30 April 2010

Class Day

Today is class day.  I had two classes in a row, from 9:30-12:30 this morning.  Interesting topics, both.  Duh, almost anything wind engineering is interesting to me!  Ehehe. :-D

Anyways, right after that I went to the bank in Hon-Atsugi (or downtown Atsugi) to exchange my USD ("Amerika-no Doru") to JPY ("Nihon-no En"; the Japanese for "Yen" is "En," except after a word that ends in "n" like "san"/"three" or "sen"/"thousand.").  I thought it would only take a few minutes; I got back to TPU at past 3pm already!  That's inclusive of taking lunch in Hon-Atsugi, and a 20 minute or so wait for the bus, because I was one minute too late for the previous one!

And I went to have my registration finalized - I'm registered I think in 6 courses, each 2 credits/units each.  Tough schedule.  But 4 of those 6 courses might not have classes until next semester, or might not have classes at all. :-D  The one class I attended this morning is actually not a credited class, but of course I attend because learning is one thing I'm here for anyway.  Doing (and learning) research work is another thing.  Oh, and I'm also registered for the Japanese language (Nihon-go) class, which is also not credited.  I attend of course to improve my Japanese language skills, as well as to bond with my colleagues.

Anyways, at around 6pm, we decided to continue the FIBA Asia Friendly Matches, this time it was P+J and K+C.  We didn't finish our game because the Volleyball and Futsal clubs were going to use the gym.  Oh well.  I knew I was exhausted from yesterday, and I thought I could still play today.  I didn't play like yesterday and I really felt the muscle pains.  I hope to rest tomorrow morning while my Heart attends Nihongo class. :-D

On my way to Hon-Atsugi, I noticed the bus was full and unexpectedly so, at least for me.  Usually around lunch break, not too many people would be leaving TPU already.  And then when I got back to TPU, it was just around 3pm but the line for the bus was very long already.  It usually isn't like that not until around 5pm or so.  As I walked around, I noticed there were very few people roaming around campus.  Ah, I realized tonight was the start of the 5-day long weekend here.  Great!

Not so much for me though; I think I'll need to do a lot of studying during the holidays.  I have to finish a report, read a chapter of this book about the atmospheric boundary layer (partial differential equations, momentum fluxes, tensors, and Kronecker deltas, anyone?), start to do some literature survey for my research topic, read about global warming and stuff because there will be discussion in class next week, and so on.

Oh, there is one good news for today: I got my old "new," broken and now repaired PC back.  My initial diagnosis was correct, it was the memory.  But now I am afraid to "commit" to this PC; what if it conks out again?  Yikes.  Goodbye LeopardXP and FlyakiteOSX.  ;-D  I need to be a little bit more careful now.  And I guess I should include my computer in my daily prayers!!!

Anyways, I already bought today my lunch and dinner ulam for tomorrow.  I might just have sardines during lunch time, in addition to the side veggies I bought.  I need to save money!  According to my calculations, I have enough only until June 18.  My first "payday" (when I can first receive allowance) is not until June 21!  Gulp.  And that doesn't include any payments for utilities and so on, that I need to make.  I really need to eat my sardines now.  And cook my own rice.  :-D  And no more travels!  Gulp.  And hmmm, I wonder if I can still buy a Japanese cellphone line and handset.  I think I could really use one in case of emergency!

Actually it is also difficult because not too many establishments accept credit cards here.  They are generally a cash society, which I think is a good thing in itself.  But of course, credit cards have their merits, if you know how to use them properly.  Usually only the Western-style hotels accept credit cards.  Well, I hope to find credit card-accepting stores soon!

The last resort is sending money to myself.  But the remittance or wire transfer costs are just too large.  And that's why it's the last resort.  Speaking of "last resort," I haven't been to Boracay since 2002!  :-D  The weather is becoming more and more pleasant each day.  It is generally sunny today, but the temperature was still very cool.  Or maybe I didn't wear enough layers of clothes.  High is 23 degrees, low is 10 degrees.  Feels like Baguio.  Love it!  Come Monday and Tuesday, the predicted high is at 25 or 26 degrees, and the lows might be at 15 or 17 degrees.  I love springtime.  Same temperature as autumn but, spring leads to summer!  Nevermind that Akino, the Romaji for my family name, means autumn fields.  :-D

29 April 2010

FIBA Asia Friendly Match

"Bas... ket... ball......"  You know that song?  I feel like singing it now.  I just played bas... ket... ball....

Anyways, it was so fun!  I love basketball.  We played 4 games for about an hour, of 2-on-2 basketball.  Philippines + China vs. Korea + Japan.  Our P+C combo was in the lead early, but we fell 0-2 in games against the K+J team.  We quickly got win #1, but with a minor injury in the K+J team, we easily got win #2 as well.  The "series" was tied at 2-2.

I hope I could play ball regularly!

Anyways, prior to basketball, things I did today were:

1. Cooked my own rice, and ate it for lunch then for dinner.
2. Ate food I bought last night from the konbinii (convenience store) for lunch.
3. Went to downtown Atsugi, to this hotel that provides currency exchange services, hoping that they would exchange my USD to JPY.  I only have a few JPY left!  Yikes!  I should've exchanged all the USD I had at the airport.  Anyways, of course they wouldn't exchange my USD to JPY.  I am not a guest at their hotel.  It's "Showa Day," a national holiday today here in Japan so banks are closed.  Start counting down my JPY to zero.  Tomorrow, my morning is full, with two lectures from 9:30-12:30; hence if ever I can only go to the bank in the afternoon.  I hope they don't close early!  I've been trying to look around for people who might need USD - like people who will go to the US, and so on.  No luck so far.  Some said I could borrow money anyway.  That will be my 3rd option.
4. I took a look at this store called "OK," with a tagline that goes "Everyday Low Prices."  From the sound of it, it might be something like K-Mart or SM's Hypermart.  It's just a normal grocery, food and other household items.  I wasn't going to buy anything but I can't find the exit except through the crowded checkout lanes.  So what the heck, I bought some food to eat for dinner.  They tasted great by the way, so no regrets about having to buy food there! :-)

And that's about it.  I feel tired, obviously, but I hope I can wake up early tomorrow.  Or, suffer the consequences...... :-D

28 April 2010

1st Class Day

Today is the first day I attended a class lecture, which is actually about environmental wind engineering.  It is actually the 3rd meeting for the class already, so the 1st half of the class was about the 1st two meetings.  Totemo omoshiroi deshita!  (It was very interesting.)

