If I told you that Japan had a world-class science and technology university that could one day stand tall among the big trees of MIT or Stanford, could you guess its name and where it's located? Hint: It's not in Honshu, home to Japan's top name-brand national universities like the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University. This university is about 640 km from the rest of Japan and even further away in mission and philosophy.

Call it where science and technology in subtropical paradise meets some of the world's best lab-based problem solvers. Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) is the best university you've likely never heard of in Japan.

Its reputation and academic style adhere to no national boundaries. It's not typically Japanese or Western: it is an open campus — the Okinawan people are welcome to drop by or attend Open Campus community fairs. It offers 24-hour Open Labs where scientists are encouraged to share equipment, and it is collaborative and interdisciplinary in teaching, research and publishing.