Well today was the last formal day of research activities so things will be less serious and more fun from tomorrow….;-)
So an early morning from me, left the hotel before 7 to avoid any crowds on the train and made my own way to the Shinkansen line at shin-yokohama…I was a bit anxious because I thought I was the only one travelling from Yokohama and thought everyone else would be coming from the other direction and might end up at opposite ends of the station…
had a very nice long breakfast at a french pattiserie while I waited
About 8:30 ran into some other conference attendees and discovered that all the Japanese delegates, the germans and their wives were all meeting where I was waiting…and they were all ready on time…actually I’m very impressed by the wives of german researchers they are very practical and organised…I might look into getting one for myself one day…..!!!
…unfortunately the guy with the tickets was escorting the spaniards and italians from the university so we had to wait outside the barriers and could not wait on the platform….well, as I said the Japanese do not really understand foreigners and assumed they could move a group of south europeans (and their luggage) up and down escalators, lifts and make connections at crowded commuter stations in the required amount of time…….hmmmm,
The shinkansen is due to arrive at 9:06 and it is 8:59 and they still have not arrived, and we cant go to the platform without a ticket…at 9:00 we spot them across the hall…and they are WALKING!!!
Anyway, we make it on to the platform at 9:04 and the spaniards ask what the rush is for as the train has not even arrived….anyway miracles happen and we get all 50 participants onboard and the shinkansen leaves on time at 9:07 with all aboard
About two hours later, when we are within 5 mins of Kyoto a young italian girl suggests we get the troops moving now, but the Japanese guide says that there is still 5 mins before our destination…hmmmm, not fast on the uptake …anyway we manage to get everyone off the train and their luggage too!
Though we are eager to get to our accommodation and thus get rid of our luggage, it seems that’s not the plan…we are having lunch at a fancy restaurant in the train station….so its up and down various escalators, and round corners…50 delegates with luggage etc.
It’s the most exquisite and refined formal Japanese restaurant and we have to take off our shoes…they even manage to find space for ALL the luggage….It’s kaiseki food…absolutely beautifully presented…and another treat is that outside the restaurant there are three life size statues of Astroboy, Kimba the white-lion and Black-Jack, since the restaurant is next door to the Osama Tezuka shop.
So we get on a shuttle bus for Sekisui Chemicals, we get given colour coded name tags and an information wallet…lots of rules….
We arrive….can we go to our rooms??? they are upstairs above the seminar room. NO, we must wait until after the seminars are given.
So we get four seminars (each 30 mins long) … during the 3rd seminar about 80% of the audience is asleep and the spaniard next to me is snoring…Joseba is on his other side, we look at each other as if to say…no you poke him first…luckily the applause wakes him up before either of us has to poke anyone….Oh and the annual Jidai festival and the Kurama Fire Festival are taking place in the streets of Kyoto…but without us….sigh!!!
we get a coffee break…can we go to our rooms? NO, we must wait until after the second set of seminars
Oh, did I mention we all have seats with our names on them, and we must sit in our assigned seats, and if you are late it is REALLY , REALLY obvious which person is not in the room…. I think they are treating us the same way they treat their employees….
Our curfew is midnight!
“What is this word curfew?” the italians and spaniards ask me….I explain using Cinderella and teenage children to help…
…they didn’t believe me…they ask someone else…they look back at me with shock…..yes we have a curfew!!!
There are only two seminars in the second session, about the Sekisui business plan….(in japanese it sounds like sexy business plan)…and apparently
“The key to good penetration, is the timing”
So next we have the guided tour of the facilities, we are divided into groups according to our colour coded name tags and are given headphone sets so we can listen to the english translator…
One by one we visit various labs and each researcher nervously explains what they do in broken English…so don’t really know why we have the headsets….????
I did enjoy seeing the 3D rapid prototyping tool…no rabbits unfortunately…. there is one in Engineering at sydney…but I think this one is larger
So after the lab tours we reassemble in the seminar room…. there is a grand piano on the stage, and our chairman entertains us with a special composition of his own …
We have a 30 min break before the evening reception…can we go to our rooms? NO, you must wait until after the party…?
Hmmm, actually they must have got the message because a young man announces that you may come and get the key to your room now….STAMPEDE!!!!!!!!
The room is very nice, its western style in SIZE and there is room to hang things in a closet…BUT…any anouncements made in the building are piped into every room…yes, unbeknownst to us, we are all sexy employees for the day
there is even a tea ceremiony….some japanese dancing….some traditional drumming…all with audience participation…and this thing were you use a large mallet to pound rice into mochi!!!
I ask, yes many of the performers are engineers at Sekisui……
the young italian girl remarks (quietly)
“I’m so glad I work in my country…I would not want to have to dress up as a geisha just to entertain some visiting delegates”
I guess Sekisui is so large that it must have engineers who are also trained in traditional japanese arts and crafts….
Tomorrow, half of us are going on a guided tour….now for a good nights sleep.
おやすみなさい O yasumi nasai….