuff I should know (stuff I more-or-less understand is bolded):

  • Wien’s Law
  • Rayleigh-Jeans Law
  • de Broglie wavelength
  • Hamiltonian
  • wavefunctions (still a bit iffy though)
  • Schrodinger Equation
  • Ehrenfest theorem
  • Kronecker Delta
  • Harmonic oscillators
  • Fourier analysis
  • Delta functions/Delta-function potential
  • Potential wells (namely, the finite square well. I sorta get it, but…not really.)
  • Hilbert space
  • Hermitian Operators/Hermite polynomials
  • Determinate states
  • Eigenfunctions of a Hermitian Operator
  • Discrete Spectra and Continuous SPectra
  • Dirac Orthonormality
  • The (generalized) Uncertainty Principle (I mostly get it…I think)
  • Gram-Schmidt Process
  • Fourier Transform (…conceptually, but I still don’t feel comfortable/confident using it)
  • Compatible/Incompatible Observables
  • Dirac Notation
  • Projection Operator

And as for my Quantum Computing seminar…here’s the stuff I should know. Stuff I mostly understand is bolded:

  • Quantum bits (“qubits”)
  • Quantum parallelism
  • Interference
  • Polarization
  • Dirac notation (Bra/ket notation)
  • Quantum key distribution
  • Tensor products
  • Entangled states
  • The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox
  • Hidden variable theory
  • Quantum Gates (represented as linear transformations)
  • The basic unitary matrices: I, X, Y, and Z
  • Controlled-NOT gate
  • Controlled-Controlled NOT gate
  • Toffoli Gate
  • Fredkin gate
  • Walsh-Hadamard Transform
  • No-Cloning Theorem
  • Quantum teleportation
  • Dense coding
  • Universal Quantum Turing Machine
  • Mathematical Representation of the Complete Set of Quantum Gates
  • Register addition and result generation
  • Truth table generation
  • Deutsch Algorithm/Deustch-Josza algorithm
  • Bernstein-Vazirani algorithm
  • Simon’s algorithm
  • Shor’s polynomial time factoring algorithm
  • RSA algorithm (I sorta learned about this in Discrete last semester…oops)
  • Quantum Fourier Transform
  • Grover’s search algorithm


Also, I found this awesome Adventure Time fan art the other day. Couldn’t find the artist, but it is awesome and definitely wallpaper-worthy.


Posted 1 year ago
just wondering, where are from originally from the states? I want to study abroad to ICU soon ;_;
yabadabadooza-deactivated201307 asked

I’m from California. I attend Harvey Mudd College, one of the Claremont Colleges. However, I’m doing this program through Pomona College, another one of the Claremont Colleges (Pomona College is where I’ve been taking my Japanese courses for the last 2 years).

I believe the UCs (especially UC Irvine and UC San Diego, I think?) send a lot of students to ICU for studies abroad…would I be correct in guessing that you’re a UC student?

Posted 2 years ago

Autumn Semester at ICU: First Impressions

I try my best to avoid posting “walls of text and feelings” because I know no one really wants to read those…but I keep writing all this stuff whenever people ask, “How’s school?” or “How’re classes?” so I figured I might as well just get it over with and post a blog entry.

I will try to include many pictures and gifs to keep your attention.

SO…after a week of school at International Christian University:

It’s about a 50-minute (6-mile) bike ride from home to school (the fastest I’ve gotten it down to is 38 minutes…but at a leisurely pace/with a lot of hold ups at stoplights or train crossings, it’s 50 minutes)…so I get to class kinda sweaty in the morning, usually with a rather conspicuous sweat stain on my butt from having sat on a bike seat for a long period of time (my host mom keeps telling me that Tokyo will cool down in a week or two…I sure hope it does >___<). But at least i’m kinda tired when I get home, so I can’t/don’t really stay up late…

You might be asking, “Why not just take the train?”

Well…here’s why:

From my train station to the train station nearest to my school, it’s 280 yen. For the bus that goes directly to my school from the train station nearest to my school, it’s 210 yen. So, if I take the train and the bus (i.e., don’t walk at all), it’s 490 yen one way. And it also takes about 50 minutes. In one day, to school and back, it’s 980 yen. That’s about $12.50.

If I eschew the bus and just take the train and then walk for 30 minutes to school, it’s “only” 560 yen to school and back. That’s about $7.

Either way…it seems pretty expensive to me. $35 a week if I don’t take the bus, $60 a week if I do take the bus. So, unless there’s a typhoon or something…looks like I’m biking. Time to get buff.

