Searching for the NewSpace hub


The Iwakura Mission was held between 1871 to 1873 and the purpose during the Meiji Era was to travel across the US and a number of European countries including Britain, France and also Russia to learn and better understand the different cultural and institutional differences.  I remember studying this in Hong Kong and in many ways on a search for the best system in the world.

iwakura fine art america v1

source: Fine Art America


The Iwakura Mission was led by Iwakura Tomomi who served as ambassador plenipotentiary and included Kido Takayoshi, Okubo Toshimichi, Ito Hirobumi whom were deputy ambassadors (fukushi) amongst others.

From what I recalled, it was a journey where the delegation went to study different legal systems, learning the German Civil Code, French Civil code, and observing society, etiquette, mannerisms and way of life from dawn to dusk.

iwakura mission


Near the end of Christmas and into the New Year I travelled to Osaka and Fukuoka with a view of doing something inspired and also similar.  Where is the best hub for NewSpace in Japan?

Osaka is like the second biggest well-known business hub in Japan aside from Tokyo.  I was in Osaka a few years ago to give a talk on the UK Bribery Act for the Osaka Bar Association International committee and I remember how approachable people seemed.  In that sense, Tokyo seems to be a far more fast-paced and busier city.



I managed to get a few tips of appreciating different business styles between those in Tokyo and Osaka, including of course observing Osaka ben.  Interestingly, Osaka is made famous for her food, pharmaceutical businesses an also Small to Medium Size businesses providing the know-how for larger companies.

A city with an island sat peacefully in the centre, full of garden roses and herb beds, it is a quiet escape for local residences, for their morning runs, business lunches and activities.  At the time, electricians were busy putting up lights, as sudden light snow starts falling her first flakes.  It was a pleasant surprise.

In many ways, we can almost observe, this is order amongst the busiest in Tokyo.

I was hosted by a well-known law firm and got a taste of Osakan hospitality of okonomiyaki, sake and karaoke.  Shy, yet multi-talented I would never have known my colleagues could sing so incredibly well.  That is one aspect I have learnt about doing business in Japan, most people if not all tend to downplay any talent that they may have.

Osaka, Japan at Dotonbori Canal



It reminded me of a scenario where everyone asked me to visit X as they were the deemed expert in the field.  When I turned up to meet them and said exactly that, they simply denied it and said they were not.  This kind of humbleness is rarely seen from my experiences outside of Japan.

fukuoka 1



A few days later, I am in Fukuoka – another hot hub for entrepreneurship.  The truth is, it is very diverse, lots of young people and visiting the  Fukuoka Global Startup Centre and Startup Cafe I realise how progressive this place is.  I am greeted right away and we talk about business and entrepreneurship in Fukuoka.

I first came to Fukuoka back in 2003, when I travelled by ship from Okinawa and landed at the seaport.  I remembered how the routes to South Korea and Taiwan were very often and things were efficient.  I guess this aspect has not changed much.  Perhaps the port is even busier now by what one can see in terms of tourism and the youth in the city.

fukuoka silvercriss v1



When I went past Fukuoka castle, I was impressed by a board that highlighted the significance of 6 cherry blossom trees.

In summary, the Mayor at the time wanted to cut them to make space for a new path.  Residents in knowing this intention wrote poetry and tied them onto the tree.  The builders and workers that discovered this, passed this message onto the Mayor at the time.  The Mayor in seeing this also wrote poems in response and later decided to preserve the trees, instead of cutting them.

It almost seems like a folktale, however, this was true and a member of Startup Cafe fondly recalled this being reported on TV at the time.

The reason I am writing about this is that cherry blossoms are significant.  Perhaps as a ritual, they are appreciated on a yearly basis in the spring.  Or perhaps with a more Shinto perspective, I am told all natural elements have spirits and hence in this case, also the trees.  Perhaps the trees are seen as guardians, or simply as beautiful nature, whatever reason, the interaction and engagement through poetry created something beautiful – communication between the residents and decision makers. v1



This gives me positive thoughts in relation to the EU-Japan NewSpace2060 Illustrated Haiku competition 2019.

The vision is to reach out to the public to engage in NewSpace.  Some may be students, some ordinary folks, others may be entrepreneurs, investors, key decision makers or just observers.  Though my wish is to see some magic happen in this engagement.

Maybe for some, the idea of entering the EU-Japan NewSpace2060 Illustrated Haiku competition 2019. is to engage the wider population in space and get people thinking about space.

Theme is:


How can we use creativity to bring out the ideas of engaging space and earth?

What ideas do you have to draw his connection?

welcome fukuoka v1

My conscious decision to blog, as opposed to write a formal report is to embrace the idea is that this blog is open to everyone in good timing and I welcome articles, comments, ideas for those that are interested in sharing their thoughts, aspirations and hopes for NewSpace.  More information about submissions here:


My vision for the new year is to travel to a few more places and to learn, like the Delegates from the Iwakura mission.  There may be things that I do not understand, that may seem like a puzzle, so I hope along this journey that like-minded people, come to reach out and share with me their thoughts and ideas as this opportunity is truly once in a lifetime.

To be able to explore EU- Japan NewSpace and to also better understand NewSpace in Japan.


#Haiku  #Poetry  #Manga #Tokyo #Osaka #Iwakura #Mission

#EUJapanCentre  #NewSpace2060 #Space #Startups #Entrepreneurship

haiku v1



Written by Helen Tung
Emergent Tech Advisor/MINERVA Fellow
EU- Japan Centre
 #NewSpace2060  @EUJapanCentre

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