JSPS Summer Program


Comments offered by former participants(excerpt from JSPS Quarterly


Ms. Pauline Girard
(PhD student, University of Nantes, France)
at Osaka University
Her host: Prof. Hiroshi Miyasaka
Ms. Girard with her host Prof. Miyasaka and his team
Ms. Girard with her host Prof. Miyasaka and his team

This stay in Japan has been an amazing experience, both professionally and personally. During these two months, I performed femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy measurements in one of the most world-renowned groups in the ultra-fast spectroscopy domain. Their expertise has been very precious in helping me to understand the collective properties of photochromic and magnetic nanoassemblies, which I have been developing for my PhD, and to make progress in my research. Moreover, the discussions I’ve had with Japanese researchers and students constitute true intercultural exchanges, through which I have learned a lot about the Japanese culture. I am very grateful to the JSPS for allowing me to discover Japan and for its exceptional organization of the Summer Program. Moreover, I would like to deeply thank Miyasaka-sensei and his team, who welcomed me under such extraordinary conditions, for their kindness and great help.

Mr. Daniel Kastinen
(Master’s student, Luleå University of Technology)
at the National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) in Tachikawa
His host: Prof. Takuji Nakamura
Mr. Kastinen at JSPS poster presentation during orientation week
Mr. Kastinen at JSPS poster presentation during orientation week

Writing a 100-word article about the Summer Program does not give my experience in it due justice. I have had the opportunity of meeting so many wonderful people, not only in my own field of research but from other departments and also at the karate dojo where I train. These people have all made my time here a wonderful experience! My work consists of celestial mechanics, meteor science, and numerical simulation of these subjects. The input I have gotten and discussions I’ve had with my teammates here have been invaluable to me. They have given me the opportunity to learn a lot about Japanese culture and also about the Japanese way of doing research. Needless to say, I can’t wait to return at the next chance I get!


Ms. Kimberly Ann Stevens
(Graduate student, Brigham Young University)
at Ritsumeikan University
Her host: Prof. Isao Tokuda
Ms. Stevens (left) with resident assistant in on-campus dorm
Ms. Stevens (left) with resident assistant in on-campus dorm

The JSPS Summer Program provided me an extremely valuable research collaboration opportunity. My research involves studying the mechanics of vocal fold vibrations through the use of synthetic models. Dr. Isao Tokuda and his collaborators in Japan have developed a specialized endoscopy system capable of imaging the vocal folds in three dimensions. Through the Summer Program, I was able to use synthetic models to validate a new endoscopy system. The collaboration also provided the Japanese researchers an opportunity to learn how to manufacture vocal fold models. Working with the team in my host lab was delightful—they were incredibly welcoming and accommodating, holding parties to welcome me, and even showing me how to enjoy singing karaoke Japanese style. Living near Kyoto gave me the chance to see and experience the beauty of classic Japanese culture. The entire experience was highly productive, educational, and personally rewarding.

Ms. Aiko Julia Möhwald
(Graduate student, University of Freiburg)
at University of Tsukuba
Her host: Prof. Yoshinori Okade
Ms. Möhwald with her host Prof. Okade (right) and his group
Ms. Möhwald with her host Prof. Okade (right)
and his group

During my two-month research stay at the University of Tsukuba, I conducted field studies of Japanese Physical Education (PE) classes to gain a special insight into the feedback culture of Japanese PE teachers. I was highly impressed by the organization, discipline and management exercised by the PE teachers and the quality of their students. The JSPS Summer Program offers a perfect opportunity to experience intercultural dialogue with excellent Japanese researchers. Those conversations not only enriched my research but also broadened my cultural horizons. I am deeply grateful to JSPS for affording me this chance to learn about and explore this unique country in such a rewarding way! Last but not least, a special word of thanks goes to my host researcher, Prof. Yoshinori Okade, and his team, who received and hosted me in such an extraordinary way.


Mr. Benoit Granier
(Graduate student from University of Lyon)
at the University of Tokyo
His host: Prof. Akira Suehiro
Mr. Granier (right) in poster presentation session
Mr. Granier (right) in poster presentation session

As a PhD student, I am doing research on smart cities in Japan. Thanks to the JSPS Summer Program, I could spend two months at the University of Tokyo and meet many very interesting researchers who are also doing work on these issues. My host researcher, Prof. Akira Suehiro, introduced me to a group called Yokohama City Civil Servants who explained their project to me. I also went to Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City with Prof. Sukehiro Hosono, who is a specialist in smart cities. It was great to discover how these Japanese cities differ from those in Europe. For instance, many use fun schemes such as games and robots to involve the population, while other issues such as health and aging are also tackled. Thanks a lot JSPS!

