Sandy: Baseball, Bullet Trains and Buddhas

I spent ten days in September in the “Science City” of Tsukuba, an hour northeast of Tokyo. My visit was the start of a collaborative research project with the University of Tsukuba that is looking at the biomechanics of baseball hitting.

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 With current and former biomechanists at the University of Tsukuba   Setting up for baseball batting research


Before the work component of my trip I was able to spend some time travelling in Nagano Prefecture – famous for its fruit, onsen (natural hot springs), and as a gateway to the Japanese Alps – and to the city of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture. Sendai was a base for trips to Matsushima Bay – one of three must-see views in Japan (although I thought the Zuigan-ji temple there was more spectacular than the bay!) – and the World Heritage Site of Hiraizumi.

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 Matsumoto-jō – the Crow Castle (Matsumoto, Nagano)  The Hayabusa – Peregrine Falcon – Shinkansen to Tohoku


As always, Japan offered some culinary adventures: from the delightfully-presented oyakodon in Nagano City (as recommended by Watanabe-sensei’s mother) to Sendai’s speciality – gyutan (grilled cow’s tongue).

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Oyakodon with Watanabe-sensei in Nagano (left),

and Gyutan in Sendai (above)


I was also able to catch up with Ishikawa-sensei and Ochi-sensei, who are now both back living and working in Tokyo.