Yokohama is a city of almost 4 million people just 30 km from Tokyo and is easily accessible from either of Tokyo’s international airports. First impressions on arrival were of a modern, planned city with excellent transport links and bustling shopping arcades. Yokohama as a port was one of the first parts of Japan to open up to the rest of the world. Since then it has helped to develop horse racing, ice cream, newspapers, railways and telephones. Its cultural heritage is displayed by the number of museums it houses including the very popular Potnoodles museum; it has a large and interesting Chinese Quarter rich in restaurants and a funfair featuring the largest Ferris Wheel in the world. Not only were the views from the wheel stunning, at night it was spectacularly illuminated, displaying a dynamic, highly colourful light show. The metro stations were worth a visit just to observe the orderly behaviour of passengers as they formed into neat single lines to approach escalators and to board trains. The footpath around the bay was lined by well-manicured gardens and at the weekend street artists entertained the crowds; one on a unicycle was conversing happily to his Japanese audience but when he fell off his chosen language was the English vernacular! The Pacifico Yokohama Conference Centre given its sea-side location was appropriately shaped like the sails of a yacht. It offered fascinating panoramic views of the surrounding coast and the harbour with its replica early 20th century sailing ship somewhat dwarfed by huge cruise liners.
During the 4 day event (23-26th September) temperatures peaked in the high twenties but the skies were often grey. Those not staying in the main Conference Hotel next to the Conference Centre were pleased to have covered walkways everywhere as well as an excellent metro system to protect from the heavy rain showers.
Inside the main Conference Hall though the atmosphere was bright and dynamic; rooms were clearly labelled and movement between the 6 parallel sessions easy. On the first day young guides were strategically placed with signposts to the main lecture theatre. The ICG Conference was run in conjunction with the 59th Meeting on Glass and Photonic Materials together with the 14th Symposium of the Glass Industry Conference of Japan. Its President was Kazuyuki Hirao, an ex-Chair of ICG’s TC20 and President of the Ceramic Society of Japan, while the Meeting Chair was Professor Hiroyuki Inoue, of the University of Tokyo and the Chair of the ICG Coordinating Technical Committee. The overall theme was ‘Innovations in Glass and Glass Technologies: Contributions to a Sustainable Society’ and was taken up by two Plenary talks on the first morning. Prof Akio Makashima spoke on the subject ‘Scientifically really important or Technologically really important?’ while Takuya Shimamura of AGC Inc., Japan spoke on ‘The Past, Present and Future of Japan’s Glass Industry – Its contribution to our Sustainable Society.’ The Opening Session was concluded by a talk from the winner of last year’s Gottardi Award, Dr Ashutosh Goel, Rutgers University. This year’s winner, Prof Shifeng Zhou of South China University of Technology, was unable to attend.
The conference theme defined during the opening ceremony was further developed by 4 keynote speakers. For the main programme 60 invited speakers, selected on the basis of recommendations by for example ICG Technical Committee Chairs, spoke on one of six sub-themes: Glass Production Technology; Radioactive Waste; Glasses for Photonic Technologies; Electric and Magnetic Functions; Crystallisation and Glass Ceramics and Atomistic Views of Glass. They were followed in turn by some 200 oral and 100 poster presentations.
The conference banquet was held in the main conference hotel and offered an excellent menu of typical local food. During the meal we were treated to a display by a local dance group dressed as Samurai warriors. Having completed their initial display, they persuaded two volunteers from the audience, Steve Martin and Alicia Duran, to participate both of whom survived the experience intact in spite of the swords they had to wield. The visual display was supplemented by an
amazingly dextrous musical performance on a Shamisen, a Japanese stringed instrument, together with a wind instrument called a Shakuhachi.
Two events were successfully organised for accompanying persons although few participants took them up. A tour of Tokyo which concluded the first day gave an opportunity to try glass blowing – the aim: to make a traditional Japanese wind chime. Japanese temples, gardens and high buildings gave a taste of Japanese culture. The second tour went to Kamakura and was guided by a local English-speaking guide who was keen to provide not only views of the ancient sites there such as the giant Buddha but also to explain the philosophies behind the Japanese lifestyle.
A feature of the Conference was its focus on Young People. Every lunch time a room was set aside for a talk and to link students to available mentors. The short talk by a different younger glass technologist each day gave a feel for available career paths and how to approach job hunting. Students then gathered in groups around an allocated table to discuss their thoughts and questions at a more personal level with an allocated mentor.
Stevanato again provided a prize for the best Poster while the local organising committee selected the best 10 students on the basis of their poster presentations, their success being acknowledged as part of the closing ceremony. A tradition at the closing ceremony is to provide the delegates with the final statistics for the conference. All together there had been 588 delegates, a very large number, and 29 different countries were represented. Of the attendees 88 were students and 12 were retired, giving 488 regular delegates. 376 of the attendees were from Japan with 29 from China; Germany and the USA were close behind with 24 delegates each. A further 95 came from 17 different European countries (in number order: France, UK, Belgium, Czech Republic, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, Denmark, Spain, Finland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Croatia, Portugal, Sweden) and 30 from other Asian countries (South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, India and Malaysia). 6 came from Russia and 4 from Brazil.
ICG also held meetings of several of its committees and at the Council Meeting Prof Alicia Duran was elected as the 25th ICG President, the previous incumbent, Prof
Manoj Choudhary have completed his term of office. Her vision for the future will be included in a separate press release and on the ICG web site (www.icglass.org).
After acknowledging the staff, contributors and many sponsors who helped to make Yokohama such a successful conference, the final act was for the representatives of the American Ceramic Society to issue an invitation to all those present to participate in the 25th triennial ICG Congress in Boston, USA, from 9-14th June 2019.