Internship at Lighthouse NPO

From August 1 to August 19, I had participated in an unpaid internship at NPO Lighthouse, a support center for human trafficking victims in Japan. I had participated with a friend of mine, who had given me this idea in the first place, and in this 3 weeks our primary goal was to finish translating a manga created by Lighthouse called Blue Heart. This was a project we had already started in our Combating Human Trafficking group, as the manga that Lighthouse had published is in Japanese. The manga consists of 3 stories, based on real life accounts, of different situations of minors being sexually trafficked. As we saw the content was worth spreading to as wide an audience as possible, we thought that translating the content on the manga into English would raise awareness among a much wider and international audience about the severity of the issue in Japan.

As we already knew Ms. Segawa, the PR officer for Lighthouse, and Shihoko Fujiwara, the founder of Lighthouse, we were already comfortable in the small work setting. We had scheduled that we would go to office on Mondays to Fridays, from 11:00~18:00. On this condition, we were present everyday on out schedule, and managed to stay throughout the whole time. The entire group consisted of only 3 full time workers (Ms. Fujiwara was on maternal leave at the time) and between 3 to 5 volunteer workers on a good day. Thanks to this small group, we were able to become close to each other and have colloquial conversations while being able to work collaborative with each other. The people at Lighthouse were extremely warm hearted, and took us out for lunch on the first and last day, and would bring a snack to office every day for us to have as a snack.

While working towards completing the translation project, I had worked predominantly with my friend, where we would work on different sections of a chapter and then check each other’s work. Where our translation group at CHT took an entire semester and could only finish one section, we as a pair managed to finish translating the entire manga in a week. This is now being sent to professional translators to be revised. In addition, we collaboratively worked with the members of Lighthouse when translating their website into English, working on an English promotional video, and most abundantly when we were invited to the Johnson&Johnson main office in Shibuya with Ms. Segawa and the secretary of Lighthouse to give thanks for their grant, and to briefly go over the activity in which we have contributed towards, which my friend and I were able to contribute with.

Perhaps the two biggest challenges we faced were working with completely new people for the first time and working completely in Japanese. Although both of us were fluent in conversational Japanese, we were not accustomed to the way to speak in a Japanese work environment, which is much different from colloquial Japanese. While we were able to have casual conversations with members of the group, we initially struggled with communicating while conducting more official works. However, throughout the 3 weeks we were able to develop the skill and language proficiency to be able to speak in an official setting like at Johnson&Johnson’s office.

Out of all the days we had scheduled to go, we were able to go everyday throughout the designated times we had scheduled. In addition, we had managed to complete every task we were given from the group, whether that be completing the manga translation, the website translation, an interview that is conducted with interns, and the promotional video on their donation program. Although we had some moments where we were not focused on our work and had our laughs with the people at Lighthouse, we were able to stay committed to whatever goals we had set and be able to achieve those goals.

Knowing that the group is working towards legally prosecuting traffickers in Japan, and seeing the calls they get from such victims from the hotline service, and the number of times the consulting team is not in office due to an appointment with a client, I can safely say that the group is legitimately working towards a good cause to create a safer and more enjoyable society for younger children and adults. While my friend and I are not qualified to physically go out and help people, a delicate job that should only be done by those trained for it, we were able to contribute in spreading the word of this organization to a much wider audience by translating their content into English, for the vast number of English-speakers in Japan and around the world. This task is what was asked for by the members of the group, and they have shown that they have benefitted from the publicizing of the organization’s movement.

G10 Media Fair Reflection Blog Post

The Grade 10 Media Fair was held on Wednesday June 8th. Everyone in Grade 10 had created posters on a topic of their choice. We had to make a poster about how the media had portrayed a recent controversial event or concept, such as Feminism or Leicester City winning the Premier League. I had chosen the case between Apple and the FBI, where the FBI wanted Apple to create a backdoor to all iPhones to hack into a terrorist’s iPhone, but Apple had refused because it would put all iPhone user’s privacy in danger.


From the fair, we had to chose 3 people whose posters showed some interesting findings. Eddie had done the Apple vs. FBI case as well. His media types were a Q&A page, an interview, an informative video and news article, a timeline, and a cartoon. I found it interesting how the interview showed people siding with the FBI when they first heard of the case. However, when they were informed about their privacy being potentially compromised, they immediately changed their minds. This shows how context changes one’s opinion on something so significantly.


