Merry Christmas! It’s finally time for another update here, and lots of pictures!
On the 3rd of November, being the birthday of former Emperor Meiji, we went to Meiji Shrine to see displays of ancient fighting techniques and weapons, such as aikido, throwing knives, swords and archery (also from horseback).
The trip to Kamakura was also nice, visiting a big temple complex before taking the hiking trail over hills and through the forest, to finally arrive at the Big Buddha. Afterwards, we took a small train towards Enoshima, where a bridge leads to a small island with lots of small (but nice) tourist shops and a shrine on top.
Another day, me and James headed for Odaiba to see the International Robot Exhibition, with lots of Japanese and foreign companies showcasing the latest in robot development, be it manufacturing, entertainment, human assistance, … I also met a guy from the German company Kuka, who is only starting to step foot in Japan and starting to compete against the local corporations. By far my favorites were a HUGE material handling robot which could carry up to 1.2 tons like it was nothing.
December started with the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test), which was a nice way to check the skills I had learned during the language course, as well as a cool thing to put on your CV. The listening part was relatively easy due to the fact that, living in Japan, you have no other option than to get used to the regular talking speed of people. The hardest thing was the reading, time was barely enough to go through all the texts (news articles, letters, advertisements, …) to be able to know what they were about. All in all, I have a good feeling that the results (due in February) will be quite OK.
The time Bego came to visit was great, and probably the two weeks that passed fastest of my time in Japan. While we didn’t really leave Tokyo, there was enough to see, eat, do and visit!
Talking about trips, the absolute highlight was the trip to the Fuji Five Lakes with Nadia. Waking up at 5 AM, taking a train and climbing up to Chureito Pagoda to watch the sunrise was definitely worth it. I am planning on climbing Mt. Fuji next summer, but the view of the snowed-in cone this time of year must be at least as awesome as the view from above, if not better.
So, the first part of the Japan stay has ended. 384 hours of Japanese classes later, I am looking forward what the upcoming trip southwards will have to offer, and how much life will change moving from the megacity to the 50 000 people village of Kudamatsu to start the internship!