Wednesday, October 15, 2014

September in Japan

It finally happened - a dream came true - I got to travel to Japan. As one may expect, I was overly excited by this occurrence. I have my sustainability work to thank for the opportunity, as I went to take part in a week long summer school in Tohoku University, part of the RENKEI programme which is a UK-Japan effort. This summer's theme was on Energy Supply within Traditional and Environmentally Conscious Growth Models. I am forever indebted to the University of Bristol for helping make it happen (PVC Nick Lieven for funding provided and Chris Willmore for accepting my application).
Prof. Nakata of Tohoku University presented on Energy and Communities, and acted as our lead academic for the week
While in the city of Sendai during my academic week, I travelled to the local incinerator plant (my first, and super clean), toured the local Toyota factory (very interesting), partook in lots of group work, attended a vast assortment of excellent lectures, and, on the last day, toured tsunami devastated regions to the north.
The best way to explain how incinerators work is, apparently, to use moving light up dinosaurs
We got behind the scenes at the Toyota factory and had talks by leading engineers and directors within the company
The tsunami devastation was contrasted with the scenic beauty that survived
After the week of serious learning, I took off on a roaring tour across Tokyo, Kyoto and Hakone with the fella. Madness ensued. Friends were made. We even invented a new game "Yoshi Soccer"* in a tiny tavern. Used tree-top-skimming glass boxes as transport. Ridiculous boats across volcanic lakes.Endured the Robot Restaurant (so shiny). Geeked out. Cuddle the cat café cats. Were *maid* to feel weird in the Maid Café. Climbed sky trees. Walk under bamboo groves. Witnessed the bling of the Golden Pavillion. Sank into steaming mountain water pools. Dressed in the finest kosode. Drank purple sweet potato milkshakes. Ate lots of things that we didn't understand. Galavanted around castles. Toured Buddhist shrines. Saw open air sculptures. Laughed at swan boats. Museumed. And other things.
Blingtastic. The Golden Pavillion, Kyoto

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