I also learned that the professor requested for an extension of the registration so that I can register for the class.  Google!  (I meant to say "Yahoo!" but since I am using Google...  :-D)

It was still rainy and cool (but not cold) in the morning.  A beautiful surprise in the form of a sunset shone upon Atsugi by the end of the day.

Anyhow, that's about it for today.  I did miss lunch with the usual lunch buddies, so I bought bento and ate lunch at my desk.  "Bento," by the way means "lunch box," "box lunch," "boxed lunch," or maybe even "packed lunch."  So "bento box" would be like saying "lunch box box," "box lunch box," "boxed lunch box," or "packed lunch box," which... all doesn't sound right, don't you think?

I found this interesting website which you can quickly browse through a few pages at a time to learn about Japan, their culture, and some useful phrases: http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/index.html.  They also have an interesting piece about bento: http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/virtual/bento/index.html. :-)

Itadakimasu! :-)

(From Wikipedia/Itadakimasu#Eating_and_Drinking: "Meals in Japan traditionally begin with the phrase itadakimasu (いただきます?) (literally, "I humbly receive"). The phrase is similar to "bon appétit," or saying grace to give thanks before a meal. It is said to express gratitude for all who played a role in preparing, cultivatingranching or hunting the food.")

27 April 2010

No Pain, No Gain

How true is that in a lot of things.  In love, in losing weight, in building up muscles or stamina, in gaining wisdom, and so on.

Today, I started to become more comfortable with my temporary computer, but still, its being temporary is at the back of my mind.  Probably spent another half-day or so today just to make it run smoothly for my purposes.

Anyways, today I also started reading in more detail our textbook for this class I registered in, a subject matter I do not have any deep background on.  I mentioned I am taking the structural wind engineering track, but because I desire to be able to teach a full course in wind engineering in the Philippines in the future, I thought I should learn a little bit about environmental wind engineering as well.  As I read through the textbook, I am finding it a little difficult.  And then this blog post's title came to mind.

Anyways, last night I bought ready-to-heat-then-eat Takuyaki Balls from the neighbourhood convenience store.  They, together with those vendo machines, are the equivalent of "sari-sari" stores back at home; they are everywhere!  Hmmm, that would be a nice "prize" for finishing up my reading of Chapter 1 for Friday's class.

We received an e-mail that there will be another seminar this Saturday, the 1st of May, although it is more about environmental wind engineering, and I do plan to attend, but there goes my long weekend chopped up.  As I said previously, Thursday is a holiday.  Friday isn't.  Then there's the 2-day weekend.  Then there's the 3 holidays in a row.  If I didn't have classes on Fridays, I could've had a 7-day long weekend!  And now it's reduced to 4.  Better than nothing!  The forecast for those four days are: sunny, sunny, sunny, sunny.  I sure hope so.  It's springtime here so sunny means low 20s during the daytime.  Great!

I slept a little late last night, and woke up a little late...  almost 9am already actually, because I left my laptop running without being plugged in.  It functions as my alarm clock; it plays my favorite SFC songs at around 7am.  Actually it was plugged in - to the extension cord - which in turn was not plugged in to the main line.  My punishment: a rainy day.  Not so bad though, not freezing cold unlike the past week.  Or maybe I've gotten used to the cold a little bit.  Or maybe I am wearing enough layers of clothes.  Or maybe because I am inside our "office" practically the whole day, and the heater is on here practically the whole day.

Lunch was at the by-the-pound cafeteria; I had two slabs of fish fillet (the type without breading) on top of some greens...  And then the fish had plenty of bones.  Yikes.  Dinner is rice (hope it's still okay to eat - the one I cooked last Sunday, otherwise I'll cook some more or just microwave the microwaveable packed rice), Takuyaki, and maybe Japanese tuna (they come in half the size only of our typical tuna cans, but they come in easy-open cans) or Ligo sardines or Century corned tuna.

Anyways, I am looking forward to May.  And the hot summer.  500 days of summer?  I am interested in experiencing the 4 seasons, one after the other - I have experienced winter, autumn, and spring in the US and in other countries, and summer all my life in the Philippines - but not one after the other.  I wonder how that feels.  We'll soon find out.

26 April 2010

And the pain remains... but... :-D

Today is better than yesterday; I am able now to post to my blog again; I initially used my laptop to connect to the school network (still using it now).  And then a little later today, I was given a temporary computer to use, until my very new computer gets repaired.  We confirmed that one of the memory (RAM) consoles was busted; we removed it (found out which one of the two memory consoles by trial and error) and the system was working again.  So thankfully I was still able to retrieve my files so that I can work on them.  The pain of having to work on a temporary computer remains.  I was already getting comfortable on my "new" computer - a Core 2 Duo with 2Gb RAM and 250 Gb SATA drive (pretty much the same as my computer at my previous employer) - such that I could focus on what I am here for: learning.  But now, no, I have another thing to worry about.  I hope my computer gets repaired or replaced very soon!  I heard it might still take two weeks.  The manufacturer won't be able to pull it out from here until tomorrow.  Painful indeed.

Now a good thing happened today, a blessing indeed, although it is like your favorite ice cream flavor for a broken ankle because of the busted PC.  Apparently all new PhD students get to have one new 1TB external hard drive, courtesy of TPU!  That is the coolest gift I've received here so far!  Thank you, TPU!  Thank you, Lord!

Last Saturday, if I haven't mentioned, I received another undeliverable mail notice, apparently for my ATM card.  With help from the GCOE Secretary, we scheduled a delivery again between 7-9pm tonight.  Great!

