Contributions from Experts

“World Maritime University, Far Away from Home…”

Although I am not a student of WMU, nor a Sasakawa Fellow, I might have sung this song the most among all Fellows.

Hi, this is Miyo. It’s my great honor to have this opportunity to write an article for the newsletter and send greetings from Japan to all those I’ve met. Hopefully, you remember me! Some of the readers might be wondering who I am. I have been the tour assistant and tour guide of the Japan Field Study Trip since 2002, making this my 15th year. Time flies!

When I was asked to write something for this newsletter, I immediately thought, ‘Are you sure?’ Because I am not a Fellow, and I’m not in the maritime sector, either, I was not sure if I was qualified. However, after collecting my past documents and memories for this occasion, I realized it has been a long time that I’ve been involved. And most importantly, I have enjoyed this involvement since the beginning and come to love it more and more.

From 2002 to 2007, I was only with the tour for a few days, the latter half of the trip outside the Tokyo area. I guided in Nara, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Himeji…, and other cities except for eastern Japan. From 2008 onwards, I was able to travel with the group throughout the entire trip, guiding tours all over Japan and helping others understand the life and culture of the Japanese people.

In addition to guiding, I was able to visit a wide range of important places in the maritime field, including the academic, administrative, governmental, and industrial sectors, which has enriched and enhanced my understanding of this field tremendously. It is hard to believe that I didn’t even know what WMU was at the beginning!

Encountering Fellows representing countries worldwide and meeting with the same faces every year makes me very happy. I feel a part of the team for at least eight days each year. Since I am an English-speaking tour guide, my guests come from different backgrounds, and I don’t work in the maritime field throughout the year.

Since I started guiding for the entire Field Study I became very good at remembering names, which I like, as I feel closer to every one of the Fellows. This is of course an important trip for the Fellows to learn about what is going on in Japan’s maritime industries professionally, but at the same time, they can also get to see and feel the nature of the country through their experiences and through cultural and social exchanges with local people. And for me, even though I introduce the Japanese lifestyle to many, I also learn a lot from you.

There are several things I have noticed in these past 15 years, which I would like to share:

  • Nationalities of Fellows have become more diverse. Of course there are some common countries, such as Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and so on, but more and more come from new countries, such as Myanmar, Cameroon, Ghana, and more.
  • Except for some vital places that we almost always visit, the rest of the sites are new. I am amazed there are so many institutions, agencies, and companies of different sizes in this field, who are willing to welcome the Sasakawa Fellows with warm hospitality. Of course, it is due to the hard work of those who arrange the study trip, but I also feel that the receiving institutions understand how much the Fellows will contribute to the maritime field in the future.
    Visiting all these sites, some well-known and some not, is a great learning experience for me, and I am amazed to see how they are all seriously and proudly engaged. I hope to visit and discover even more in this exciting sector.
  • One more thing I’ve noticed. Fellows on the field trip are now younger than me! At first, I was definitely the youngest, but with the passage of 15 years, I came to realize I am now older than any of the group!

Lastly, my dear past Fellows, I always read the newsletter and feel happy to know each one of you is fine and actively engaging in this maritime field all over the world. I wish you all the best!

I thank everyone for this wonderful opportunity.

Miyoko Wada (Miyo)
Tour Coordinator