In 1995 I had the opportunity to spend three weeks in the Nara National Cultural Properties Research Institute, Japan, hosted by Nishimura San. This was by far my most memorable research visit, especially as Nishimura San had taken it upon himself to introduce me to Japanese archaeology and culture. It started with Japanese food (and how to eat it), included visits to many temples, archaeological sites and museums, and also exposed me to fancy Japanese archaeological excavation practices: workers with white gloves shifted spoil onto mobile conveyor belts that transported everything to dedicated sieving areas – like magic. Similarly, our joint magnetometer surveys (also requiring white gloves) were meticulously planned, including a metal detector survey to clear modern rubbish prior to our start. My amazement about all these wonders must have looked quite naive, but Nishimura San generously ignored this, and instead made me feel at home in Japan through this fast-paced immersion. He instilled in me a lasting admiration for Japan.
Not only was he highly respected for his archaeological and archaeological geophysics knowledge, but also for his innate ability to mentor students, colleagues and friends to strive for high standards in their professional work. I know many who always looked for his approval of their latest fieldwork or research output and I certainly was always relieved when he commented positively on my results, for example during conferences.
He attended nearly all International Conferences on Archaeological Prospection and organised the second one (ICAP1997, see also the book of abstracts) in Ise, Japan. This was a considerable step up in professionalism from the first conference that we had put together in Bradford and certainly set a standard for subsequent meetings. When a special event was organised in 2006 to celebrate Arnold Aspinall’s 80th birthday he took it upon himself to come to Bradford to visit and celebrate his friend. Arnold was very touched that colleagues travelled even from Japan, just to celebrate with him.
While initially mainly using magnetometer surveys, as they were well suited to the investigation of medieval kiln sites, one of his interests, he soon realised the powerful contributions that ground penetrating radar (GPR) could make to archaeological prospection. Starting with analog printouts along transects, his work with Dean Goodman resulted in new digital timeslices that provided map-views of the ground, which archaeologists were able quickly to use for their own research. He also forged close links with the Japanese equipment manufacturer Oyo, where I was introduced during my visit to a team, specifically assembled to advance archaeological investigations. Similarly, his links with the research group of Dr Hiroyuki Kamei at the Tokyo Institute of Technology allowed him to stimulate research in archaeological prospection by presenting the geophysical engineering team with always new challenges. Having been introduced to this research group during my research visit, we were able to undertake joint research in the UK, mainly looking at medieval metalworking sites.
Nishimura San, like Arnold Aspinall, encouraged high standards through generosity and kindness and I and many others have greatly benefitted from his mentoring. He will be remembered very fondly.