Sunday, August 05, 2007

Going from Memory Now

Well, it turns out I had less pre-written blog entries than I thought. Oh well, I'll try to recount the highlights and also I'll be posting a bunch of the pictures taken while I was on my own in Toyama.

The Company Event
Woke up this morning to go to the company event that had me leave Tokyo early to come to Takaoka. The first thing I encountered was going to CDL early in my morning to my first 朝礼 (chourei), which is a monthly morning pep talk type thing that occurs on the first Saturday of every month. Yep.. had no idea what was going on. I did, however, meet the 社長 (shachou), president of the company Matsubara-san... a man I would soon learn to dread. In any case, they had Kang-san and myself introduce ourselves to the rest of the company and then we recited a bunch of stuff that I don't really recall... except:


It loosely means "I can do it! I can do it! I can definitely do it! If I think that I can't do it, I can't do it. If I believe I can't do it, I can't do it.

Or something like that. After the morning assembly, we left for the beautiful house that the company event was taking place. To this day, I still have little idea what that meeting was about. A lot of people went up and made presentations about various things, including a concept called LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability), which Shachou-san was very surprised I hadn't heard about. I was still quite tired at this point and there was so much Japanese being spoken that I didn't understand that I must admit I dozed off a little bit, but for the most part, I tried to read the slides as much as possible and follow along.

Looking Back

Well, it's been quite a while since I've posted here. Almost a year since I last posted. Over a year since I first ventured out to Japan. Around 8 months since I returned from Japan. Life has moved quickly since then and I'm now working as a Senior Engineer at Scientific Atlanta, a CISCO company. Yet still, I always look back on my time in Japan with fondness. Of course, I can't quite post in as vivid detail now about what transpired. In addition, I've had the misfortune of losing all the pictures I'd taken while I was in Japan, though my friends have given me what pictures they had of my time there. I also have a couple posts that I wrote up soon after they happened so I could remember them well. If anyone still reads this, enjoy.


I wake up after maybe 3 and a half hours of sleep this morning, do my final packings, fold my sheets, and eat breakfast. After breakfast, I turn in my keys and wait around for 10:00am to come around, which is when we were supposed to meet to take the Taxis to Shinjuku. At Shinjuku, I make my last not-so-tearful fairwells to everyone and depart on my own for my own adventures.

Including taking the wrong train at the Shinjuku station. I knew I could take the Chuo line from Shinjuku to Tokyo, however, the train was already there and I didn't want to wait for the next train so I took it and it ended up being the right line, but the opposite direction. In any case, I had ample time so I got off two stations later and took the correct train to Tokyo station. I get to Tokyo station around 11:10am and my train was scheduled for 12:12pm, so I decide to grab some lunch at a local joint. Unfortunately, the cheapest restaurant was an Italian restaurant, so I ended up eating Italian food for the third day in a row. It wasn't bad though; just very expensive still.

I wander around a bit until I decide to find a JR ticket counter to ask where my train was going to be; I ask her if she speaks English and she says only a little, so I proceed to ask her about the train in broken Japanese. She asks to see the tickets, I show her, and she proceeds to tell me in pretty much perfect English how to get to the track. I get to the train, board, and pretty much fall asleep until 10 minutes before we arrive to station that I would have to transfer at. I make the transfer pretty smoothly and again take the train to Takaoka. Everything took as long as it was supposed to and I ended up coming to Takaoka station at around 3:47pm (I was scheduled to come in at 3:48pm). I get to the station and I realize that I didn't know what entrance I was supposed to meet my company people at, so I just followed where the majority of the people were heading. I kind of wander around a bit, expecting to see someone with a "Christopher Luu" sign or something when I kind of wander over to a pair of people and they seem to recognize me and say "Mr. Luu?" So that's how I met Shimomura-san and Kang-san. The younger of the two takes my bag and we head over to Shimomura-san's car.

All this time I don't really know where to do my introduction so I just kind of let them take me wherever. Shimomura-san talks to Kang-san in Japanese and then to me and I find out that Kang-san is actually Korean and studying Japanese. I asked him how long he's been studying Japanese and he doesn't really understand me but somehow we get it across that he's been stuyding since he came here about 3 months ago. His Japanese is pretty good for only 3 months (Korean and Japanese grammar are very similar apparently, and they even use some Kanji), though his pronounciation is pretty hard to understand for some words (he uses "chi" instead of "tsu" so for use he says "chikaimasu"... he also mixes up "b" and "p" sounds). We take some shortcut to my hotel (the Business Inn of Takaoka), I get my room, put my luggage there, then we head out for CDL.

CDL is... small. It's a lot different then I thought it would be. As far as I can tell, I'll be spending most of my time in a room with Shimomura-san and Kang-san. The receptionist lady tells me my luggage has arrived (yay) so we head to the room and I kind of look around while Shimomura-san and Kang-san do stuff. They have a lot of Dells. Shimomura-san gives me my CE (Certificate of Eligibility, which is required for me to get my Visa changed) and Kang-san gives me a map of Takaoka. I ask him where the apartment I will be staying in is on the map and also where CDL is and he shows me, so I mark the points. After watching them do stuff for a bit, 5:45pm comes around and Shimomura-san takes me back to the hotel with my luggage so I can rest (I was still really tired and it showed) before we would go out to eat at 7:00pm. I fall asleep immediately and wake up at 6:45pm to go to dinner.

We head to a standard Japanese restaurant where you grab plates of whatever you want (I got vegetable tempura, katsu, rice, and miso soup). The three of us talk some, then after dinner, we head over to Kang-san's apartment so I can check it out (he lives 3 doors down from where I'll be living). The apartment appears to be very nice. There's hardwood floors everywhere, a washer (no dryer), a kitchen sink, a range with two eyes, a refridgerator, a microwave, a bathroom, a bed with sheets and a blanket, a small table, a desk with a pretty big TV on it, a shelf, closets, etc. The place looks very new (there's even a little monitor/speaker for the front door so I don't have to go all the way to the front door when someone rings my doorbell to see who it is). Kang-san says that the place is nice, but the people upstairs are noisy all the time, so we'll see how bad it gets.

We drink some Korean tea, then I still look tired so Shimomura-san takes me home and I take a shower and sleep pretty early to wake up at 7:15am the next morning for whatever Company event I came early to go to.