Dr. Eria Olowo Onyango, who stayed in Japan from mid-November to mid-December 2021 as our visiting researcher, wrote an essay about his experience in Japan. Although the period was so short, we're happy to know that he was able to enjoy his stay, both for academic purpose and for his personal interest. He was the very first person who we invited from Uganda. We will keep this network and also strengthen the network with other researchers and research and educational institutions in Uganda.
Thank you very much for coming to Japan and give us wonderful talks, Eria-san!
A Tale of a new Home
My journey to Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) in Japan started with the rigidities pertaining to Covid-19 clearance. I had to undergo a Covid-19 test a few hours to the flight. Upon arrival at Narita airport there was a very strict adherence to the standard operating procedures. Putting on a mask was a must and a long clearance process. I was declared covid free and I boarded a taxi to the nearby hotel (Hotel Mystays) for one night. It was a great night given the long flight from Doha. I loved the ambience in the hotel and the staffs were very courteous.
The ride to central Tokyo took about 2 hours and the driver was an elderly, experienced and very polite person. Like it was with all the Japanese I met, he gently bowed and in a husky voice ushered me into my residence on Palace Musashino10. It was at the residence where I first physically met with the kind and amiable Ms. Natsuko Midorikawa. She had all the supplies that I needed to settle in for my 14 day in-house quarantine. I had all the types of food stocked in the house that lasted the two weeks I was isolated.
Upon reporting to TUFS after the 14 days, I was received by Ms. Natsuko who introduced me to the Director of the African Study Centre Prof. Takeuchi. A chat with Prof. Takeuchi I found him a very well-informed professor with extensive knowledge of Africa. The centre is well stocked with a number of publications about Africa. I also met a few African scholars who were attached to the centre. I finally met my host Prof. Isao Murahashi and gave some lectures at Isao's class for undergraduate students. The class was rather interesting given that I was teaching in English when their language of instruction was Japanese. However, I found them very interesting and were asking very useful questions. The short movie clips in the lectures were particularly useful in making them understand the subject matter. The topic of the Lord's Resistance Army was very fascinating to the students; the fact that people can massacre fellow human beings in the 21st century. I also presented a paper on African borders. Being an online seminar, I had attendance all-over the world. The questions were inspiring and very thoughtful. I am now preparing the paper for publication.
Tokyo was very exciting; I took a train ride to Akihabara popularly considered to be a major shopping centre for Japanese electronics and computers. Helped by my former Makerere student now based in Tokyo we toured the centre and I managed to buy a state of the art laptop, a model 2021 series. We toured different shopping centres in Akihabara and finally ended the day in a nightclub. It was a day worth the memory and I will recommend anyone visiting Tokyo to spare time and visit Akihabara.
I love Japanese food and particularly sushi - the traditional Japanese dish. I was taken for a dinner the day I presented a paper and I was full of expectation - to eat sushi. However it was nowhere to be served and my great friend Ran Muratsu promised to take me for lunch of sushi before I leave Tokyo. This happened a day before I flew back to my country; we went to a very beautiful restaurant that serves sushi. The restaurant had conveyor service where you place an order for the meal on a computer in your cubicle and the conveyor delivers it promptly in front of you. I was amazed and I ate to my fill. I swear I love sushi and would eat it again if I return to Japan.
Japan was marvellous and I enjoyed every second I was in Tokyo. The day I left, my amiable and generous friend Isao was at my door to take me up to central Tokyo. It was true I could have possibly failed to make it there alone but the smart organization at ASC made it possible for me to reach with ease. Isao was such a blessing to me and I trust our friendship will last forever. He boarded the train with me to central Tokyo, guided me to buy the bus ticket to the airport and saw me off in the airport bus. I left Japan but with a great sense of nostalgia, my new home in Tokyo, a place worth the visit, and place to collaborate with.