Diary of my global internship in Tokyo (part 2)

Let’s delve into our summer 2023 program intern, Nathan Fikes’ fascinating journey as an Engineering Intern in Tokyo. Nathan is a student at George Mason University in the United States, embarked on an exciting internship adventure at Kisui TECH, a cutting-edge company founded by Dr. Tamir Blum. He is currently enrolling in his second year and his career goal is to become an Engineer after graduation.

Nathan also shared about his internship at CRCC Asia: “It was an honor being under the guidance and help of CRCC. The team has definitely made the trip much more special and having volunteer events have given me unforgettable opportunities and once in a lifetime experiences. CRCC has given me an environment I felt at home in and I had a pleasure talking with the CRCC employees during all the events.”

Hello, this is Nathan Fikes!! As my life unveils all the amazing things and people that make it soo special, it is my duty to document all of it. After all such a wonderful and unique story shouldn’t be forgotten and what better way to do that than to write every aspect about it every day. I write a ton (like a ton) of material each day to both practice my remembering skills as well as help improve my writing skills. It is also nice to go back and look at what I’ve done. I’ve also had some practical use from my travelogue which has helped me remember days, plan better, and recall events in the past that I don’t necessarily need to do again, (or ones that definitely need to happen again).

For my CRCC testimony, I would like to share all the wonderful things that have happened in Japan but in a readable format. I will abbreviate what happened each day and highlight big events and their impact so that this document isn’t 10000 words long. This means that there is a lot of missing information. Please enjoy, I will be including everything (no cherry-picking) so I’ll include some failures too, because that is what makes life real. Also, please let me know if you would like to know more about my hobbies:

Transposing and playing music, Writing and Journaling, Studying Japanese, Drawing, Programming, 3D software Blender, and Cooking.


June 1st (Cooking materials and shopping)

I went back to the supermarket for more cooking materials, and the right ones this time. After finishing my work at home I went to Akihabara for the first time. I had already done a lot of research and planning before going so I had a bunch of stores pre-laid out on my map. While in Akihabara I saw many colorful signs and lots of girls dressed up as maids. I made sure to stay on my path and visit the stores. I made sure to say “大丈夫です“ whenever a maid asked me for something. I went around and shopped for little things for my family as well as browsing all the figurine shops. After getting back home a friend from back in the United States messaged me (He is half Japanese and can speak fluently) and asked how my trip was. I shared a lot of fun things I had seen and he gave me some good suggestions for while I’m here in Japan. I also caught up with a couple of other friends from the US.


June 2nd (Laundry predicament travel predicament)

Today was extremely hot and extremely humid. In addition, I had to do my laundry. Unfortunately, I had used some of my 100 yen coins at the Gacha dispensers in Akihabara for my family so I had no more coins left. I went out to the convenience store and showed them a 1000 yen bill and asked for coins in Japanese and the clerk seemed to not understand. I had to use google translate to help, and unfortunately, they didn’t do any exchanges. With no more options, I had to ask my housemate for coins. Luckily he had some extras and I was able to get my clothes done. While at home I worked on my INTS course material for my college. Because my housemate had planned to visit the Imperial Palace today I was inclined to go. Eventually, he canceled his plans but I still wanted to go explore. I made sure to do my research and make sure to get there way before the palace opens. When I got there it started raining heavily but I still had an hour and a half before it opened so I thought I could grab myself some lunch before going in. I found a ramen shop called Tanaka while researching the Imperial Palace. Unfortunately, the wait for the food was way too long and I was unable to make it to the palace. In addition to the heavy rain, it was very very windy so I couldn’t stay dry. To protect my papers I pressed them inside a plastic chamber inside my backpack and put on my backpack storm jacket. I was unable to get any photos of the palace because of the walls. I ultimately decided to just go home all soaked. While walking back home I ran into my housemates heading to Wendy’s and I quickly told them where I was coming from. After a quick visit to the convenience store and drying off at home, I cooked myself some ramen with a bunch of ingredients I had gathered at the supermarket. After eating I worked on my presentation for Monday at the office.


