Friday, June 17, 2005

END OF {JAPAN 2005} BLOG {THREAD} (JUN-17)

Today is my last day in Japan, and this is my last BLOG entry here, unless I will do some editing or revision.

Anyway, my flight is at 6:20pm, and I practically woke up about 12 hours before that. The sun was shining then but it wasn't like so for the whole day. Danny and I left his apartment at a little past 8am, I think, and he accompanied me through two stations. From then on, I took a train, transferred, and took another train going straight to the airport. Wow, eto talaga ang astig. Mas nakatipid pati ako sa pamasahe.

Arriving at Narita, I checked in immediately (it was around 11am pa lang). Anyway, Narita airport (Terminal 2) is quite big, they have quite so many flights, and there are a lot of things that could be done here, like typing my e-mails, reading some journal articles, shopping, eating at McDonald's. I did all those.

So, it is around 2 hours before my flight, and I will say goodbye here now.

I thank God for the opportunity, Dr Pacheco for recommending me, Prof Tamura and the COE-TPU program for accepting and accomodating me, and to Japan and all my friends there (whether I know their name or not), this has been absolutely the greatest, most memorable experience of my life.

Rainy day part 2 (JUN-16)

It's a rainy day again today, and again, I practically stayed at Danny's apartment the whole day. Except that I went again to the nearby Tajima grocery store for my lunch, and to the Shopping Street leading to the Higashi-Jujo Station to buy something for one of my bosses. It was again a so nakakatamad day! Hehe. Well, I did my final, final packing today. We had Sinigang na isda for dinner. Sarap! :-)

Bai-bai, Apaato! (JUN-13)

Woke up at a fairly normal time this morning, had my breakfast, took a shower (my last shower), packed the last few things I haven't packed (e.g. soap, etc), and folded up the futon bed and the beddings. Actually I bought some hot coffee in can from a vending machine and sandwich from the convenience store. First time I tried either one of those, and one or both of them caused me a little stomach problem. I didn't have any appetite come lunch time.

Sachi arrived to pick me up from the apartment just before 11am, and then we brought all my stuff to the school, where I left my luggage for the evening.

Anyway, at a little past 1pm, Masuyama-san and Pillai-san and I went to this Yamada electronics store. Pillai was supposed to buy a Sony Clie, but unfortunately, it was only in Japanese. He bought a Japanese-English dictionary instead. Unfortunately, it is also for Japanese, but he could use it nonetheless.

At around 4pm, I ate my lunch, and I regained my appetite after taking two bottles of this sports drink, Pocari Sweat, which has the similar effects as Gatorade.

I learned only today that I could actually send some books and documents home via EMS (a kind of fast postal service), and the school will take care of the expense. So I was practically re-packing after lunch. The books and documents were around 5 kilos only. After weighing, I found out that I could actually send other things along with my books, and that the school will take care of the expense upto a 20kg weight. So re-packing I did again, until around 6pm, when we were supposed to go already to the Chinese restaurant near the school.

Anyway, so we went to the Chinese restaurant, and Yoshida-san and the master's students were there already. We had Chinese food of course, and beer and sake. Yoshida-san took care of the bill! Thanks again Yoshida-san! Pictures are available at http://ronjie.com/photos. We left the restaurant at around 8:30. Quite early? I was surprised also. But it was just the right time as I still had to go to downtown Atsugi to check-in at the Atsugi Urban Hotel for the evening, plus I had to catch the last bus. I actually got the 3rd or 2nd to the last bus.

Atsugi Urban Hotel is not as nice (maybe because it is not as new) as the El Inn Kyoto hotel, but it is practically the same. Slept well there, although being at the topmost floor, I always am concerned for the possibility of an earthquake happening. Of course, I believe that we are safe inside the hotel, but of course, the hotel management would ask us to evacuate. I was concerned that I might be in the Yukata (something like a bathrobe that looks like a simpler and lighter type of kimono). Hehe

Bai-bai, Atsugi! (JUN-14)

Quite a sad day today.  Got to the school before 9am.  I got a seat on the school-bound bus that stops directly in front of the hotel, and I think it was because "rush hour" at the school is around 9:30am, which I think is the start time of the first class on weekdays, and I was very early.

So a little more packing I did.  Now I got a box, and it was around 12kg.  So by EMS it went...

Prof Yukio Tamura was kind enough to offer a farewell luncheon for me.  We ate at this western (not exactly American) style restaurant near the school.  They had pretty nice food there.  We also drank two kinds of beer, one is a regular draft kind of beer, and the other is non-alcoholic...  Prof Tamura presented to me my Certificate of Completion just before eating, and then we had a group picture taken outside the restaurant.

Did I mention that this Japan trip is so far the most memorable experience for me?

