Cody Ruiz- Blog posts from JAPAN!
Hello, I’m Cody Ruiz, a Master’s student at Kent State University studying primate genetics, and I hope you enjoy reading about my research and cultural experiences during my stay in Japan! Earlier this year, I was awarded a National Science Foundation EAPSI fellowship, which allows U.S. graduate students to conduct summer research in an East Asian country. This summer, I’ll be at the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University studying molecular mechanisms of spermatogenesis in the Japanese macaque monkey with Dr. Masanori Imamura and his team. I’d like to thank the NSF and the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) for giving me this opportunity to work with a leading research team in the field of primate spermatogenesis. Be sure to check in each week for a little taste of Japanese science and culture!
Getting to Japan!
My travels started with a quick 11-hour flight from LAX to Tokyo. Then, I made my way from the airport to the International Garden Hotel where all of the EAPSI fellows (65 from the US, and 40 from other nations) convened before bussing to our week-long orientation program at the Graduate University for Advanced Studies in Hayama.
During our orientation, we heard lectures and talks from various scientists and academics, ate delicious (oishii) meals at the university cafeteria, took 12 hours of intensive Japanese language classes, and participated in traditional Japanese cultural programs.
Hayama translates to “leaf mountain” which was readily apparent. Here’s the view of the bay from the Graduate University – alas, only in the winter can you see Mt. Fuji.
We arrived just in time to see the hydrangeas (ajisai) bloom in full force. Doing a little Japanese calligraphy! I’m attempting to write the character for summer (natsu).
Just a few of the nearly 100 researchers having a farewell celebration at the Graduate University. I’m right in the center giving the peace sign.
Homestay with the Ayukawa Family
Over the weekend (June 17 – 19), another EAPSI fellow named Daniel and I stayed with the Ayukawa family in Kamakura, Japan. Our host family was amazing in every sense of the word – they took us all around Kamakura, introduced us to new foods, and taught us so much about Japanese culture! I’m looking forward to staying in touch with the Ayukawa family through e-mail and (hopefully) seeing them in the US!
Yoko and Takashi, our homestay mother and father, prepared a special birthday dinner for Daniel with the main dish of okonomiyaki; by far my favorite dish of the week.
Shotaro (7 years old) showing us how to wash our money at the Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine (jinja). This is supposed to bring us good financial luck in the future, so let’s see how that goes!
Taking a break from the climb up to the Sasuke Inari Jinja. These red gates are called torii gates, and let’s just say we felt vic-TORII-ious when we reached the shrine at the top!
Toma is teaching Daniel and me how to pose like Daibutsu (big Buddah).
We ended our homestay with a visit to a local park! Here’s Daniel and me carrying the boys back to the car to avoid the incoming rain.
This is a good-bye letter from Shotaro which reads:
I had a great time with you for the last few days.
Thank you for carrying me.
I hope you liked the present from us.
*Please note the monkey (nihonzaru) in the top right*
Off to the Primate Research Institute
Next week will mark my first time at the Primate Research Institute, and I can’t wait to meet Dr. Imamura, his research team, and of course, the non-human primates! Until next week, matane (see you)!
Before getting on the shinkansen (bullet train) to head to the PRI, I had these Japanese Kit-Kats! They are matcha-flavored (green tea) and perhaps – no, definitely – the best candy in existence.
This research is funded by the National Science Foundation East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes for U.S. Graduate Students (EAPSI)