To break it down, at the beginning of the month, I had my first scientific conference here in Japan. It was just a double poster-session, so besides creating a poster, it was not difficult. The conference was held in the city of Kitakyushu, which is famous for several things like the manga artist Leiji Matsumoto, Kokura Castle, and more infamously having a large yakuza population. I was unable to experience the latter two, but that may or may not be a good thing.
From my lab only two members and two teachers attended, so it was a rather short day-trip. My only complaint is that we had to leave really early in the morning, and we arrived too early for the conference (maybe this is not bad as as I make it out to be, but the fire alarm in my building went off the night before at 2 a.m. and I couldn't sleep after that so I was TIRED). However, I appreciate being prompt, especially when you take the shinkansen (bullet train) from Fukuoka to Kitakyushu, it only takes about 30 minutes! That may be hard for you to tell how quick it is, but it is normally a 2-hour drive to get to Kitakyushu if there is no traffic problems.
We went to a small manga museum during the few hour break and had lunch with our lab PI, so it was actually quite a nice time. However, the main part of the trip was the poster part. I really wish I could have met some other students, but since my poster was in English, too many students were too shy to approach and ask me questions. Maybe next year I will be able to communicate better about scientific terms in Japanese.
Also, during the summertime in Japan there are many festivals in which to attend. Sometimes depending on what the festival is for, you can do quite a lot of different things like games, dancing, enjoying food, watching fireworks, etc. I was lucky enough to meet up with one of my Berea friends, Sachi, and go with her to one of these festivals. Sachi is really a wonderful and generous person, so I was quite surprised that when I finally met with her, we did much more than just attend a festival.
After meeting, we had plenty of time before the festival started so we did some sight-seeing at a very old shrine near the main campus (Hakozaki) of Kyushu University. The Kashii shrine was built in honor of a emperor which died in that area almost 1000 years ago.
I only managed to get a few photos (most of them blurry) because there were so many people in one narrow street! Especially after it became dark, there were so many people coming and going, it was almost impossible to stop and take photos. I was lucky I didn't lose Sachi in the crowd, but fortunately for me I am not hard to spot in crowd of Japanese people, especially with my giant red tote-bag. Sachi also sent me some of her photos to share of her and her students (she teaches English) so will upload these next chance I get.
Hope to post more exciting news for the upcoming summer months!