So, what did I do today?  Nada.  Transferring files.  Cleaning up this temporary PC I will be using for now - it has too much software programs installed!  Reading a little bit here and there.  I finally registered for that environmental wind engineering class, which is about the mathematics of the atmospheric boundary layer (i.e. the layer of the air we live in).  I will be attending it together with the other two new PhD students, although we three are all taking the structural wind engineering track.  The schedule is on Friday; Thursday is a holiday here, so our Thursday class under Prof. Tamura gets moved also to Friday.  Friday morning is lectures morning, straight from 9:30-12:30.  Yeah baby.  Nihongo class is also on Thursdays, but the next session will not be until next week, the 6th of May, just after the 5-day weekend from May 1 (Sat) to May 5 (Wed).  May 3, 4, and 5 are holidays here, and the week that includes them, starting from April 29th is called "Golden Week."  April 29 is called "Showa Day," in commemoration of the late Emperor Showa's birthday who has passed away in 1989.  May 3, 4, and 5 are "Constitution Memorial Day," "Greenery Day," and "Children's Day."  Annually there is a total of 15 public holidays in Japan, some of them are moved to Monday under their "Happy Monday System" - to encourage tourism and so on.  And I thought having 15 public holidays and moving some to Mondays was a Filipino original.  Anyways, it doesn't matter. :-)

Last kwento for the day: Today is the first day I threw out the trash.  "What?"  You might ask, considering I've been here more than 9 days.  Well, it's like this.  I got this brochure that says, I should separate all the plastics, tetra-pack cartons, all other pieces of paper that do not easily burn, all cloth-like materials, all plastic bottles, all canned bottles, all glass bottles, and all biodegradable ("burnable") waste like food and small pieces of paper - and except for the last one, they should all be clean already.  So you can imagine while I have amassed an amount of garbage, I only have probably a liter or less of biodegradable/"nabubulok" trash so it really wasn't much.  All the other "trash" are cleaned.  Today was the schedule for the plastics, cloth-like, and recyclable paper materials.  Tomorrow is for the burnable stuff.  Nope, they don't call them biodegradable here, they call 'em "burnable" - "pwedeng sunugin," so says the flyer on waste management that I have with me which was in Filipino, apparently left by the Filipino researcher who previously worked here.  Then somebody told me "You don't have to follow those waste segregation guidelines, except for the plastic/PET bottles and the cans."  O. Kay... :-D

25 April 2010

Ran Day

So this post is late again.  Strike two.

One good thing today: the weather was pleasant, sunny and clear skies, not so cold, just perfect "air-conditioner" weather.  Day-time high was ~19 degrees.

But it wasn't my day.  Now on to the bad stuff:

  1. I woke up surprisingly very late - around 11am!  Apparently my alarm was set to alarm only on weekdays, I think.  Well actually it was good that I got some rest, but I might be late for the mass!  Then...
  2. I missed the bus by a few (say 5) minutes, and the next bus would arrive not until after 30 minutes!  If only I were a few minutes earlier, I would have made it to the 2pm mass just in time, and maybe even slightly earlier!  So now I'm probably 35 minutes late!  Buses are 30 minutes apart on Sundays.  This was a day I wish I had already bought/gotten a bicycle!
  3. Anyway, so what I did was, because halfway along the bus route to Hon-Atsugi, a second bus route comes along so the bus frequency increases (maybe every 10 minutes).
  4. So I ran for 30 minutes to get to the halfway point of my bus route.  Alas, 5 minutes earlier, I saw the other bus line a kilometer away already.  Pointless running!?  Well, of course, the exercise was good, and as I said it was a pleasant day to be outside...
  5. Problem was, I was not able to change shirts not until I got home...  Which caused a little sneezing.  (Just a little.)  And, this was the first time I was exposed to low humidity + cool temperature, and so it was also the first time I felt my lips really dry up!  But anyhow, good thing I had lip balm with me.
  6. When I got to the church, I was probably 15 or 20 minutes late, it was homily already.  Guess what.  The mass was in Spanish!  That was bad, but not so bad, so I thought I had to worry about #1 to #5 above when in fact I was too early for the English mass!
  7. So I asked one of the Japanese there "Eigo de kyo wa nan ji desu ka?" which literally should translate to something like "Today what time is in English?"  She checked and said "Kyo wa eigo de nai desu!" which meant "There is no English (mass) today!"  Argh!  So anyway, there I was in a Spanish mass in Japan.  I know some Spanish but it was still difficult to understand...  Oh well.
  8. And then my computer just suddenly crashed.  I was working on something and then boom!  Blue screen of death.  I tried all sorts of things - starting in Safe Mode, etc, reinstalling the OS, and so on, but to no avail.  Goodbye, files.  Anyway, my diagnosis was that it was a memory problem, and surprisingly the onboard BIOS has a Diagnostics tool and it also made the same diagnosis....  
  9. Sigh, no Skype date for tonight with Mara.  Actually I could use my laptop but because I did not bring it to school and it was getting late already, I thought I would just call it a night.  What a day.

Anyways, I also did what hopefully would be my last day for home-stuff shopping...  At Daiso.  Actually before going to Daiso, I went around this "department" store or mall where there's a shoe place, Eddie Bauer, Uni Qlo (apparently a popular Japanese casual clothes brand, like Gap), and many more.  There's this store that sells furniture, home stuff, some clothes, some school and office stuff - that I immediately fell in love with.  Japanese, minimalist design for everyday stuff.  Similar to IKEA, and I like IKEA, but I like that with this brand there is just one color theme, neutrals - white, wood/birch, silver, black - and so I don't have to mix and match and all that.  If I bought all my stuff from this store, I could achieve a really nice design for my interiors.  Of course...  The prices are generally on the expensive side, except maybe for some notebooks - comparing with those I found at the school store.  Or maybe I was looking at a different size that's why it was cheaper there than at the school store.  What is the name of the place?  I don't know, the store sign is in Japanese, but I think there's a branch of the store in Singapore but I forgot the name.  I think it's MUJI. :-)

Today also marks the first day I used my rice cooker.  The night before I asked for help from Kim-san, the Korean PhD student, on how to use it.

And also today I bought from the supermarket what looked like Yakitori, 6 sticks of it...  And then I found out that 3 out of the 6 sticks are all chicken skin and chicken fat.  Yummy but, unhealthy.  Oh well.  No, I didn't eat most of it.

24 April 2010

1st Presentation Day

Today is "seminar" day, the 2nd one I'm attending - and the 1st time I'm presenting in.  I am to talk about my previous research work (i.e. my master's thesis) and to give a little personal background about myself.  I was not able to check how long I took but it was more than 25 minutes!  Generally they were lax about the time because this time around, there were just 4 of us presentors, versus 7 previously, and the Professor did not have any meetings to run to.  Actually the Professor asked a lot of questions, at least to the other presentors, 2 new PhD students like myself, both from India, and one short-term fellowship researcher from Italy but taking her master's in New York.  My presentation went quite well, I think.  I liked the comments and questions asked.  Prayers do really work. :-)  Anyways, maybe it also helped that I showed the Katakana and Kanji forms of my name on my very first slide:

ロンジ  アキノ being Katakana for "ron-ji a-ki-no," and

秋野 being Kanji for "akino," which means "autumn field."  I like!

