The continuous exchange collaboration between the European College of Sport Science (ECSS) and the Japanese Society of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine (JSPFSM) continued this year at the 69th annual JSPFSM meeting in Nagasaki, Japan.

In September 2014 ECSS Young Investigators Award (YIA) winners at the ECSS Amsterdam 2014, Mike Stembridge, Selma Papegaaij and Sidney Grosprêtre travelled to Japan to take part to the respected JSPFSM annual meeting.

Please read more about their experiences from the exchange report below.

The combined effect of Nagasaki sightseeing and Japanese scientific meeting on three young European scientists: a case study.

ECSS Young Investigator Award exchange to the 69th Annual JSPFSM meeting in Nagasaki, Japan

It was a pleasure and an honour to take part the ECSS YIA exchange programme with the JSPFSM. Firstly, we would like to sincerely thank the ECSS and all of the board and committee members for the wonderful opportunity to travel and present our work to an international audience. We would also like to thank our Japanese hosts, in particular Dr Toshihito Katsumura from the JSFPSM, for a very enjoyable visit.

This year, the conference was held in the southern Japanese city of Nagasaki; a beautiful city rich in history. The conference itself was held at Nagasaki University, and provided a great venue for the four-day conference. Our talks formed part of the International session, where we were joined by three other speakers from the JSPFSM. The titles of our talks remained the same from the ECSS congress in Amsterdam, but a slightly longer time limit enabled us to discuss the data in more depth. As we were three months on from ECSS Congress, there was also the opportunity to add more data where relevant. All three of us received very insightful questions and discussion around the talks continued well outside the lecture theatre.

Group picture after the international session

During our stay we also got to experience some of the city’s sights and culture. This ranged from the Dutch Slopes, a reminder of European influence in the area and of particular interest to Selma, to the humbling Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. The three of us spent a few hours wandering around the museum stunned by details surrounding the event that occurred at 11.02 am on the 9th August, 1945. Nagasaki and its residents are now committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons and remembering those who lost their lives. 

Nagasaki atomic bomb museum

During our time in Nagasaki, we also got to experience some of the local cuisine. Dr Katsumura was kind enough to take us to dinner with his friends and colleagues from Tokyo, where we were presented with at least a dozen courses all washed down with Asahi Beer, Saki and Japanese whiskey. During the meal, Sidney delicately plucked sushi from the plate with chopsticks demonstrating expert precision; fortunately for Mike, the waitress noticed his distress and frustration and offered him a knife and fork.

Although eating with chopsticks was maybe difficult for some of us, it was great to notice the many cultural differences there are between Europe and Japan. For example, the patience and willingness Japanese people have with waiting for the traffic lights. And the feeling for community instead of individualism, marked by the dark suit trousers with white blouse combination that every businessman wears, making us feel very colourful. Also, the ritual with which the Japanese clean themselves in the onsen, as if it is their last shower on earth, was nice to see. And of course the peculiar toilets with funny buttons that only Selma dared to try out.

We also spent a lot of time at the top of Nagasaki. It began early in the morning, when we could enjoy the great sight offered by the large picture windows in the breakfast room of our hotel, located at the 15th floor and dominating the neighbourhood. We also took the cable car to climb Mt Inasa and appreciate the wonderful panoramic vision of Nagasaki by night, which was like "stars fell on the land". After that, we came back to the ground floor to enjoy the port where we discovered that the famous beer festival "Oktoberfest" was also held in Japan, which was not an unpleasant surprise (especially for Selma!).

View from Mt Inasa

Lastly, we would like to express our sadness in hearing the news of Professor Bengt Saltin passing a week before our visit. Professor Saltin was one of the founding fathers of the ECSS and a champion of the ECSS-JSPFSM exchange programme. Dr Katsumura read a tribute to Professor Saltin prior to the presentations at the conference, and a moment was taken by all to remember the contribution he made to not only the ECSS, but the field of Sports Science and Medicine throughout his lifetime. Mike, Selma and Sidney


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