Week 4

Things recently have honestly been a little hectic with lots going on both at work and in my social life. This week marked the halfway point of the internship, and on Thursday Professor Hamada came to visit the company to participate in a board meeting, review our progress so far, and advise us on our work moving forward. On Tuesday I had one last interview among the headquarters employees, but otherwise I spent most of the week preparing midterm analysis and review to show Professor Hamada. The analysis involved gathering and tidying up data from the nine interviews I had transcribed so far in order to perform word counts and quantitative summaries. Although this part had seemed straightforward, it actually turned out to have some trickier parts and took more time than expected. Also, I had hoped to start doing some thematic analysis this week, but after some pondering and research, I realized that such detailed qualitative work might be a bit out of my league right now. In hindsight it seems obvious that working with such a large amount of broad information might involve some unforeseen challenges, but I suppose that’s just part of the learning process. On the positive side, Professor Hamada helped me realize that there’s still lots to work with even just focusing on the relatively simpler data, and the more deep-dive analysis will serve as good material for future academic research. She also gave me some tips on designing a survey on food habits that will go out among the company employees – I’m looking forward to getting it out there and seeing the results!


Although the week involved some hard work, I also got to have some serious fun in my down time. On a couple of weeknights, I had dinner with and really enjoyed getting to know some new friends from the company. The biggest treat came at the end, though: one of my longtime best friends, Olivia, also happened to be in Japan and came to hang out in Tokyo for the weekend! We exhausted ourselves packing in as much fun into those two days as possible: eating delicious okonomiyaki, ooh-ahhing at K-pop merch in the Korean neighborhood Shin-Ōkubo, petting bunnies at an animal cafe, just walking around various areas of Tokyo, and so on.


For some reason, one thing that stands out to me from the weekend was the purikura photo booths in Harajuku. A crowded, arcade-like basement on the main shopping street had endless rows of these photo booths, which essentially take your picture and automatically photoshop it into a supposedly-more-ideal version of you. The system would enlarge and brighten your eyes, smooth out and whiten your skin, make your hair look almost like it was painted, etc. My friend and I tried it and found the resulting pictures hilariously creepy. The place was hopping, so these booths are clearly popular, but I wonder how Japanese people view them. Do most people see the edited pictures as eerie like I did, as genuinely more beautiful, or both to some degree? When some of my Japanese friends have taken pictures on their phones, they would use apps that included filters similar to the purikura ones, so it seems like this beauty standard is fairly widespread. I’m sure there’s a variety of opinions out there, but it would be interesting to survey people’s thoughts on the subject.


Some of the purikura photo booths in Harajuku


The results of when Olivia and I tried out the purikura felt pretty strange to see!