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Bc. Zdeněk Kasner, CTU Prague, ročník 4

Faculty Faculty of Electrical Engineering
Field of study Artificial Intelligence
Field of internship Computer and Information Sciences
Specialization of InternshipArtificial Intelligence
Internship period (from - to) 28.6.2018 - 20.9.2018
Internship duration (weeks) 12
Transport (means, price) plane, 13 000 CZK (return ticket)
Insurance/Insurance company UNIQA (ISIC)
Visa/Work permit (yes/no) no
Price of Visa -
City of Internship Zobrazit místo na mapě  Japan, Saitama
Internship reference number JP-2018-08

About the country

Location of the place

Both my accomodation and my workplace were in Saitama. I could get to my workplace in 15 minutes on foot.

City

Saitama is located in the south-east of Japan and it is officially a stand-alone city. In fact, it is so tightly coupled with Tokyo that you don't even notice borders between those cities. As in the other cities of the Greater Tokyo Area, lots of people from there commute to Tokyo every day for work. I haven't spent almost any time in the city itself (besides my internship), but I used to go to Tokyo quite often. It costs 360 JPY (72 CZK) to get the closest train station in Tokyo which is not very cheap, but it takes about 30 minutes and the trains are frequent.

Surroundings (possible trips, ...)

It is perfectly possible to spend several weekends just exploring the Tokyo itself. Tokyo is more like a small country with a large variety of places of different atmosphere (parks, shopping areas, shrines and temples, walks along the river, entertainment districts, ...). Of course, Tokyo is also a great starting point to get to virtually any other place in Japan. I visited Yokohama, Kamakura, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Hiroshima and many other places. Because transportation can get really expensive, I used various passes and discounts to get around (Willer Bus Pass, Nikko Pass).

Employer

Employer

I worked at KDDI Research, a research branch of KDDI. KDDI is known in Japan for telecommunications (it is one of the network carriers), but KDDI Research is focused on information technology. It is a big corporate company with several hundreds of employees. I was a member of the Software Integration Group team, where most of the members did research in computer vision.

Work description

I developed an annotation system for augmented reality. The system used a camera of a HMD to track the user's finger which was projected on a device to create an AR annotation (lets say, an arrow connecting two points on the device which stays visible through the glasses). I learned a lot about OpenCV, camera pose estimation, object detection & tracking and also about deep learning which I used for hand-pose estimation.

Salary (sufficient for local conditions?)

I received 80 000 JPY per month. After some optimisations (I carried my own food almost every day to work, I didn't use high-speed trains), it was sufficient to cover everything I needed, including all the travelling around Japan.

Language requirements

Most probably, you speak better English than 95 % of Japanese people. The actual challenge is explaining things so simply that they can understand you. They are much better in written English, so I recommend communicating via e-mail, issue tracking system etc.. Anyway, the English level of other interns was really good, so I practiced it a lot during the events we did together.

Accommodation (price, who provided it)

I lived alone in an appartment provided by my employer. The appartment was equipped with everything I needed (a small kitchen, a bathroom, a washing machine, wi-fi, ...), I had to buy only some cooking equipment. It was close to my workplace, too.

Social life

Meeting IAESTE members (pick-up at the airport, organised events...)

Thanks to my contact person, I got to my accomodation on my first day without any problems and IAESTE TLSC members took care of us in general. They also organized a lot of events during the summer, for example a trip to Mt. Fuji or Yokohama.

Meeting other foreign students

There were around 20-25 other IAESTE interns in Tokyo. I lived a bit far away from them, but I participated in many of the trips, parties and visits anyway. We had a really cool group of people and I made a lot of new friends around Europe.

Sport and culture

There are not many opportunities for those in Saitama. Jogging is ok (even though I didn't have any nature in my neighbourhood), otherwise I recommend going for a hiking trip or trying to find a sports center in Tokyo. You can experience Japanese culture while travelling and some cultural opportunities were also offered to us by IAESTE TLSC.

Food, local specialties

Food is one of the Japanese highlights. A few tips:
- The ready-made food from the supermarkets is suprisingly good and cheap, especially with the evening discounts.
- There are several chains of restaurants (Sukiya, Matsuya) that are almost everywhere and where you can get gyudon for very friendly prices. Convenience stores are also a good opportunity to get food, especially where you are travelling somewhere.
- It pays off to cook rice, potatoes or noodles and buy the main course (e.g. fried fish) in the supermarket, it saves time and probably money as well.

And of course, go to a proper restaurant for some ramen, okonomiyaki, sushi or other delicious local food from time to time, it's definitely worth it!

Other information

Possibilites to communicate with the Czech Republic

No problems besides the 7 hours time shift (on the other hand, nobody disturbs you on social networks during the morning, so you can focus on work ;)). I had internet connection in my appartment and at my work, so I could use e-mails, Messenger, Whatsapp or Skype as much as I wanted.

Recommendations for students who will go to the same place

- Buy a travel SIM card with 2 GB for 3 months. It can be enough if you are using the wi-fi whenever you can, otherwise you can top it up with coupons.
- Google Maps are absolutely essential for the public transport around Tokyo and anywhere else in Japan (no idea how people did it 10 years ago, probably just go lost all the time :D ).
- Get in touch with other interns, the ones in the same company and the ones from IAESTE (because it can get quite lonely in Japan sometimes)
- Going for a beer in Tokyo can be quite challenging. If you cannot find any pub, just buy some cans of beer in the convenience store and enjoy it with your friends somewhere outside. It is legal to drink on the streets in Japan.
- If you are going ony for the summer, do not take warm clothes. If you plan to go to Mt. Fuji, then take some (otherwise you'll freeze), just be ready not to use it for the rest of the summer. And make sure to bring or buy tons of sunscreen.
- Take some time to read through japan-guide.com, there are many useful tips for living and traveling in Japan.
- Watch Abroad in Japan on Youtube. I'm not into Youtubers, but this British guy does the fantastic job in showing Japan and he does it in a really funny and sarcastic way.

What not to forget with you

Your passport.
Everything else you can buy in a 100-yen store (if you don't believe me, go there and see :)).

Benefits of the internship

Everything you can expect - improving you professional skills, travelling in a foreign country, getting new friends and even improving your English (...although not with locals). Also you grow up a bit, because unlike living in Europe where you can still get anywhere cheaply and quickly, here you start a new life away from you family and friends, even though just for a few months.

Cooperation with IAESTE in the foreign country

Communication with my employer was effortless, everything was well arranged. I didn't need anything else in particular.

Overall experience with IAESTE

Very good, I got all the support I needed.

Student's website

--

Employer's webiste

https://www.kddi-research.jp/english

Other useful links

https://www.japan-guide.com/
https://www.japanistry.com/
https://wikitravel.org/
http://willerexpress.com/en/

Other comments

You can contact me at zdenek.kasner(at)gmail.com for some more details.

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