At the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) we learned about the six different fields of technology research they do, some of which include, Information Technology & Electronics, Environment & Energy, and Life Science & Biotechnology. The Life Science & Biotechnology field of research is where Paro, a therapeutic seal robot invented by Dr. Takanori Shibata in 1993, falls into. Dr. Shibata explained to us the story behind Paro and how he actively did research on baby harp seals in the wild to perfectly capture the essence of these animals. Being able to actually hold and interact with Paro was really mind-blowing because it quickly responds to both touch and sound. This cute and technologically advanced robot technology proves to be a strong therapeutic aid for people with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and Down’s syndrome all around the world, proving that advances in technology are key to furthering our abilities in providing care for our society.
A short bus ride later we arrived at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Tskuba Space Center, which I was excited about as I have always had a fascination with outer space. We watched a video explaining the history of how JAXA came to be and the hard work and dedication of every individual who works there day and night. Then we toured the Astronaut Training Zone where we saw the tools utilized in preparing astronauts for their upcoming missions. The training is rigorous and test the astronauts on their ability to handle non-gravity and outer space conditions, like being in an Isolation Chamber for a week where the confines are small with limited activities. It was really cool to tour JAXA because back in the US all we hear about is NASA, so seeing the developments in aerospace technologies from a different perspective was eye-opening.
Sadly, JAXA was our last business presentation. Looking back at all the presentations we had, I can remember each one distinctly as each one offered great insight and advice that I can use during my career as a student at USC and later as I enter the workforce, possibly even internationally as this LINC trip has taught me to really enjoy the Japanese business work life.
Tonight, my friends and I went on an adventure in Harajuku, which is one of the big fashion districts in Tokyo. Two places stood out in particular for me. Kiddyland and McDonalds. Kiddyland is really amazing because there are about four floors of the cutest toys and trinkets you will ever encounter ranging from Disney to Hello Kitty. It’s a great place to buy cute souvenirs for yourself or family and friends. The McDonald’s was particularly special because I thought it was cool that you had to walk up a flight of stairs to reach it. (You have to work to get your fast food) With the recommendation of Ms. Leonard, I tried the Shaka Shaka french fries, which are french fries that have seasoning on them that you get to shake yourselves and they were absolutely delicious. I also had a chicken burger, which actually tasted a lot different from the one back in the US, and I had a Babycino from McCafe, it was so cute and tiny! I was thoroughly happy with my dinner and I am a huge fan of the McDonalds in Japan for sure.