Emily's second blog post from Japan- Arriving in Inuyama
Since my last post, I’ve made it to the Primate Research Institute (PRI) and have met many kind and amazing people. I’ve also met the marmosets! But first, let’s back track and I’ll let you know about my journey to the institute. Last Tuesday, also known as moving day, was my first real adventure navigating the public transportation systems in Japan. First step on the travel plan was to take a chartered bus, provided by JSPS, from Sokendai to Tokyo Station. Now, Tokyo Station is very large and complex and since my train did not leave for some time, myself and two other fellows, who were traveling with me to the PRI, decided to explore and get lunch. Under the station, there were many stores and a whole alley lined with amazing looking and smelling restaurants. It was hard to make a decision but I was fully satisfied with our choice for lunch, it was quite good! After lunch, we made our way to the correct platform and awaited the Shinkansen, a Japanese Bullet train, to take us to Nagoya Station.
The train ride from Tokyo to Nagoya was an hour and forty minutes, however, it did not feel like a long ride. I used the time to start reading a book I promised someone I would read a long while ago. Now, the third leg of the journey was the one I was most anxious about. I was warned by multiple sources that the Nagoya Station could be a bit confusing and I was told to be careful not to take the wrong train. However, though the station was quite large, it all turned out ok. We found the right platform and took the correct train. I think due to the multiple warnings, I came thoroughly prepared ahead of time to navigate the station. Therefore, from Nagoya, we took a local train to Inuyama City where the PRI is located. In Inuyama, the host researchers of my travel companions picked us up and drove us to the PRI. For this, I am very thankful as the walk to the PRI is uphill. Once I got to the PRI, I was immediately shown around to my office and dorm room where I will be staying for the remainder of my stay in Japan. At this point, I was introduced to many of the researchers and faculty at the institute and within the lab. I felt immediately welcomed by the people I met and I am excited to get the chance to continue working with them throughout the summer. I was provided many delicious meals within my first few days which I am very thankful for. In the next few days, I took some time to walk around the city and settle into my room. At this time, I was also introduced to the marmoset colony and got the chance to take part in their afternoon feeding a few times. Meeting the marmosets for the first time was amazing; the marmosets were very curious to know who I was and throughout my time in the room, they would turn their heads to the side and stare at me. Throughout my first few visits, I had many staring contests with the monkeys and lost all of them. On Thursday, I met Dr. Nakamura, my host for the summer. He took me around the city and I was able to see Inuyama Castle. Built in 1537, it is the oldest standing castle in Japan. We took a tour of both the castle grounds and within the castle itself. We slowly climbed to the very top and walked the balcony overlooking the river, Inuyama, and even Nagoya could be seen in the distance.
After visiting Inuyama Castle, we next went to see Narita-san Temple, which is modeled after the original Narita-san Temple in Narita. The temple is located on a very large hill and there were many steps to make it to the top. The rest of the week, I continued to settle in and finally got the chance to spend some time during the weekend to catch up on American television. However, I did spend some time working; I started going through literature for a second time in order to start writing the all-important Master’s thesis. Next week, both the monkeys and I begin training. I will learn how to administer cognitive testing and the monkeys will begin learning to associate the act of touching a screen with a food reward.
See you next week!
This research is funded by the National Science Foundation East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes for U.S. Graduate Students (EAPSI) in collaboration with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).