The second person’s topic I found interesting was Kaishyu’s poster on Donald J. Trump’s self-funded campaign. His poster showed this topic being shown through tweets, memes and a news article. The fact that there are a lot of memes describing this situation shows how ridiculous his whole scheme is. Also, all sources on Trump’s side are tweets from Trump himself, which shows, interestingly, that not many people support Trump.13393353_1715401768725839_1634646712_n





















Lastly, Zerric had done his poster on teacup dogs. His sources included a report, advertisement, photographs, brochure and appeal. He told us that, although the average lifespan for teacup dogs is about 2~3 years, the side media of the media that try to sell the dogs say that they live for 8~14 years. It is interesting to see how the media would make such a blatant lie, which could easily be exposed by doing a bit of research, to sell the dogs as if they were some inanimate product with a “shelf-life” of 8~14 years, instead of treating them as biological organisms whose health and life expectancy is in stake.

David Reimer – Ethical or not?

The story

David Reimer was born in Manitoba, Canada, with his two parents and a twin brother Brian. At six months of age, they were diagnosed with phimosis, and the doctors decided that they would need to circumcise them both. While the operation succeeded for Brian, the doctors had used an electrocautery needle instead of the standard method of using a scalpel. This resulted in his penis being burned beyond surgical repair. In order for him to lead a normal life, his parents agreed to have his gender changed to female at the age of 8 months. Upon his parent’s agreement, they did not know that the true intentions of the doctors was to prove that gender qualities and identity was nurtured, not acquired by nature. The doctors had considered the surgery a success, but in reality, now-Brenda Reimer grew up acting like a stereotypical boy, which lead her to question her identity and feelings. The change had also resulted in many problems in the family: her mother was suicidal, her father was an alcoholic and Brian suffered depression. After finally telling Brenda about the past incident at the age of 14, she decided to become David again. While the transformation was complete, this still lead to a huge number of family problems. After his wife had separated from David, he had taken the car out to the grocery and shot himself in the head at the parking lot. He was 38 years old.

What was it trying to achieve?

The main objective the doctors had in mind was looking at the nature vs nurture argument. As they had found such an opportunity, they had decided to look at how gender identities were acquired or brought up. They wanted to see that if someone is born, say, as a boy, but almost immediately after becomes a girl, will the subject have girl-like or boy-like characteristics. If the subject had male characteristics, it would show that gender identity is from nature, and that being born as a boy meant the subject would tend towards their natural gender. However, if the subject had possessed female characteristics, it would prove nurture responsible, as the subject would have naturally been a boy, but nurtured as a girl.

Why was it unethical?

In the first place, the failure of the circumcision was very unethical, as the doctors had used a highly non-conventional method of using the electrocautery needle, especially on an infant who required it for medical reasons. It would have been rather sensible to experiment with different methods of the operation on patients that are above 20 years old and have requested it for their desire, not necessity. In addition to that, making Reimer go through the transformation without much support from the hospital. She might have needed to consult some therapist of psychiatrist to go through their his academic activity at school. This way, Brenda would not have felt to confused, and that may have lead to a simpler family. The main unethical point is also that the doctors did not fully explain the purpose of the transformation, and perhaps this knowledge would have saved him, as he could have had a reconstructed penis as soon as possible.

Could it have been done ethically?

This experiment can not possible by remade into a better one, as this method is the only way scientists would be able to get a reading from it. However, the objective of the program was to find whether gender qualities were brought to everyone by nature or is nurtured. This could have been done in a much less exaggerated way. To test gorillas and apes, they had shown toys and objects corresponding to either gender. While their genders are noted, they observe which objects they interact with more. Something similar could have been applied to test this theory. Perhaps instead of being presented with objects, for a short while, a small child can have 2 guardians; one that treats them excessively like boys, and one that treats them excessively as boys. After the designated period of time passes, the infant will have a preferred guardian, which will be recorded and then compare with their own genders.

Works Cited

Colapinto, John. “Why Did David Reimer Commit Suicide?” Slate Magazine. The Slate Group

LLC, 03 June 2004. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

Maggie. “Top 10 Unethical Psychological Experiments – Listverse.” Listverse. N.p., 08 Sept. 2008.

Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

Magliocco12345. “Nature v Nurture.” YouTube. YouTube, 19 July 2012. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

Kinuta Final Blog Post

What was effective about my preparation? What worked best? Why

Even though I was not there during the concert, I felt that I would have been well prepared to have played the piece. I had been able to memorise the piece a lot earlier than most people had, which allowed me to develop confidence when playing, and allow me to make adjustments to how I played the piece, such as adding dynamics and playing at an appropriate tempo. I managed to memorise the piece by finding patters and recurring motifs in the piece, which was not too difficult to do because it was quite repetitive, and focused on being able to play each motif accurately and confidently, which I think was what worked best for me. In addition, listening to the piece on YouTube helped me develop an idea of how the overall piece is supposed to sound, and what dynamics and tempo were to be used. To be fair, I feel that the second Koto part (the part I was playing) was much easier than the first Koto part, which also allowed me to get the piece memorised earlier than most others could.

