Much less of a delay – I should get this done before I leave for Canada for vacation J
On the way back the guys might have mentioned that they wanted “normal” food – and so the amazing guide and host from the embassy, Ms. Sumiyo Shinagawa – called the only Iranian restaurant in Tokyo and asked them to stay open for a late lunch for us – and they did J Now don’t get all “they should have tried Japanese food” – they did – and some came to like it, but some didn’t. And that is OK – these trips aren’t about immersion, they are about learning and sharing and seeing things done in different ways – but we can still like our way best!
Tuesday was kind of a super cool day – we started the day at Toyota Mega Web – a concept showroom in Tokyo for Toyota. I am not super into cars – I drive a rented Yaris because it is easy to park and I used to live downtown, and even now with a parking space I drive it – but it was interesting. We had arrived early and stopped at the Starbucks for breakfast (most of us seemed to always miss the hotel breakfast – except 2 early risers!) – I got cherry blossom espresso cups and a travel mug J Oh, a pack of cherry blossom macaroons… (OK, I might have developed a slight obsession with all things cherry blossom while I was there – what can I say, I am a sponge for local culture – and all things pink!).
Oh, the car place… http://www.megaweb.gr.jp/About/en.html so we toured around and then we went to see the “Personal mobility” section and got to take a spin in this! Oh my goodness we laughed so hard and it was so much fun – they are battery operated, so zero emission, and go pretty fast and are super easy to maneuver. Unfortunately they are not for sale L
|From the megaweb website|
|I'm the one wearing red!|
We then went to the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation – we need one of these in the UAE! It was amazing and made us think, laugh, ponder the world and learn. http://www.miraikan.jst.go.jp/en/
The most amazing thing for me was this floating globe that revolved on the ceiling – and people were on couches looking up at it – I got excited every time the UAE or Vancouver Island or Quebec would come to the front J
What everyone really enjoyed was this huge room – where we followed a maze of wonderful facts and figures and questions that we would need to answer by moving magnets, or writing on post it notes – some of the questions were hard to answer, or didn’t really have an answer – but it made us all think of the world in a little different way.
There was also this weird space with shapes and another with a computer screen floor – anyways – I was kind of mentally exhausted after this. It felt like 2 full days and we hadn’t even eaten lunch yet!
This was our off day and Dr. Connie took it off too (thank you David). I went to the hot springs (Oedo-Onsen Monogatari http://whereintokyo.com/venues/25106.html) for 10 hours and got 1 of every treatment on the menu – and there was an outside part and it was lightly raining and it was amazing –
The guys went to Mount Fuji – by bus, by bullet train, by metro and they loved it – it even snowed at the top! They saw cherry blossoms and had a snow ball fight and I think enjoyed it for so many reasons.
|Emiratis on Mount Fuji!|
A visit to the Tokai Universityhttp://www.u-tokai.ac.jp/international/index.html and a campus tour was our main activity on Day 8 – it was a bit of a drive, but it was beautiful and as we drove south the cherry blossoms were more and more evident –
The University is very interesting and focused on research – the highlight was visiting the workshop/lab of the solar powered car that had just won a race and were crowned the fastest solar-powered car in the world! http://www.u-tokai.ac.jp/international/news/2011/1111_01.html
Of course I asked lots of questions – and the shy guy that was hanging back mentioned he had worked on the battery – I asked him if he was a Master’s student or a PhD student – uhm, no – a Bachelor’s student – Wow! But there is a professor who runs the workshop who is dedicated and passionate and has a lot of corporate sponsors! The place was full of students working and interacting.
|Photo of team from Tokai website|
We all had felt like we had been in Tokyo for a month – and many of us wanted to stay longer J There was so much more to see and do and buy – We knew how to get from point A to point B using the maps – quite a few of them had picked up expressions (and one of the group modified their first memorised greeting – which turned out the mean “Hello, how are you – shut up!”), and we knew how to navigate and how things worked.
On this last day we went to the Panasonic Innovation Centre – which has a “house” with all the sustainable products that Panasonic sells – as an innovation freak I loved it – and the guys loved it too – and I loved their questions, which were smart, intuitive and just plain “have you thought of this” – especially when it came to solar panel testing in a sandy, dusty, HOT environment like the UAE.
That evening Mr. Hasan and his lovely wife took us to dinner with our GCC-Japan volunteers turned friends and they presented us with keepsakes of Japan. I know that Emiratis have a reputation (well deserved) for hospitality and generosity – but the Japanese we met were as generous and as hospitable as the people here. Maybe that is one of the reasons there seems to be an affinity for so many things Japanese on the part of many Emiratis – especially with Manga.
Departure – what can I say. While we missed home, I think we were all a little sad to leave. I think we really learned things as individuals and as a group – they had worked soooooo hard in the organising to get there and then the organising each day and the minor conflicts and the hiccups and all that – but they handled it all.
|In the rain!|
There are so many people to thank – and I think I have thanked them all in the three parts – but of course this would not have been possible without our sponsor. ADNOC Distribution contributed to the development of each of these students, as leaders, as thinkers and as (en’shallah) future entrepreneurs, who will see Japan as a market for high quality, unique goods – things I know my students will develop through their future endeavors!
Now, where to go next??????????