Trip to OIST and Japan

Shisa standing guard at the entrance to Seaside House.

Shisa standing guard at the entrance to Seaside House.

I’ve recently returned from my first trip outside of South Africa, which saw me heading to Japan via Dubai. After a little more than 20 hours travelling (not counting the waiting time in airports), I made it to Seaside House. Seaside House is located on the coast in Onna and is part of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) where I had been invited to attend the admissions workshop for their PhD programme. Continue reading


Those are not valid defences

I’m rather fond of Japan. It’s a beautiful country with so many unique features, including its cuisine, architecture, writing, language and culture. Next month, I will even be heading to Japan to interview for a PhD position. However, that doesn’t mean I agree with all aspects of Japanese culture, nor does it excuse them from poorly-argued defences such as have recently been offered to the world in regards to the annual Taiji dolphin hunt.

The controversy was reignited this year by a tweet sent by the US ambassador to Japan. CNN covers the story here and includes some defences offered by the Japanese. There is also an interview with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe where he responds to the outcry. The interview seems to cover other topics as well and a relevant excerpt can be seen here, although I am not sure where the full interview is. The points I address come from both CNN articles and a short News24 piece. Continue reading

Guest post: My academic life so far

This is a guest post written by Michael Kent who is doing a PhD in climatology at UCT and is one of the assistant tutors at Cape Town Nihongo Kai, our Japanese school. He has agreed to share his path into science and how he has been able to combine his studies with his other interests.


Although in 2003 I was finishing my last year of high school, I still had no clue what I wanted to do or study the following year. What I did know was that I enjoyed doing geography. This helped cement the idea that I should go and study further, and after some help from an advisor at school, I applied to do related courses at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Fortunately, my application was accepted and I began my studies in 2004. Continue reading