Winter Trip Day 2 of 5: Christmas in Inuyama….

Inuyama Castle:

Winter Trip Day 1 of 5: Taking Local and Rapid Trains to Nagoya on Christmas Eve

JR Nagoya Station:

Nissan Oppama Assembly Plant and US Navy Yokosuka Base Visit

(Updated: June 14, 2013 with high resolution photos and updated descriptions)

Today me and John originally planned to visit the Nissan Oppama car assembly plant because it was a public holiday, the Emperor's Birthday on December 23. I had phoned a couple of days in advance and was surprised that I didn’t have to book in 2 weeks advance like the Toyota plant in Nagoya. They even sent me detailed instructions on how to get there.


Edo-Tokyo Museum

(Updated: June 9, 2013 with high resolution photos and new descriptions)

On Nov. 25, 2005:

Today I went to the Edo-Tokyo Museum that I signed up for in October with the TUFS Foreign Students Association. This trip was organized by the Fuchu English Club because I think they wanted to practice their English with us. We only paid 300 yen and it included admission fee, lunch and bus ride. The club consisted mostly of retired men and housewives. I was “partnered” up with Watanabe-san who during lunch asked us to guess how old he was, and he said he was 72. I thought he was around 60 because he looked so young. He said he could speak English, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and was learning French and Italian! The bus ride to the museum was interesting because it was the first time I had been in a vehicle in Tokyo, and going on the elevated expressways right through the city and seeing all those tall buildings was so amazing. The museum itself was very interesting, it talks about the history of Tokyo and how it was when it was still called Edo. It was lots of really nice and detailed dioramas. I bought a map book that showed how Tokyo was like in the 50s compared to now for 2590 yen.

First we had to meet up with them at the TUFS campus. This meant going west cross-town from our dormitory and then heading back east to the Edo-Tokyo Museum. It would have been much faster if we just met them at the museum as our dormitory as close to where the museum was located.

On the expressway heading east past Shinjuku.


Pictures of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

Right now I only have 3 pictures of the campus, I will take more soon.

Lecture building:

Student Building, bascially consists of cafeteria, top floor, western food, bottom floor Japanese food. All run by the "Co-Op", there are no outside brand foods in university such as Starbucks for example. Only one store, the "Co-Op" store. Its about the size of a large convinience store, it functions as the schools "bookstore". This is a really small school.

Things I Learned from Japanese Business Culture Class

Today was a really interesting class. Our teacher talked about the Japanese employment system and how it works, Basically today, students start job hunting in their 3rd year of university and aren’t expected to have any experience. He said that Japan when compared to other countries may be the easiest place to find an entry level job when graduating from college. He said that before it was even easier, that companies come recruiting students for jobs and now it is a little harder because students have to visit companies. Also he said in the past and still now for some companies, graduating from a prestigious university such as University of Tokyo or Keio University and being an average student is better than being a hard working and good student from lesser schools when finding a job. This is because companies still think that if you pass the high school exam and get into a good university, this student will have better potential in the future to be a loyal and good worker while the student who did not get into the good school has lesser potential in the future. Also here, university is seen as a time of relaxing and socializing compared to the hard times of high school.

Also for humanities and social science graduates, he said it doesn’t matter what degree you get because when you get hired they will train you and keep rotating you around the company so that you get a better feel of the workings of the company. For example, once you have learned the accounting department, you may be rotated to the finance department where you would have to learn all new things again. Before and still now, this way of training employees creates a “company man”, like a “Sony man” or “Toyota man”, someone who has no specialties but knows the company which hired and train them very well. The downside of this is if they get laid off at middle age, they have not much skills to market themselves because they only know that one company and know it very well. Also in Japan, when people talk about what they’re job is, they usually don’t say their position first, but rather say which company they work for first.

Another interesting point that was mentioned in class was promotions. In a typical Japanese company, one may get their first promotion 7 years after first getting hired in the company. Also when you get hired by the company, no matter what your degree is, you may be sent to the company’s shops to work in the front lines there. For example if you were hired by McDonalds and have a business degree, you might spend a couple of months working at the actual “restaurant” with the other part time and contract employees before you get rotated to a desk job. This is because companies in Japan like their employees to get a feel of how the entire company operates. My teacher said during the months starting from April, it isn’t unusual to see maybe people with Masters degrees working at McDonalds.

For students in the hard sciences and engineering, the process of getting hired is a little different. In Japan, many laboratories and departments have close ties to industry, so once you graduate, your professors may recommend you to jobs, so in other words, it seems that you don’t really have to look for work, because the companies can just recruit you easily from connections with the teaching staff.

Going to Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum in Yokohama

(Updated: June 8, 2013 with high resolution photos and new descriptions)

Yesterday Teresa, Lucy, John and Ian and I went to Yokohama to see the Ramen Museum. The Ramen Museum has famous ramen shops from all over Japan located under one roof each serving the local style ramen. The admission price was 300 yen, I checked out the website of the Ramen Museum in before I came and I got the Hakata, Kyushu style ramen from a shop whose main store is base in Fukuoka in Kyushu “ふくちゃん” Fuku-chan with Japanized Char-siu (yes it has the same name as that *other* BBQ pork but tastes totally different) and “Wonton”. I choose this because I liked 日清出前―丁九州豬骨麵 (Tonkotsu Flavor) and I wanted to try the real thing. It was pretty good but I still prefer real Wonton Noodles better, the Wonton Noodles in my opinion tastes better than the Ramen Noodles (I am talking about the actual noodles here, not the entire thing).

