Tottori University Orientation
This weekend we hosted the Autumn 2011 semester's international student orientation for Tottori University. As usual, the Chinese and Korean language groups were the largest, but the Other group (oriented in English by default, because they don't know Japanese, Chinese, or Korean) consisted of only four brave individuals from Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. I'm told the autumn semester is considerably slower than the spring semester, but this is the first time I've done an orientation with no European or African students/researchers, and the topic of declining numbers of visitors to Japan since the disasters naturally came up in the introductory speeches.
Tottori is connected to the countries of the Japan Sea Rim primarily via flight and cruise ship service from Sakaiminato to Russia, South Korea, and China, making it the doorway to Japan for the region, so it is to be expected that business and tourist exchanges will deal primarily with these countries. Perhaps information regarding the safety of Tottori--and the fact that we were completely unaffected by the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima--doesn't travel intact beyond the Sea Rim. Hopefully, if the hysteria and misinformation subsides, we can expect a more diverse group for the spring orientation, as well as an increase in the influx of internationals for work and tourism as well.
If you're reading this from a place that has sent few or none to Tottori, please know that you will be welcomed with open arms to a friendly and safe semi-rural landscape with nice people, clean air and water, a quiet location for research or study, and plenty of interesting stuff for the curious.