Kanji are like Chinese-style characters, each representing one word, but usually many Japanese words as well as names would be compound words, such as "akino," represented by two Kanji characters.  Katakana characters represent one syllable each, except for the one that represents "n," and are used for foreign or borrowed words.  Hiragana characters meanwhile are similar to Katakana but they are used for Japanese words with an equivalent Kanji; they are used to teach the Japanese language to young Japanese children as well to foreigners starting to learn the Japanese language.

I tried looking for Kanji for "ronji," and I found one for "ron," which means "discussion," or "theory."  Can't find a suitable one for "ji" that should relate to "discussion" in time for my submission of my presentation, so I did not write any Kanji for "ronji."  Anyway, I found one now (based on one dictionary) for "ji," which means "love" as a noun, or "be affectionate" as a verb.  So here's "ron-ji":

So, my full name now, Japanese style is: 慈 秋野.  Cool! :-)

Anyways, for lunch, I had cafeteria food.  Did i say that already?  I took a couple of dishes that I have tried before.  I should take a picture of them next time.  I can't take photos quickly, because my phone, being on Windows Mobile, has a big problem - or have I said this already?  It has around 7Gb free internal memory and 7Gb free external memory (micro-SD card), and yet its camera doesn't work because "Camera requires 5Mb."  Don't buy anything with Windows Mobile.  They will solve this soon, but at the cost of many of us who own already such phones.  And they probably did not plan to solve this problem soon unless somebody told on them!  Anyways...

For dinner I went to the supermarket at Atsugi Trellis, hoping to catch some late night discounted food, but alas, the ones with discounts don't look too yummy.  I ended up with buying sushi, and...  pizza! :-D  Bacon and corn pizza.  Truly un-Italian.  :-D  Anyways, the sushi I bought this time around is half as cheap compared to that one I bought a week ago, and I noticed that the difference was that in the more expensive one from last week, there were to kinds of sushi that had some kind of roe in them.  One is an orange "sago"- or tapioca-looking roe, and the other is like yellow-brownish gooey stuff.  Yummy though, for me.  I love sushi.  And I love pizza, nevermind the bacon and corn toppings.  Bacon is always yummy.  Sushi and pizza in one meal.  Yum.  I was thinking I should have bought Coke, but nah, it's a good thing that I didn't.

I went up to the 100-yen store, but they were already closing!  I didn't know they closed shop at 8pm.  I had a list of things to buy, but time was just too short.

At the supermarket, I also bought milk - 3 1L cartons!  Because they were on sale, only 98 yen, or around 44 pesos each!  Imagine that, something other than electronics that is cheaper here than in the Philippines.  I wonder if I could live on milk alone.  Haha.  I also bought an orange juice carton, and a "mango blend" 1L carton.  I tried the mango, and well, it's not like the mangoes we have from the Philippines.  But anyways, it's still mango, and I love mango.

Wow, the title of this post is now inappropriate.  But it is what it is.  Ja mata. :-)

23 April 2010


I remember just now one thing "new" and a little interesting that happened today.  Last Wednesday I received an "undelivered mail" notice in the mail.  Apparently it was registered mail so I had to be home when it gets delivered, but that was not the case.  So with the help of Ando-san, one of the secretaries helping us out, we scheduled the delivery for Friday evening, sometime between 7-9pm.  The postman arrived around 7:45pm, I think.  He was trying to speak Japanese to me at first but later it became apparent to him that I couldn't understand much Japanese so he spoke to me in English.  And he was quite fluent at it; his accent was even very easy to understand.  I wonder if they are trained to speak in English specially for these situations?  Anyway, I received my health insurance card in the mail; much like a PhilHealth card.  Great!  Next to arrive as registered mail (maybe sometime next week) is my ATM card.  Yay!

Anyways, if you will notice, although these April 23rd posts are dated April 23, I actually wrote them and posted them April 24 noontime already.  Yikes!  When busy times come, this is usually how it's going to be.  That was the same case in my previous Japan stint; I'd have days when my blog post title was "Busy day" and the post itself just says "It was a busy day today."  Oh boy.  Actually now, I have to start to do some reading and studying already.  Here we go! :-)

Jaa mata!

"Busy" Day

Nothing much happened today, except what would later become "usual" things - lunch at Cafeteria #2 where the lunch food is sold by weight.  Packed dinner from the school store.  I spoke with some of the professors briefly today about a few minor things, like a journal short note I might be co-writing soon, and taking up classes in another field (environmental) of wind engineering (I am taking up structural wind engineering).

For the rest of the day I was sort of tidying up my presentation for tomorrow.  We are allotted just 25 minutes, including the question and answer portion, but my presentation was 66 slides already!  I since reduced it to 44.  Hope I can fit it within 25 minutes.

I had a tuna salad for dinner (along with a main dish with rice) and bought a JPY 20 pack of salad dressing, which tasted like Italian dressing (my favorite!), although it had a drawing of an eggplant on the packaging.

The best thing that happened last night was a one-hour Skype date with Mara.  Love it!  :-)

22 April 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away

After a very nice day, here comes the rain.  And the cold.  No colds though, thank God!

Off to Tokyo again, this time by public transport all the way, to visit JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. More details here: www.jaxa.jp/index_e.html.  As usual I went to Hon-Atsugi, which was also our meeting place.  There was probably 12 of us from the school, both PhD students and senior researchers, and only 2 are Japanese.  We went all the way to the end of the Odakyu-Odawara Line train route, to Shinjuku, probably the busiest train station in Tokyo and all of Japan.  Then from there we took the Chuo line to go to Mitaka, then we took the bus to the Mitaka City Office, then a 10-minute walk to JAXA.  All trains we took were Rapid Express trains which skipped a lot of stations - great!  Then vice versa.

And, that's about it.  Nothing so great about today...  I took photos at JAXA, and hopefully I will be able to upload my photos really, really soon.

Did I say it was very cold today?  Ranges from 8 to 15 degrees.

No wait, there was a "flight simulator" at JAXA and I volunteered to be a pilot.  It wasn't so engaging though.  We almost crashed, but we didn't.  There were two of us pilots actually, so it wouldn't have been all my fault! :-D  If it were real, we would've been saved by the autopilot.  And we were safe, of course, because it was not real.  No twists and turns and all that, no advanced controls and all that.  It was...  not engaging at all.  It is interesting though that they have an agency such as this; they plan to have hypersonic (i.e. very fast) airplanes in the near future, and even space planes!

