I got back to Komaki on the 25th August 2008 (Monday). Fortunately it is not as hot as I left Japan 2.5 weeks ago as it has been raining more frequently now.
26th August (Tuesday)
There will be several changes to my lifestyle this time round. Firstly I am changing to a cashless lifestyle. One where I no longer need to use cold hard cash anymore. The first of it is the use of an Edy card in paying for most of my purchases. Edy stands for Euro, Dollar, Yen; but the card only uses Japanese Yen. It works similar to Singapore's ezlink card, which is tap and go. Heard Singapore have upgraded their ezlink technology recently so it be will as versatile as Japan's Edy card.
Anyway, I got the card from one of the convenient store which is hitched along some in-store discounts package, it is called the Karuwaza Clubcard. The card itself only cost 300Yen. No application form what so ever is required, just pay and go.
The second cashless lifestyle I have taken up is via the public transport system. Yes, I'm also going cashless so I won't have to use cold hard cash anymore in the next 3 months. All these was done in one day, on the Tuesday evening. Several people have offered their help, but I declined as I want to understand how to go about doing it like a local.
27th August (Wednesday)
On Wednesday morning, I have to make a trip down to Shiga-ken. I bought the tickets from the train station on Monday morning. I realised several of my colleagues are going down there on the same day and have offered me a lift too. But it was too late, I have bought the tickets.
Nevertheless this is gonna be an adventure for me as it is also the first time I'm buying the shinkansen (新幹線) tickets and taking it. I have taken Shinkansen twice previously but they were all bought by someone else and I was directed to the gates. Taking Shinkansen is somewhat different from Densha as they have special seats, somewhat similar to planes.
I got to the shinkansen station 20mins before departure and checked out the bullet trains.
Overhere I shall explain briefly on the three main types of Shinkansen. The Hikari (in red) only stops occasionally, while the Kodama (in blue) stops at every stops. The Nozomi (in yellow) goes direct to the destination without stopping. It is the first time I came across these variety of Shinkansen trains. My colleague explained to me about these three trains and I was somewhat puzzled. I was given the Free Seating ticket. The cost for reserved seating and free-seating are the same. In the board below, you will notice which carriages are free-seating. I am taking the 7.32am train to Maibara (米原) and the free seating carriages are 1 - 5.
And surprised, there is no one at all in the free-seating.
At night, we went to a good restaurant close to the station for dinner. It has a traditional izakaya feel to it.
And let's take a peek into my hotel room. The room is large as compared to the other hotels I have stayed in before. Best part is there is a massage chair in the room (the black chair). The massage chair feels really good. After using it for 10minutes, it really gives me a relax feel and gonna sleep soon.
The breakfast area. The breakfast is so-so but the dining area is beautiful.
On the way to work, the bus passes by plots and plots of farm land.
I accompanied my manager back from Shiga. He took a new highway route south of Shiga. The route has just opened early this year and it has not been registered in the GPS yet. Thus when we are travelling on it, it appears we are bashing through the forests. Another interesting observation is that this is really a HIGHway. It is a long span of bridge that span between prefectures. The scenery along the drive is beautiful and there are very few traffic. We came upon a stretch where the GPS show we are travelling through a golf course. Here is the part of the golf course.
Thanks to the lift from my Japanese manager, I managed to avoid the shinkansen delays. It started raining heavily in the afternoon, as a result several shinkansen plying around Japan were delayed. Some denshas were even stopped.
6th September (Saturday)
I have been invited for a mini-party with Mr and Mrs Suzuki, Lin-chan and Kito-san. I rendezvous with Lin-chan at Komaki station at 4.50pm and took a 5 minutes walk to Suzuki-sans' house. The plan for the day is for me to play PS2 with Mr Suzuki. While the girls will prepare the food.
Nevertheless after half an hour of games and my story-telling session, it is time to help out in the food preparation and setup the place. We started by wrapping dumplings. There are almost 50 of them to be wrapped with Lin-chan being our teacher. The last time I wrapped dumplings was more than 4 years back when I learnt vegetarian cooking. Back then it was all vegetarian dumplings.
Here is our full course dinner. Besides the dumplings, the vegetables is also very nice. I find the range of vegetables in Japan to be extremely limited. Most of the time I will be having brinjal, and I don't take brinjal in Singapore. Bittergourd will also be another vegetable which is common during the summer season. They consider onion to be a vegetable. But I consider it to be a dangerous vegetable for the untrain person. Well, that's pretty much is the range of vegetables.
Here is our group photo!
8th September (Monday)
Starting this week we have a buddy who moved in with us. When we come to work, there will be the three of us walking together. From left we have Okino-san, in middle is me and to the right is Fujisawa-san.
10th September (Wednesday)
On the Wednesday evening, we went down to a BBQ restaurant for Fujisawa-san welcome party! It is a short distance away from our office; the ambience is quite good. When the BBQ started running, the whole restaurant really became smoky.
Here is the BBQ spread. There are 9 of us in all. It is really fun having meals with everyone over a nice cold drink (non-alcohol), good food and good conversations.
14th September (Sunday)
I heard from Lin-chan sometime back that there is a good Korean restaurant a 5mins walk from Komaki station. So we agreed to check it out one day. Coincidentally, I first met a fellow Taiwanese friend, ELing, the week before. So I kind of arrange to have a lunch session at 1pm that day.
When we got to the korean restaurant, it happened to be closed. So we move on next door to the Italian restaurant. It served Japanese style pizza where u can eat all you like, with drinks, dessert included for just 1,100Yen.
Here is what we have ordered for the first round.
Here we are: Lin-chan, ELing, Me. They are all making the 'V' sign, wonder why... I have to admit that Eling is pretty good in taking photos, at almost everything.
As the restaurant closes at 3pm, we went on for tea session at the large shopping mall in the area.
Coincidentally, today is the full moon of the lunar calendar, also known as Mid Autumn festival in chinese calendar. In Japan, it is more notable for moon viewing (月見). In Komaki, they have a full range of events lined up. My classmates told me they are going to Komaki castle in the evening for a mega-telescope viewing.
The people are also dressed up for the evening.
There happen to be free sweets being given out while we are there, so we just join in. It is call 'Muay chee' at our side. A form of sticky sweet paste.
We started observing the performance from 6pm till 7pm. Starting from 6pm is Taiko, followed by juggling-circus performance at 6.30pm. Both the performances are splendid!