Category Archives: rggarrett

Not really the end, but that’s a wrap

This trip has been amazing. I have met people and found oppurtunities that I could never have thought possible. I think we have all been incredibly lucky.

Whilst I till have 10 more days in Japan, the Nanotech tour side of things is all finished. It was an insanely busy week but one I enjoyed immensely.There is still an incredible amount of work that we all have to do but I knew coming into this tour it would be a challenge.

The best part of this trip was easily me setting up my project for next year with NIMS. In all honesty, this is probably the single most important thing thhat has happened in my studying life. Can’t wait until next year now.

As for my thoughts on Japan, I pretty much knew everything to expect when coming here, one of the perks of studying the language for so many years. I am just glad I had a chance to improve my skills.

Well, I think now it is time I enjoyed my holiday. Thanks for reading 🙂


Day 6: The Last Stand

Well, it is all over. The last day of the 2014 Nanotech tour.

Today was a full day at the exhibition. I went early to a presentation by my new contact at NIMS about his work on nanofibre mesh as a treatment for cancer. His passion was incredible and was happy to sit down and have a brief interview with me in Japanese. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with him about this and can’t wait to do some work with him next year.

The Victorian presentation was a great experience. Most of us were surprised at how good the turnout to the presentation was. Always a pleasant surprise when people are interested in your country. Massive credit to each of the presenters.

I was able to have a good walk through the Smart Energy Expo which was run in conjunction with the Nanotech exhibition. Was certainly a different experience all together. Here is an adorable photo of me with a polar bear


The day finished with a wonderful little reception for all the Victorian representatives and a few special guests. It was a great way to round off the trip with some wonderful food and company. One last chance to network before we concluded for the week.

Now, time to enjoy my next 10 days of holidays 🙂

Day 5: How does one find a good conversation starter?

This was easily one of the most informative days we have had on this tour. Personally, I found our morning visit to the Australian Embassy to be one that yielded a lot of important information for me. While it was only a short visit, it was certainly a positive one. It was a shame we didn’t get to visit during the time when the cherry blossoms in the main garden are in full bloom.

Returning to the expo today meant a major change in my attack plan. Yesterday was more of just a random walk around and get the feel of the place. Today, we were on a mission.

I set out my seminars I wanted to attend, I found the booths I wanted to visit. It was a very productive day.

The German seminars on Organic Nano products stretched across a wide range of applications and models but they were all very enjoyable and informative. Patrick, Daniel and I headed to Brüker to have a discussion with them about their AFM machines to begin our large company case study. They were really helpful with explaining not only their products but also why the company was there and what directions they were looking at heading towards.

The day finished with an amazing reception for all the exhibitors. This was a perfect chance to network on a slightly more casual basis and I found it much easier to be able to start a conversation with some of the other country representatives. I thoroughly enjoyed my chats with representatives from Iran and Spain and will be continuing those conversations tomorrow for certain.

Another full day at the expo tomorrow so for now it is time to begin planning my day.

Day 4: Big Buildings, Big Booths

6am start this morning… That about sums up how I felt about it too. But, it was actually well and truly worth it.

The trip out to Tsukuba was slightly longer that we had done so far on this trip but we knew we had the AIST research facility waiting for us. They were so welcoming. I was very impressed. After a few introductory presentations we were taken past one of their Clean Room facilities contained a vast array of top of the range equipment. We were then lead through an explanatory tour of the Positron Micro Probe lab which was an immensely impressive facility. Sadly I cannot share photos of it because of security reasons.

However I can share a photo of this commemorative tree outside the building.


Following this wonderful tour we headed down to Tokyo Big Sight for the beginnings of the 2014 Nanotechnology Exhibition.

What a wonderful day. The expo was incredibly busy. Lots and lots for use to see over the next few days. Looking forward to seeing a few more seminars and conversing with more researchers about what they are spending their time working on. Will definitely be heading over to the NIMS booth again tomorrow to continue discussions about a potential research project for myself.