And that was it.  Rainy.  Cold.  Hungry.  I'm off to my favorite food place: the convenience store at the corner. :-D

21 April 2010

"Good Morning, Japan!"

I started today very early, woke up very early - 6am (thanks Mara!) - but slept a little again and then woke up around 6:50am, one hour before the meet-up time at the school for today's technical tours.  Surprisingly I was able to do all that I need to do - including taking breakfast and taking a shower, among others - and I got to the meet-up place on time.  It helped that I bought ready-to-heat-then-eat breakfast food, a kind of hotdog embedded in some bread.  Nope, it wasn't really like a hotdog sandwich.  Anyways, it was good.  The hotdog here is a little different from the usual ones we in the Philippines or in the US know - you can still see some chunks of pork fat inside.  It's almost more like a sausage, like longganiza, but it looks like a hotdog from the outside.  It appears that it's the usual type of hotdog here, much like the red, Tender Juicy hotdogs we have back at home is the usual there.

Anyways, so off we went to Tokyo on a rented mini-bus that sits probably 15 or more people comfortably, with reclining chairs and all that.  I saw a 3rd McDonald's here in Atsugi, as well as a Denny's.  And then, surprise, surprise.

MT. FUJI, appearing with a white tuque (bonnet/beanie) of snow, suddenly appeared in the background behind the dark/green Mt. Ooyama that stands guard on Atsugi, as if saying "Good Morning, Japan!" and thus, this blog entry's title.  I thought I would've entitled this "First Tokyo Tour, Day 1," but after seeing the glorious heavenly creation that is "Fuji-san" (that's what they call it here; "san" also means mountain), I could've also entitled this blog post as "Surprise, Japan!"  And it was indeed a pleasant surprise.  Of course I took some photos.  :-P

Now, I could've also entitled this blog post as "Where's the rain?"  And that was the other surprise of today.  Two days ago, the forecast for today was rainy and cool, with day-time temperatures below 20 degrees, and night time temperature below 10 degrees.  The forecast yesterday for today, was cloudy, but pretty much the same temperature range as previously forecasted.  Today went and passed and guess what - it was a very fine day, with temperatures reaching 23 degrees in Atsugi and in Tokyo.  And it was clear skies here in Atsugi, thus the surprising view of Mt. Fuji.  This is the first time I saw Mt. Fuji from a distance; I "climbed" Mt. Fuji up to the tourist center, by car, 5 years ago, and it was freezing cold then, at least for me, although it was still springtime, with temperature below 10 degrees and quite breezy weather.

To give you an idea of what I saw, you can check this link out:

Anyways, first stop on the tour was Shimizu Corporation's Open Institute of Technology.  The top 5 Japanese construction companies here are high on R&D, and Shimizu is one of them.  They have plenty of laboraties, including a wind tunnel testing laboratory, a vibration (shaking table) testing laboratory, an acoustics lab, a geotechnical centrifuge lab, and so on, and they have introduced plenty of building services technologies.  They also have built "green" spaces, which attract plenty types of insects and urban birds, and are actually host to some fish, ducks, and one bird that looks like a crane.

Where are the photos?  My camera lost battery (I didn't charge it last night), and I left my spare battery at home.  *sigh*  And then my phone camera - oh what a problem it usually is - it "requests for 5Mb space" - on the main storage system.  I have plenty of space on my mini-SD card inside my phone (like around 8Gb) - but it does not recognize it!  I think it's a Windows Mobile issue.  I don't like, and I don't recommend Windows Mobile.  Mine is Version 6.1, by the way.  I do have some photos, including of Mt Fuji, and I requested some of my fellow students and colleagues to take some photos of me, and share their other photos with me.  Hope I can get those soon.  I still haven't uploaded any of my photos!  Let's see if I can do that later tonight.

Anyways, one of the highlights of today was...  We got to be "tested" in one of Shimizu's wind tunnels.  As in, "We."  Basically, we, 4 at a time, can step on platform, and then we get to feel what it is like in very high winds with speeds up to 30 m/s (108 kph).  WOW.  And that's not a gust speed, it was the mean speed, so it was 30 m/s continuously for a few seconds to a minute.  It was quite uncomfortable, of course, and actually I found it difficult to face the wind itself continuously.  The photos we had were funny.  I hope I can upload them very soon!

Anyways, next stop was... lunch at Shimizu.  We had authentic bento box lunch, I think taken from Shimizu's canteen, but courtesy of TPU.  It had shrimp, duck, chicken, and fish, as well as the usual sides of veggies, mushrooms, some shabu-shabu-type of food, and of course, rice.  Yum.  And we had green tea in a bottle with the meal.

Next stop was the Tokyo Sky Tree construction site.  Actually we're not allowed to go into the construction site, so we just viewed the whole thing from about 100m away.  The Tokyo Sky Tree is a communication/broadcast/antenna lattice tower that is intended to be 634m tall, with a triangular base, but circular top, made almost entirely of steel.  It is currently 349m tall.  You can see how tall it is currently because they have a sign posted just outside of the construction site.  You can read more information at www.tokyo-skytree.jp/english/.

Next stop is Japan's currently tallest completed structure, the Tokyo Tower.  It is also a broadcast tower much like the Sky Tree, and its shape is more traditional, like the Eiffel Tower.  It is 333m high.  It is taller than Japan's tallest building, the Yokohama Landmark Tower, which is just nearly 300m high.  You can read more information at www.tokyotower.co.jp/english/.

It was my first time to go up Tokyo Tower, while previously I just took pictures of it from a distance.  The tickets cost more than 800 yen, I think, and that is probably one reason why I didn't go up the last time.  That ticket is the cost to go up the first observation deck at 150m height, which has two floors.  You need to pay an extra 500 yen, I think, to go up the higher "special observation deck."  Anyways, one of the features at the first observation deck is looking down the tower through "lookdown window" - not really so scary, each was just probably 0.6m x 1.5m in area, so unless maybe more than two people step on the glass, something might happen.  Generally, people were scared to step on the lookdown window.  Even people much lighter than me.  You wouldn't feel height-sickness at all, because the tower itself is enclosed, so you don't feel the lower pressure and stronger winds that you would normally experience at altitude.