Japanese class is good, but really really slow (at least, compared to the summer course). We also have a “pleasure reading” thing, where the teacher has a bunch of little short stories (in Japanese) of various lengths and difficulty levels, and we can pick from them to read throughout the week (and we have one period dedicated to it on Thursdays). I am reading Dracula right now. The grammar and vocabulary are really simple (although, I had to look up the word for “crucifix”…but I could guess the words for “vampire” and “coffin” based on the kanji and context, so that was rather exciting), so I will try a more difficult book once I am finished. However, I am really enjoying it…it’s just like when I was 4, and I first picked up a book to read…and couldn’t stop. So magical…

My linguistics class is “Pragmatics”, so we’re talking about how the meanings of words change based on the scenario (e.g. “us”, “here”, “today”)…the teacher is a Japanese lady, and she’s supposed to teach it in English, so she speaks really slowly and repeats a lot of stuff. It’s pretty easy, and being a native English speaker seems to be a pretty big advantage…at least, I’m not shy about answering the teacher’s questions in class, and most of the stuff seems intuitive.

My “Logic Programming” class’s professor is this German dude who lives in Wisconsin. He’s really chill and funny. He said, “If you have to get your answers from the internet…I don’t really care. Just get it done and tell me you used the internet.”

We’re using Prolog, which I had some experience with about a year and a half ago back at Mudd in CS60…so it shouldn’t be too bad. Although, some of the logic stuff seems a little new to me, so hopefully I’ll be learning a lot of new stuff as well.

My “Seminar on Quantum Computing” professor is this Czech guy who speaks in an almost inaudible monotone, and he kinda just infodumps stuff (because it’s a seminar, I guess…). He said he was a physicist before he got into Computer Science, so during class, he got sidetracked by the math of quantum physics and ended up practically teaching a quantum physics course for 2 hours. Which was interesting, but still…he just whipped out the Schrödinger equation and started solving stuff, and we were like, “…uh, what?”

Two of the guys in the class left after the first period, so there are only 4 of us in the class. Apparently, our grades will be based solely on attendance and the 50-minute final presentation that each of us is supposed to give…but he said our grades will pretty much just be A’s or B’s, so I’m not too worried about it. I suppose it’ll supplement the Quantum Physics course I’m trying to audit…

My “Translation at Work” class is pretty laid back, but it looks like it’ll require some good time management on my part. It’s all about how to properly translate from Japanese to English (i.e., not just being grammatically correct, but how to convey feelings well and use proper translation conventions). It’s about 3.5 hours, so that’s rough…but it’s only once a week (as are my two computer science courses, but those two are only 2.5 hours each). The main thing is that we’ll be translating a 1500 character text of our choosing for the next 12 weeks, and we’ll do smaller translations that she gives us in class and work with other students on the small translations. Maybe someday, I’ll be half as good as Dong-hyeon…

As mentioned earlier, I am also auditing Quantum Physics, which is taught entirely in Japanese…so I don’t quite understand what’s going on (except for most of the math). However, the textbook is in English, so I’m going to try to read a lot of it before class so I can at least have an idea of what the teacher is saying.

And yes, as I said on Facebook…there are no girls in any of my science classes (i.e., the 2 computer science courses and the physics course). I suppose being at Mudd for 2 years made me forget about the lack of females in science fields…

My class schedule is weird (night classes 3 times a week, class from 8:50 AM to 7 PM on Thursdays…Quantum Physics is 1st and 2nd period on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I have Japanese 2nd period, so I only go to Quantum for 1st period), and I live far away, so I can’t really do any of the clubs that I wanted to do (orchestra, tennis, and dance)…I can go to tennis on Tuesday afternoons, but that’s about it.

Here is the period schedule at ICU:

…And here is my class schedule:

So partly due to that, and just me being…me, I guess I haven’t really been able to make friends (that is, outside of people I met during the summer course), which is kinda sad .___.

The students seem pretty nice. They can all understand English, although quite a few are really shy about speaking in English…but outside of the club orientation/fair, when all the sports clubs tried to get me to join them, most people don’t really try to talk to me, despite the many looks I get (especially on the days when I came to school with a violin on my back…whilst wearing a wifebeater). I guess I’ll have to be proactive or something if I’m going to make any friends.

On the bright side, my host mom makes fantastic food…so it’s great to return every night to a feast.

Here’s an example of one of my smaller dinners: gyouza, steak, broccoli, potato soup, rice, green tea, pickles, cucumbers, tomatoes…

I brought my violin to school on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week, and practiced for about 2 or 3 hours each time. It feels really good to actually seriously practice (to the point that my right forearm is sore). I might bring it on Tuesdays as well if I decide that I don’t like the tennis club.

Hooray for college life in Japan.

Posted 2 years ago

Maybe the last video/photo I’ll be uploading for a while, with school starting at whatnot.


Song is “Eight Melodies (Toy Piano Version SFX)” from MOTHER (aka “Earthbound Zero”).

Posted 2 years ago

Back in Tokyo now. The Hokkaido homestay program was fantastic. My homestay was incredibly hospitable, and I am glad I got to meet them…they were a great family.

My host dad gave me a big envelope on the last day. Inside it was a big picture of me and the 5th grade class that I visited, along with a bunch of origami and two letters from some of the students. They had made something for me after all…hahahaha.

