Our next adventure is in… Japan!


And the cat’s out of the bag…! We are moving to Japan (temporarily that is).  Cody and I fly out to Nagoya, Japan on March 1st and will arrive in Inuyama, Japan on March 2nd. We both are very excited for this new adventure and chapter in our lives.

My master’s thesis is titled “Improving Methods to Quantify Grooming and What This May Tell Us About Grooming Partners”.

I’ll be studying Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) for three months at Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute (PRI) (pictured). At the facility, I will observe grooming between adult females and document the many variables that make up grooming. My in-country supervisor is Dr. Andrew MacIntosh from Kyoto University.

We are looking into accommodation at the moment. Since neither one of us speaks Japanese, we’ll learn some greetings by watching YouTube and through complete immersion. We hope to visit the wild Japanese macaques in Arashiyama and see the temple of Inuyama.

A happy surprise came to us this morning – my mother, sister, and my sister’s boyfriend will be visiting us in April! It’ll be a fantastic reunion since I have not seen my family since August of 2015. Altogether, we intend to visit our origins that come from my grandmother’s heritage. My grandmother (birth name Hisako Tanimoto, American name Mary Sparks) grew up in Yamaguchi – not too far from where we’ll be living.

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Photographs of my grandparents who met in Japan.



Although our stay in Japan will be filled with lots of new sites and great experiences with family, I’ll have to keep reminding myself how much work is ahead of me. My 30,000 word thesis is due in September – that is not a lot of time! I foresee hours and hours of research and writing in my future…

Wish me luck!