June 3rd (CRCC Asia’s origami and Japanese-speaking event)

CRCC was hosting an event today so I went out with my housemates to the Shibaura House by train. While at the event I had fun making origami and showing some origami from instructions on my phone. I also got to speak with everyone in Japanese at the event too. I had fun eating the Senbei cracker and planned to find some at the supermarket later on. After the event, my housemates decided to go to Akihabara and Ochanomizu. I had already put down shops to visit in Akihabara from my previous research so I was able to direct them around. We all had lunch at a Sushiro place (Conveyor belt sushi) in Akihabara. After browsing a lot of stores in Akihabara, and getting a Sakura Hatsune Miku figurine, we went to Ochanomizu to watch Ishmael play some guitar. After that (Me, Ishmael, Aiden, and Arian: the main group of “housemates” and Arian throughout my trip to Japan) went to a Chinese hot pot restaurant. There we watched Arian speak Chinese to the servers to help us get the food we wanted. The restaurant looked really really fancy and the prices were not very typical for an expensive-looking restaurant. After eating we all headed back home.

Image 1, 2 & 3. CRCC Asia’s Origami and Japanese-speaking event


June 4th (Stay inside, work, and cooking)

It was way too hot to be doing much outside. So I decided to stay inside and do a lot of research for my company and general trips in Japan. I did however take a quick trip to the OK store for supplies. I decided to cook ramen for myself for dinner. At home I did a bunch of research for a PowerPoint I would be presenting on Monday at the office. I won’t really list any of the details here but I was mostly gathering information to be discussing about at work. This would help me gain a direction I should be working towards because I haven’t gotten a specific task to work towards yet. For my trips, I created a to-do list that includes a location and things to do in that location. It had bubbles to fill in if I have completed that trip. This would keep me active whenever my days are less busy.


June 5th (Presentation day)

Mondays are always presentation days. It was a good thing I had set up my presentation beforehand on Sunday so I had everything set up while I was at work. All I had to do was clean up a couple of things. In addition, I had grabbed lunch at the Family Mart so I could stay in the office and eat while it was lunchtime. I got some good feedback from the other interns after presenting my materials and got some suggestions for the direction I should approach. With that, I now have a goal for the week and can start working towards it. Working at Kisuitech takes up most of my time in the day and it also doesn’t produce much content for my journal entries because most of my work is under NDA. These synchronous days will most likely be much shorter than other days. Mostly because I usually don’t travel anywhere after work.


June 6th (Shrine day and unfortunate time conflict)

I planned to go to a shrine today because my work was asynchronous and I could post my updates and go with flexible work times. Unfortunately, there was a mandatory Zoom meeting I had to join which was at 4:00, and shrines close at 5:00 so I was unable to go to any shrine. While working on Fusion 360 it randomly told me that I ran out of files so I had to buy a subscription. Since it was related to company work I thought I could get reimbursed for it but after asking my superior at the company he said that they were unable to fund my subscription. The subscription would be $70, but it would help my workflow. Since I wanted to cook the salmon at some point I cooked it today and used the Panko flakes rather than the onions. The fish came out really really good because there was no burning. After cleaning everything up tried to research CAD software that was free but had no luck. I ultimately had to buy the subscription and just be ok without getting the money back.


June 7th (Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building)

I commuted to work as normal and after practicing Japanese, I slept on the train too because the train ride is quite long. When I got to the office, I got there quite early. Later on my housemate Ishmael came as well as Grant a student from the college I went to. I got a ton of work done today at the office. This was my first Biweekly meeting at Kisuitech so I got to see what all the departments were doing in the company. I also got to share some of the work I’ve been doing myself. After work, I went to the CRCC drop-off event where we got to go up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. The underground station of Tokyo was huge and it took us a while to find the meeting spot. When we got there we went up with CRCC employees to the top of the building. Since it was sunset we got some really good photos up there. Also on the top of the building was a small souvenir shop where I grabbed some postcards. I had a lot of fun chatting and seeing the whole city from atop the tower.

Image 4. We spent time at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building


June 8th (Grocery run and change of weekend plans)

CRCC moved their volunteer event to next week so Aiden and Arian decided to do a Hakone trip with the 4 of us. I was quite tired in the morning but I got up and got everything I needed from the store. I had some instant ramen for lunch and did my work in the kitchen. Later on in the day, I cooked myself some more ramen but this time placed the materials very neatly on top for an aesthetic look. I also watched some Japanese streamers from Hololive doing a collab while cooking and eating. (Okayu and Korone) Later on in the day me, Ishamael, and Aiden collaborated on what would happen for the Hakone trip. I researched some places to go to in Hakone in the meantime and added the plans to my calendar.


June 9th (My sister’s Highschool Graduation)

I got some lunch from the Family Mart and worked while I had Okayu’s Karaoke stream running in the background. For most of the day I worked and then later on my sister’s graduation started so I joined in on the livestream from the US. While working I watched the livestream and got to Facetime my family towards the night to congratulate my sister and catch up with my family. I also showed my family around the place on face time as well as some of the stuff I’ve been doing in Japan. My mother and sister updated me on when they would be arriving in Japan in the future. I’m excited to meet them here in Japan.