I also like the theme setting of the museum which was based on 1950s Japan, it has so much atmosphere, unlike the grey sterile neighbourhoods of today’s Tokyo. There was also a make your own “Cup Noodle” event there, for 300 yen, you can see the manufacturing process of a “Cup Noodle” and can even select your own ingredients to put in the cup. I got a ceramic cup of the with “Cup Noodle” packaging which cost 1029 yen, kind of expensive, but you only go to this place once.

The exterior of the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum.


Trip to Costco in Tokyo

Originally written on Oct. 29, 2005.

To get to Costco (which is basically in the middle of nowhere), I had to take the train from Tabata station on JR Yamanote Line (15-20 min walk from the dorm) to Shinjuku station (22 min journey), change trains at Shinjuku, walking through the badly designed Shinjuku station to the Keio Line to board a train bound for the station of Tamasakai station where Costco is located.

Because Tamasakai is a small station on the line, have to take a express train to the station of Chufu and then take a local train to Tamasakai. The part took around 47 mins I think, and costs 390 yen one way.

Once we got off Tamasakai, it was really weird, the place looked like an American suburb with no one walking on the streets and big box stores on the entire road leading to Costco. Each big box store’s parking entrance had 3-4 people directing the cars into the parking lots, most of the parking lots at the stores were multilevel.

On the way to Costco, I saw a Family Mart (convenience store) that had a parking lot attached. This was the first convenience store I have ever seen that had its own parking lot.

I actually brought my small luggage to Costco to carry back the stuff back to the dorm. The Costco here is almost exact same layout as back home, it is surprising that they sell Tim’s Cascade Jalapeno Chips for 410 yen for big size here. Today because it is the weekend, lots of Japanese families come to shop. I got big bottles of spaghetti sauce, 3 pack of cereal (the cereal that they sell in regular markets is small and only lasts for 4-5 days). Also I got some potatoes, chicken nuggets, pizza and 12 pack of Macaroni and Cheese. Lots of stuff that they sell at Costco is cheaper and comes in bigger sizes than even at regular “big” Japanese supermarkets like the chain Ito-Yokato. The luggage that I brought could not even hold the stuff that I bought because of all the big boxes, but good thing they sell giant reusable bags for 136 yen. Also in this area, almost all the cars where big (i.e. minivans, full size sedans) not like your usual boxy small cars that you see in the city.

Night Festival at Shinjuku

(Updated: June 8, 2013 with high resolution photos)

We went to a festival at Shinjuku at 10pm today with the dorm tutors, and its supposed to happen every 16 years according to what the tutors posted on the door of the lobby of the dorm. It was very cold and it was some kind of Shinto festival because it was located on the grounds of a Shinto shrine. The bad thing about it was that the shrine was located in Kabuki-cho in Shinjuku, also known as the red light district of Tokyo, so on the way there, the streets were very filthy, tons of questionable people just standing and walking around and Africans asking people if they wanted to go into their “club”. At the festival, there were lot of food stands, lots selling yakisoba, octopus and others. I don’t really like Shinjuku, its dirty, filthy, and just a really crappy area when compared to other places in the greater Tokyo area.


School Festival

Today was the start of the school festival, that’s why we get 1 week off of school! The students who are studying the different languages put up food stands for the country that they are studying for. The food was pretty expensive, 350 yen for a kebab stick (and it didn’t taste that good either) 150 yen for 小龍包, 3 of them and the other thing I tried was a Portuguese sausage for 200 yen. Also there were performances by students in the languages which they were studying.

Pictures from School Festival

The Canadian Embassy and the Honda Robot Asimo

(Updated: June 4, 2013 with high resolution photos and new descriptions)

Today me and this American guy John wanted to go to embassy to register (you are supposed to do this if you are staying for more than 3 months) so we went to the Canadian embassy. It is a pretty nice building with light security, once I got there, the person there told us to do it online.

In my opinion, the embassy is very Japanese in design is shown in the minimalist design.


Going to the Pokemon Center in Tokyo and Buying a Game Boy micro

(Updated: June 4, 2013 with high resolution photos)

Note: As of 2013, the Pokemon Center in Tokyo is located near Hamamatsu station on the JR Yamanote Line, not near Tokyo station which this store was located near

After school today we went to the Pokemon Center to pick up the reserved “Pokemon Edition” Game Boy micro. As you can see from the pictures the store is a disappointment, its full of overpriced merchandise. Afterwards I went to Akihabara to try to get an electronic dictionary (電子辞書) the Canon Wordtank V80 for 24,000 yen normal price was 56,000 yen when it was released 1 year ago but the store did not have it in stock. After walking around I found “F-Zero GP Legend” for only 680 yen so I bought that because its so cheap.


Going to Tokyo Motor Show 2005

Today we went to Tokyo Motor Show in the afternoon. We went to buy tickets for the event at the train station thinking that we could avoid lines, but it ended up being that we spent more time looking for the counter to sell the ticket at the station than at the event, which set up booths at the train station at the convention centre. The ticket cost 1200 yen but the train fare to go there was expensive, 620 yen one way.