When we were up Tokyo Tower, the Tokyo skies were quite cloudy already, and so we didn't get to see Mt Fuji from Tokyo Tower.  Likewise, it wasn't worth it to go up toe the "special" observation deck.

On the bus trip, I saw two Pepper Lunch restaurants - not like the ones in the Philippines in size; they are just small restaurants.  I would think the food tastes are the same here as in the Philippines.  We'll see.  The food at the Yoshinoya chain of restaurants, by the way, doesn't taste the same here and in the Philippines.  I tried Yoshinoya the last time I was here.

And that was it.  Back to Atsugi we went, and surprisingly the trip was just an hour.  Traffic only met us in Atsugi itself as it was already around 5pm then, nearly after office hours already.  So apparently, even here in Japan where the trains are very efficient, it is faster to go by car (or in our case, private bus).  Of course, it is a different scenario in Tokyo itself, where, like New York, parking might be a problem.

Near Atsugi, I think I saw Mt Fuji again but because it was getting dark, it didn't look as white as it was during the day time and you don't really know that it's Mt Fuji except for its shape.

What a day!  Love it. :-)

20 April 2010


Photos are yet to come!  But for advanced info of everyone, here are links to details and a general photo of my apartment building, as well as a map.


No-Day Today (Un)Like Yesterday?

It's a No-Day today, what I would call a day when you don't expect anything to happen, and you don't have anything planned.  I don't have classes yet, no assigned things-to-do yet, no nothing.

Well actually I did have something planned: prepare my presentation for the "semina" (that's Japanese for seminar, just as "bas(u) senta" is for bus center) this Saturday wherein all new PhD students are to make a presentation, as well as this one "short-term researcher" from Italy.  There are four of us new PhD students, 1 is Japanese and is taking the environmental wind engineering track, and the rest of us are taking the structural wind engineering track.  The other 2 are from India.  Most of the Indians here are Tamils, from Southern India.

I thought it might take time to finish my presentation, surprisingly I was able to finish a complete first draft of my presentation for Saturday.  I have Friday to review and revise it.

Me expecting it to be a No-Day, for some reason I woke up so late!  Probably around 7:50am!  So I hurried to make it to the "office" at 9:00am.  I was a little late.  And then...  Surprise!  No one was there yet!  So apparently it was normal that no one came to school that early.

I think I woke up late because of the exhaustion from yesterday.  Hopefully tonight I'll sleep early enough because tomorrow, we'll leave Atsugi early for our technical tours around Tokyo!

Anyways, this day, there were still a few administrative stuff I had to do, like sign some documents, get my picture taken for my student ID card (I got it this afternoon), submit some more stuff, and so on.  Have I said I don't like doing these administrative stuff?  But it's all necessary, of course.

And who said it was a No-Day today.  Out of the blue, the short-term researcher from Italy asked me to join them for lunch at the cafeteria with the other Italian guy, and later a couple of Indian guys, and then we were to meet up with an Australian and a Japanese (not engineering students though).  Cool, international flavor!  We were going to have lunch at the main cafeteria, but it was jampacked; it was 12:30pm already - lunch break for everyone.  The Indian guys say they usually they take their lunch at 12:00pm so that there are not much people yet.

Anyways, we decided to have lunch at the other cafeteria.  During my last stay here, I did not get to eat at this "other" cafeteria.  They had a slightly different style here, like for one line, it was much like a buffet.  Then the food you got was weighed and you pay by the kilo!  The rice was weighed separately because it has a different unit cost.  The soup though - good old miso soup - had a fixed cost.  Hot or cold green tea, your choice, was drink all you can.  Love it!  For Y733, I didn't feel full though.  Awww.

So anyways, it was cool to meet new people, and hopefully I could meet more new people - but I really hope to have constant friends/buddies here.  It's a little more difficult now because, for example, among us 3 new structural students - I'm the odd one out, literally.  I'm the 3rd to arrive, plus of course, there is already a bond between the two Indian guys who arrived on the same date and probably the same flight.  I am being friends with them, and with everyone of course.  There is also young Pillai-san, younger brother of the Pillai-san PhD student (now Dr. Pillai) who was so nice and who I became close friends with (together with a Vietnamese guy and a Japanese guy) the last time around.  But anyway, basically there's also a whole lot of us here now compared to before, so it's difficult to become close with anyone, or at least not yet.  Supposedly I'm assigned a "big brother," but he is too busy nowadays because he's about to finish his PhD this semester, and so he is not really able to attend to me.

Anyways, dinner is ready-to-microwave meals from the school store.  I also bought milk and juice there because it's cheaper (prices are for students) than in the supermarkets or convenience stores.  I hope to sleep early today so that I can wake up early enough tomorrow!

19 April 2010


Today I left home 9:00am to meet with my graduate program's secretariat who will help me with a number of things...  First at the Atsugi City Hall at 9:30am.  I got there a little early (better early than late!) because while I knew the bus ride was just 15 minutes, something could go wrong and I did not want to be late.  First time I saw the City Hall, and the Central Park right in front of City Hall.  Took some pictures.  I think we were done around...  10:30am?  Then off to the bank to open an account.  We were done around...  12:30pm?  Then by myself I was off to Shin-Yurigaoka, 11 stations away on a local train (stops at every station) or 4 stations away on an express train (stops at select stations), to go to the immigration office.  It was around 1:15pm when I arrived at Shin-Yurigaoka so I had lunch first...  At Pap-parap-pap-pa!  Had a quarter pounder with cheese meal.  They have a double quarter pounder here.  Yay!  That'll be for next time...  :-D  And they have discounts if you eat between 11:00am and 2:00pm!  Anyways, I got to the immigration office around 1:40pm.  Took a number - got 192.  The number they were serving was still 96.  Guess what.  Got back to the school around 5:30pm.  Phew!  What a day.  And as a reward...  I'm having konbiini (convenience store) food for dinner!

18 April 2010

Sun Day!

It's Sun Day today, a sunny Sunday indeed.  Temperature was as high as 17 degrees but because of sunshine it feels like 21 degrees, as reported by Accuweather.com.  Itinerary: Downtown Atsugi, lunch at some western fastfood joint, attend Mass, buy stuff for the home at the 100-Yen Store, and buy ready-to-eat freshly cooked dinner at discounted prices just before closing time at the supermarket.  % Completion: 100%.  Yay!

