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Felix von Drigalski obtained his PhD from NAIST in 2018. He works as a researcher at OMRON SINIC X in Tokyo. His interests are in robotic manipulation, factory automation and tactile sensing. He speaks German, English, French and Japanese.

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Antonio graduated his PhD from the Vision and Media Computing Laboratory (NAIST). He currently works as a researcher at the Machine Intelligence Lab (UTokyo). His research interests are 3D computer vision, human action recognition and automatic analysis of sports video.

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Lotfi obtained his PhD at the Robotics Laboratory (NAIST) as a MEXT Scholar in 2017. Following his graduation, he entered the Ritsumeikan Global Innovation Research Organization (R-GIRO) as a Senior Researcher where his research focuses on emergent systems and artificial intelligence in robotics.

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Bryan is a Doctoral Student of the Mathematical Informatics Laboratory at NAIST. He likes to take photos.

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I am the new student from April on 2017. I joined to this action because I want to use an English. I couldn't put contributions now(November on 2017), so I want to put more contributions.

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Xian is a doctor course student from the Quantum Materials Science Laboratory, Division of Materials Science at NAIST. His research interests are strongly-coupled systems and nanophotonics. His hobbies are hiking, weight lifting, and bouldering.

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Umetsu is a M1 student of NAIST and he is a member of UBI-Lab. (http://ubi-lab.naist.jp/). His research interests are in the areas of activity recognition using various sensors. He likes art and music.

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Juntao Gao is now with Mobile Computing Laboratory of NAIST. His research interests are in the areas of stochastic optimization, control theory and machine learning.

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Jenichi is a PhD student from the Information Device Science laboratory from Materials Science Division. She likes to read books during her free time.

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Milano is a master course student of Interactive Media Design Laboratory. He speaks Mandarin Chinese, English, Cantonese and Japanese.

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A Day Trip to Nara’s Illustrious Past

NAIST continually offers opportunities for its students, especially international ones, to experience and be more immersed in Japanese culture, besides the world-class research and academic formation that it primarily provides. Last November, around 12 students participated in a tour around Nara Park and visited three historically and culturally significant places: Todaiji Temple, Kasuga-Taisha Shrine, and the Nara National Museum. Both Todaiji Temple and Kasuga-Taisha Shrine are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are extremely popular for tourists. And what makes this trip even more appealing? It was free and featured English-speaking guides! They helped us better appreciate the history and culture behind these incredible centers of Buddhism and Shintoism during the period when Nara was still the capital of Japan around 1300 years ago.

View of Nara City from Nigatsu-do Hall. One can easily recognize the roof of Todaiji Temple from here
Two of thousands of Nara’s famous deer dueling even with their antlers cut off

The students gathered in the familiar fountain in Kintetsu-Nara Station and were split into two groups, with each group designated an English-speaking tour guide.

The monk called Gyōki Bosatsu standing in the middle of the Kintetsu-Nara Station fountain

The first stop for this trip was Todaiji Temple (東大寺), which houses the Big Buddha (Daibutsu, 大仏), the largest bronze Buddha sculpture in the world! Todaiji is also known for being one of the largest wooden structures in the world. Here, we learned a bit about the history of Buddhism in Japan, and how it greatly influenced the Japanese society during the Nara period. We also learned about the significance of the pindola wooden sculpture just outside the Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden, 大仏殿). It is believed that if you have some pain in some part of your body and you touch the same body part of the sculpture, your pain will go away. For example, if your feet hurts, you should touch the feet of the pindola. That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?

Group photo just before entering the Daibutsuden
Todaiji’s Big Buddha, the largest bronze sculpture of Buddha in the world!
Wood sculpture of a devoted monk who is believed to possess healing powers

After this, we did a little hike to the east to Nigatsu-do Hall, which is still part of the Todaiji Temple complex. Here, one can admire an amazing view of the city of Nara. An important cultural event associated with repentance called Shuni-e (修二会), which literally means Second Month Service, involves the monks carrying burning torches in the balcony of Nigatsu-do Hall. People believe that when a spark of fire falling from the balcony hits you, then your sins will be cleansed. The tour guide mentioned that this ritual has been performed uninterruptedly since the completion of the hall around 770 AD, even during the war.

Nigatsu-do Hall during fall
The tour guide giving a short quiz about the Nara deer

The second stop for this cultural trip was Kasuga-Taisha Shrine (春日大社), which is built on the mountainous area believed to be the home of the Shinto gods. The popular Nara deer, which are revered to be messengers of the Shinto gods, freely roam this area, as well as in Todaiji. The tour guide taught us how to properly pray in a Shinto shrine and some students got to try it! The hundreds of lanterns lining the walkway are lit only twice in a year. It makes a spectacular view during these two rare occasions, according to the tour guide.

The lantern-laden approach to the sacred Kasuga-Taisha Shrine
The main entrance to the praying hall of Kasuga-Taisha flocked by many tourists

After sightseeing in these two world-renowned spots, we proceeded to the Nara National Museum to learn more about the history of Buddhism and Nara as an ancient capital of Japan. The museum houses several masterpieces of Buddhist sculptures made of wood, bronze, and other materials. There was an enormous number of Buddhist sculptures in the Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall, there’s literally one in every corner and direction! It was such an immersive experience to learn more about the prominent role that Buddhism played in ancient Japan.

East entrance of the Nara National Museum building showing a distinct architectural style

After this, the German intern in my lab (who is enjoying Japan so much, so far) and I wrapped up the day by having one of the best tonkatsu I’ve ever tried in Japan (in my personal opinion). At the end of it all, our stomachs, minds, and hearts were all full and delighted. NAIST has delivered yet another amazing tour for its students and we can’t wait for the next one!

Group shot with the tour guides before we parted ways

PS: For anyone who wishes to participate in NAIST-sponsored events like this, just watch out for the e-mails. They’re there! Don’t ignore them and be quick in replying because slots always fill up quickly!

Nanomagnetism and Beyond: The 405th Photonic Nanoscience Special Lecture

Materials Science is inherently an interdisciplinary field. It combines theories, principles, and techniques in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Engineering to design and fabricate new and novel materials, structures, and systems and to study the behavior and dynamics of devices made up of these various material components. Continue reading Nanomagnetism and Beyond: The 405th Photonic Nanoscience Special Lecture

Not Your Ordinary Afternoon Break: NAIST Tea Time #15

At NAIST, the Victorian tradition of afternoon tea time has taken on a different meaning and purpose.  Unlike the conventional scones, biscuits, or cakes, this Tea Time includes some light snacks from different parts of the world.

Continue reading Not Your Ordinary Afternoon Break: NAIST Tea Time #15

Jugoya: The Night of the Full Moon

Templish is a volunteer hands-on learning program of Japanese culture for elementary school children.  The name is a play on “temple” and “English”, as activities are facilitated in English, by members of an over-800-year old temple, Chokyu-Ji. International students from NAIST regularly volunteer to engage with the children in fun activities, with a theme that changes every month.
Continue reading Jugoya: The Night of the Full Moon