Showing posts with label YNU. Show all posts
Showing posts with label YNU. Show all posts

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Anniversary of first overseas trip

Yesterday was 20 years to the day of the first overseas trip I had. That was back in 1996 when I was given an opportunity to travel to Japan under what was called a Core University Program funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). I was actually some sort of a last minute fill-in as there was budget remaining and available for a short term Visiting Scientist. Fortunately for me, a former mentor, Prof. Shigeru Morichi, who was himself a Visiting Professor at UP Diliman from 1992-1993 agreed to host me at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Kogyo Daigaku, which at the time was also called Tokodai - now it is preferred to be called Tokyo Tech) despite his impending transfer to the University of Tokyo. 

It was a very eventful 35 days from February 26 to March 31 and a stay where I was able to familiarize and acclimatize myself to a new environment. That included going to Yokohama National University to personally submit the final document for my autumn (October 1996) admission to the university to Prof. Tomoya Shibayama, who was the Foreign Student Officer at the time. I was also able to meet with my baptismal godmother (Ninang Mila Takashima who later was also my godmother on my weding) who was residing in Yokosuka-shi in the same Kanagawa Prefecture where Yokohama was located.

Every single day was an exciting one and it seemed to be a different adventure everyday. This was capped by my first sakura or cherry blossoms in late March. Of course, it helped that I already had many close friends in Tokyo at the time, of whom I remain close to this day. I have lost most if not all the photos in my possession from that 35 day trip. Fortunately, there are many photos with my friends and sometime in the future, I hope to get a few copies to scan and preserve electronically. 

More on events in 1996 in succeeding posts...


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Old boys get-together

An old friend was in Manila the day before I traveled to Tokyo last February. He was in the Philippines to meet with co-researchers for a study on disaster mitigation and planning that's being led by his university in Japan. Ryo Matsumaru had been doing consulting work for most of his professional life so   his being with the academe now was still quite new to me. I mentioned to him that it was good that he was available to meet that day as I was flying to Tokyo the following day. Before parting, he asked me about my schedule in Japan and if it was okay to contact our other former laboratory-mates so we could have a get-together there. I thought it was a great idea considering I had minimal contact with our friends in the last decade. 

And so, on short notice, two of my former lab-mates at Yokohama National University met me at the hotel where I was staying We had a great time exchanging stories about life and perhaps the highlight was the recent experiences of Daisuke Sagawa in leading the clearing operations along a weather sensitive section of a major expressway in Japan. His dedication and hard work made it possible for the expressway to remain operational during the heavy snows in Japan last February. In fact, his attendance in our get-together meant he had to pay for the leave by working the following Sunday! This is a guy who works his ass off everyday but probably gets little credit for it and yet he remains dedicated, which is a most honorable thing anywhere and any way you see it.

Just like old times at the Transportation Engineering Laboratory of YNU
Sashimi just the way we liked it and with draft beer to wash it down

I thought that it was quite fitting for us to meet in Tokyo after so many years and that it was not by chance that I was staying at the Hotel Okura. I have not stayed there before but the Okura (including the kanji) happens to be the name of our sensei. Okura-sensei passed away about a decade ago but we all have fond memories of him who guided us when we were curious students in his laboratory. I think our toast that night wasn't only for among ourselves but also, and especially, to Prof. Izumi Okura.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


In 2008, the Clairvoyant and I enjoyed going around the old city of Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan. It was late winter and spring was fast approaching when we went around the temples. Walking from Hachimangu Shrine towards Kamakura Station we took the walkway along the median of the main street to appreciate the cherry trees that would be in full bloom about a month from then. We could only imagine together how it would be like walking or picnicking under the cherry blossoms and spending hanami in Japan. 

Crossing over to the nearby shops along the same street, we checked out the same shops I had explored while still a student in Japan 10 years earlier. I had bought a few items in some of the shops to bring home to my parents' home and our ancestral home in Iloilo. This time we looked for items we could bring to our home and perhaps put on display. It was the Clairvoyant who spotted and asked me about some handpainted cloths in one of the specialty shops. I explained these were used to wrap lunch boxes or just about anything that can be carried. Wrapping items in cloth is an art and a functional one in Japan that I can only compare to origami (paper folding) and ikebana (flower arrangement). We picked two and the shopkeeper was all smiles and commended our appreciation of sakura in her halting English. We casually mentioned that we won't be able to catch the blossoms as we would be heading back to our country before the sakura comes out.

The two hand painted items were eventually framed and now grace our living room. They depict sakura in full bloom with one featuring several trees and the other a more detailed painting of the flowers.

Framed hand painted lunch wraps from Kamakura

Looking at the frames remind me of good times in Japan and the cool, comfy weather during springtime. It feels good for me to see the cherry blossoms even on paintings or photos and perhaps this is why we like having depictions of spring around our home. Spring symbolizes renewal, hope and life - things that are sadly, slowly being lost to many today. The sakura reminds us of nature's beauty and the promise of life that is to be lived instead of being suffered.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Renewing friendships over sushi in Bangkok

I take advantage of my trips to Bangkok to get reacquainted with an old friend from my stint in Japan. Terdsak was my junior (kohai) at our laboratory at the university and we were at the time the only foreign students at our laboratory. Of course, there were many others at the other labs but you don't get to see the other regularly except perhaps during lunch time when most of us would congregate at the shokudo (canteen) to exchange stories including life in Japan. 

It is no surprise that we ended up having dinner at a Japanese restaurant considering I already had my fill of Thai food over the past days of my stay and there are many good, authentic Japanese restaurants in Bangkok. We decided to go to a sushi bar, which had sushi plates going around for the selection of diners.

Sushi bar
Sushi just the way we like it
Heiroku Sushi may be found at the top level of the Central Plaza Rama 9 mall
My good friend and I had a good chat over dinner where I learned he is now married to a dentist who works at one of the top hospitals in Bangkok. It's been quite a while since we last talked, only learning about what's going on through Facebook. We eventually parted as he was to fetch his wife from work and I had to take advantage of the break in the rains to get back to my hotel.

I will relate more about our adventures in Yokohama and at YNU later. Of course, such stories won't be complete without reference to our other friends especially Mohsen, Ioan and Some.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Reminiscing Japan 1

It's almost 12 years now since I left the Pearl of the Orient Seas to study in the Land of the Rising Sun. I can still remember the warm welcome I got from the laboratory, my laboratory. There was always a sense of belonging to the lab. It's probably due to the system they have over there as well as the culture.

Below is one the first photos I had with the laboratory. I remember this to be taken during one of the parties, "meetings" or kais, as we called it. This was a graduation party we had for the laboratory and toasting our grads taken in March 26, 1997 infront of the Hokkaido Restaurant in the Kannai district of Yokohama. The photo was taken before we broke up to return to our respective homes. I always thought this was the core of the lab at the time since most students were loyal to the Professor. Our Professor, our sensei was Izumi Okura. I'll write about him in another post. He deserves a separate post. He was a kind man and he will be missed.

Seated (L-R): Sagawa (M1), Tozawa (M2), Okura-sensei
Second Row: Kato (B4), Suzuki (B4), Yokoyama (B4)
Standing (L-R): Hijikata (M2), Uchida (B4), Matsumaru (M1), Kawano (M1), Iwakami (B4), Hibino (B4), Me (D1), Oshiro (M1), Horie (M2)