- I like Japan, I like the food, the clean streets, the efficient transportation, etc. Besides, I've never been in Hokkaido before.
- It was the last conference during the project that has allowed me to come back to Vienna.
- A friend of mine, met in 2008 in the Netherlands at an organ summer school, recently moved to Otaru, close to Sapporo, and I'd like to meet her again.
|Campus of the Hokkaido University|
I flew with a German colleague of mine from the museum and, this time, with ANA instead of Lufthansa or Austrian. We left a hot Vienna on a Saturday and we landed in Tokyo on Sunday morning. We had to run through Haneda airport because we had just 45 minutes to disembark, pass the immigration, pick up the luggage, pass the custom, check the luggage for domestic flights, change terminal, pass through the security again, and finally board another plane. With the support of the ground staff of ANA, we made it. Despite the lack of sleep, we managed to take a bus to the city and to walk to the hotel. Our room wasn't available until 3 p.m., so we went for food and a walk in the beautiful Odori Park, enjoying the sun and the mild temperature.
The conference was attended by a large number of scientists, but some groups were missing, including many colleagues, who are likely going to other competing and more specific meetings that will take place in the next months. This is why I didn't receive a lot of inputs on the current project, but I learned a lot on other topics, I developed new ideas, and I met new colleagues for potential collaborations. As usual, there were other Italians, most of them with a foreign affiliation. The conference was organized in July to have the opportunity to follow live the second touch down of the Haybusa II probe on asteroid Ryugu. The social events during the conference were extraordinary good: icebreaker party with free ice cream, gala dinner with Japanese dance and drum music and delicious food for all (but the event ended at 9 p.m., quite soon for the Western habits), farewell party (although in this case the food wasn’t enough for all), several tours on Wednesday (I attended the one in the city, led by a very enthusiastic Japanese guide, who taught us something about Sapporo and Hokkaido playing quizzes), and long poster sessions with drinks and snacks. It was even offered to learn Japanese writing and to take part to a tea ceremony. Although it seemed organized in the last minute, overall the result was fantastic and the location, within the campus of the Hokkaido University, particularly beautiful.
|The famous canal strolling in Otaru|
On Saturday, all by my own, I went to the coast city of Otaru to meet the dear friend of mine I mentioned above, who had explained to me the Japanese mentality and culture much longer before I ever thought to come to visit the country. I also met her daughters, both talented musicians, especially the eldest, 6 yrs old, capable to offer a passionate interpretation of Bach, not just pressing the right keys at a good speed. Well, the mom is a musician, too, although she’s not playing the organ anymore. Otaru, a nice fisher village, famous for… glass, exactly like Murano (Venice). But also for bier, fish, and other products. The train journey from Sapporo offers a nice view of the coast, with the railway at a few meters from the water.
This part of Japan is peculiar, because a "nordic" landscape, with cows, forests, and facilities for winter sports, is mixed with the typical asiatic features, including skyscrapers, shrines, Ramen restaurants, etc. There are a lot of tourists, mostly from China or from Japan itself. The whole country is an interesting contradiction. The amount of packaging and plastic produced every day is "compensated" by the use of green ink or recycled paper. The technological advancement of the computer science is balanced by the traditional mentality about marriage and levels of respect in the speech. The enormous debts of the nation contrasts with the high cost of living and the luxury style. Slim people that eat anytime and not so light dishes. Every time in Japan is a "wow". So different and so lovely. See you soon again, Japan!