Saturday, October 8, 2016

Weekly Japan Trip Report #1

The first week here flew by.  It has been pretty productive with excellent conversations with my research partner, Takako Hikotani, some very useful interviews, great food, and some fun tourism.

What have I learned thus far?
  • Just like Captain Kirk and Spock discussed in ST II: Wrath of Khan, one needs to think three dimensionally (no time travel, so no fourth dimensional thinking required, Doc).  How so?  In most cities I have visited, stories and restaurants are mainly on street level.  Here and perhaps in the rest of east Asia, things are organized vertically with many businesses arrayed upwards.  So, one needs to look not just at the street level but the stuff above.  
  • Speaking of directions, it is pretty hard to navigate in a land without street names.  Making it harder still, the maps that they have in the neighborhoods are not always oriented with north on top and south at the bottom.  So, one has to double check where the N is pointing.
  • Subway stations, however, are super easy to navigate--lots of signs and many in English.  The exits are numbered and have tables indicating what each exit leads to.  Alas, train stations are super-complex. 
  • The town seems inundated with small sailors, but that is because the uniforms kids have for school seem mostly based on navy uniforms.
  • Halloween is definitely a thing here--at least for selling stuff.
  • I got to hang with the Air Staff College folks who are hosting me as they hosted a bunch of like minded Air Force folks from the US, Australia, France, and UK.  I now know what my name looks like in Japanese:

Some pictures to illustrate what I have seen and done:
National Defence Academy

Notorious Yasukuni Shrine

Meiji Shrine

Love a good funky name/sign

Ran into wedding at Togo Shrine

Shibuya, one of the classic mass
pedestrian crosswalks

Some interesting cafes

A Godzilla sighting!

From Skytree, Tokyo is dense
and massive

Thanks to the SSRC-Abe folks,
I have bilingual cards!

I went to the Nature and Science Museum and found
interesting stuff on earthquakes.
This displays intensity, location and depth

Beautiful shrine, photographer getting drenched.

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