Former STA research fellow at the National Research Institute of Fisheries Science, Yokohama.
Dr.Carl Tucker(:山下由美子)

I was very fortunate to have been granted a JISTEC/STA research fellowship, providing me with the possibility of undertaking my research at the National Research Institute of Fisheries Science (NRIFS); this commenced in May 2000. The JISTEC/STA fellowship gave me the unique opportunity to pursue a new and exciting field of research, fish transgenics under the tutelage of Dr. M. Yamashita. I was also able to continue my research on fish DNA vaccines, subsequently a numbers of scientific papers will be submitted for publication. These are two fields of research that have great potential for biotechnological disease control within the aquaculture industry, in addition to being of great personal interest. My research has now progressed from parasitology and epidemiology (my PhD research) to molecular biology, this was not necessarily an easy transition but one made much smoother by the people with whom I have worked. Over the recent years my research has therefore greatly diversified and as a consequence I have learnt many new molecular techniques, this has only be as a result of the generosity and patience of the many scientists.

The JISTEC/STA fellowship was the second fellowship that I was granted in Japan, prior to undertaking the second fellowship I had been awarded a JSPS fellowship to study at Tokyo University of Fisheries. I was thus given the unique opportunity of conducting my research in both a Japanese university and a government research laboratory, both of which have very interesting and individual characteristics. Working in a government research laboratory was a new experience; previously I had only worked within university laboratories. What first struck me on my initial visit to NRIFS was that whilst also similarly well equipped there was significantly more space available and certainly far fewer students! It was a wonderful environment within which to work!

NRIFS is located in a beautiful environment on the outskirts of Yokohama so travelling to work, from Tokyo, was a pleasure especially using the monorail of the seaside line. An added bonus of living in Tokyo and working in Yokohama was that travelling to work by train meant that I was going against the flow of human traffic, as such I could always generally get a seat and was able to comfortably read my newspaper!

The JICA courses, partly conducted at NRIFS allowed me a unique insight into the preparation of various Japanese fish-based products. I was part of the food processing section of NRIFS and therefore participated in the JICA courses in the instruction of numerous aspects of Japanese cuisine, e.g. chikuwa, kamaboko and smoked foods.

One of the most intriguing facets of working in Japan has been the concept of “West meets East”! I now have Japanese friends and colleagues who work in America for whom this transition is now reversed! Some very interesting contrasts therefore arise from the mix and matching of such distinct cultures. I was not aware until I was recently informed that the UK has had a long historic association with Japan and that many public institutions were modelled on British public services, e.g. the post office and the rail service. Seemingly the reason that vehicles drive on the left hand side of the road in Japan is due to a “recommendation” made by a former British ambassador! As so often happens the Japanese have improved these public institutions and services and therefore could now teach the West how it should be done!

It was a wonderful experience to live and work in Japan; I know it will be a life that I will sadly miss. Japan is a unique country with distinct and very individual characteristics; this is why it is such a fascinating place and why it holds for many Europeans such mystique. I consider myself very honoured to have been given this unique opportunity to work and live in Japan, for this I thank the JISTEC/STA (now JSPS), my host researchers and my friends. Now that I live outside of Japan I know that karaoke and sashimi will never be the same.

(訳:加工流通部 品質管理研究室  山下由美子)

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