This time round should be considered my third long-term posting to Japan. The first time was to Koriyama 2 years back and the second to Komaki last year. It appears for all these postings, I have the opportunity to witness the different seasons in Japan. The first being Spring which is notable for its sakura season, the second being Autumn where the leaves turn into a splendour of multi-colour facade. And this time round it is Summer. After doing some research, Summer is a time famous for its festivals, as well as sea and mountain-related activities.
The current trip is somewhat special as I will be the only Singaporean in Komaki. My colleague who stayed there for a year has returned. Thus my current blog posting is called 'Komaki 2 Survivor'.
I took an overnight flight from Singapore to Nagoya Centrair Airport. There is only one flight flying to Nagoya each day by the Singapore Airlines. The one departing from Singapore always fly off an hour past midnight, while the returning journey is always a day flight. I noticed the flight is less than 50% occupied, thus I am able to stretch myself fully across 3 seats.
Out of the airport, I am back to the 2-hour journey to my accommodation. I just missed the train but the next one is only 20 minutes away. There is a timetable showing the detail departure time of each train. The train schedule between the weekdays and weekends/holidays are different as can be seen in the picture below.
It is important to note that there are different type of trains. They have the Express, the Limited Express and the Rapid. The Rapid cost 20% more cos of the seat reservations. For the Limited Express, there are trains with seat reservations, no seat reservations or partially with reservations. For the Express, it is of course free sittings. I took the Limited Express train with partial seat reservations. So you can see in the picture below that the first two carriages is somewhat different from the subsequent carriages. The first two are served seats while the rest are free sittings.
Japan is a wonderful country. The people are nice, the culture is attractive and they are technologically advanced. For foreigners living in Japan, the only problem they will have to handle is the Japanese language. Though it is ok to get by using English, knowledge of Japanese will definitely provide business travellers or tourist alike the convenience of getting around. Take for instance the words printed below for 'Kanayama'. The station names are written in Hiragana on every stations' pillars. The english words are only written at both ends of the station. So either we see it in time, or we do not. But for the larger stations, information are multi-lingual. It will not be a worry.
I transit to the next train at Kanayama and finally follow by a bus. Here is my new room. If you were to compare with the one I was staying at previously, you will notice a mirror-image scene. Last year, I was staying at the room next to this, but this time round, I have shifted over. This used to be my colleague's room. Only this room has internet service, so I am here.
10th June (Tuesday)
I brought a set of formal summer working attire this time round with the intention of getting a few sets from their latest summer collections. One of my favourite shopping place is Uniqlo. This brand is unique to Japan and I was first introduced to it by my colleague Jachong 2 years back. I heard Singapore is going to have its first Uniqlo outlet only end of next year (2009). Anyway, I find the fashion wear by Uniqlo to be trendy and upmarket. I bought a few apparel from a Uniqlo shop, which is a short walk from my office (below).
11th June (Wednesday)
On Wednesday evening, my Hynix bosses, Fujita-san and Park-san brought me to a Izakaya and a popular Soba house for dinner. I love having meals with large group of friends, so I was pretty excited about it. In the Izakaya we went for their bbq and raw stuff. It goes well with Nihonshu.
We left the Izakaya 2 hours later and decided to go for second round. This time to the famous Soba house. I heard this has been around for more than 10 over years. Fujita-san helped me order an Ebi Soba. It is really good.
Here is Fujita-san.
And Park-san. When I heard Park-san is going to order three Soba bowls, I thought it is meant for the three of us. But after we ordered our share, the three all goes to him. He really like it. As can be seen in the photo below, he has finished two bowls and is now going for the last.
13th June (Friday)
On the way to work one day with Park-san, he noticed a field full of flowers. He said this is a nice photoshot and we started taking pictures of it. Park-san is equally enthusiastic about photography, he has a website dedicated to it (link can be access from my blog).
14th June (Saturday)
You will never find rubbish bins anywhere in Japan like in Singapore. If you have garbage or rubbish, you will be advised to take it back home and properly dispose of it. In my dormitory, the garbage are separated into 7 different bins. Each having a specific functionality: Plastics, Flammable, Glass Bottles, Plastic Bottles (x2), Aluminium cans, Other bottles. There are many more but these are the more common types. There are also specific days for the collection of garbage. They are really serious about recycling.