I was supposed to eat at McDonald's but when I got down at Hon-Atsugi (Central/Downtown Atsugi), the first place I saw was KFC.  I wondered where McDonald's was, later I found out I remembered its location wrong.  It was somewhere else, where upon seeing it now I remember!  The KFC here do not serve rice.  Awww.  But the food was good, like how KFC should be.  Their chicken fillet sandwich tastes better and is larger than the Manila counterpart.  Actually I didn't know it was their chicken fillet sandwich when I ordered, until I saw it!  They didn't provide any utensils so I'm not sure if I was supposed to eat the chicken with my hands.  I just used the paper napkins to hold the chicken.  It was a breast part.  I didn't really get to choose, but maybe it was the default with the meal/combo I ordered.

And then...  Mass!  Just last night I found out that there was a Catholic Church in Atsugi.  How very convenient.  As expected, lots of kababayans.  The priest was Caucasian, but apparently not American.  The music min and lector/commentator are Filipino.  We sung "Still" as a communion song and "My Life Is In You" as the last song.  Actually I'm considering joining the music min when I'm settled down.  They have practices Thursdays from 5:30-7:00pm.  Unfortunately I'm packed with lectures on Thursdays, and I think our official time-off is 5:30pm so I can't make it on time.  We'll see.  Hopefully I can join on the Thursday after next.

And then the 100-yen store.  I went to the one on the 3rd floor of Atsugi Trellis, where the supermarket is on the 1st floor.  Walang sinabi ang Daiso sa Philippines or Singapore; these 100-yen stores here in Japan are huge and has a huge collection of stuff.  I could've just bought my "lakwatsa"/travel bag here instead of buying one in the Philippines.  Generally cheaper here also - 105 yen for the basic items (5 yen for the tax), so roughly under 50 pesos only, compared with 88 pesos in the Philippines and around 66 pesos or more in Singapore.  Well this is where it started.

Last year when I first went to this same store, I just knew it was a 100-yen store from the sign, but I didn't understand the prices.  One would say 100 and 105, 200 and 210, and so on.  But I couldn't find the Yen sign that I'm familiar with (Y with double strikeouts).  The Japanese sign for the Yen is actually different from what we are all familiar with.  It's like a...  badminton net with one leg bent.  Get the picture?  Ehehe.  So now you know.  :-D

And I went again to the supermarket at around 7:20pm.  The freshly prepared food were 20% off already, but only a few choices left.  I picked up one sushi roll (actually a maki with cucumber, egg, tofu, mushrooms, and seaweeds in the inside) and one bunch of deep fried shrimps, similar to the ones they once offered at KFC in the Philippines.  It was like worth P16 per shrimp; not bad.  I got a couple of other food items, and when it was around 7:30pm when I heard an announcement.  When I was about to check out, I noticed the freshly-prepared food items are now 30% off!  But the stuff I got were the last ones so, no, it wasn't like I could've saved a few Yen more.  Phew!

Well that's about my day.  Using Skype again to chat with the love of my life.  Ja mata.

P.S. I hope to post photos soon.  By the way, I was able to buy this prepaid card called "PASMO" for use at buses, trains, and some stores, just like the EZ-Link card in Singapore.  And I was able to use it already when riding the bus.  Bus trip here by the way is roughly 80 pesos for a 10-minute trip, 117 pesos for a 15-minute trip.  Yikes!

P.P.S. I learned about the Atsugi Catholic Church by doing a search on Google, and then going to this site: http://catholicinjapan.wordpress.com/2008/01/10/atsugi-chruch/

17 April 2010

1st Day in School

I woke up "early" today - around 8 or 9am local time..?  My Manila body clock is still working, I usually wake up there around this time.  Better than my wake up time the day after the last time I went here - 2pm.  But I also had a reason to.  Or two.  First, I had to tidy up my (42kg of) stuff and my apartment (or apaato, pronounced apah-toh).  Second, there was a "seminar" in school at 2pm.  The Japanese are very punctual people.  Actually, I would call them normal people.  I would call perenially-late people extra-normal.  Anyways...

I finished taking some breakfast, tidying up, taking a bath, and getting ready by around 12:30pm.  I was starving.  For lunch I was able to score some Japanese "lunch box" food, but since I was too late I didn't have a choice - it was an all-fish meal with mushrooms, pickled ginger, and seaweeds on the side.  One of my Japanese seniors said that I might not find that meal to be nice.  I said I don't think so; I love Japanese food in general.  Indeed it wasn't great, but I liked it still, nonetheless.  I really like Japanese food in general, except for that very bitter soy bean dish.  I'd have that dish again!

So the seminar went.  Because of some exhaustion from my 13-hour door-to-door trip yesterday, I felt a little sleepy at one point in the seminar.  But I was able to battle it out.

After that, one of the senior researchers accompanied me to teach me how to use the bus, and around some stores in the Midorigaoka area.  I bought a rice cooker, rice, breakfast food and drinks, and my dinner for the night.  Make that dinners for the night.  I had a 10-piece mixed sushi dish, and some kind of teriyaki chicken, and microwaveable rice.  Sorry, I can't figure out yet how to use the rice cooker!

And I was able to Skype back home.  I'm lovin' it.

Speaking of lovin' it, there is a McDonald's nearby, just a 15 to 20-minute walk away.  And it's open 24-hours.  Pap-parap-pap-pa, love ko 'to!

P.S. I saw some cherry blossom trees around the campus actually.  But their... leaves? petals? are all on the ground na.  Brought down by the rains, perhaps?

16 April 2010

The Trip Back to Atsugi

Here we go again.  Last time I did this, I got lost while dragging my 35 kg luggage around Shinjuku.  From Narita (the airport I'm headed for) there is supposedly a bus that goes straight to Atsugi, but because of the schedule of flights from Manila, I missed it.  So there I was, in Shinjuku, but thanks to helpful people I was able to make it to Atsugi - except that I wasn't able to contact the person I was going to meet.  So it was past 12 midnight, the place was deserted, and I was there by myself, getting lost for a while, but I didn't know if the person I was going to meet was going to find me.  Unfortunately my phone was not useable in Japan (it is a GSM-only phone; Japan's cellphone networks use CDMA), so I cannot make a phone call to my picker upper. I tried using the payphones but they were speaking in Japanese, I didn't understand what the instructions were as to how much coins I should put in.  I think I didn't even have enough coins, or that I lost some of them already trying to make a call.  And then, she showed up.  I left my Manila home at around 10:00am.  I got to my Atsugi apartment at around 1:00am.

