Monday, May 12, 2008


Some of you may wonder what exactly am I doing in Japan. I am here under the Young Scientist Exchange Program(YSEP) organized by Tokyo Institute of Technology(TITECH). There are abt 30 students in this program, from a dozen different countries. We are all here as research students and are each supposed to do a Sotsuron卒論 (Jap version of Final Year Research Project)
Coincidently, the only 3 Singaporeans in TITECH happen to be in the program. Me, Julian and MinRui, all from NUS's Student Exchange Program(SEP). Julian and MinRui are my senior(Year 4 computing. I'm year 3 engineering), and guess what... Julian is from Chinese High as well, same as me! All 3 of us started learning Japanese during Secondary 1 at MOE Language Centre.

The university system in Japan works quite differently from that in Singapore(NUS). In Singapore, during your final year of uni, you do a Final Year Project(FYP) under a professor. If you are a Masters or PHD student, you do a research project - similar to FYP - but u are allocated to a desk in a room together with many other Masters or PHD students. In short, you may end up sitting beside a stranger who is doing a different subj project and attached to a different Prof. For bachelor students, u rarely get a desk for yourself.

In TITECH, every Professor has his own LAB. In my case, since my prof's name is MURAKI (村木), so the lab is named after him - MURAKI LAB. In the lab, there are abt 12 students, varying from PHD, Masters, Research Students(like me) and Final year Bachelor undergrads. Its a good mix, especially for those year 4 undergrads, they GET THEIR OWN WORKSPACE and get a chance to interact with the PHD and Masters students which they would otherwise have not known. All of us are attached to the same prof, and since the prof's specialization is Business Process Engineering, all our project are related to this topic. In short, before you get assigned to a lab, you choose the project topic(of your interest) you want to do, and that topic will eventually lead u to a particular professor.

Pic of my lab. Each student has his own desk, shelf and computer. The lab has colour printer, scanner etc etc. Well-equipped.
This is my workspace..

Each lab functions like a family, with the prof being the head of the "family". The more senior students are supposed to help/guide the juniors in their projects. (Since we all specialize in the same topic, there shouldnt be much of a problem doing so)

Similarly, the lab is like our "home". People eat, sleep, study, play, talk cock, slack... etc etc in the lab. Other things that can be found in labs are refrigerator, microwave oven, sofa, stacks of magazines and comic books, TV etc etc, just like a home.

Here are my labmates in MURAKI-Lab
Pic taken during our Welcome Party(歓迎会 KanGeiKai). Its a feast the lab holds every sem to welcome new students into the lab. Clockwise from me: Kenny(me), Koide(B4), Oonuma(M2), Gotou(M2), Sano(M2), Kanetaka(M2), Hirai(B4), Matsuoka(Asst. Prof), Muraki(Prof) and Niwa(B4). Not in pic: Nishi(B4).
B4= Bachelors degree 4th year,
M2= Masters Degree 2nd year

I was originally allocated to another lab, but came to this lab cos the original Prof went on a long term MC. Here are the labmates from that lab

Satou, me and Tetsurou. Tetsurou is my assigned mentor. I like his cool hairstyle, do u?

This is Kenji wearing a cool hat.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mt Mitake

Climbed another mountain today. This one is called Mt Mitake, slightly further and slighter higher than the previous one. (abt 1200m i guess)

The route up the mountain is well pathed.. with concrete pavement most of the way. Quite easy to climb

JD, ZH and me in front of a shrine near the submit of the mountain.

Us taking a break along the way... quite tiring...

Along the way, there was this small shop selling this traditional sticky candy. (麦芽糖). Its basically a confectionary made of sugar and starch.. but it feels nostalgic since this sweet is a vanishing trade in singapore...

Finally, at the top....

Beautiful scenery... quite a few other pple were having picnic there.
Going up is difficult, coming down is equally hard.

A nice waterfall along the way...

Some of the more unique flowers i spotted along the way....