June 10th (Shrine Day)

I was determined to visit some shrines today, since it was Saturday I could go in the morning and get to all the shrines before they close. Before going I mapped out a bunch of shrines to go to as well as the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The shrines I visited were the Aoyama Kumano Shrine, Toyokawa Inari Betsuin, and Suga Ninja Shrine (stairs in the君の名前は movie). I took tons of pictures of all the cool shrines around the area and after that took a trip to the national garden. I had some lunch from Family Mart earlier in the day so I ate that while sitting on a bench at the garden. I also noticed my phone cord was not working so I routed myself to a store called (ビックカメラ) where I could get a replacement charging cable. While there I saw tons of different devices and salespeople there shouting (いらっしゃいませ) whenever I passed by. I eventually found some cables and asked a guy there while pointing at my old cable (新しいはひつようください?) and he asked me what type in Japanese and I told him what I needed. Eventually, he noticed that my main language was English so our conversation eventually morphed into English. When that was all done I walked home without the map to conserve battery and got home fine. I watched Okayu’s stream once again while I work on a Monday presentation for my company.

Image 5. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden


June 11th (Hakone trip with the housemates and Arian)

I went out with Ishmael to the train station to get our reserved tickets for the trip to Hakone and stood in front of the industrial HVAC systems at the station to cool ourselves down. When we arrived in Hakone, Aiden, and Arian were already there because they had booked an Air BNB the day before. The scenery around the area was much different than in Tokyo and looked much more rural and kind of cooler because all the houses were perched up on the mountains. For lunch, I had Nabeyaki Soba with everyone. We took a large pirate ship-looking boat across the river and saw the shrine gate in the river but since it was so incredibly foggy we couldn’t see Mt. Fuji at all. When we got to the other side of the river we all took the Hakone Ropeway up the mountain and again it was soo foggy you couldn’t see anything, even the ropes that held the cart up. At the end of the day after a bit of shopping, we got 7-11 for dinner because everything was closing up. After that, we all headed back on the same train and I listened to some Japanese music while on the train. (A random playlist of music on youtube after typing (音楽) into the youtube search engine.

Image 6. Hakone trip with the housemates and Arian


June 12th (Work)

Work today was pretty standard and this time I bought food in Chiba rather than take it by lunchbox. I also practiced more Kanji on the trains and after work, I showed Aiden and Ishmael the software I use to transpose music and my methods. At home, I worked on some academic-related things related to classes at my new college VT. I also worked on studying Japanese and drawing. I also populated my calendar with all the events I would do this week.


June 13th (Dinner with everyone and Music)

In the morning I went to the Supermarket with Ishmael and got some items I could use for the week. I still owed him back for lunch at Hakone so I offered to buy him dinner for today. However, Aiden stole my thunder and proposed we all go out to dinner together, (us 4), so I agreed to go with them though I had fish in the fridge I needed to cook. After getting all my work done I headed out with them. At the place, we got ourselves some pork and beef and chicken slices on these grills that we got to cook ourselves. I paid for Ishmael’s meal by paying for everyone and having the other two guys pay me back their sections. Back at home, I showed everyone in the house the music I’d been transposing. And later on at night, I planned to cook the fish I had in the fridge.


June 14th (Dropoff event at Ikebukuro)

I woke up extremely early in the morning to cook the fish. And then boxed it up for lunch at work. After cooking I took a small nap in my room and then took the commuter train to the office. I got a lot of work done in my company. After that, I headed with Ishmael to the CRCC drop-off event. When we both arrived we noticed a lot of people wearing cosplays at the location near Sunshine City. When we got there everyone explored the mall and I got to see all the cool shops there. I planned to go back to Ikebukuro when my family arrives. I also got some more Gachapon items as gifts for friends. At the end of the day, I got ramen with Arian and Ishmael for dinner and decided to go out to find Okonomiyaki materials tomorrow. I took a pitstop at Lawson’s to get some Pork for the Okonomiyaki.

Image 7. Our drop off event that happened at Ikebukuro


June 15th (Work work food and more work)

I did a lot of work at home today and it was mostly written in my journal. It relates to PID output to automatically populate a CSV file and view the driver data so I can better tune my program. Other than that I went out to get all the Okonomiyaki materials so I could cook and eat it on the weekend. After gathering everything I could find at the store I stored it all away so I could cook it later. The rest of the day was more work. I did Inertia calculations at the end of the day.

To be continued.