Sightseeing!

Today, Jeffrey, Mr. Blackwell, Dr. Kishida, and I went sightseeing around Tokyo! Even though this program is physics-centered, I’ve done surprisingly little physics so far – which leaves me both super excited and super nervous for next week. I really appreciate Dr. Kishida taking so much time out of his busy life at RIKEN to help us out, both by teaching us physics and by acting as quite a knowledgeable guide for our exploration of Tokyo.

We started out at Harajuku Station, and then walked through Harajuku (which Dr. Kishida describes as “made for young persons”). Next, we went to the United Nations University, but unfortunately their gallery was closed, so we couldn’t go in. Personally, I didn’t mind so much because that meant an earlier lunch! We ate at a university cafeteria, which means that our food was both yummy and cheap (a very rare find in downtown Tokyo).

Our next stop was RIKEN’s previous site, where Dr. Nishina and many other brilliant scientists carried out most of Japan’s scientific research before World War II. It was truly an honor to experience RIKEN’s old campus. In addition to seeing the magnet from the very first cyclotron made in Japan (see photos below!), we got to go into Dr. Nishina’s office and look at some of his handwritten notes, which were really really cool. Along the way, we learned about certain parts of Japanese-American relations during the war, including some not-so-nice things we Americans did, like bombing cyclotrons and throwing them into the sea. We also learned that Dr. Nishina played a crucial part in ending the war by determining that the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima was, in fact, an atomic bomb. The whole visit was incredibly fascinating.

The last place we visited was the Edo-Tokyo Museum, which was also absolutely fantastic. Chronicling Tokyo’s history from the rise of the shogunate to modern day through models (some of them life-size), interactive exhibits, and many original writings, drawings, and paintings, the Edo-Tokyo Museum was interesting even at the end of our very long day. Engaging, aesthetically pleasing, and all around well-put-together, the museum is definitely something you should see if you’re in Tokyo; I’m really surprised that I had never heard of it before today! Also, as an added bonus, you can pretty much see the whole thing in 1.5-2 hours, so you don’t need to leave feeling like you’ve missed out on anything.

All in all, today was wonderful, and I definitely learned a lot. Even though the subway/train rides were long, it was more than worth it to experience Tokyo.

– Arianna

P.S. Navigating the Tokyo Metro/JR all by myself really makes me feel like a grown up, even though Tokyo has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. (Really, America, step your game up.)

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