I went back

I first saw this life-size Terminator on the morning of my first day at work here in Japan. I was walking to my new job, using the Japanese-only GPS on my feature phone, walked around the corner... and there it was. It scared the **** out of me. I didn't have my camera with me back then, as I had a "large" Canon 350D and only took it out with me when I could be bothered. Now it's rare for me to not have a camera on my person.


After the 2011 earthquake, our laboratory moved from Komaba 「駒場東大前」to Hongo 「本郷」campus. I've only been back to the komaba campus a few times, but I rather like it. It's wide, spacious, and completely research-focussed. I was technically working at the Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST) - not a University.

The sign says "The capacity of this smoking area is 1 person" - proof

The reason I'm back here, after nearly a three-year hiatus, is because one of the researchers from our old lab has secured a Professorship at another University for the following academic year, and there's three labs' worth of research equipment and old gear (~10 yrs) which needs classifying, packing, and recycling.

The buildings here are enormous. We're outside of the yamanote loop, rather than inside it, and so space isn't quite the premium it is at the centre of Tokyo. Having said that, compared to other foreign institutes I've visited, they're still on the small side.

Now it's all finished, I'm not sure I'll ever return to these old labs. It's a bit of a strange feeling - I originally came here, to these labs, with the vision of staying here for a "whole year". Three years later, I now have something of a history here in Japan, and my time at RCAST is a small, but important, preface.

*thanks to my friend Hashima-san for reminding me that it's "komaba" no "kobama"! ありがとう!