The reason for choosing Japan to conduct research
While in the USA, I was invited by one of my PhD advisers, who is Japanese, to carry out research in Tsukuba as an AIST fellow, upon completion of my degree. I had been always intrigued by the technologically advanced research in Japan, and that invitation was one I could not refused to come and experience first-hand research at a well-known institute.
In a few words my research is related to the development of materials (catalysts) for oxidation of hydrocarbons such as natural gas in order to obtain useful products rather than using them as a fuel. At AIST, I have discovered several materials that are able to do this job. In collaboration with other group members, and by means of advanced in situ spectroscopic techniques, we have gained some insight as to how these materials may work at a molecular level. (And as a result of that, you know, papers have been published, more in preparation, posters presented, etc…)
Advice to new fellows
As an advice to new recently-arrived fellows, the obvious things such as good communication and continued discussion of research results with your host researcher, and collaboration with your co-workers as well, may help you with a smoother adjustment. Find out and try attending well-known international conferences in your field that take place in Japan. Networking, and discussing with peers and renowned scientists at these events is an opportunity you should not miss. For enjoying life in Japan outside work (and your apartment), friends, some basic Japanese, plenty of guidebooks, and the internet should provide you with plenty of information on things to do around.