Friday, January 29, 2010

Its a small Japan after all...

Ohaiyou, kats and kittens.

I'm tending to my readership with my salutations, as its actually nighttime here, but morning in the civilized (western) world.

If you want to hear about the awesome part of my business trip, and not the lame coincidences that are pretty much only significant to me, please skip to the "OMG JAPAN YOU SO CRAZY".

I got back from my business trip yesterday, and I have to say, it was a great time. We flew out (my first time in first class. not too special in Japan apparently, at least not on commuter flights like this one) Wednesday morning, bound for Kanazawa City on the north west coast of Honshu island (The main island in Japan, where Osaka and Tokyo are). I got a sweet view of Mount Fuji on the way, and before I knew it we were landing... 40 minute flight. It took significantly longer to get to the airport.

So boring shit happened, had lunch, checked out JAIST University, met up with a couple profs, wowed them with my nearly uncanny understanding of everything (except for Japanese), the usual. This JAIST place is crazy, less than 1000 students (all masters or phd, best of the best of the best, sir), but no less than 5 HRTEMs (and they're getting a brand new 6th one soon), 5 SQUIDs (superconducting quantum interference device), 4 NMRs, a fleet of femtosecond lasers and a fucking MBE. This place is the best of the best for material science graduate research apparently, outside of University of Tokyo.

So anyway, I went with my boss to meet this guy named Maenosono-sensei (the quantum heterostructure sensei, not the karate kind), who I'm to be collaborating with. Hes all kinda into quantum dot, metal nanoparticle, magnetic shit for medical diagnostics and such. So I picked his brain for a while for FYDP related reasons. By this point he knew I'd worked at Notre Dame for a while, and asked whether I knew this guy Taku Hasobe. I said yah, I did, because he left ND right before I got there, and I spent a good chunk of my term hearing about how awesome he was, while I attempted to reproduce his work. Maenosono called up Taku and brought him over and we had a good chat about living and working in South Bend Indiana. The strangeness in all this is that my boss at ND told me that I had to try to find Taku while I was in Japan, I said that was highly unlikely, being that there are 160-some million people there. Well I ran into him in less than a month. Life is very strange sometimes.

OMG JAPAN YOU'RE SO CRAZY. MCRC put me up at this fancy traditional Japanese hotel while I was there. The hotel room was massive, with a bunch of rooms, all with the nice Japanese bamboo tatami mats, slidable paper walls, the whole shebang.

Looks pretty great right? Notice anything missing?

Theres no bed. I was somewhat miffed at this, and my boss said to sleep on the tatami (bamboo) mats. When we went out for dinner, I wasn't a very happy camper. I became much happier when I realized that the restaurant we went to wasn't a restaurant at all, but a Japanese hunting lodge up on a mountain. There was only a single room, with cushions around a firepit with a grill on it. They handed the 5 of us a big plate covered with meat. Some japanese is said, and Saita-dawg translated:

"She says that this is bear, this is deer, and this is... I don't know the word: big hairy pig... wild pig". We barbecued an unholy amount of bear meat, venison and wild boar over an open flame. And then a big pot of bear soup came out that we cooked over the same fire. It was legendary.

I got home and they had moved a bed into my room. Then I went and chilled in the volcanic mineral hotspring baths at the hotel's onsen.

And all was well.


  1. Keep it up with the pictures! Show me some of urban and Japan and whatnot!

  2. I'm super jealous. But at least I have a bed, all the time.

  3. "volcanic mineral hotspring baths at the hotel's onsen" BLAKE! you so lucky!