2018 Activity Report vol.27:Kanazawa University

Activity Report of Open Application Course vol.27

Network of Young Researchers Working Together to Research the Differing Environments of Mongolia and Kanazawa

Report from Kanazawa University

From November 16 to 25 of 2018, eight students from the National University of Mongolia visited Kanazawa Univ. as part of the Sakura Science Exchange Program. Continuing from the 2017 academic year, this was the second time that Kanazawa Univ. was selected for the SAKURA SCIENCE.

Mongolian students made a courtesy call on the President of Kanazawa Univ. The President passionately encouraged the students to stop the trend of population centralization in Ulaanbaatar and to return to regional areas.

Kanazawa Univ. and the National Univ. of Mongolia are working together to resolve issues in the inner part of Mongolia, such as environmental changes and contamination caused by open-pit mining of mineral resources. Half of the visiting students were graduate and undergraduate students who had supported on-site surveys during past joint research in Mongolia. During the program, cooperation from many people made it possible to conduct practical exercises at the outdoor measurement site of the Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology, to perform device analysis in laboratories, to tour sites such as waste processing facilities, wastewater processing facilities, and water purification facilities of the Kanazawa City Corporate Bureau, to visit the Lake Biwa Museum, and to participate in various other activities.

Students performing chemical analysis of water. They used a filter to remove suspended matter.

Outdoor measurement exercises were held on the Noto Peninsula. As expected, students from inland Mongolia were enthralled by the ocean, particularly by the rough waves of the Japan Sea. Mongolia has large lakes such as Lake Khovsgol, so some of the students were familiar with the scenery of a watery horizon stretching as far as the eye can see. However, rough ocean waves are a rare sight for people in Mongolia. The students were also surprised to see how the shoreline is covered with small shells.

Amazed by the huge numbers of shells along the shore

On the Noto Peninsula, the visiting students stayed at a training facility near the ocean and cooked a dinner together with Japanese students. The meal consisted of the chicken and vegetable hotpot that is a specialty of Ishikawa Prefecture, Mongolian chicken soup that had been kindly ordered for Japanese students when they weren’t feeling well during research surveys in Mongolia, and, for some reason, a kimchi hotpot—perhaps out of respect for Korea and its position between Japan and Mongolia? Everyone relished the delicious flavors of the feast.

When touring facilities of the Kanazawa City Corporate Bureau, the visiting students focused on power generation facilities which are utilized at waste processing facilities, wastewater processing facilities and water purification facilities. Mongolia is a large country with a low population density. Since there is no scarcity of land, trash is generally disposed of in landfills. However, in Japan, people are now extremely conscious of the need to reduce trash and to recycle. The visiting students recognized the need for Mongolia to prepare for the future by starting to reduce trash and discussed their dreams of starting related businesses for power generation and trash recycling. We hope that they will be able to transform their dreams into reality.

At Lake Biwa Museum, the students learned by actively participating in interactive exhibitions. They also learned the importance of accumulating results through environmental research. In Mongolia, universities are asked to analyze the cause of changes which occur in rivers and lakes. However, since measurement results for normal conditions do not exist, it is difficult to determine targets for analysis. Furthermore, when looking at analysis results, it is impossible to determine the cause of problems. In Japan, research is conducted on environmental dynamics in lakes and dammed lakes. Moreover, museum facilities have been established near many lakes as a place of learning for regional residents. We hope that Mongolia will establish such facilities and conduct more research.

Trepid students hesitantly touch fish at the Lake Biwa Museum.
Everyone actively enjoyed the interactive exhibits.

At the end of the program, Mongolian students dressed in traditional clothing and gave presentations on what they learned. Also, to show their gratitude, they presented us with a commemorative silver bowl engraved with the phrase “Sakura Science.” The Mongolian students also sung a Japanese song (Kitaguni no Haru) together in Japanese. This touched the heart of all Japanese students and staff.

Mongolian students presented us with a special commemorative bowl engraved with the phrase “Sakura Science.”
The bowl contains traditional Mongolian snacks.

A major result of the program was the extremely active interaction between Japanese students and Mongolian students, which lead to the creation of a network of young researchers. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to SAKURA Science for making this opportunity possible.