15th June (Sunday)
On Sunday, I went down to Nagoya to meet up with a friend, Nai, which I met at Singapore retreat recently. Nai was the GM of a company in Singapore previously and is now his own boss playing an important role in the Aerospace industry. He is just nice in Nagoya during this period and is staying at the Nagoya Station Mariott Hotel. We rendezvous at 1pm and went on down to Sakae for lunch. I have a rough journey plan figure out on the way here. First we will go to a famous Miso Katsu (Miso Fried Pork Cutlet) restaurant in Nagoya. This place was introduced to me by Quah last year.
We went for the same ultimate set costing 2,200Yen. It has the power prawns, miso cutlet and asparagus. Nai gave me a lunch treat. Itadakimasu!
Next we went down to the Osu area. Here I am at the temple. At the temples, when the Japanese stand next to an incense port, they will move their hands to gather the incense towards them. It is a form of blessing for them. Here I am emulating them.
Next we went on to the youth centre at Nadya Park. A concert seems to have just ended there. We notice trainee bartenders juggling metal wine bottles at the park.
Next I introduced to Nai the Uniqlo shopping place at Sakae. There appears to be a discount going on at this branch. As I have not completed my shopping previously, I went for a shopping spree this time round. Everything is really cheap.
Finally we took the subway back to Nagoya station. Here we have dinner at one of the many Ramen shops. It is at the basement of Nagoya station. I haven't notice it before and Nai say this is one of his favourite hangouts. There are different kinds of Ramen, ranging from Nagoya, to Tokyo and Wakayama. We went for the Tokyo ramen.
Here is a photo of me and Nai.
I share with you the typical breakfast I have on a weekend morning (i.e. if I do not have to travel early in the morning). It consists of 3 thick slices of bread with peanut butter, natto (Japanese fermented beans), Chicken Ramen and Milk. The breakfast is quite filling and normally can last me through the next 5 hours.
I have developed a habit of bringing a bag along whenever I go shopping, so less plastic bags will be used. Each time I go shopping, they will ask me whether I have a plastic bag stamp card, I will always say no. Until this faithful day, the counter lady just pass me a stamp card with my first stamp on it. She say once I have accumulated 20 stamps, I will be eligible for a 100Yen discount on my purchases.
Fujita-san and Park-san decided to bring me to a Izakaya this evening. It has a very homely feeling to it, as can be seen from all the pictures, flags and design.
This Izakaya is famous for its Japanese alcohol. No beer.
The Japanese alcohol can be ordered per cup and there are 6 unique flavours to it.
Here is me with Fujita-san. You can see my face turning red.
Park-san is the best drinker and he ordered all 6 of them.
My best attempt at it.
16th July - Welcome Party
A welcome party (歓迎会) has been organised for 3 newcomers to the company. There is free-flow of drinks while minimal food will come at every regular intervals.
Here is Fujisawa-san, me and Ms Lin (from Taiwan). They are getting ready to serve the first dish right in front of us.
25th July - Dinner at Hokkaido Restaurant
The plan for the Friday night is to get some cameras for my colleagues and have simple dinner. My fellow Taiwan colleague Lin-chan recommended this homely restaurant just a short walk from Komaki station.
I just asked the shop lady on recommendations. And she recommended the raw shell sprinkle with wasabi. There is also this hot pot when we wanted vegetables. These are Hokkaido style culinary cuisine.
Here is me having a go at it.
On the sunday evening, while I was preparing to have my meal of soba, the dormitory lady asked me whether am I alright with unagi (eels). I heard this is also the season for unagi, so I accepted it. Itadakimasu! There is quite a big portion to it. She prepared one by putting in the microwave, while the other has its soup based boiled and spread over it. It goes well with my miso soup and green tea.
On the friday evening, I have a chance to have dinner with Mr and Mrs Kawashima again! We visited the chinese restaurant - Yokohama-ro. The food there is really good. The last time I went there was last year and also with them, and I kept thinking about it. Was initially planning to visit last friday but was changed to a Hokkaido restaurant instead. This time round is just perfect.
Here are the dishes we ordered. The last time I went to Bamiyan (Chinese restaurant) at my area, I came to realise I miss chinese food a lot. The ramen, yaki soba and fried rice are superb.
Mrs Kawashima also take this opportunity to thank Lin-chan for the shopping trip last time in Suzhou. Here is a prize giving ceremony to her.