Around The RIKEN Institute and Wako-shi

Here are some shots from around the RIKEN Institute. I'm living in an apartment building at the edge of the RIKEN campus.

RIKEN is located in Wako-shi, a section of Tokyo about 10 km west of the center of the city. Wako is pretty much industrial interspersed with residential Here is a view to the south east towards the center of Tokyo.

I'm up on the eighth floor, which is nice for giving a view to the south towards Yokohama and for reducing the considerable 24-hour traffic noise. On the other hand it did sway a lot during the 5.5 tremor we had last week.

To the west, if I lean out over the balcony I can sometimes see Fuji-san through the smog over the top of some buildings and between two communications towers that belong to the US Army. I've only been able to see it twice in the two weeks I've been here, as the haze and smog generally obscures anything more distant than 10 km or so.

At twilight after a recent rainstorm, the view towards Shinjuku is pretty.

But the views from the other directions aren't as interesting. Here's the concrete plant next door.

About a block away is Honda Research and Development, builders of the famous Honda ASIMO humanoid robot.

The eight story building behind the crane on the left is the Brain Science Institute main building. That's only one of the buildings entirely devoted to Cognitive Sciences at RIKEN. The four big tanks in front of it store cryogenic liquids for the superconducting magnets in the ring cyclotron and the Magnetic Encephalogram (MEG) brain scanner, one of only about 10 in the world.

Here's the group that works in the same lab as me. We share space in two rooms. Working conditions are tight and we just about bump elbows in the lab. Most of the lab goes to lunch together every day. It's a very social culture. And note that only about half the people in the lab are Japanese. Most of the rest are either Dutch, Russian or Slovak. I know it's bad when I hear German spoken and think, "Ah, something familiar."

Gijs, the fellow at the far end of the table on the right is playing bass in a local rock band. On a recent Saturday night I went to see him play at Cave Be.

The room was small and crowded. I needed to have my name on the list just to be able to pay to get in. The Tokyo rock scene is famous, and I can see why. This little out of the way club was packed and had 4 bands.

But it was quite a show. Gijs' band was playing their last gig before splitting up. They were the headline act and this is a shot of one of the first acts.

(c) Copyright 2003

Steven M. Boker

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