I’ve been to Japan for a short trip once before, and I knew I had to come back again to learn more about this country, the culture, the people. Thus, it was a no-brainer to accept the offer for a 6 months research stay in this beautiful country. By 2021, this 6 months research stay turned into a full 4-year complete Ph.D. collaboration with the NII. I really loved it so much that I took every opportunity to extend my stay at the NII. In January 2022, I finished my Ph.D. with my supervisor at the NII as my second reviewer. Be warned that after your research stay at Tokio, you may not want to come back to Germany.
The environment at NII is a wonderful place for making progress in your research and learning an entirely different culture at the same time. We regularly discuss recent projects from everybody in the lab and other international guests who visit the NII in the weekly lab meetings. It’s a very international team with people from all over the world who present exciting and cutting-edge research topics. It was also an excellent opportunity to present my own work and receive constructive and helpful feedback from experienced researchers. In addition to the weekly meetings, the NII organizes some community gatherings from time to time, such as Takoyaki-cooking, where I met more people in a more casual environment.
Besides work, there are numerous other exciting things to see in Japan. The cultural differences are enormous, and even after 4 years, I still learn new things that absolutely surprise me. Japan is not only a different country; it’s a different world. Things can be reversed entirely here. For example, paying a tip is considered impolite in Japan. The reason is that a tip will be understood as money for further improvements in service, which implies that the current service was not good enough. Hence, be a good guy and don’t pay tips. Not even your taxi driver!
For me, the most astonishing things are still the tiny details. Everybody is standing on the left side (Japan has left-hand traffic) on an escalator, and nobody’s blocking the other way! It’s even crazier when people stand in a 20m queue just to stand on the left side of the escalator rather than walking on the right side. I’m originally from Berlin. This is simply magic for me!
There are many other reasons why I can recommend this program. But there is not enough space to write them down all. To put it in the words of Morpheus:
“I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.”