|Monday, April 11th|
9:00 AM - 9:15 AM
Sangaku, or “mathematical tablet” in Japanese, are geometry problems transcribed by hand in colorful, pleasing designs onto wooden tablets. The tablets are found in temples throughout Japan, with the older Sangaku dating back to the late 17th century. The problems found on the tablets range from simple exercises to extremely difficult problems even with the benefit of modern mathematics. To better understand the role of these tablets, I focus on the people who made them and the intention in their work. My presentation also examines the history of two styles of mathematics: wasan (native Japanese mathematics) and yosan (Western mathematics). I discuss how Sangaku fit into this history as well as how they reflect traditional aesthetics of Japan. Finally, I present a few simple Sangaku that can be solved using high-school geometry.
9:15 AM - 9:30 AM
A recent study published in The Japan Times indicates that Japan’s population enjoys the longest average life expectancy of all developed countries. I naturally wonder what kinds of factors contribute to this statistic. Is it dependent on Japanese diet and lifestyle—Does the genetic history and diversity of the island country have an impact? Medical technology and availability are also surely important. As a science student who recently spent a semester living in Japan, I investigate how daily life and culture in Japan affect the body and general health, not as an argument for how to live in order to extend one’s life, but rather to evaluate the facets of daily living from a scientific perspective. An examination of these factors is valuable for an understanding of various impacts on longevity in Japan.
9:30 AM - 9:45 AM
Japan has the largest flamenco following outside of Spain. An estimated 80,000 Japanese students study flamenco at 600 studios and schools. The flamenco tradition has grown in popularity through the performances of Yoko Komatsubara and the dance company Arte y Solera. Both Komatsubara and Arte y Solera are well-regarded performers in Japan and Spain. To better understand the reception of flamenco in Japan and Japanese flamenco performers in Spain, I analyze three programs presented by the Spanish television station Canal Sur. Given flamenco’s complex and ill-defined history and identity, I explore the ways in which it has gained a transnational identity in the fusion of traditional Japanese theatre arts and flamenco performance.
9:45 AM - 10:00 AM
Mobile phones are the fastest-growing form of communication in modern Japan. Japanese students use mobile phones to maintain relationships with friends through e-mail exchanges, social network systems such as Facebook and phone applications called LINE. It is not unusual to watch Japanese students sitting next to each other and communicating via cyberspace. In fact, students are hard-pressed to function in a social setting without their mobile phones. Psychologists recently have begun to investigate the link between mobile phone use and emotional dependency. Yet, little research exists about the psychology and sociology of mobile phone use. My presentation focuses on the psychological and sociological effects of mobile phones on Japanese students. I explore the social history of mobile phones and tap psychological studies conducted by Japanese psychologists to show how pre-university level students form and maintain friendships in contemporary Japan.
10:00 AM - 10:15 AM
Japanese college students often say: “We study hard to get into a university so that we can begin looking for jobs at prestigious companies.” It would not be an exaggeration to say that many Japanese students consider “job hunting” more important than writing a graduation thesis. The word in Japanese for “job hunting” is sh’ katsu, a system controlled by the Japanese Business Federation (Keidanren) that determines all aspects of the annual job hunting and hiring season. Each year, when the Keidanren sets the date that opens the job hiring season, undergraduates rush in a panic to prepare for interviews. In cities throughout Japan, undergraduates wear obligatory black outfits without a hint of color and parade to job interviews and fairs. I examine the story behind these black suits as well as the culture that drives job hunting and hiring in Japan today.