Curiosity may drive you to a Life Full of Excitement
Professor of Science and Technology
Department of Computer Science
“Before Going Out into the World”
I was an ordinary child, I think. I did not like or dislike any specific school subject, whether arts or sciences. My only image was that arts subjects required a great deal of memorizing, unlike math and science, which called for more logical thinking. While I understood the importance of accumulating knowledge, I did not find any arts subjects particularly interesting, although I now recognize how ignorant I was. Believing that thinking was more interesting than memorizing, I set out to study science in college.
I entered Meiji University’s School of Engineering (present School of Science and Technology), wishing to study something useful to society, so I immersed myself in the research and development of braille information processing at the electronic circuit laboratory. It was the study of a talking word processor for the visually impaired. At graduate school, where students were expected to undertake more active research, I gained the abilities I would need later in my career.
“Becoming an Engineer”
I was hired by an electronics maker and worked on microprocessors. My first glimpse of a Macintosh computer left me deeply impressed because I had never seen such an advanced, user-friendly computer in my life. That experience made me think real achievement was tantamount to a work of art that could excite people. At the company I was mainly engaged in the design and development of microprocessors, and as I gradually realized how crucial it was for a designer of high-speed processors to understand the process (manufacturing) technology, I applied for a transfer to a related department. But such a move was not so easy in a large organization.
“Back to School”
That’s why I took the plunge and decided to study the process technology at graduate school. Some people said going back to school as a student, and not as a teacher, was a foolish idea, but there were also people who encouraged me. So I made the decision, because devoting myself to studying what I liked seemed far more interesting than staying with the company. This was a major turning point in my life.
I enrolled in Meiji University’s doctoral course and became a technical intern at the Electrotechnical Laboratory (present National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology), where I studied the process technology of transistor manufacturing with Professor Emeritus Kazutaka Tomizawa as my advisor. As a novice researcher who had hardly ever used a microscope, I often faced difficulties, but I also made new friends and everything was exciting.
“Teaching at university”
After that I was fortunate enough to be offered a teaching position at Meiji University. Since then I have been trying to use my experience in the research of green-IT (environmentally-friendly information technology), seamlessly covering from devices to computers. I always hope that my research will contribute to society even a little. Among my focuses are nano devices that can be mass-manufactured without variability, the field-programmable gate array (FPGA) that requires almost no power, and MEIMAT (MEIji Microprocessor Architecture design Tools) with which we can easily design an application-specific microprocessor capable of high performing tasks the user assumes.
Research may be likened to the process of casting light on unknown territory and opening up new pathways. As we continue our research, we will face one question after another, such as “How does it happen?” and “Why doesn’t it work?” But it is important not to give up, and try to enjoy studying and apply ourselves to it. Sometimes we will see progress; at other times we will feel like we are going backwards. Research requires steady efforts. We will constantly struggle, moving one step at a time; but after making progress, we will be rewarded with a great sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
My current interest is how to make the world better by utilizing information technology in understanding the economy. As a child I had little interest in arts subjects, but I have since realized that anything can become interesting if we commit ourselves to studying and developing a better understanding.
On my days off my dog Sophie begs me to take her to the beach. A walk together in a soothing sea breeze refreshes my body and spirit, giving me the energy to return to work. As I grow older I increasingly feel the importance of maintaining the right balance between stress and relaxation. Being still young, you can probably continue charging ahead without a concrete plan, driven solely by your passion. But if you learn to develop a sense of balance while young, it will help you throughout your life.
“Message for students and young researchers”
The prominent critic Hideo Kobayashi introduced in his lecture on a book written by Japanese classical scholar Motoori Norinaga. According to Kobayashi, Norinaga wrote the essay Uiyamabumi (First Steps into the Mountains) about research methodology at his disciples’ persistent requests, although he was, in fact, reluctant to discuss how to study. At the end of Uiyamabumi is a poem, which likens a novice researcher to a monk practicing asceticism in the mountain for the first time with “asa” as the pivotal word. Kobayashi explains: “Norinaga wanted to say that the book covers only the rudiments. The poem means his humble (asai) advice may be of some assistance to beginners, just as a signpost would serve a monk in a simple hemp (asa) robe starting his training at the bottom of the mountain (asaki susono). But he believed the truly important thing was to keep learning tenaciously, rather than knowing how to study.”
I take this advice to heart and cannot emphasize it strongly enough. I hope you will also learn deeply on whatever intrigues you and continue to learn tenaciously. The more deeply you learn, the more interesting your life will be. Make your life interesting, allow yourself room to breathe, and become someone who can contribute to society.