 How might I have worked differently to better prepare? What will I do differently next time?

As I was not there at the final concert, I am not sure of whether I had prepared myself well enough for the concert. However, I was definitely concerned about remembering the cuts in the piece, as I had made such mistakes in practices. This could have been because I was so used to listening to the YouTube version of the piece, which contained the whole piece, that I was more oriented into playing the full piece. Instead, I think I should have listened to the audio recording of when we played and recorded, in class, which had all the cuts. If I had played along with that, or even just listened to that enough times, I may have been more used to incorporating the cuts into the piece, therefore could have been more confident in practice.

Your overall impressions of your class’ performance. How did you do as a group (positive aspects, areas to improve)? For you individually – how did you do? Did you meet your expectations? What went well? and what will you work on for next time?

After listening to the video recording of the performance, I can only say that we have definitely played much better in practice than in that concert. Some positive aspects were that everyone in each part managed to stay together with each individual within their own part. No individual had made any distinguishable mistakes, which allowed the full concentration of the audience to be on the piece itself, not any anomalies. However, the two parts were very often playing at very different timings, from the very beginning. This was probably because both parts failed to listen to each other, which may not have been a priority at the time due to some people’s lack of confidence in playing the piece. This was very evident near the end, when Koto 1 was supposed to be playing on the down-beat while the Koto 2 part was supposed to be playing on the off-beat. Instead, both parts were playing on the down-beat. Although it didn’t sound like an obvious mistake to the audience, that was an interesting technique by the composer, which would have allowed better closure when both parts got back together. I would also think that the presses by both parts were not as well-measured as expected, which downgraded the so-called “beauty” of the piece immensely. Lastly, there was no consideration of dynamics throughout the entire piece. Although this piece does not primarily have many changes in dynamics, the separate dynamics of both parts enable one or the other part to be heard at certain times. At times when both parts should have the same dynamics, it adds different effects to the feeling of the piece, and thus more depth. To be honest, I think the only way this can improve is if people had memorised their parts earlier, so that we would have been more confident in playing the piece, which would have allowed us to think about the dynamics and listen to each other for when to come in. This would have increased the quality of the performance, and also the tempo of the piece could have been slightly faster as people get confident, which would have made the piece a lot more interesting for the audience.

Kinuta Section Goals Blog Post 1

The first part I am working on has a lot of different presses involved. Not only is the technique of playing the notes slightly challenging, but my left hand has to swiftly jump across a wide range of strings in order to make it in time and to play the right pitch. I feel that I have managed to figure out the technique required to play this part, such as using a Kake-Oshi between 6 and 9, but my main goal for this part is to get consistently play accurate pressed notes. This is because I can only get the right pitches sometimes by luck, but the pressed notes are mostly inaccurate, and end up sounding bad especially in an ensemble. The only way to be able to do this, I think, it to use a tuner to find the right pitch, then adjust the position of my left hand in terms of how hard and how far away from the bridge I press on the string. This varies between kotos and their string tension, so it may not be effective if I keep having to switch kotos, like I do when I practice at school. Either way, I will need to be able to distinguish the desired pitch and give myself enough time to press on the string for accurate results.

In the second part, I am focusing on remembering the cuts in difficult sections that require thought to be put when playing, instead of trying to remember what comes next. This was a problem I realised I had when practicing in school, as I kept forgetting about the cut and played what would have been next on the score. Although I was able to do it with ease in the video, I need to be sure that I will be able to do so under pressure of the audience in a concert. Aside from just practicing that section over and over again, listening to the recording of us playing the piece, with all the cuts, will definitely help me remember where the cuts are, therefore I can formulate how I will be working around those cuts and making smooth transitions between certain sections. I feel that I have the technique down for that section, as I have been able to play that section many times with ease. However, I have only been able to do so without following the proper fingering. When coming up on the strings, I have been using my middle finger instead of my thumb finger, which makes it a lot easier to play but does not allow me to synchronise well with the ensemble. Maybe if I start practicing slowly with my thumb I can get used to using that finger, and then start speeding up until I can come up on the strings, at a fast tempo, using my thumb instead of my middle or index finger.