Ms. Michelle Montgomery
(Graduate student from University of Bristol)
at Kyoto University
Her host: Prof. Fumiyuki Ozawa
Ms. Montgomery (third from left)
Ms. Montgomery (third from left)
with Prof. Ozawa and group

The JSPS summer programme provided me with an extraordinary opportunity to broaden my research and establish academic collaborations. My host, Prof. Fumiyuki Ozawa, was kind enough to let me join his group without any previous collaboration. Its members were friendly, patient and as eager to learn from me as I was from them. In addition to hosting two welcome parties and numerous activities in my honour, the group also invited me on an overnight excursion where I was able to enjoy the delights of a traditional ryokan inn in splendid company. I also seized the opportunity to explore Japan and was mesmerised by the beauty, tradition and rich culture coexisting with the bright lights and hustle and bustle of big cities. I am tremendously grateful for the experiences the JSPS programme afforded me and plan to return as soon as possible.


Ms. Carrie Khou
(Graduate student, University of Mannheim)
at Doshisha University
Her host: Prof. Takashi Sasaki
Ms. Khou with her host researcher
Ms. Khou with her host researcher

Every day I learned something new about Japan and its culture. Be it the conventions of gift-giving or the tradition of the Japanese tea ceremony, no day went by without a new and valuable lesson on Japanese life. I was equally enticed to learn more about my project on the “new women” in modern American and East Asian literature. Thanks to my advisor Prof. Takashi Sasaki at Doshisha University in Kyoto, I was able to discuss my research topic with professors of Japanese studies, American studies, sociology, and cultural studies. Besides the scholarly work I conducted, I also seized the opportunity to travel and enjoy the numerous festivals held during the summer. Witnessing the lantern ceremony to commemorate the victims of the Hiroshima atomic bombing and experiencing the hustle and bustle of Gion Matsuri in Kyoto gave me unforgettable insights into the culture of Japan. Looking back now, my summer in Japan was a culturally enriching and academically rewarding quest that I wouldn’t want to have missed.

Ms. Natalie D. Beckman-Ross
(Graduate student, Colorado State University)
at Hokkaido University
Her host: Prof. Futoshi Nakamura
Ms. Beckman-Ross hiking on Rishiri Mountain (at bottom-right)
Ms. Beckman-Ross hiking on Rishiri Mountain
(at bottom-right)

The JSPS Summer Program allowed me to collaborate with Japanese researchers, but also to explore the natural beauty of northern Japan. I worked with Professor Futoshi Nakamura to study wood in rivers, and used data from Colorado and Japan to test if log decay can be used to indicate the processes which control the amount of wood in a stream. My host and lab mates at Hokkaido University invited me along on their field work, and thanks to them I have counted fish in Tokachi, seen a restoration project (and Japanese cranes) in Kushiro Marsh, and surveyed river cross-sections in the shadow of Hokkaido’s tallest mountain. I have hiked and camped in national parks, including Rishiri Mountain where you can look across the sea to Russia. But one of my favorite things has been soaking in an onsen after a long day of hiking or field work! Northern Japan is much more beautiful and relaxed than I expected, and I’m grateful to have had the chance that the Summer Program afforded me to learn and explore.


Dr. Christopher Buckley
(Postdoctoral researcher, University of Sussex)
at RIKEN Brain Science Institute
His host: Dr. Taro Toyoizumi
Dr. Buckley working as a volunteer in the disaster area
Dr. Buckley working as a volunteer
in the disaster area

My work environment here in the RIKEN Brain Science Institute couldn’t be better. It is full of enthusiastic people, Japanese and international visitors alike, who work hard during the week but like to have a drink in an izakaya on the weekend. Because of the earthquake many of my JSPS colleagues expressed a need to show support for Japan. For my part I became involved with a volunteer group who regularly take bus trips from Tokyo to the tsunami-damaged city of Ishinomaki. I spent one weekend cleaning stinking sea sludge from drains and stripping crumbling plaster from houses that had been briefly submerged. While it was hot and hard work, the atmosphere and optimism of the volunteers, and the local people returning to rebuild their lives, was uniquely rewarding. Japan is a fantastic place to work with a commitment to science we should envy in the west and a rich and diverse culture that you could spend a lifetime exploring.

Mr. Thomas Gaudisson
(Graduate student, Université Paris Diderot)
at Tohoku University
His host: Dr. Kozo Shinoda
Mr. Gaudisson with his host
Mr. Gaudisson with his host

The introduction to Japanese culture and language provided in the orientation session was good preparation for my internship to follow. The week concluded in a 2-day stay with a host family. Their hospitality made me feel like I was in my own home. I discovered Kamakura, a city with a lot of beautiful temples and shrines and the famous Kamakura Daibutsu (Big Buddha). It was the beginning of my total immersion in Japanese life. My host laboratory is located in Sendai, which remains a dynamic city despite the recent earthquake and tsunami within the prefecture. Its summer festival was an amazing experience, with the people’s traditional dress and dances being so beautiful. I also discovered a large variety of Japanese cuisine. Indeed, the language barrier hasn’t prevented me from enjoying Japanese life. My research centers on the synthesis of an alloy used in high-density storage of information. I’ve been given the chance to access XAFS (X-ray absorption fine structure) spectroscopy in the lab, which enables me to enrich my scientific culture. I’m sure this program will be a very advantageous in advancing my career as a scientist.