Over the past year OIST has had people from all walks of life come to marvel at its architecture, diverse research and researchers, stupendous views, and gourmet lunch from the Kaito+ Café. Nearly 22,000 people have passed through the university’s doors since April 2012, from local Okinawans and their children to mainland Japanese and international government officials, from members of Japan’s royal family to university and grade school students. This number has doubled from around 10,500 visitors from the year before, but that doesn’t stop us from wanting to introduce our great university to even more people, especially those living next door in our local Okinawan community.
“We invite anyone and everyone to come on our guided campus tours, which we give every Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” says Arisa Ikeda, a member of OIST’s Community Relations Section. “Visitors are also welcome to walk the university’s halls unguided any day of the year and to attend our annual Open Campus event that’s held in March.”
Ms. Ikeda and the other members of the section have been working especially hard to introduce as many junior and senior high school students living in Okinawa to the world of science through campus tours and lectures by OIST researchers. The team has been doing an excellent job -- in total, over 4,200 school children have visited OIST since April 2012, up from nearly 1,700 students from the year before. OIST aims to have every single high school student in Okinawa visit the university, as there’s nothing that leads to more interest in science and technology than showing children what the life of a researcher is like first-hand.
OIST researchers, administrators and students enjoy the smiling faces of children walking our halls, but we also take pride in the interest the university has received from government officials and members of the Japanese royal family. Within the past six months alone, OIST has been graced with the presence of His Majesty the Emperor Akihito, Her Majesty the Empress Michiko of Japan, Her Imperial Highness Princess Hisako Takamado, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, former Minister of State for Okinawa Shinji Tarutoko, current Minister of State for Okinawa Ichita Yamamoto and Parliamentary Secretary Aiko Shimajiri – and all of them left the university with great first impressions.
Last but not least, the university values and respects its elderly Okinawan visitors, who populate the university’s corridors quite often. While there’s nothing like planting the scientific seed in a young mind, there is also something quite special about stirring an interest in science in an 80-year-old local Okinawan. Everyone at OIST would like to thank all the visitors that have passed through our doors thus far. We hope it won’t be your last visit, and that next time you’ll bring along a friend.