Anyway, 230pm came, and Koizumi-san then fetched me from my office, I said goodbye to the guys there, and we went na to the Hon-Atsugi station.  I had a little trouble there pa, as I tried to pull my suitcase thru the ticket gate, and while doing that, the ticket gate ate my ticket.  Well, it's no problem.  Had a little more relaxed trip from there on going to my friend's (Danny's) apartment.  Had to pull up or pull down the big suitcase though through stairs.  I don't know why there are stations where there are no escalators (nor elevators) for the disabled.  Of course I am not disabled, but I just wonder...

Anyway, going down the Namboku subway line (which was around five stories below), a Nihonjin was so kind enough to help me carry my suitcase down two stories.

I arrived at the Oji-kamiya station at around 5:30pm, and I met with Danny's wife and son, Silahis and Dalan at one of the playgrounds near their apartment building.

That's practically the end of all my Japan experience...

Rainy day (JUN-15)

It's a rainy day today, and I practically stayed at Danny's apartment the whole day. Except that I went to the nearby Tajima grocery store for my lunch, and to the Shopping Street leading to the Higashi-Jujo Station to look for something for one of my bosses. It was so nakakatamad! Hehe. I think I was too tired as I was quite busy from Friday until yesterday, Tuesday. I had dinner with Danny and ate some Filipino food: fried dried squid (Sarap!).

Monday, June 13, 2005

Cleaning & Packing (JUN-12)

Today is packing and cleaning day for me as tonight is my last night at the apartment... So I woke up a little late (around 10am), had a coffee, tuna & rice breakfast, hung my laundried clothes dry outside (did the laundry last night), and did some major cleaning at the apartment. By early afternoon, I had packed my luggage, and then I took a bath. Afterwards, I went to downtown Atsugi to get something for this something that I have. I also had a late lunch at this "sushi turntable" restaurant. 5 small sushi dishes, Yen 895. Well at least now, I've tried it. Afterwards, I then went to the university because I had nothing to do at home. Went home at around 9pm, and passed by 7-Eleven for my dinner... It is my last evening at the apartment... How so very sad!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Home late! (JUN-7)

Not a very exciting day. Lecture in the morning. "Work" in the afternoon. Stayed at the university until almost 11pm!

Later! (JUN-8)

Not a very exciting day. Lecture in the morning. "Work" in the afternoon. Stayed at the university until almost 12 midnight! (Why do I have a feeling this is just one of those old movies being replayed?)

"Busy" (JUN-9)

It's another one of them busy days. Got home just in time for the closing time and discounted meals at Sekichu Home Center (the grocery). Actually I was early but I dropped by the 100-Yen shop, but I did not find what I was looking for. Actually I found something, but it was 840 Yen. No thanks! I also went home early today because tomorrow, we have a "business" trip to a really far place......

Tsukuba! (JUN-10)

We went today to Tsukuba to visit two research institutes: the BRI (for buildings) and the PWRI (for Public Works).

We met at the Hon-Atsugi station at around 9:30, we got to Tsukuba at around 12:45! We bought lunch at Tokyo station, and ate it (cold) on the bus from Tokyo to Tsukuba.

Tsukuba is quite a nice city, it's north of Tokyo, and farther north from Chiba prefecture (where Narita airport is). Lots of trees, large roads... It is I think a relatively young city, and I think being a location of (government) research institutes is its main industry. Anyway, if you like the "city life," you won't like it here because it's far from Tokyo, but anyway, I like suburban places and this is one of those kinds of cities, much like Atsugi.

Our first meeting started at 13:30 (1:30pm--did I mention already that Japanese are more used to the 24-hour format?), and we saw this really big wind tunnel at PWRI - 40 meters wide! There was a scale model of a 5-kilometer long bridge inside. Very interesting.

Palatastas: in making a scale model of one busy city center in Tokyo--the Shinjuku area--it cost one wind research facility around 8 million Yen. That's 4 million pesos. That is 80 houses for the poor. Hmmmmmm.....

We next went to the BRI and they had quite a lot of interesting facilities there. Our meeting ended at almost 5pm or so. We then took a taxi back to the bus center. The taxi cost around 2,020 Yen by the way. Maybe it was around 4 to 5 kilometers lang... Anyway, so we got on a bus back to Tokyo.

Actually, today was also the first time I experienced Tokyo traffic on the way back to Tokyo. It was rush hour din kasi.

We got back to Hon-Atsugi station at around 8:30pm already! Man, we were so tired! Giang-san and I had dinner again at this ramen restaurant beside the bus center in Atsugi. Got home after 10pm na I think. I did some more things at home, and was able to sleep na at around 1am.......

