The beat goes on for NanoJapan program

Rice News staff

In their fourth week of NanoJapan at Rice, American and Japanese students broke up their language lessons and lab work with an hourlong lesson in Taiko drumming.

Kaminari Taiko, a Houston-based Japanese drum ensemble, brought instructors and their gear to Rice to teach the 36 participants (22 Japanese, 14 American) the art of Taiko drumming, the source of the thunderous sound emanating from Baker College Commons June 14.

NanoJapan, founded by Junichiro Kono, a Rice professor in electrical and computer engineering and of physics and astronomy, is a science-oriented educational and cultural program open to students from all U.S. universities. The program received a new five-year grant from the National Science Foundation last year.

In previous years U.S. participants traveled to Japan to work alongside graduate students and professors there. But the March 11 earthquake and tsunami forced the program to relocate.

“Rice has been very supportive,” Kono said. “The President’s Office kindly provided all the housing support and meals for all the students, both U.S. and Japanese. The National Science Foundation has allowed us to use our grant to support the Japanese students, which is also unusual.

“We’re also getting some personal and industry donations to support this program. Everything is working great.”

Kono said the program will return to Japan next year. “But since this reverse program is going so well, if we can get enough support, we want to continue in some way to have Japanese students here at Rice,” he said.

NanoJapan at Rice will run through the first week of August. Plans call for American participants to visit Japan in November.

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.