Sunday, August 11, 2013

Japan 2013: Oh Tokushima.

Day 4:

Welcome to Tokushima city
I cannot remember how long it took from Kyoto to Tokushima by bus, maybe three hours? By the time we reached Tokushima, it was already late at night. Then, our Japanese friend fetched us from the station to her home. Tokushima is a quiet city, and one can experience authentic Japanese life here. I think there are not many foreigners living here and during my two days in Tokushima, I saw only two foreigners. This was even at the Tokushima University and no foreigners were seen outside the campus. 

Nice Japanese-style room
In comparison to my hometown in Penang Malaysia, Tokushima issmall city - not crowded and very agriculturally-oriented. Any spare lands available here are turned into paddy fields and just outside my friend's house is a paddy field. After arriving at my friend's home around 10 pm, we went to her neighbor's house to greet them.   

Day 3 in Kyoto snack
Even though we cannot speak in Japanese, we were able to communicate with them in English/Korean (through our Japanese friend cum translator). It was fun talking to them. Most of them already knew about Malaysia through the "Malaysia, truly Asia" advertisement. Awesome! Our Malaysian tourism campaign does really works.

Day 5:

Welcome to Bizan Ropeway...
Next day, we went to the Tokushima Station (we took a train from Bunkanomori) again to meet our other Japanese friend, Hitomi. She told us that she knew a Malaysian studying at her university and I asked her to plan for a meet-up. I am always happy to meet any Malaysians studying abroad because we generally share similar predicaments while living abroad.

(Note: There were a number of Malaysian students sponsored by the Malaysian government at Tokushima university but I couldn't meet them because I was told they rarely mingle with outsiders... Sigh... Wouldn't it be nice if the Malaysian students living abroad mix around more often with other foreigners and Japanese... 우물 안에 개구리로 살지 마세요~!) 

Bizan Ropeway cable car - 1,000 Yen

Beautiful Tokushima
The first place we went in the morning was called Bizan Ropeway. This is a place where one can take a cable car (1000 Yen for a round-trip ticket) up the hill and see Tokushima city from the top. Experience there was so-so as the weather there was rather hot and humid. After that, we went to our friends' university - Tokushima University (moreover, Hitomi had a class) for lunch. We walked all the way there.

Our lunch at Tokushima university
Mmmmm.... (PS. the professor was extremely nice)
Fast forward, we were allowed to take a class with Hitomi. I cannot remember what we really learned but he touched on Business Law and we discussed Abenomics. The reason of Abenomics according to him is to restructure Japanese companies so they are able to be competitive again. I think Abenomics is like a two-edged sword, a populist move to increase export through currency devaluation but not to arrest the advancing debt problem in the country. After the class, the professor who was extremely kind, asked us to have dinner with him at night. Okay, we agreed

Pic taken at Ikuta Shrine (Day 2)
Together with the Malaysian student I just met, we went for dinner with the professor and his students. We wanted to eat Japanese food but we couldn't find a place big enough to accommodate all of us. Thus, we had to settle in a western food family restaurant. Another memorable occasion was when one of his students ordered two large dishes for himself. I guessed he was filling his tummy for tomorrow's breakfast too

I had great experiences in Japan and today was another unforgettable one. Our Japanese professor accompanied us more than an hour even after we had all eaten, until our Japanese friend had arrived back from her part-time job to fetch us. The conversation while waiting at the restaurant was crazily dull. "How to get a girlfriend?" and "What qualities do girls like in a man?". This were among the questions asked by our "interesting" Japanese professor.

Kaori, the musician
Uhmmn... so I said "Sense of Humor?". And the professor came asking, "How to be humorous?". Haha. WTF. I smiled though. Our table was colorful, in the way we spoke in many different languages - Japanese, Taiwanese, Indonesian, Korean and English. What connected us were our similar goals in life - mainly to live a good and happy life

Melody by Kaori

"Try" of Asher Book (cover)

When our Japanese friend arrived, we went to a pub to see a live musical performance (see the video on top) performed by her. She was amazing. And after that, we went home and packed our bags for our departure back to Korea tomorrow.

Day 6:

The dyeing process...
On our last day in Japan, the first place we visited was the Dye museum to make our own souvenirs (1000 Yen for a face towel to be dyed later by us) to bring back to Korea. The dyeing processes were simple. First choose the pattern, tie the towel around the sticks with rubber bands for the patterns to appear, dip in the dyeing container, repeat the steps, wash the towel clean to remove the leftover dye and voila, done. 

We were encouraged to dry our towels under the hot sun instead of using hair dryer. After that, we met Hitomi again for a sushi lunch together. I tasted the most interesting Japanese food, the Natto (the taste of fermented beans lingered in my mouth even after countless gulps of green tea) and Uni sushi (made from expensive sea urchin roe but tasted like...). I will never try them again...

Unagi (eel) sushi
I love the unagi sushi (prepared from eel) though. Overall, an authentic Japanese meal. As my friend will be leaving for the airport by bus an hour earlier than me, we went back to the Tokushima station. In my case, with around an hour left to spare in Tokushima, we went to the Japanese Karaoke room.

Big karaoke room...
Karaoke in Japan was another whole new experience for me. It was so difficult to search for songs as all new songs had to be keyed in Japanese. It's better to have a Japanese friend accompanying you in the Karaoke room when you are in Japan and can't speak Japanese.

Many English oldies can be searched very easily but not the latest ones... 
I cannot be Elvis Presley. It will be " a little less conversation".

Journey back Korea...
Karaoke was fun and after an hour or less, it was time to go. The bus journey from Tokushima to Kansai airport was frustratingly slow due heavy rains and traffic jams. Luckily, I reached the airport on time and met my friend with more than enough time to explore the airport. It was indeed a memorable trip to Japan. Sayorana Japan...

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