Tokyo Exchange 2013 – The World of A Travelling Sport Scientist

This year’s ECSS Japanese exchange was a pleasure to be part of. First and foremost we would like to extend our thanks to the ECSS, Professor Toshihito Katsumura and the delegates at the JSPFSM conference. From stepping off the plane we felt very welcome in Tokyo and this made our stay a pleasurable one, and indeed one that will remain in the memory for a very long time.

So, where to start? A logical place seems to be the JSPFSM conference itself. As an ECSS anniversary event we were joined by former Young Investigator Award winners, Dr Wolfgang Taube and Dr Mette Hansen, as well as Executive Director of the ECSS Thomas Delaveaux. Our presentations were included as part of an international session and were largely the same as presented during the 2013 ECSS conference itself. It was nice to revisit this work and gain new experiences of delivering to an international audience in a relatively large lecture theatre. Thank you to all those who attended, supported us and asked interesting questions. Following the session we got together for a group photograph (see below).

After the conference, we had some time to experience the delights on offer in Tokyo. Amongst the highlights was a trip to ‘Tech City’; in the Chiyoda region; an area of the city that focuses on technological equipment with many bargain buys to be had. Whilst here we visited one of the SEGA arcades and saw a lot of young, and some not so young (see Dr Sam Shepherd below!), children who were extremely skilled at video games! Next stop was the famous Tsukiji (fish) market. However, this did not really work out to plan – due to it being a national holiday it was closed! Despite this, the visit was worthwhile as we saw a highly skilled chef prepare a huge tuna fish outside a restaurant. We watched for 10 minutes or so as the knife expert was buoyed on by the ‘cheers’ and applause of the crowd.  We also made time to visit the famous ‘Shibuya crossing’.  Here, we took up position above the crossing, and watched in awe as the traffic lights changed from green to red, providing a signal for hundreds of people to make their way across this junction from every direction – quite a spectacular event, especially at night! That evening we headed over to the Park Hyatt Regency Hotel to sample some of the cocktails on the 53rd floor of one of the city’s tallest skyscrapers. This was a special moment, as we listened to fabulous jazz renditions by Nao Yoshioka on the set of Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation.

What will we take from this trip? Like many international conferences, it was an excellent opportunity to meet new colleagues and develop our presentation skills, skills that are so valuable for a career both in and out of academia. The trip also provided a fantastic cultural exchange. As three young researchers we were all visiting Tokyo and Japan for the very first time. Whilst this was a flying visit, we are all sure it will be the first of many. Some of our most memorable moments were sharing Sake with esteemed former students and colleagues of Professor Katsumura, collecting numerous business cards, the prompt efficiency of the Tokyo Metro system and buying meals from a vending machine! And of course, being members of a sports science community, we made time for some exercise! The impressive Tokyo Imperial Palace, just a stone’s throw from our hotel, provided the backdrop to several early evening runs.

Just prior to arriving in Japan, Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympic games. The pride of achieving this honour could be seen all over the city. Looking ahead, it is sure to be a great success and the city of Tokyo is certain to deliver an impressive cultural and sporting experience. Thank you to all who made this trip memorable, worthwhile and above all else, enjoyable.

Nathan, Uroš and Sam