Nag-mana sa Ina? (My mom won't agree) (JUN-11)

Today...  We had our last lecture under Prof Tamura at 9:30am.  I WOKE UP AT 9:05!  Damn!  Was about 5 or 10 minutes late.  I really felt the exhaustion from yesterday's trip.

Anyway, I had lunch at the cafeteria - maybe my last lunch there.  I had my favorite ulam there, deep fried breaded salmon with fries.  Hehehe.  I got my usual vegetable side dish, and "L" size rice.

4:00pm came and it was presentation time!  My presentation actually started at around 4:15.  I ended maybe around 5:30, at around 5:45 after the questions.  Hehe.  Quite interesting, I liked my presentation, except that I noticed that I was not looking too much at the audience because I had to point to the screen using the laser pointer.  I was able to respond naman to the questions asked by the top two professors (Prof Tamura, Prof Matsui) in the group.  Earlier during my stay here, I had thought that my presentation would only take 30 minutes.  Two weeks ago, and then again a week ago, I practiced my presentation and it took me 1 hour, and a little over an hour each!  I had too much to talk about.  Some of the guys said it was very interesting anyway.  So, that's quite a good thing.

I feel good now, having overcome that minor obstacle.  Tonight, I did some laundry, and I am doing some packing.  I could sleep better tonight.  I'm leaving soon!  It's quite sad actually.  Two people already asked me if I want to leave Japan.  I answered to both of them "Yes and No."  Yes, because I have things to finish in the Philippines, and I miss my loved ones there.  No because, it is so nice in Japan among other reasons.  I have thought that this has been my most memorable experience so far in life.  For those of you who don't know, I am not married yet, and presently I don't have a girlfriend.  :-)

Anyway, last Wednesday, I was also chatting with a friend--si Elaine actually, my touring companion around Tokyo.  She was one of two people who asked me if I want to go back now to the Philippines.  Anyway, I was listening to some kinda senti music then (kinda lang), and mej na-senti nga ako.  (For the curious souls, I was listening then to the background music when Trinity was dying in the Matrix Revolutions movie.)  While that song was playing, I was telling Elaine that this stay in Japan is so far the most memorable experience for me in life.  And she remembered our first meeting at Ueno, when we planned to meet at 9am but we met at almost 12 noon na!  She was apologizing again, but anyway, I told her that that was a very essential part of this stay in Japan being my most memorable experience.  I told her that if I were someone else, I might have gone to the park and cried by myself.  But anyway, I took it positively, and well, that and other experiences here have taught me somethings about myself.  Of course, Elaine did not know that the background music was a senti kind of song, and hehe, that might have affected my reply to her.  Hehe.

Shocks, right now, I'm listening to senti songs again.  Hirap din mag-maintain ng blog.  Time consuming.  Anyway, eto, it's 1:00am again, and guess what is playing: "I'll never get over you getting over me."  Damn.  I should stop this here, right now.  So, until next then!

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Yokohama! The Technical Visit (JUN-6)

Woke up early today, just before 6:30am, to go to Yokohama. We toured Taisei Corporation's research center (Taisei is one of the biggest construction companies in Japan).

Afterwards, we went to visit the Landmark Tower which is the tallest building in Japan (296 meters high, 70 stories + 3 penthouse floors, + 3 or more basement floors). So, are you thinking.. Ang low-tech naman ng Japan, sa US may 110+ story-buildings sila, sa China or sa ibang bansa, may mas matataas pa na mga buildings.... Actually, they have a Law here that prohibits the construction of buildings above 300 meters, for aviation purposes! Similarly, Japan doesn't try to produce big airplanes to compete with Boeing, Airbus, etc. But actually, they are involved in their designs!

Anyway, we met one of the structural designers of the Landmark Tower who showed us the 170-ton "vibration absorbers" at the 70th floor. Then we also went to Shin-Yokohama Prince Hotel (~40 stories) where there are water tanks at its top floor that also "absorb" vibration due to wind. If you are an engineer, you might be more familiar with the terms "tuned mass damper" or "tuned liquid damper" or "tuned active damper" or "active mass damper" or "hybrid mass damper."

Going home, I felt so tired, partly because of my "injury" from Saturday pa, so straight home I went and slept quite early today...

Sinigang, Chopsticks, and Spaghetti (JUN-5)

Upon waking up, I found out that the pain I was feeling yesterday was a back pain, on the right side. I slept for 12 hours last night! (10:30 to 10:30)

My pseudo-medical findings are as follows:

I played basketball and exercised to the point that I got tired. I am right-handed by the way.

After basketball, I went home by bicycle (in ~15 minutes) carrying a not so light bag -- over my right shoulder.

When I got home, I did quite an extensive cleaning at the apartment! I would feel some pain, but I disregarded it.

After resting for a while, I took a shower.

