Just had two weeks in Japan, mostly visiting our friends and colleagues in AORI and NIES. These institutes are both some way outside Tokyo but on the same train line out of Tokyo, so we stayed in Asakusa, close by the famous Senso-ji temple
Not ignoring Hinode, which strange as it may seem, is also well within Tokyo’s boundaries!
AORI always seems a bit of strange and desolate place, part of a large research campus of Tokyo University, which was basically built in the middle of nowhere a decade ago but around which shops and services are gradually expanding. It still seems very empty though.
The scientific content of the trip was mostly focussed around paleoclimate stuff, particularly how the strength and stability of the North Atlantic component of the overturning circulation might have changed in past glacial cycles. We were working on this previously with a postdoc who transferred to AORI (along with her funding) when we left. Hopefully there will be more to say on these topics in the future, as papers are written. The visit to NIES was more of an exchange of updates, I gave a seminar and then the group we had collaborated with all summarised their latest work. Rather like the old JUMP meetings we used to have, in fact (that website never really came to much, as we were pretty much on the way out when we set it up).
It was a bit of a culture shock, setting off from here where most of our neighbours are sheep and highland cattle in open fields, and arriving less than 24 later in central Tokyo where the sheeple are battery-farmed in a rather more intensive manner. However we are still probably more accustomed to life in Japan than the UK these days, so once we’d learnt the local train stations and lines (of which there are no fewer than four, most of which we hadn’t used much) it was plain sailing, and actually quite relaxing to be able to play the part of a short-term visitor rather than struggling to fit in as residents. We very much enjoyed the visit and hope to go back for more but didn’t think for a minute that we had made the wrong decision in leaving.