Weekend in Nagano – Arthur Win

Arthur Win is an electrical and computer engineering major here at TU, and also a member of the TU Global Scholars program. For his term abroad, Arthur decided to complete summer research on terahertz emission and detection through the NanoJapan program at Tohoku University.

This is an excerpt from his summer blog – read more about Arthur’s Japanese adventures here!


arthur-win-japanNagano is far different image of Japan than one might expect. If you ask most Americans what they think of when you say Japan, you would most likely hear all about the mega cities like Tokyo or Osaka.  But unlike Tokyo or Osaka, Nagano [Prefecture] is home to small, rural-like towns. It is far away from all of the shimmering lights and skyscrapers that we saw in Tokyo, and our ryokan was completely devoid of any form of Internet. Visiting Nagano made it clear that not all of Japan is the ultra-modern culture that we came to expect.

As we got off the shinkansen and drove into the Nagano, I immediately felt a new impression of the Japan that I hadn’t experienced so far. Instead of skyscrapers and lights, Nagano is surrounded by a serene gaze of hills, mountains, and trees. There is a sense of peace and nature, opposite of the cramped and man-made features of Tokyo. Looking back, I think this experience was a lot more valuable to us than we initially thought. All of NanoJapaners had the experience of visiting a different and comparatively unknown side of Japan. We experienced a taste of Japan under the mega city surface.

With all of the scheduled activities in Nagano, one weekend felt like weeks (in a really good way). On our first day, we went to see some stone buddhas in the forest (Although Katherine and I unfortunately had to pass on this. Katherine has a pine allergy, and I got horrible motion sickness from the twists and turns up the mountain on the stuffy bus), we planted in a rice paddy, bathed in a natural onsen, listened to a taiko drum performance, and finished the night with a taiko lesson. The taiko was an incredibly eye opening experience for me. I came in thinking “how can you make a performance with only one kind of drum?” and I was left blown away by the beauty, harmony, and hard work within each performance that we heard. I especially appreciated the instrument after we were paired with a taiko student and taught the performances. I found myself horribly lost, messing up a lot, and looking nearby at Rocco as to what to do. Although, I found that Rocco was looking at me for help, and we both ended up embarrassed by our poor skills (although it was comforting that Rocco was equally terrible).