Looking at the positive side, it was nice weather in Atsugi then, the perfect spring weather, like nature's own natural air-conditioning system was on.  And my free baggage allowance was just 20kg, but thanks to my connections, I was allowed 35kg without charge!  (This was not Philippine Airlines, by the way.)

So this time around, I'm a been there, done that.  Only problem is, since I was staying longer in Japan this time, my checked and handcarry luggage totaled 54kg!  And on paper, the allowable weight was only 37kg.  Thankfully the guy at the check-in counter said he will let me go with just a 10kg excess baggage.  Goodbye hundred-something dollars.  This is Philippine Airlines, by the way.  That's about all the trouble I had at the Manila airport.  Oh no, wait, I had to pay the Philippine Travel Tax of PhP 1620 - they say it applies to all tickets purchased online.  The inconvenience of going online!  What an irony.  And you wonder how come the Philippines is... nevermind.  I flew business class by the way, to get the heavier check-in baggage allowance.

And PAL's business class was spankin' hot!  Fully reclining seats, and 19-inch touch-screen LCD panels?  Wow.  I had a choice between a Japanese meal and a Western meal.  I chose the Japanese meal of course.  Yum.  Well, that's what you get for paying an extra...  $3.  Yup, I bought my ticket online, and it is just a one-way ticket because I don't intend on flying business class again soon, and the difference is just $3 (~PhP 150).  If I bought roundtrip tickets, the difference would have been around $200~$400, I think.

The plane take-off queue was so long at Manila, it took us probably more than 30 minutes from departure time before our plane actually departed, but like airlines do, we landed in Narita around 20 minutes ahead of schedule.  That would be around 7:35pm local time.  The straight bus to Hon-Atsugi (the main train station in Atsugi) leaves at 8:20pm.  I could make it in time!

Alas, when I got to the immigration counter, there was a problem with my visa.  It says "precollege (undergraduate) student" when in fact it should say "college (graduate) student"!  So they had to change it, blah blah blah.  Point is, I could've made it in time for the straight bus to Hon-Atsugi, but I didn't.  This time around, I was able to get on a bus to Sagami-Ono, which is just 5 stations away from Hon-Atsugi - no more Shinjuku!  That was so much pleasant a journey.  I got to Hon-Atsugi around 11:30pm, I think.

Actually, it wasn't so pleasant when I got to Sagami-Ono.  The bus stop was on the ground floor and the train station was on the second floor, so I had to go up one level.  Where we passengers got down from the bus, there seemed no option for elevators - just a long, 5- or 6-meter high staircase.  And then it was raining.  And very cold.  As in, around 5 degrees (celsius) cold.  Add some wind chill.  It felt practically freezing.  Quite literally.  No way I was going to take those stairs!

I actually noticed the elevator on the other side of the road, but there was a 2-foot high fence obstacle.  I chose to just carry my 42kg luggage over this 2-foot high fence and then take the elevator (and this is all protected from rain), than carry it under the rain 0.2m (stair thread height) at a time 30 times (number of steps)!

But when I got out of the elevator,  the problem was still there.  The rain and the wind chill factor.  My umbrella was deep inside my 42kg checked baggage.  And even if I was able to get it I would only be able to shield myself from the rain, not any of my bags.  Oh no, my electronics.  And if I still had to look for my umbrella, how long would that push me back?  Under that weather, all I wanted to do was get home.

Anyway, I just hurried to get to the station and nevermind the rain.  When I got to Hon-Atsugi, I needed to take a taxi to the school.  The last time, that someone who picked me up had a car to take me to my then apartment, and there was no rain!  And the rain and the wind chill I think rode with me on the train from Sagami-Ono to Hon-Atsugi.  Big problem.  Nothing else could go wrong?  Try this, there was a 20-party queue for the taxi.  Guess what.  In the rain.  I had no choice.

So finally I got to TPU at just a little past 12 midnight, the person who was to meet me, met up with me.  He introduced me to some of the researchers at the school, and then off to the apartment we go.  On foot.  Thankfully they lent me an umbrella.  When we got to the apartment, I forgot that my apartment was on the 2nd floor.  Have I told you I have a 42kg bag?  Well at least there were 2 of us this time to carry the bag one level up.  Obviously there aren't any elevators or escalators.

Anyway, finally I was in my apartment already.  maybe around 12:15am.  Everything is fine now; time to sleep.


I forgot to ask my new friends how to operate the heater.  The controls were in Japanese!  I tried to figure it out but to no avail.  So I slept in 5-degree weather.  I wore a thermal underwear, two layers of sweater, I had a towel-like blanket (that's what they gave me), and a comforter/quilt.  I had difficulty sleeping at first.  I haven't eaten anything yet since that in-flight meal!  And it was soooooo very cold.  Last time I slept at around 2:30am.  This time though, I was too tired, and clocked out at around 1:30am.

Overall, except for the excess baggage (a.k.a. unplanned expense), visa issue, the rain, the rain, and the rain, and the really cold weather, everything was better this time around.  I was able to exchange text messages with my fiancée.  Yup, my phone is CDMA-capable!

One night only so far, this looks like an interesting 3 years.  Not to mention, my wife-to-be will be with me here witnessing one of my dreams coming true.  Of course, her becoming my wife this December is another dream I do not want to wake up from for eternity.  Ah, I am very sleepy now.  Good night to you all.

15 April 2010

Japan... Version 2!

Back in 2005, I visited Japan... no, actually I lived in Japan.  It became the most memorable time of my life then.  I had a lot of fun, learned a lot about Japan, about technical stuff (wind engineering), and well, I also had my share of misadventures and all that, as a foreigner in a foreign land.  While I tell friends of my stories, some of them say it must have been a nightmare.  Not at all.  I loved it.  Anyway if you haven't yet, read my Japan 1.0 blog.

Now, almost exactly 5 years later, once again I am visiting - and actually living - in Japan, starting tomorrow.  But this time instead of 2 months, it's 3 years.  I am taking up my PhD studies at Tokyo Polytechnic University (or in Japanese, "Tokyo Kougei Daigaku"), and specifically under their Global Center of Excellence (GCOE) Program on "New Frontier of Education and Research in Wind Engineering.

Here's to less "misadventures" and yet more fun and even more learnings and experience in the Land of the Rising Sun!