Plenty of exciting times ahead

Day 3: Modern Day Tokyo University

Wow. There is really no other way of referring to the Kashiwa Campus of Tokyo University.

This campus is only about 10 years old and is one of the most high tech places I have been. There is an incredible amount of research space with almost every field in physics having their own dedicated building. We were even lucky enough to be shown around to some of their “shiny toys”.

Easily my favourite for the day was seeing the ISSP Labs (Institute of Solid State Physics) and looking at some of the work which they are doing with lasers. I was especially glad I was able to talk with Florian, a German national who has been conducting research with TU for nearly 2 years. Talking to him about how he was able to set up this opportunity and how he has dealt with the change of country was really informative.

The other labs we also just as exciting. I particularly enjoyed the Astronomy Lab where they had a great collaboration between physicists and mathematicians as a way of achieving the best possible results.

Here are a few cool pictures of that lab.

This is a cool little trick they use with mirrors to create a 3D effect.

And here is the view from their Roof Lecture Theatre

We ended the day with a good little discussion about the Nanotech expo with representatives from the Victorian Business Office in Tokyo and the researchers who will be presenting for Victoria.

I am definitely looking forward to this expo!

Day 2: Back to Uni

I was looking forward to going to Tokyo University and today was the day I was finally able to. Seeing how other Universities operate, especially one of such a high standard as TU was a very exciting experience.

But first, we had a lovely walk through the Imperial Gardens and then went on to visit BIC Camera… 6 floors of electronic bliss. Definitely a good culture experience.

Anyway, back to Tokyo University. The campus was incredible. Old school architecture, incredibly clean. Just an all round good atmosphere
We had a nice relaxed lunch with some of the Physics students, whose English was quite good which made my effort to speak Japanese rather low. But, I did have a couple of small conversations with them in Japanese.

After lunch we were lucky enough to visit two research labs, one being a photoemission spectroscopy lab and the other centred around scanning tunnelling microscopy. I definitely enjoyed the photoemission work more as it used lots of different crystal lattices and since my main interest is crystallography then this was an easy pick for my favourite part of the day.

Tomorrow will be a nice early trip out to a different TU campus so it will be great to be able to compare the two.

Looking forward to it 🙂

Hooray for a Day… 1

Today I left Hamamatsu. That was definitely a sad moment. But, it also marked the start of a new journey.

After a few hours on the Shinkansen I made it to Tokyo and then found my way to Shiba Park Hotel for our initial tour meeting. I was greeted there by my old Japanese friend Natsumi which after 7 years it was good to catch up again.

Today consisted of a trip down to Harajuku shopping district and the Meiji Shrine. Both of these in direct contrast to each other. The insane pace and bustle of the shops compared the slow and tranquil walk through the temple grounds was such an intriguing moment.

It was nice to visit Meiji again. After 5 years it is still exactly how I remember it.

Harajuku’s shopping district was incredibly busy. We happened to get caught up in the middle of a protest (what they were protesting about is still unknown) which definitely gave some loud excitement to the area.

Now it is is time to just relax and get rested up before an incredibly busy week begins

Happy Australia Day 🙂

And so it begins… Tomorrow

Tonight is my last night in Hamamatsu 😦

It has been so good that after 5 years I can come back and hhave just as much fun as the first time I was here. The Makino family have been extraordinary. Doing a homestay is still by far the best way to experience a true Japanese culture. Don’t get me wrong, it is hard. Everything is so different. But, I still did my best at trying to speak Japanese every day.

Had some awesome experiences here in Hamamatsu. All finished off today with a trip down to Nagoya Castle. Nowadays it is such a combination of old and new school. The castle grounds are all currently being remade just as they were before the air raids during WW2.

We watched a cool little stage show with the Samurai Generals from 450 years ago.looking great for their age by the way 😉

And also, came across the cutest little dog… I mean… horse.


The “Dog”s name was Nano because of how adorabley little it is. I thought that was a rather good omen for the beginnings of our trip.

