Groundbreaking Ceremony for OIST’s Marine Facility

The new marine facility will pave the way for Okinawa to become an international center of marine science.

One of the features that make the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) an attractive place for education and research is its location. The OIST campus is situated on the beautiful island of Okinawa, surrounded by the sea, which is home to the most bio-diverse marine life in Japan. These marine animals fascinate not only tourists but also scientists from around the world. Okinawa is also close to deep sea hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, where various ecosystems thrive. These features provide OIST an advantage of becoming an international center of marine science.

On July 7, 2015, the construction of a new OIST marine research facility began at Seragaki Port in Onna, with a groundbreaking ceremony hosted by the contractor and attended by members from the Onna Village municipal government, the Onna Fishermen’s Association, the architecture firm, and OIST. The groundbreaking ceremony is a Japanese tradition that takes place to pray for safety before starting construction. It involves the Shinto priest calling to the guardian god of the land to ask permission for the construction that will take place. He then asks for the god’s forbearance for the disturbance and inconvenience resulting from the construction.

The new facility, the first OIST construction to take place off campus, will be two-story, and will house open lab spaces, storage, and outdoor water tanks for maintaining marine plants and animals, in addition to offices for faculty members and marine research support staff. The facility will be open to not only OIST researchers, but also to scientists from other institutions who wish to study marine plants and animals in the Okinawan waters. The facility is expected to be complete next spring.

“Through the establishment of this world-class marine research facility, within a 10-minute car drive from our main campus, OIST will advance its marine scientific research capability and enhance collaborations towards becoming an international center of marine science,” said Executive Vice President George Iwama.

Mr. Yasumasa Sadoyama of the Onna Village municipal government, who delivered remarks on behalf of Mayor Yoshimi Nagahama, expressed his hope that research achievements coming out of science done at the envisioned marine facility will contribute to further development of local communities and local fisheries.

By Kaoru Natori

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