The internship at Tohoku University, Sendai, was a fantastic learning experience in terms of both the research and the exposure to the Japanese culture.
The change in society and its culture from India to Japan is quite drastic, and it took about a fortnight to feel comfortable in the new environment. However, once I understood the functioning of the Japanese society, I enjoyed learning about their cultural norms and traditions, the societal structure and the Japanese language. Japan is renowned for its incredibly efficient services and networks, and I was thoroughly impressed by, among other things, the efficiency of train and bus services, the local airlines (which I used to travel to tourist spots within Japan), and the cell phone network.
I experienced traditional Japanese life at the Zao Onsen in the Yamagata prefecture, where I stayed along with my professor at a traditional hotel which also served typical Japanese food. I also had the opportunity to learn skiing at the Zao Mountain. Another highlight of my sightseeing travel was the city of Kyoto, which had beautiful temples and traditional-looking streets lined with Sakura trees.
Since I was part of an international group, I believe my experience as far as research was concerned wasn’t typically Japanese. My professor was German, the assistant professors British and Russian, some students Mongolian and Indonesian, in addition to some Japanese students. However, I loved the diversity within the group which made for exciting coffee table conversations every evening.
In conclusion, the trip was a delightful learning experience in terms of both research and cultural exchange. I would love to have the opportunity to visit Japan again in the near future.