2017 Atsumi Scholars Research Presentations

To paraphrase what Max Weber wrote in "Science as a Vocation," to live as an academic means to be able to experience the deep joy one can only get from being enclosed and encapsulated in one's own solitary research, and from having managed to remain in one's field for a long period of time. I was greatly moved by this quote when I first read his book as an aspiring academic, but was moved even more so when listening to the presentations of my batchmates. Although our fields are different, the passion towards scholarship and spirit of enquiry and academic immersion was expressed through each of our presentations. Throughout the year we had discussed our research in our conversations and interactions with each other, but being able to condense the results of our research into a 15 minute presentation was a tremendously satisfactory experience.

Prior to the event Ms. Imanishi, the standing director of the foundation, had told us to make our presentations "easy to understand" for non-specialists, and this sentiment was repeated by Prof. Katsuoka during the summary of the event. "easy to understand" does not mean compressing the laboriously toiled results of your research into an easy to understand research narrative. To put it harshly, research is something that is impossible to understand in a short period of time. What both Ms. Imanishi and Prof. Katsuoka meant by "easy to understand" was to present one's research in a way that arouses curiosity and provides an entryway into that research for the listener.

Making one's research accessible and organizing it in a presentation format is an excruciating task. Explaining one's research in an easy to understand manner means to have a systematic and solid grasp of one's field. In this sense, the academic training I received as a graduate student prepared me for this. Research is a strange thing, and as one proceeds deeper into one's field of enquiry it becomes difficult to form a cohesive image of the field. There are pockets of enquiry that are impossible to access through a fragmented accumulation of knowledge. The presentation at the Atsumi Foundation provided me with the opportunity to remove myself from thinking in terms of my discipline, and to approach my research with an open mind. I believe this was the same for my batchmates. I have nothing but thanks for everyone at the Atsumi Foundation for giving me this opportunity.

The interaction after the presentations was most enjoyable. We are often told to expand our horizons to other fields, but in reality, researchers have a tendency to judge others' work based on their own values and what they feel to be useful or not if they do not have a solid grasp of their own research and lack respect for research in other fields. I would like to once again express my respect to the Raccoons who so kindly and thoughtfully shared their research. There is nothing more delightful than sharing intellectual joy. The image of academia that I had as I was knocking at its door before entering graduate school combines both the solitude from the quote from Weber that I started this paper with, as well as these forms of interaction and dialogue.

The 24th batch of Atsumi scholars were also present for this session. Last year, I was in the same position as them, listening to the presentations of my senpai. Now in the position of presenting, I felt that this is what it means to be human -- to feel the tides of time shift and to be caught in its currents. Putting aside my sentimentality, I hope for the continued and joint prosperity and activity of the foundation and Raccoons.


Written by: Song Han
Translated by: Sonja Dale