But anyway. Tomorrow I hop back on the Shinkansen bound for Tokyo and shall be arriving nice and early to Shiba Park Hotel. Can’t wait to see all the guys and start being all nerdy and sciencey. This tour will be one I don’t think I will soon forget


We have touchdown!

After about a 12 hour flight delay, a whole lot of running around in Singapore, I finally got to Japan.

Wooooooooooooooooooo. But seriously, it ended up being about 36 hours of “flight” time. Definitely wasn’t an easy trip over.

Because of the airline stuffing me around I ended up arriving at about 11pm local time. Luckily for me it meant the airline payed for a hotel foor me. But, in the morning I was up nice and early and on my way to Hamamatsu.

I did make one mistake though, I underestimated the number of accessible atms at 8am… I was starving and had a long train ride ahead. Won’t be making that mistake again.

Because my flight ended up going to Haneda, not Narita, I needed to find my way to Tokyo station. This ended up being rather exciting as I got to ride a monorail. It still amazes me how efficient Japan’s transport is. A train that is 30 seconds late is like he end of the world. THe only downside is that you pay for this efficiency out of your pocket. Rather than paying for the time you are on it, like Australia, Japan opts for the pay per stop option. Going one stop already sets you back $1.50.

The shinkansen is a whole other story. That is where it really costs you. The trip to Hamamatsu is about 2 hours from Tokyo by shinkansen. This cost 80 bucks each way :/. But it is a fun thing to do. Especially because you seriously can’t tell that you are moving that fast.

In 5 years Hamamatsu has not changed a bit. I remember it like it was yesterday. Its been great to stay with my old host family again. Eating some amazing traditional food, sleeping on the floor like a true Japanese person.

Did I mention how cold it was? Or how insane the Japanese people are? Last night proved that to me. Onne of my host brothers friends too me with him to a family game of soccer they play 2-3 times a week. We played outside, at 0 degrees, for 3 hours. Some of these guys were nearly 3 times my age yet they never stopped. Everyone was competing hard, yet no one cared about the score. This is something that I really loved. Might have helped if I was any good at soccer haha.

But anyway, here is a photo of us freezing out butts off post game. Can’t wait to do it again.


6 more days here in Hamamatsu and then back into Tokyo for the beginnings of the Study Tour. Already feeling like my Japanese will be up to the challenge.

Until then 🙂


Tomorrow begins what will be a month of excitement for me. After 5 years I get to return to Japan.

This time will be so much different to what I experienced last time. A more professional approach this time around in comparison to the classic tourist activities on the last trip will make it a completely new challenge.

I think I am definitely fortunate that my approach to this tour will be quite unique compared to my classmates. As I have been studying Japanese for quite some time now, I am very familiar with the culture, language and all round shock that Japan brings to foreigners.

I decided to head into this trip 10 days early so I could return to visit my old host family. This will make interacting with the Japanese over the time of the trip much easier as I will already have 10 days of complete immersion in order to get out some rust in my Japanese speaking proficiency.

Having the chance to undertake an expo like the one we are going to with the ability to communicate (to a certain extent) in the native language hopefully will mean I can learn some things that otherwise may have slipped under the radar.

It will certainly be interesting to see how Japan has changed over the last 5 years. I was just a kid last time I was there so being able to see the country with slightly more mature eyes could certainly shift my perspective on some things. This will be most noticeable over the week of this tour I think. The Japanese business culture is something that will be the hardest thing to deal with. It is more like a religious ceremony that a mere meeting. The level of respect that is shown is completely foreign to us and it will be the most difficult gap to bridge. But this is one of the challenges I am most looking forward to facing.

Hopefully, the difficulties of the professionalism will be overcome. This trip really has an importance to me as I am hoping to set up a place in which I can do my Nano Project with.  This is why the expo will be so exciting.  Hundreds of potential groups I may be able to chat with about this possibility. And knowing it might all come down to how good my formal Japanese is a scary notion. But one I am looking forward to greatly

I can’t wait until I touch down in Japan. It has been too long

See you soon