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Volume 05, No.3 Pages 224 - 225

6. 談話室・ユーザー便り/OPEN HOUSE・A LETTER FROM SPring-8 USERS

SPring-8 Experience

Joy Reid

Bayerisches Geoinstitut, Bayreuth, Germany

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 It is the middle of the night when I arrive in KansaiAirport but the sun is shining brightly. Still on Europeantime and lacking a night’s sleep I make my way toSPring-8. The train seems to be the fastest and smoothestway of getting there, with an express Haruka Train toShin-Osaka and then a Shinkansen train to Aioi. Thisjourney takes you through the highly populated OsakaBay area. It seems that most flat stretches of land inbetween the hills and the ocean are almost completelyencrusted with human habitation. At night the sea oflights viewed from the hills above Kobe make a fantasticspectacle. An alternative route to SPring-8 is to take thehigh-speed boat, which whisks you from Kansai to KobePort, and then to take the train from Sannomiya station,in Kobe, to Aioi (change in Himeji). This is slightlycheaper but takes longer and is a challenge for the non-Japanese speaker. From Aioi, one takes a bus to SPring-8in which I usually, involuntarily, fall asleep and findmyself, one hour later, in a remote area with very fewsigns of life in the wooded hills apart from the greyoutline of SPring-8 itself. Quite a contrast to the OsakaBay area!


 The SPring-8 guesthouse is always welcoming with areception that stays open 24 hours, a warm lobby andlounge where one can telephone home, make use of theonline computers, buy beer from the vending machinesand read newspapers. There is also television andalthough it is in Japanese it can still be very entertaining.The guesthouse rooms are sparkling clean and fresh.Admittedly, at first I was a little surprised by the heatedtoilet seat, the intelligent bath and the room heater, thecontrols of which are totally in Japanese! However, onceone has settled in, the guesthouse provides a very privateand quiet sanctuary in which you can completely relax.

 Life at SPring-8 revolves, of course, around experimentsand everything else has to fit into this schedule,including eating and sleeping. The cafeteria food seemsreally good at first, but becomes rather repetitive, and soit is a rare treat to have enough time to go out to eat. Theclosest restaurant, “The Volcano”, sits on a neighboringhill and serves Italian-style food and should one have acraving for dairy and wheat products it’s the place to go.Other restaurants in the area really require a car to reachthem. My colleagues surprised me one evening with atrip to a traditional Japanese restaurant (Uoyoshi). Theplace at which we arrived looked like a normal houseand I wondered what we were doing there. On entering,ladies dressed in kimonos came running up to greet us.We took off our shoes and put on slippers only to takethem off again as we were ushered into our room. Othermembers of our group were already sitting around a lowlyingtable. Despite the fact that one is supposed to sitkneeling on the floor most people seemed to shift to across-legged position after a while and I am sure that Ishifted around far more than anyone else! The humor andhospitality of my colleagues and my fondness forJapanese food and wine made this evening very special.


 Another trip on a dark, rainy afternoon took us intoHimeji city to look at the famous castle, which wasbeautifully lit up against the evening sky. Compared toOsaka castle, the one in Himeji is older and moreauthentic. There is a bus that goes to Himeji fromSPring-8 and the journey takes about one hour. It is oneof the places where you can exchange money, althoughthere is also a bank in Aioi that will serve this purpose.If one wants to use standard western cash cards withMaestro, Cirrus, or Plus, it is very advisable to withdrawmoney at the cash machines in Kansai Airport. It is very difficult to find cash machines that accept these cards inJapan. Certainly there are none in the vicinity of SPring-8.


 On the whole, my experiences at SPring-8 have beenvery positive. As a new, third generation, synchrotronsource, SPring-8 is much like any other in the Worldalthough there are aspects that made it different. One wasthe impression that very few foreign scientists work thereand the other was the apparent lack of female scientists.However, any misgivings that I had with respect to how Iwould be received as a non-Japanese, female scientistwere unfounded! The Japanese sense of humourcombined with gentle politeness allows one to feelcomfortable very quickly and I have enjoyed working atSPring-8.




High Pressure viscometry group: (From top left) Brent Poe*, Akio Suzuki**, Hidenori Tersaki***, Hiroshi Kaneko(HIC), (from bottom left) Taku Okada***, Makoto Maeda**, Joy Reid*, Kenichi Funakoshi (JASRI), Jin Satoh**(key: * Bayerisches Geoinstitut, ** Tohoku University, Sendai, *** Tsukuba University).



Print ISSN 1341-9668
[ - Vol.15 No.4(2010)]
Online ISSN 2187-4794