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Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

Of course we’ve been numerous times to Akihabara back when we lived in Tokyo, but we’ve never used it as a starting point for a walk through town. Today’s walk was a walk of contrasts, showcasing the many faces of Tokyo. Akihabara is so colorful with anime illustrations on many buildings and full of young people. From there, we walked to the Kanda-myōjin (神田明神), a historically important shrine. Today, it was still crowded and busy due to ongoing New Year’s celebrations.

Gate of the Kanda Myojin

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Even though Kyoto is reputed to be the most beautiful city in the world, we decided for once to spend our Sunday not in the old town, but to go see something new instead. Kobe, at only 28 minutes ride by Shinkansen, presented a nearby option. We arrived at Shin-Kobe Station which is located on the slopes of the surrounding hills, and went right on to the Shin-Kobe ropeway, which whisked us up over wooded hills to the Nunobiki Herb Gardens, which present a view of Kobe lying below and its port and bay. The garden itself is in this season not much of an attraction, but one can imagine that it must be nice when it’s all in bloom. The view is of course also good in winter, even though we did not chance upon a clear day.

Kobe Meriken Park and surrounding hills seen from a cruise ship on the bay.

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Unicorn Gundam

Since September of last year, a new giant Gundam statue is standing near the Diver City mall on Odaiba: a 19.7m tall RX-0 Unicorn Gundam. After having paid a visit to the original Gundam one year ago, we obviously had to see the new one, too! It is quite impressive due to its sheer size. Every two hours, its head changes (along with dramatic music and pulsating lights) from Unicorn Mode to Destroy Mode (two horns). (more…)

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Japan is known for things going smoothly and people behaving themselves at all times. But apparently this is not automatic. Train companies for example feel compelled to constantly educate their patrons on how to behave themselves, respectively how not to behave on the train. On a single trip into Tokyo, I noticed three different companies’ posters on how to behave, showing somewhat different takes on the matter.

Totally unacceptable!

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My last trip to Japan was quite a whirlwind trip lasting only a few days, so I couldn’t really do much or go places. But I did manage to eat some of my favorite foods, some quite fancy, some not so much (but still good).

Tendon from Daikokuya in Asakusa

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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!

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