I am a Research Collaborator to Dr. Kazue Demachi. The purpose of my visit was to serve as a Foreign Researcher and Guest lecturer of Development Finance in the winter intensive seminar. My trip was sponsored by the African Studies Center (ASC) of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS).
I arrived at Haneda Airport late night to a welcoming cool breeze in the month of January, as a first timer is Japan coming from the tropical region of the world. The cold weather implied was my first experience, nonetheless the nice limousine drive from the airport to my arrival hotel at Mikata where I had a good night sleep relaxed me to the wonderful period I stayed in Japan.
The following day I had to go through arrival official formalities at African Studies Center (ASC), this was really quick as everything had been arranged awaiting my arrival and confirmation. In no time all I needed to function as a guest lecturer under the ASC was supplied and I could fit into the system, an indication of Japanese efficiency.
I started my development finance winter seminar course with a cross-national group of students. Their background where, two Thais, one Nigerian Britain and three Japanese students. These students were eager to learn and exchange ideas during the lectures, the only difference between the Japanese students and the others that I taught was the English language which tend to slow Japanese students response that notwithstanding, they were smart, intelligent, eager to learn and easily adapted to my lecturing style.
I had two public lectures, the first one "The Truth behind Self-Assessed Financial Literacy and Retirement Planning" was under the auspices of the African Studies Center and chaired by Professor Shinichi Takeuchi, this was well attended with useful feedback and contribution from the attendees. The second seminar on my paper titled "The Financial Literacy-Retirement Planning Nexus; any role for Behavioral Finance?" was at Kyoto University where I also received useful contributions from attendees.
One thing that also struck me was the fact that Japanese hold dearly onto their culture and history, this was very vivid when I visited one of the UNSECO heritage sites the Kiyomizu Temple. This is an imposing prefabricated temple with nice garden. This temple is a blend of Japanese architecture and Buddhist touch. The visit to Sanjusangendo Temple also called Hall of the Lotus King also provided great insight into Japanese believes and history. The compound of this temple severed as the place for the popular archery tournament. For lovers of art, the Kyoto National Museum is a good place to visit, one must be prepare to spend to whole day at this museum which is well stocked with arts works dating back into time. This museum gives a good history between Japan and China and tells a lot about interaction and the cultural exchange that has taken place between these two nations over time. The visit to the Kyoto Railway Museum located at Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan is one great experience I also had during my stay in Japan, this museum provide a true picture of the train system in Kyoto which is the old capital of Japan and by extension the railway system in Tokyo. The generations of train in Japan is presented in this museum not to forget the Roundhouse that exist in this museum. There is also a miniature railway simulation room which shows the entire train and railway network, a master piece of artwork and technology. This miniature rail system provides an overview of the train transportation infrastructure and linkages, a good place to visit any time.
The journey from Tokyo and Kyoto which is about 430 km was by bullet train or the Shinkansen Nozomi roughly 2 hours journey. The Shinkansen represents one of the great Japanese contribution to the world by in the area of transportation. Whiles Kyoto and Tokyo has a lot in common it is visible that Tokyo is cosmopolitan whiles Kyoto has more to do with the tradition of Japan. The transportation system is predominantly train in Tokyo whiles for Kyoto it is more of taxis and bus. The architecture of the two cities are also different, there is a lot of cultural and religious touch to the buildings in Kyoto compared to Tokyo. The Shinkansen train journey is a "wanna try" and also the Tokyo "train traffic rush hour" experience I personally recommend to all who would travel to Japan. There is a lot of food delicacies to choose from in Japan, I personally liked the curry rice, bread and soup.
All too soon my time of stay in Japan came to an end, my travel from Kichijoji Station to Narita Airport using the limousine bus gave me another opportunity to see the beautiful Tokyo, a mixture of efficiency in land usage, modernity and macro level acceptance of technology in service and product delivery.
In conclusion, my stay in Japan showed me that Japanese are humble but not timid, orderly, efficient, proud of their culture and history. Furthermore most of Japanese infrastructure is based on advance technology at the institutional level, however at the retail level most economic transactions are conducted on cash basis. My visit to Japan was an exciting one and would be glad to go back.