Finally, for the third part, I was focusing mostly on making the Ato-Oshi sound clear and distinguishable from the other sounds. As this part is supposed to be played fast, I feel like the lack of time between each note makes the Ato-Oshi hard to hear, while that is an important part of the section that gives it its shape. Currently, I cannot play the Ato-Oshi clearly the first time round, and it takes me a bit of a warm-up by playing the section multiple times for me to be able to play the Ato-Oshi with clarity. However, this is something I will need to cope with in a concert, so the best way to tackle this issue is to practice, but take breaks so that it feels like I am playing that section for the first time, and see how I improve on playing that section. I also need to get the pitch of the Ato-Oshi accurate, which something that is inconsistent when playing an Ato-Oshi on 12 in this section as I often press too hard due to the sudden motion. This was also an issue for the slow part int he ending, where there were quite a few Ato-Oshis and they were being played slowly, making the accurate pitch more significant. Again, this would differ between the string tensions of different Kotos, so I will have to get accustomed to the press by ear.

Kinuta Practice 2

Kinuta, composed by Michio Miyagi, is a piece we started working with from last year. One month ago, we posted a video focusing on 3 specific parts we had chosen that we found were challenging or found important to be able to play.

The first part I practiced involved swiftly changing between pressing notes and jumping between far distance notes. Compared to the last time, I am able to play it with accurate presses and at a much faster tempo. This is good development towards being able to play the  entire piece, as this was one of the areas I found difficult, and it comes up multiple times in the piece. However, I still think my movements are not as smooth as they could be. The main factor to being able to play this part smoothly is getting to the presses in time. This is a difficult task, because as the tempo increases, there is not much time to change between 6 and 9 press. To consult this issue I will try different fingering of the left hand to cover more than one string at the same time.

The second part I practiced involved jumping between notes, fingerings and technique at which the notes are being played. I had to switch between playing octaves to Sha-Sha-Tens’ to a type of glissando. Compared to my previous recording, I think I have gotten used to that sequence of changing technique to play that section. Due to this, I am able to play this section a lot faster. However, the main area I need to work on now is getting an accurate press on the 4th string. I also have not explored with the dynamics at which this section should be played, so I will have to look at the score and adjust accordingly.

The third part I practiced mostly involved presses on various strings in a very short time frame. Although this part is slow to play, the biggest challenge was to get to the right strings at the right time, and press at the right amount. This section plays around with the intensity of the press as well, which makes it especially important for the presses to be accurate. After some practice, I found myself to be a lot more comfortable with moving my left hand around and getting to the right strings at the right time. However, my main area of focus now is to produce very accurate presses.

In general, I think I would benefit immensely if I practiced using a metronome to maintain a tempo at which I should be able to play everything, without the tempo fluctuating by any chance. This will especially help for when I play in the group, as everyone will need to be together when playing. I also think my presses definitely need to be fine tuned, as hitting the right pitch will be essential to the effects of this piece in particular. When playing in an ensemble, getting the right presses is important as well, so that everyone is in unison when playing. I would go about working with this by checking the pitch using a tuner, and then getting used to producing that pitch when playing in action.

Kinuta Blog Post 1

Kinuta, a duet koto piece composed by Michio Miyagi, is a traditional Japanese koto piece based on the Hirajoshi scale starting from G. As we have just started playing this piece, we needed to practice a few parts, especially specific parts that were challenging to play.

The first part I was focusing on with the first part I was practicing was getting to the presses on time. I struggled with having to move swiftly between pressing on 九 and 四, and the presses ended up sounding like an Ato-Oshi. It has also been a troublesome task to do since the two strings are so far apart, yet the strings need to be pressed within short intervals of time. I think the best way to be able to play this part is to firstly be able to play this part at a slower tempo, then gradually build up the tempo as I get comfortable with moving my left between the two strings.

The second part I was working on dealt with playing octave notes sequentially and incorporating presses in our Sha-Sha-Tens. This has been challenging in terms of knowing what to play, as there are times when we play octaves, and there are times when we play consecutive notes following up on the octaves. I think the best way to learn how to play this is to break the entire section into parts in which I can separately practice, then practice the transitions between the parts to complete the whole section.

The last part I would like to focus on stresses the use of pressing and releasing 九 at the right times. It is written that we have to press on the string when playing a Tsu-ru, and have to release it when playing the respective Ko-ro-rin. As these are consecutive events, even though I knew I had to press or release, I found it difficult for my hand to keep up with the activity. I think the best way to practice this is to break the section into parts and then deduce a definite pattern in which I can play and get used to playing.

