Japan Field Study Trip

Japan Field Study Trip 2013

On Sunday 12th of May 2013, 23 Sasakawa Fellows, including the first ever Sasakawa Fellow Students from Argentina, Eritrea, Guatemala, Solomon Islands and Uganda, arrived in Tokyo for the Class 2013 Field Study Trip.

We were welcomed by Mr. Eisuke Kudo and Mr. Shinichi Ichikawa of OPRF. Shortly after, we were able to check into our rooms at the Hotel Royal Park Shiodome Tower. All of us were amazed by the luxury and magnitude of this hotel in Central Tokyo. 'This is more than we deserve,' was just one of the expressions heard upon arrival at this hotel!

Monday May 13th

Tokyo Gate Bridge
Our day started at the Gate Bridge, which was opened to traffic in February 2012 and has a total length of 2,618 meters and a height of 88 meters. The bridge is part of the Tokyo Port Seaside Road, allowing traffic the option of bypassing central Tokyo to get between its East and South.

Tokyo Skytree: The new landmark!
The 634m-high Tokyo Skytree was opened just one year ago. It was recognized by the Guinness World Records Company on 17 November 2011 as the tallest tower in the world. We were able to climb up to the Observation Decks on 350 and 450 meters. Rising 350 meters above the ground, with the observation deck being covered in huge 5 meter-high glass for a 360-degree all-round view, allows visitors to see from the foot of the Skytree up to 70 kilometers away: Overlooking an area where more than 30 million people live! A glass tube brought us up to 450m and leaves you convinced you that you are flying in the sky! Not so good for people with high fever however…

Courtesy Visit Maritime Bureau of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
At MLIT, we were informed of the organizational setup, policies, and action plans of Japanese Maritime Affairs. Director-General Masato Mori of the Maritime Bureau welcomed the Fellow Students. Mr. Takahiro Kijama of the Safety Standards Division gave a guest lecture. Mr. Jenay Ghebremariam from Eritrea expressed the students' gratitude toward MLIT for their support in the many arrangements they make to enable this Field Study for us.

Welcome Reception
A Welcome Reception, held at the 35th floor of the Kasumigaseki Building, was very well attended by more than a hundred high representatives from the Japanese maritime industry, as well as many alumni and other Friends of WMU. The opening of the buffet was preceded by an opening speech of Director-General Masato Mori of the Maritime Bureau, who expressed to be a big fan of WMU and that could indeed be witnessed indeed by him proudly wearing the WMU broche and tie!

It was an excellent opportunity to network, meet our sponsors, supporters and friends! Ms. Analia Viggiano from Argentina expressed her appreciation and gratitude to the attendees for enabling the study at WMU and the accompanying experiences and memories that will remain for a lifetime period.

Tuesday May 14th

Niigata Power Systems Co., Ltd., - Ohta Plant
Niigata Power Systems is founded in February 2003 and is part of the IHI Group. At the Ohta Factory it produces internal combustion engines, castings, gas turbines and Z-Pellers. To minimize the burden to the environment, the company puts all efforts to supply products with far less emission of greenhouse gases and pollutants, while maintaining a high economic performance.

Courtesy Visit on The Nippon Foundation
One of the highlights of the week is, of course, meeting the high representatives of our sponsors at The Nippon Foundation. We experienced a very warm welcome by Mr. Mitsujuki Unno, Executive Director of the Nippon Foundation. The students explained about their individual background and purposes of study at WMU. Mr. Hussain Wanzu from Uganda provided a speech in name of the students.

Wednesday May 15th

An early domestic flight brought us from the Metropole Tokyo to the more rural area of Oita.

Miura Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., - Saiki City
Miura Shipbuilding Co., Ltd is active in ship building up to 10,000 GT and ship repair up to 4000 GT. It produces any type of ship, mainly for the domestic/short sea market and delivers around 12 vessels annually. It was very much appreciated that we visited a relatively small/medium sized ship building company, as this allowed us to observe the processes from as close as possible.

