One question you may get asked quite often if you come to Japan is, “Why Japan?” You will probably get asked this by curious friends/family before you even leave. It’s a question I’ve tackled with since there is no easy answer, at least for me. There are three main reasons why I chose to come to Japan and to pursue a PhD here, but there are also many smaller reasons which is why it’s not a simple one-sentence answer. If you’d like, you can also check out my video I made on this topic.
The first reason has to do with my upbringing. My mother is originally from Japan so there was always a culture influence from a young age. Being exposed that early to all the interesting facets of Japan really cemented my desire to at least visit Japan often. Usually we would visit family every five years or so, and one visit in middle school I liked it so much I cried because I didn’t want to go home. My brother and I both promised we’d come back and live in Japan which was kind of silly at the time but hey, I’m living it right now.
The other two reasons only came about after I studied abroad two years ago. While I was here I made some good friends, especially with the local frisbee team. Having to leave them so abruptly after the earthquake really created a strong yearning to come back.
Finally, on a more “professional” level, I enjoy my research group. In the US getting into physics graduate school can be very competitive, especially in theoretical physics since there is not much funding for that field. Coming to Japan afforded me an opportunity to study what I love in a large research group where I can comfortably transition between sub-fields if I was unsatisfied with my current one. I can honestly say I’m not so sure I would be able to do the same in the States, which is all the more reason you should do your best in school!
So what about you? What interests you about Japan?