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From Kitakami Times: Talking about 2016’s LCWS with Prof. Shinya Narita of Iwate University

20 October 2016

Professor Shinya Narita talks to The Kitakami Times about LCWS2016

Professor Shinya Narita talks to The Kitakami Times about LCWS2016

The Linear Collider Workshop is a yearly gathering of scientists from around the world in order to discuss future high energy linear electron-positron colliders like the International Linear Collider. This year it’s happening in Morioka City in northern Japan, a stone’s throw away from the proposed site for the ILC, the Kitakami mountains!

We’ve got a guide to Morioka itself already online, but what about the LCWS?  We met with Iwate University’s Professor Shinya Narita, the local head of planning for the LCWS in Morioka, who told us what’s going on, and what kind of help he’s looking for from local foreign residents.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Shinya Narita and I’m a professor at the Department of Physical Science and Engineering at Iwate University (in Morioka City). I’m also the Chair of the Local Committee for the 2016 LCWS. My specialty is related to elementary particle physics– just like the ILC. This is something I’ve been doing since I was a university student.

What kind of event is the LCWS?

LCWS stands for Linear Collider Workshop. It’s the largest workshop in the world on linear colliders, which includes the ILC. The host switches every year from Asia, the EU, and North America, and this year is Asia’s turn. Because things are moving forward with the ILC candidate site in Iwate, this year’s LCWS was decided to be held in the capital of Iwate, Morioka City. We estimate around 300 researchers will be coming from around the world, representing many different specialties and perspectives on physics, accelerators, detectors, and more.

Aside from the workshop activities centered on physics, what kind of things do you want to show off about Iwate and the Kitakami site?

It will be a great opportunity for organizations like the Iwate Prefectural government, the Morioka City government, and the Iwate Prefecture ILC Promotion Council to show off Iwate while the researchers are in town.

As Chair of the Local Committee, I hope to collaborate with the events that are being planned by the local area, and have the researchers learn more about Iwate. We are planning an exhibition of local businesses with technology that could help with the ILC. We might even have the Sansa Odori (drum) teams from Iwate University and Iwate Prefectural University perform at the LCWS welcome reception.

The most important part of LCWS will be researchers discussing their latest research with each other. But the Iwate Prefecture ILC Promotion Council is also planning a large-scale event for Iwate residents, which we researchers would like to support. Iwate Nippo (a local newspaper) will be holding a presentation led by local students who recently went to CERN. It would be nice if we had some students help with setting up the venue, but the LCWS will be during school hours so… (laughs).

In general, I really think this will be a great chance for the people of Iwate to get involved with the ILC, and learn more about the project with any events open to the general public.

Can you tell us about the plans for exchange between local businesses and the ILC researchers?

We’re planning an exhibition of local businesses, where they’ll show off the level of advanced technology in the prefecture. There are other things that are not confirmed yet, but we’re also thinking of having a presentation session where local businesses would present their technology to foreign researchers. Or it might be the other way around, with the researchers talking to businesses about what kind of technology they need. Nothing is set in stone yet.

What kind of fun stuff is there in Iwate for the researchers to do?

We’re planning an excursion to the proposed site for the ILC for the afternoon of the last day of LCWS. But we’ll have to arrange those plans just right, because it will be dark by 4pm and traveling from Morioka takes quite a while. I also know that Iwate Prefecture and Morioka City are planning on setting up a tourist information booth while the LCWS is in session, as some researchers may be coming with their partners and/or families. It will be too soon for skiing, but they could go to the hot springs. (Tsunagi Hot Springs are right near Morioka!)

The LCWS will be held right in the middle of the city, so researchers can take a ride on the Dendenmushi loop bus (which has an English map!) and explore the city. Local governments might want to place some English-language materials and tourism pamphlets by reception or in the handout packets.

Will you be making any requests to the national government regarding a decision on the ILC during the LCWS?

I think that holding a successful LCWS with all of these international researchers will be a great appeal in itself. It’s important to show just how dedicated the research community is towards the ILC. We’ll be sharing information on the LCWS in a number of different ways, in hopes that the rest of Japan will get interested in the ILC project. And that will be another boost for the national government.

What can foreign residents in Iwate and the rest of Japan do to get involved?

We researchers will be handling everything for the LCWS meetings, but it would be nice to have volunteers to help with showing researchers around the station or around Morioka. Maybe they could help with signage towards the venue from the station. It would also be great to have some volunteer interpreters for the local business exhibition, as paying for a professional could be cost-prohibitive for some local businesses. I hope we can count on your cooperation!

What message do you have for the scientists of the world?

Please come to Morioka! You’ll see how great this place is once you arrive. If things go as planned and the ILC is decided upon, you’ll know what kind of place you’ll be doing your research. Participants will see how big Morioka is, and what life is like in Ichinoseki and Oshu (which have populations of around 100,000 people, and the infrastructure to go with it). So you’ll really get to see how people live their lives.

my headThe author’s take

Dr. Narita asked me to talk about my own experiences in Morioka. It’s true – I had never heard of Iwate before I came to live here, but I fell in love with place the second I arrived. It’s quieter and more laid-back than Tokyo or Kyoto, but it’s packed with its own history and charm. And many people agree with me: the “classic” tourist spots of Japan are very nice, but Morioka can’t be beaten for its wonderful atmosphere. I’m looking forward to seeing you in December!


(*The interview has been translated and edited for clarity.)

This interview was first published on 14 October 2016 in The Kitakami Times.

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