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Happy Birthday IPMU!

Attendees of the 10th anniversary Ceremonial Session (Image source IPMU)

The reason for my latest trip to Japan was a happy one: IPMU, the research institute at which my husband and I worked for 3 years (and the reason why we came to Japan in the first place) is turning 10. And it was celebrating its 10th anniversary with a 3-day symposium with an amazing array of speakers including Nobel laureates and Fields Medal winners. I had the honor of being included in the ranks of the speakers, representing their very first generation of postdocs.
It was great being back and seeing many of our old friends again (even though we have been back on a quite regular basis since leaving IPMU six years ago).

Being part of IPMU just when it was starting out has been a great experience, we had a very exciting time! Joining a new institute that is only starting out and does not have any track record is a bit of a risky endeavor. But it has worked out beautifully for everyone involved. IPMU has built a great international reputation and keeps attracting new talent, and many of its former members have gone on to faculty positions.

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY IPMU, and we wish you many happy returns!

Happy Birthday – say it with food!

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The small joys of finally finding some of the foods again I’ve been missing!

Nashi and mikan and Fuji apples –
Fruit juice and pudding and matcha ice cream –
Strawberry chocolates, bean snacks and puddings –
these are a few of my favorite things!

Matcha Latte and Matcha Cake at Starbucks

But it looks like I’m back!

Seats in the Keisei Sky Access Line

So little time and so much to do!

Cute sponges from DAISO (yes, I’m very cleanly)

More to follow…

paper_craft_shinkansen-reffert There are lots of paper craft kits available in Japan, both for sale and to download for free. Some are extremely intricate and the final result looks stunning, but at the same time they look like a lot of time and very steady hands are needed to complete them. Intrigued, I picked up a model that looked easy to do in a toy store – a paper craft Shinkansen. In fact, it is made of light carton, not paper and is fairly large, making the work less finicky.

Kit and instructions

Kit and instructions

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View across the pond at Eikando

View across the pond at Eikando

Winter is maybe not the most popular season to visit Kyoto. It being Kyoto, it is however not hard to find beauty. Of course it’s hard to measure up to the Sakura in bloom at Nanzen-ji’s Sanmon or the blazing maple leaves at Eikando in autumn. In winter, the views are more stark and austere which has its own charm. One definite advantage is that there is no sign of the crowds that ply the sights in spring and autumn.
Sanmon at Nanzen-ji

Sanmon at Nanzen-ji

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Cafe de Miki - Kitty pancake After having gone to one of Japan’s iconic character cafes in Kyoto (the Hello Kitty tea house), we once more paid our respects to Hello Kitty. In the Diver City mall on Odaiba, there is the Cafe de Miki, a British style Hello Kitty Cafe. The British theme is reflected in the decor and also the menu items (a high tea set is on offer). A huge and very sparkling Hello Kitty receives the guests at the entrance and large Kitty plushies are ready to keep them company at the table. Cafe de Miki Continue Reading »

Gundam Revisited

gundam-odaiba3-reffert We’ve gone to see the 18m tall Gundam back in 2009 when it was first put up in Odaiba. But after reading that it will be taken away in March, we felt compelled to visit it another time. While it can only light up and turn its head, it is nonetheless an impressive sight. So if you’re heading to Odaiba in the next two months, take the chance to pay your respects! Continue Reading »