Overall, I think most of the skills involve being able to make transitions between one skill to another, being able to cover larger distances over the Koto, and knowing what comes after what we play. I feel that I should be able to get most parts down by separating the part into sections to work on individually, and then put them together in a smoothly transitioning manner.

G10 Field Studies 2015 – Iya

Dead. How else could I describe myself at that specific point in time and space. I came back home from a 4 day trip, just so I could take off the next day for a 5 day trip. That too, from 4:30 in the morning. But despite me being in a dead state when I left, I came back with more life than ever. The experiences and memories that I had experienced triggered ideas and thoughts like never before. I was endorsed with experience with bare nature, as well as the culture of what was once Japan, but what made it memorable was the happiness that I received, not only by the people who we visited, but above all, from those who we were a team with, and spent those 5 days learning more about each other than we may ever learn for the rest of our high school careers.

Iya is a very remote area, unlike big cities like Tokyo, which allows for less industrialised surroundings. This did mean, however, that there were nothing like Conbinis or vending machines. This fact would be enough to stop most people from Yokohama to go to Iya. However, the struggle payed off at the end, as we became less dependent on such luxuries. As soon as we got to where we were staying, we saw that we had to stay in such a different situation to what we were used to. Firstly, the rooms were in the middle of what seemed like the edge of a forest, while the entire lodge was made of wood. This meant minimal temperature regulation throughout the room, which meant the ground floor would be freezing in the morning, while the top floor would be partially freezing. Having to keep our wet towels out to dry didn’t help with the humidity in the rooms, especially with the wood getting damp. Nonetheless, we were set to spend 4 nights in a room of 6 friends, which turned out to be an experience that we talk about to this day.

The first few days were focused on our experience with bare nature. We hiking over a large mountain called Tsurugi-san (剣山) for 2 days. The first day up, the second day down. The really nice and dry weather made the hike up much easier than if it were raining. In addition, since I already had hiking experience because of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award program, it was mostly a comfortable hike for me, and for many people around me. Even though the conversations made us walk slower, we made progress in our cooperative skills, and knowing each other better. The best feeling of the entire hike was reaching the top. It felt like we finally achieved a goal, and the view we got was worthy of the work we put into hiking up the mountain. But the day kept getting better and better. When it became night time, we went out to see the stars. If we ignore the piercing cold, and how difficult it was to navigate around places, we were actually inside a cloud, and as we lay down and stared towards the heavens, we would see the Milky Way for one second, then be mesmerised by the large cloud passing right above our heads at the next second. Although this was the best sensation, the best view came at around 6:00am the next day. We were above a layer of cloud, and we saw the rising sun as clear as we would see each other’s faces. The light from the sun reflecting from the clouds made us think we were in heaven. It was the exact image anyone would have when describing heaven to a child. Of course, people seized this opportunity to take pictures for their cover photos or profile pictures. After an amazing Japanese breakfast, provided by the lodge we stayed on the top of the mountain, the trip down was quite straightforward, with only 50 incidents of people tripping and slipping.

Heaven. Close enough.
Heaven. Close enough.


















As for culture, we spent an entire day going to an old Japanese house that had been renovated multiple times, making soba and making rope. My favourite parts were both the soba and rope making, since I usually prefer hands-on experiences. Although we’ve done it before, each time rises as a challenge to make the best-looking soba possible, because that is really the only way we are capable of judging the quality of soba. We’re not experts yet. After delicious soba accompanied by foods that even I have never seen made before, we head out to make rope, only to spot a van from the television program キッチンが走る (the running kitchen). As they completely ignored us, and we completely ignored them, I realised I had underestimated rope-making. I thought it would be as simple as braiding someone’s hair, which is something I learned at the Dragon Salon at Food Fair. However, I tried what I thought was close enough to braiding someone’s hair, but it didn’t turn out strong and it didn’t seem to hold for too long. Instead, I got the advice of twisting the two streams of rope before overlapping them. By doing this, I managed to get something good enough for people to say “Help me with this”. At the end, we gathered everyone’s rope, joined it with the ropes made last year, and made a giant jump rope. Despite all the hiking, that felt like the time when I sweated the most during the whole trip. But it was worth it; we even managed to get 7 people in the jump rope at once!

Before we knew it, we were on our way back. Looking back, I don’t think I have any regrets from this trip, and it made me already excited for next year’s field studies trip to Takayama. So, I headed back home, only to rest for one day, and then depart for New York the day after.