‘Soseki, Kumamoto, Ushigome, and Myself’: Some Happy Coincidences


You may recall that I wrote in an earlier blog post (in Japanese) on the 8th of July about how a chance encounter eventually led to The Royal Ballet touring the disaster-stricken areas of Kumamoto in a show of solicitude. I also provided a sample of the extensive media coverage of this happy event.

A week later. I received a phone call from Kumamoto prefecture Governor Kabashima about an episode at a press conference. When he was explaining to the assembled reporters that the sudden visit of The Royal Ballet was thanks to his friend, Dr. Kurokawa, one of the reporters asked whether this Mr. Kurokawa was related in any way to Soseki Kurokawa.

“Well, that person is my great grandfather”, I replied. “I am also eager to know more about this ‘other Soseki’, so is it possible for you to put me in contact with the reporter who asked this question?”

A few days after this conversation, I received a letter along with some documents. Enclosed also was a request to write a short article to be included in a pamphlet that would accompany the program of a theatrical production called ‘I Love Kumamoto: Four Years and Three Months of Soseki’. This production would be touring Kumamoto and Tokyo in October and December, respectively. For those who are interested, here is my piece (in Japanese).

‘Soseki, Kumamoto, Ushigome, and myself’. I would never have expected so many happy coincidences.

Japan is commemorating 100 years of Netsuke Soseki this year. NHK, the Japanese public broadcasting company, just finished broadcasting a drama series called ‘Natsume Soseki’s Wife’ (in Japanese), and I have heard that there are various events besides. The theatrical production that will be held in Tokyo in December (in Japanese 1, 2) and in this play also featured an encounter of the two Sosekis (in Japanese). I will be happy if you find the time to visit this interesting play.

Cheers to people of Kumamoto!

Meetings, A Lot of Meetings! 


My schedule was crowded from the end of September till the beginning of October. I had the meeting of the board of directors of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, a reunion in Tokyo with the President of UCLA Dr Gene Block, followed by the STS Forum in Kyoto (summary of my session is here. where we heard of the news of the Nobel Prize for medicine being awarded to Dr. Osumi.), and then back to GRIPS to attend a seminar by Dr. Colglazier, former Science and Technology Adviser to the U.S Secretary of State.

Next, I flew to Hyderabad via Singapore to chair a meeting of the Board of Directors of the GHIT Fund. We visited some local medical facilities, where I observed and learned a lot of things that may prove useful. It was my first visit to Hyderabad so I had no previous point of reference to compare it to, but recalling my visit to New Delhi ten years ago, I could feel more energy in the air, and the infrastructure was vastly better. I also saw a lot of construction work going for roads and new metro (mass-transit) system.

Although there is still a long way to go before medical facilities are on par with other countries, there are some note-worthy initiatives in place.  ASHA, for example, is a bottom-up initiative to ensure that health services are in place even in remote places of India. Along with improvements in infrastructure, clean water supply and telecommunications, this initiative has gone a long way in raising the general standards of health and medical services. I think that these improvements herald a new chapter in public health in India.

On the last day, we had dinner reception at the Taj Falaknuma Palace (1). Incidentally, this hotel has the world’s longest dining table which can seat 101 people. It was a truly luxurious experience.

I felt that there was a stark contrast from what I had been seeing during our field visits. This palace was filled with reminders of a bygone era when the British Empire ruled a large part of the world. I had the feeling that I was being allowed a glimpse into a past when the British were able to rule over a large empire.

Later that night, I took a flight back to Haneda, again via Singapore.

There were also a lot of other meetings, appointments, seminars and lectures, making for a hectic 2 weeks.

Schedule – Ocotober 2016

Bio Japan 2016 Seminar
“A Roadmap for Developing Biotech Start-ups in Japan”

Date & Time: October 14, 2016(Fri) 11:30-13:00
Venue: Annex Hall F205/F206, Pacifico Yokohama

Event Contact:
Secretariat of BioJapan  c/o JTB Communication Design, Inc.
Tel: +81-3-5657-0758  Fax: +81-3-5657-0645
E-MAIL: biojapan@jtbcom.co.jp

Program → http://www.ics-expo.jp/biojapan/outline.html
Registration → https://biojapan2016.icsbizmatch.jp/en/Login