Hello from Japan! Daniel’s First Blog

This is my first post so I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself:
My name is Daniel and I am senior at the University of Washington. I am a Biology (Molecular, Cellular, & Development) major with hopes to acquire a Marine Biology minor upon graduation. I consider my hometown to be Oak Harbor, WA but I am no stranger to Japan. Growing up in a military family (Go Navy!), I have had the unique opportunity of living overseas in Japan. I was born in Yokosuka and my family has been stationed at Naval Air Station Atsugi (1992-1995) and U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo (2001-2005). I write this blog post from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, where my dad is currently stationed. This Friday, my mom and dad will accompany me to Tokyo where my real adventures in Japan will begin!

There are several reasons why I chose to come back to Japan to study abroad after I have already spent eight years here. Living in Japan as a military dependent was a great opportunity, but did not fulfill the true “Japanese experience” since I lived, went to school, and spent most of my time on base. Almost everyone I interacted with spoke English and all my friends were Americans. By participating in this study abroad, I hope I can fully immerse myself in the Japanese culture. Another reason for me to choose to study in Japan is the fact that I would like to get back to my “roots.” Japanese was my first language. I went to Yōchien (Japanese kindergarden) before I moved to Washington. Unfortunately, I stopped speaking Japanese after I moved stateside when I was about 5. Fortunately, I retained what I knew and I can understand about 60-70% of simple Japanese conversation and guess the rest. Speaking lengthy sentences is another story (My vocabulary is terrible!) My goal while in Japan is to improve my vocabulary, learn to read and write well, and get in touch with “roots” (I am 100% Japanese by blood).

I’m very excited to start my study in Tokyo. I will be attending Tokyo Institute of Technology and the program I will be participating in is called the Young Scientist Exchange Program (YSEP). What’s interesting about this program is that along with taking classes about Japanese language and society, I will join a lab and partake in their research and conduct my own sotsuron (research project), which I will have to present at the end of the year. Professor Junji Hirota has graciously agreed to become my academic advisor. I will join him and his lab to learn lab techniques and conduct my own research project. The Hirota Lab just recently published a paper in the Journal of Neuroscience this past July. Their paper, titled “BCL11b/Ctip2 Controls the Differentation of Vomeronasal Sensory Neurons in Mice” focused on the transcription factor Bcl11b/Ctip2 and its critical roles in the development of several systems and organs. They found that Bcl11b is required for proper development of the vomeronasal system in mice. If interested, please check this link: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/31/28/10159.abstract (full access to the paper for UW students). I can’t wait ‘til school starts!
Well that’s all for now, I will post an update after I get into Tokyo.