Visitor Comments: FORBES, Brian (COE Research Fellow,Geometry)


photoThe purpose of this note is to briefly describe my experiences as a postdoctoral researcher at Hokkaido University. I myself received my Ph.D. at UCLA, and it is therefore hoped that visiting students and researchers can get some feeling for what they can expect in coming to Hokkaido University.

The first and most obvious question on most people’s minds is probably the issue of language. Is it really possible to deal with all the complications of living life in Japan, not to mention doing research, if one has no familiarity with Japanese? Fortunately, the department here is well accustomed to this, and there are English speaking staff members there to guide you through each step. From the first, they take care of all the startup issues such as finding an apartment, opening a bank account, etc. Moreover, this staff is more than happy to accompany you for any errands requiring a Japanese speaker, such as going to visit the doctor. Moving on to the subject of research, again, language has not been a problem. Most of the professors speak very good English, and I have not found much trouble in communicating mathematical ideas. Besides this, the research of Hokkaido University rivals that of anywhere in the world, and the professors are readily available for mathematical discussions. From a strictly academic viewpoint, my research has probably progressed more here than it would have at any other university, and this is largely due to the helpfulness of the faculty.

Finally, one might ask oneself, “Why Japan?”. This is of course a question of taste, and in my case I had great interest in seeing the country besides wanting to pursue a career in research, so the choice was an easy one. Yet, I’ve met many here who found themselves in Japan through some means other than personal choice, and everyone has at least found the experience stimulating, though most seemed pleasantly surprised. The culture, people, food and basically everything are obviously dramatically different, and this itself makes for an interesting time. So, in summary, Hokkaido University is a cool place where one can carry out top notch research while experiencing all that is Japan. I would urge anyone to check it out.

(June, 2005)