Message from Former JSPS Fellow (13)
Sports Engineering in Japan
It’s a couple years on from my visit to Japan under a JSPS invitational fellowship, which was undertaken in late 2007. That fellowship continues to have a lasting effect on my research and my continuing collaboration with Japan.
In 2005, I made my first visit to Japan for a sports engineering conference at the Tokyo Institute of Technology hosted by Prof. Sadayuki Ujihashi. Sports engineering is a new discipline internationally, and it was there that I first discovered a thriving Japanese and international sports engineering community. On that occasion, I met Dr. Yuji Ohgi from Keio University’s Fujisawa Campus for the first time. We immediately discovered common research interests in applying miniature technology to monitoring athletes during competitive sport events, and we promised to keep in touch. The following year, we had the opportunity to visit each other’s research facilities in Japan and Australia. Then in 2007, Dr. Ohgi kindly applied for a JSPS fellowship on my behalf.
Undertaking the fellowship gave us a wonderful opportunity to spend a considerable period of time working together, while giving me a chance to get to know other active researchers in Japan. There were visits and opportunities to speak formally and informally through the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Joint Symposium on Human Dynamics and Sports Engineering, a conference I have continued to follow―one which embodies several universities and companies. It was at that time that we began collaborative research with Dr. Ohgi’s partner company AR’S, a Yokohama-based wireless company, eventually leading to additional support from the Australia-Japan Foundation and the Queensland Academy of Sport to continue the work. This year, one of my students begins working in a full-time job at AR’S. Since the visit, our work has been reported at conferences and lecture series in Australia and Japan, and at several international conferences, with some of our work recently featured on TV in Australia as well. More importantly, there has been a regular exchange of postgraduate students and academic staffs between ours and other institutions in our respective networks over the past three years, with many more exchanges planned. None of this would have been possible without my relatively long period of stay in Japan with the support of JSPS.
For anyone contemplating or planning to visit Japan, I would rate it both a career and personal highlight. Ten things I learnt along the way that you might find helpful are as follows:
Don’t ask what a morsel of food is until after you eat it.
Try not to ask yes/no questions when getting directions from strangers.
Everywhere you go or eat it is probably “famous” for something, so try to find out what it is.
Asking a question of a person can impose an obligation, so be careful or hesitant when doing so.
Cash is king. Carry lots of cash (it’s safe) as only the biggest of places have western electronic facilities and finding an ATM when you most need it can be tricky.
Japan is a very safe place, full of helpful people and adventures.
Riding the subway can be chaotic to the uninitiated; but there is order in the system, so taking your time and asking questions will get you where you want to go.
You may need to walk a long way with your luggage, so choose it wisely.
It can be hard to find English reading material and entertainment, so bring your own or buy it on Amazon Japan and have it delivered.
Have a great time in the heady mix of old and new Japan, as it will exceed your expectations.
For further reading, more detailed information about our research and its related publications can be found replete with photographs on the following website: http://sportsbioengineering.com/australiajapan.html
A personalized account of my research visit to Japan can be found under the title “Budo Bum in Japan” on the following site: http://www.aikidorepublic.com/trip-and-seminar-reports/aikido-japan
Domo Arigato Gozaimashita