Then I went back to school by bicycle (in 15 minutes) again carrying a rather lighter bag over my right shoulder. After about an hour in school, that's when I started feeling the pain.

Anyway, I guess it was basically over-exercise.

Today I took two Alaxans, one after breakfast and another after lunch.

I did some grocery shopping pala today, and bought ingredients for Sinigang. Can't find any kangkong though. I did find sitaw, okra, labanos, and pechay, as well as buto-buto pork meat. Of course, I have Knorr Sabaw ng Sinigang (Tamarind Soup Base) Mix from my mother, and Pillai-san had onions, tomatoes, JalapeƱo pepper, and salt (he doesn't have patis of course, nor soy sauce). I also bought some fish for frying.

Anyway, so cooking I did at Pillai-san's apartment. Giang-san and Kawana-san also came to visit. I will soon upload the photos at http://ronjie.com/photos/2005.japan/food

The verdict:

Kawana-san said that the soup is too sour. I think Japanese don't like very sour food too much. I loved it. Actually, I thought that yeah, baka na-sobrahan sa Sinigang Mix and kulang sa pampa-alat (like patis)...

Kawana-san also said that the fish tasted like Japanese food. The fish is of course "made in Japan," but I did tell him that, this is one thing that Filipinos and Japan have in common: fish!

Giang-san said that the sinigang tastes like Indian food (e.g. Indian food that Pillai-san prepares).

The ever-so-kind Pillai-san says he likes the sinigang a lot.

Now here's the twist, we all ate Sinigang with CHOPSTICKS!

And, when we ran out of rice, Pillai-san and Giang-san started eating Sinigang with SPAGHETTI! Well, actually pwede naman, it's just that... ... :-)

Saturday, June 4, 2005

Basketball! (JUN-4)

This Saturday morning, I played basketball, by myself lang though. Afterwards, I had lunch at the cafeteria with Pillai-san, and then went home for a shower. Actually, there's a lecture today but it is in Japanese so I chose not to attend. Anyway, upon coming back here to the school, I have this feeling in my right lung. Same thing happened after the first time I played basketball here... Is it the hangin here? Maybe because of the shower after exercise? I think I over-exercised. Sarap mag-basketball!

Oh, I just remembered. Two nights ago, I tried to make a cup of Sinigang soup. I literally said to the Sinigang soup, "I miss you!" Hehehe. Tomorrow, I plan to cook Sinigang and share with the PhD guys here.

Not much... (June-3)

Not much doin today. I have already started with the packing, and I think I did some more of that today. I'm thinking now of leaving 2 pairs of shoes: one with a hole in the sole, a second which was damaged because of my little bike accident. It looks like not everything will fit in the maleta...

Friday, June 3, 2005

Tired! (JUN-2)

Today, I woke up a little late because I was so tired of our Kyoto trip. But I didn't realize how tired I was until when in the morning I was riding the bicycle going to the school, I had a *little* accident. I had a mild sprain on my foot and my ankle because of that *little* accident; nothing serious. I can still walk and the swelling has gone down over the evening. Anyway, it was a funny accident because when it happened I thought I along with the bicycle was going to fall over, but ... haha, I found myself continuing to ride the bicycle as if nothing happened. It was a wake up call nonetheless...

Kyoto Tour (JUN-1)

Ah, it's June 1 already. And what a HOT day to go around the old capital city of Japan: Kyoto. In the morning, we had this so-so tabe-hodai (all you can eat) breakfast at the hotel... Then we went to Kyoto University to visit their wind research facilities. We had lunch at the Kyodai (Kyoto Daigaku = Kyoto University) student canteen...

Then, we went around Kyoto! A beautiful place it is. I noticed there aren't any buildings more than 10 stories tall... But it's still a big city with lots of tourists nonetheless. The Kyoto Station by the way is very modern, amidst some objections. Check out the photos. We walked a total of about 8 kilometers around Kyoto today! Oh how tiring, and how sore our feet were! But it was good food for the soul, I should say.

It's a good thing we were with Kawana-san, who basically is our impromptu tour guide, and history and language teacher. It was SO hot -- it was 29 degrees in Kyoto I think that day. In the evening, we had ramen at a restaurant just inside the Hon-Atsugi Basu Senta (Bus Center). Then I went to TPU to borrow Pillai-san-no jitensha (Mr. Pillai's bicycle).

And upon coming home--SLEEP!

KYOTO-E! (MAY-31)

Today was our Shinkansen (bullet train) trip to Kyoto... Along the way, I saw Fuji-san in all its glory! hehe. Anyway, it was really a spectacular view... I have pictures (http://ronjie.com/photos/2005.japan/places/kyoto) but pictures can't show the whole picture! Check it out anyway. :-)