During the bus tour to our hotel we could see the beautiful nature of the Oita Prefecture with its green mountains and ocean view. Our next destination was Beppu; one of Japan's most famous hot spring resorts. Upon arrival we enjoyed a traditional seafood meal. While being all dresses in traditional Yukata and sitting on the floor, we all enjoyed the warm and traditional Japanese hospitality. Also our rooms were typical Japanese style, meaning sleeping on the ground floor and no chairs! A major difference with the hotels in Tokyo and Kobe, but definitely an enjoyable experience!

Thursday May 16th

NISSAN Motor Kyushu Co. Ltd. - Kyushu Plant
Here we had the opportunity to observe one of the most productive, high efficient car production plants in the world and deepen our understanding of the automobile manufacturing process. We witnesses the whole process from forging, stamping, casting and welding sub-assembly parts, the assembling itself, until the painting and testing of the finished vehicle. Viewing the entire production line shows the real cooperation by men, machines and robots.

YASKAWA Electric Corporation
Yaskawa Electric Corporation operates in the following four business domains: Motion Control, Robotics, System Engineering and Information Technologies. Since Yaskawa Electric released the first all-electric industrial robot in Japan in 1977, this company has continued to lead the international industrial robot industry. A wide range of industrial robots has been released since, especially welding robots, but also for handling, assembly, painting and cleanroom applications.

This visit did not only show why Japan is in the forefront of technology innovation and robotics, but also we witnessed the discipline and dedication of the Japanese employee.

In the evening we boarded the Hankyu Ferry for an overnight sea voyage from Shin-moji, Kitakyushu to Osaka. After enjoying the sundown from the upper deck, it was time for some good 'nomunication!' The atmosphere was so good that we did not wanted to think yet about the wake up call of 0500AM.

Friday May 17th

FURUNO Electric Co., Ltd. - Miki Factory
At sea, in space, in cities: Furuno's technologies are in every part of our daily life! Based upon sensor technologies, utilizing ultra sound and radio waves, Furuno develops and distributes marine electronics as well as industrial electronics products and systems. For the merchant marine, fishing vessels, recreational boats, workboats and government vessels, it produces Fishing Equipment (Fish Finder), Radio Communication (Inmarsat, AIS) and Navigation Equipment (Radar, GPS Plotters).

Several of our students expressed to have used Furuno equipment in their daily work!

Marine Technical College Kobe
Where it was our very first visit two years ago, now our visit at the Marine Technical College in Kobe was the very last official one! Here we were welcomed by Professor Toshio Hikima, former professor of WMU, who explained enthusiastically (as usual!) about the Japanese maritime education and training system in general and the MTC in specific.

Tired, but more than satisfied we checked in at the beautiful ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel in Kobe.

Saturday May 18th
On our very last day we were able to visit the beautiful city of Kyoto and three different highlights of the city: Nijo Castle, Kinkaku-ji Temple and Kiyomizu-dera Temple. A funny fact is that Kyoto not only has been the capital of Japan for over 1000 years, but is also home base of the video game company Nintendo. Well known for people, who are way into their thirties, for computer games as Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros!

Farewell Reception
Our last evening was celebrated with a farewell party where, in a cozy and informal atmosphere, we could enjoy our last 'nomunication' opportunity. Several WMU Alumni attended, as well as representatives of companies we visited this week, but also of previous years from within the Greater Kobe Area. They took all the efforts to be with us! Juan Francisco Santos Solorzano from Guatemala took the opportunity to speak out our appreciation for having had a wonderful week.

This year, WMU will celebrate its 30 years anniversary. Moreover, the number of Sasakawa Fellowships provided to study the M.Sc. program at WMU in Malmo, Sweden will surpass the number of 500! I am looking forward to celebrate both milestones with our biggest supporters, friends and Sasakawa Fellows at several occasions this and next year.

On behalf of the Sasakawa Fellow Students of Class 2013, I would like to thank Dr. Yohei Sasakawa, the Nippon Foundation, OPRF and all the host institutes for an unforgettable week in which we are able to learn about your country, its culture and the Japanese maritime industry.

Ton Smaal
Registrar, WMU