On our second-to-last day, we visited a historical Japanese building that apparently belonged to the shogun or something. It holds a museum now.

Afterwards, we went to a tea ceremony. It was painful because my legs are long, so the ladies gave me a chair.

Finally, we went to the youth center, where we met some people from the area who were sort of around our age range (the oldest person was like 37…youngest was about 17). There was a dance team who did this interesting “dragon dance” thing that looked a lot like stuff out of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

On the last day, we used the potatoes we dug up a few days prior to make various Japanese foods. It was tasty.

That night, my host family took me to see the night view of Hakodate from atop Mount Hakodate. Hakodate’s night skyline is apparently ranked 3rd in the world, after Hong Kong and Naples. It was really pretty.

On Saturday, we had a big farewell party which included a speech contest, various musical performances (including me and some of the Chinese students singing “Tong Hua”…-___-), and everyone doing the Ika Odori at the end.

After saying goodbye to our host families, we eventually took a bus to the airport and flew back to Tokyo.

Upon my return, my Tokyo host mother promptly stuffed me with dinner, and even moreso with brunch this morning. I am looking forward to the next 3 months.

Tomorrow, I have orientation for school.


Posted 2 years ago
Do you have a picture of an inaos?
endtablecomments asked

If you mean this thing: 

…then no, no I do not. Sorry .___. 

Posted 2 years ago

Clips from today’s elementary school visit.

The first clip is of the “Ika Odori” (“Squid Dance”) that apparently everyone in Hakodate knows. They showed us how to do it afterwards.

Next is a clip of one of the games my 5th grade class played. Each student is assigned a word (first round we used Japanese colors assigned by the teacher, second round we used Chinese greetings selected by the Taiwanese girl assigned to that class with me, and third round we used random English words and phrases selected by me), and if your word is called by the student in the middle, then you have to get up and quickly find another seat. If you don’t find a seat, then you have to go to the middle and say a few sentences in English. That kid in the white shirt kept posing for my camera.

Next clip, some of the kids from my class had come downstairs to say goodbye. They wouldn’t stop waving and jumping…aaahh.

After that is recess (as we were leaving the school). A lot of the kids were playing soccer. The music was actually coming from the school…

The last few clips are of my host mom’s friend and her kids (with my host mom’s kids). In the first one, my host mom is showing one of them the little swing they set up in the living room. Next clip, the cute little baby crawled around, and then the moms asked the two older boys to sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" to show/practice their English-speaking skills. At the end of that clip, my host mom’s friend asked me to join them…which is why I make an awkward appearance in the last clip .____.

Posted 2 years ago

Today, we visited the local elementary school where my host dad teaches. It had many many more kids than the last elementary/middle school we went too, so we were assigned 1 or 2 each to a classroom. I was assigned to the 5th grade class that my host dad teaches.

The kids were really excited to see us. First, we met in the gym where we said our names to the kids, and then they taught us a little dance…”Ika Odori”, or “The Squid Dance”; as mentioned in a previous post, the squid is Hakodate’s city animal, so it’s like…a dance that everyone is supposed to know or something.

We then broke up to our respective classrooms. We were told by the people in charge of our program that we’d have to talk for 15 minutes, with 5 or 10 minutes being an introduction to our home country, and then the remaining time being for questions…but it was much much simpler than that. We basically said our names, home countries, hobbies, and a small fact about our respective countries (like, a minute or 2 each). The rest was just the kids asking us questions, and then playing a variety of games with the class, and eventually eating lunch and then leaving.

The kids start learning English around 4th or 5th grade, so with me being an American and whatnot, I was asked to teach them a few words (or rather, show them the “correct pronunciation”, rather than their Engrish pronunciation). Every time I said a word, they were all said “OoooOooooOOOOoo”. It was the first time I ever felt special for knowing English.

One of the boys kancho'd his friend like 3 times during lunch. Another little boy kept trying to tickle me. They reminded me of how I often poke(d) people. Except not in the butt.

A lot of the kids gave presents, such as origami, drawings, photos, and little crafts to those of us in the program who visited. My kids didn’t make any for me and the other girl with me…but it’s okay. I took a lot of pictures.

Like yesterday, saying goodbye took a while. They kept waving and asking for high fives and handshakes as we were leaving…ahhh, kids.

When I got back home, my host mom told me that her friend and her friend’s kids would be coming over. She said that I would probably be the first foreigner they had met, so it’d be a good experience for them.

The kids were really nice. The mom kept asking them to try to practice their English with me (e.g., saying “thank you”, “how old are you”, etc.). They were really nice kids…a 7-year-old boy (in Hayato’s class), a 4-year-old boy (in Tsucchan’s kindergarten), and an almost 1-year-old baby girl. They even gave me some presents…origami paper, chopsticks, and some manjuu. The kids were making some origami things (well, just paper airplanes), and my host mom asked if I could do any origami…so I made a pegasus thing that I used to make all the time a few years ago. I was surprised that I even remembered.

Now they keep saying I’m Japanese.