Okayama University Visit

By Bryson Torgovitsky

On 28 January, Professor Takayuki Yoshioka of Okayama University came to our class and told us about his school’s normal program and the extended Discovery program. I was surprised to hear about the price of Okayama University’s tuition, a little less than $5,000, and the price of their normal housing, $100. My sister has been going to the College of Charleston in South Carolina, but I frequently overhear my parents and her complaining about the expenses of college. Since she is paying for college out of state, the price of her overall expenses during her 2015-2016 school year was just over $28,000. This is about five times more than Okayama University’s tuition and housing fees combined. Professor Yoshioka even told us that the tuition fee could receive a 50 to 100% waiver!

The reasonable price of Okayama University caught my eye first, but the Discovery program sealed the deal for me. I have a personal desire to study marine biology, and the promise of a school with a program that encourages foreign exchange students is very appealing to me. Besides the Discovery program’s expression of Okayama University’s intention to host exchange students, Professor Yoshioka told us that the Discovery program presented eligible students with a monthly research grant of $350. The potential for an affordable education in a country that I want to learn more about, with an additional grant so that I can fund my marine biology research, are more than reason enough for me to plan to apply to Okayama University next year when I am a high school senior.


By Bryson Torgovitsky

Just after New Year’s Day, I attended a Karuta Competition hosted in Bethesda, Maryland by the DC Inishie Karuta Club. I had never heard of Karuta competition but I recognized it from anime after I saw the first match. Unfortunately, I could not play since Karuta involves being able to understand spoken and written Hiragana. As of now, I have only partial comprehension of written Hiragana and I have not learned enough to understand spoken Japanese (yet!). Instead, I played a different Japanese card game with my classmates Dakharai and Daniel, and other people who were at the tournament: Pick-Up Priest.


Pick-Up Priest does not involve language comprehension, but it does involve interesting cultural references. The cards are a regular man, a demon, priests and a high priest, and nobleman and the emperor. The goal of the game is to collect as many cards as possible, but the cards are all selected at random from the stack, which creates the game’s difficulty! Each card has a unique function. The priests force you to put all of your cards in the central pot while the high priest makes you and the two people adjacent to you put all of your cards in the pot. Whoever draws a card depicting a woman can take those cards from the pot! The emperor takes the cards of the two players who are next to you and you add them to your pile, and the nobleman can take from the person on your left or right. The demon allows you to take from the pot and from your two adjacent opponents, so everyone wants that card!

I won twice when we played, but Daniel won at least four times! He kept using the nobleman cards to steal mine, so I could have won if I sat further away from him. Dakharai, on the other hand, kept losing all of his cards to the priests so he only won the last match. Daniel and I like to tease him about his bad luck; now we call him “Priest!”