Endings & New Beginnings

Apologies for the delay, the jet lag kicked in quite heavily upon arrival in the Netherlands. The last day of the study trip has arrived already, these three weeks came and went so fast… While the most important part of this day would consist of goodbyes and traveling, this was definitely not all it consisted of. For time efficiency purposes and to get the most out of their last day with the entire group, some had already done most of their packing the night before (putting your dirty laundry inside of your dirty socks turned out to work wonders for saving precious suitcase real estate). Woken up by the DagCos at 09:00 sharp, most people went down to the hostel lobby straightaway to get breakfast and get their suitcases downstairs, making things nice and cozy over there. However, everyone being in the same room at the same time also created the perfect opportunity for collectively thanking the board of Foundation ICE for all their hard work and giving them a small present. After this, two large flags (one Korean, one Japanese) were spread out on the tables and people got the opportunity to write their names (regularly and in the language of the country on the flag) on both of them to create a nice souvenir. For most people with a western name, finding the Korean or Japanese spelling of their name proved to be quite a challenge, but everyone managed in the end to some degree. When the flags were done, we went outside with them to take one final group picture. Using their Polaroid camera, the hostel...

Last day!

Dear Readers, If you have made it this far into the blog, well done! You made it! We made it! Today has been our final full day in Japan. As last night’s kareoke ended around 05.00 AM, most of us had a slightly slow start this morning. Some set out on their hunt for some last souvenirs, and some set out to see some last sights. However, the people who started their day in the most special way were Jeroen, Maartje and Bart: Watching the beautiful sunrise from the top of Mount Fuji, at 3,776.24 m high. When they came crawling back in the afternoon, none of us could wait to see the pictures and hear about the incredible adventure! They left for fuji yesterday and started climbing around 11 PM, and were able to enjoy the sunrise after a 6 hour climb. Another 4,5 hours back down before travelling back to Tokyo and finally getting some rest. The last night in Tokyo was enjoyed in the Sinjiku district where the madness of Tokyo was felt for the last time. For now we are grabbing our luggage and planning our final activities in Tokyo for tomorrow afternoon. See you in Holland 😘 Kristine &...

Last Planned Day

Almost at the end of the trip, today was the last planned day… Our destination was the MORI Building Digital Art Museum by teamLab Borderless! We think that this was the most creative museum we have been so far. TeamLab Borderless is a group of artworks that form one borderless world. The artworks more freely, connect with each other and interact with the users in the environment. In this complex there are 520 computers, 470 projectors in a 10,000 square meter space. Here are some of our favourites from today; Forest of Lamps, Wander Through the Crystal World, Flowers and People Forest are only some of them in this magical world… Afterwards we split into groups and here are some of the other things we have seen: Some of us went to the KitKat Chocolatory. Since 2012 KitKat has been the most popular chocolate in Japan according to Nestle. In this chocolatory you can pick flavours of KitKat such as Purple Potato, Cinnamon Cookie, Green Tea and Matcha and many many more! We definitely suggest taking a look here before leaving Tokyo! Another group explored the area of the museum called “Odaiba”, a man made island in Tokyo bay known for its wide selection of shopping, dining and leisure options. Our first stop was the shopping mall “Venus Fort”, which is not only attractive because of the variety of shops and restaurants it features but also because of its special interior design that is inspired by Medieval Europe. The streets of that time are recreated and the ceiling imitates the sky. After a quick shopping tour we went on...

Our first encounter with Tokyo

Yesterday we finally arrived at our final destination, Tokyo. Today was our first encounter with this big city. Since it was a sunday, no company visits were planned. So we had a cultural day. The morning started with a visit to the Sumida Hokusai museum. Here the artworks of Hiroshi and Hokusai were showed, a famous manga artist and a traditional artist. Nearby the museum was a big playground, it was hard to recist this so we were able to play here too. Next we went to the Tokyo Metropolitan Goverment building to enjoy the amazing view of Tokyo from above. In the afternoon we went to the famous Tokyo square where it was BIG and BUSY. Here we enjoyed some free time to check out this place with lots of shops, big cars and lots of crossings. We learned that getting to know the subway traffic can be quite tough, with so much different lines and weird names. In the evening we had some good dinner together and enjoyed some beers. Afterwards there was a firework festival going on, some enjoyed it from the rooftop and some more close from the bridge next to it. All in all a fun first...

Finally, some rain!

After a couple of busy and long days, the group finally had the chance to sleep in. At 9, everyone rolled out of bed to pack their bags and eat breakfast, before moving on to Kyoto’s main station. This was not a very easy task, as busses and lots of luggage often don’t get along. Furthermore, a national warning had been given for a typhoon that would cover most of Japan’s mainland. We didn’t really know what to expect, and as we had to travel to Tokyo anyway, it didn’t really stop us. The Shinkansen that was taken to Tokyo gave us some more time to relax, to take some time to read, eat, sleep, or play some games (like PokĂ©mon for example). Arriving in Tokyo, the typhoon that we had been warned for could be felt a bit. It was rainy and stormy, a bit like the Dutch general weather! It was advised to stay inside between 7 and 9pm, so the group got to a nice dining place nearby to eat and then went to the hostel. There, a couple of games (Exploding Kittens, Jenga, etc.) were played enthusiastically. A small group also went and explored the streets of Japan’s biggest city for a bit, seeing and experiencing Tokyo’s nightlife. Today had been a really relaxed day, the group only traveled to Tokyo and there was no busy schedule (also partly because of the weather). Tomorrow, however, a nice cultural day is planned! We will go to an art museum, where both traditional Japanese art is showcased, as well as Japanese manga artworks. Furthermore, we will visit...

Kyoto by bike: hot or not

Dear readers, Today we showed our Dutch cycling skills to the citizens of Kyoto, and navigated the sweltering streets by bike. Luckily we had a lovely Italian tour guide who showed us around the cities hotspots. On our way we passed Buddhist temples and shrines, Japanese gardens, and Geisha houses. It was really hot to be on a bycicle, but our destinations were breathtaking. We quickly realized that many of us were quite heavily burned, which surely will give us some amusing tan lines in the next few days! After the tour we split up and went our own way. Some of the groups were brave enough to keep on cycling through the hot streets, whereas others preferred public transport and air conditioning, which seemed more reasonable for those suffering from the beginnings of a heatstroke. Next stop was the Nishiki market where we had some delicious Japanese food before heading off to the famed bamboo forest, where we were spoiled by the view, the clouds (which made the air feel slightly cooler) and the gorgeous sights. We has some delicious soft serve ice cream, including the green tea flavour (my favourite). Regards, Kristine and...

Becoming successful businessmen by cuddling bambis

Yesterday we went to Hiroshima for an impressive trip. Today was the time for another company visit to Optex as well as a nice cultural visit to the temples of Nara. After a couple of early mornings, it would have been great to take some time for sleep. Unfortunately, today was not that day as today we also had to get out of bed by 6:30 AM. After everyone had their breakfast and was properly dressed, we left for Optex. It was originally planned to go to Optex in a full suit. However, due to the kinda high temperatures here in Japan, we decided that the men could leave their jackets at the hostel. So, after a conveniently only having to take one bus, we arrived at Optex. This company focusses on the creation of sensors and LEDs. First, we were welcomed and received two presentations. The first was on some general information about the company, while the second was about the skills required to becoming a successful businessman. Once the presentations were over we had the opportunity to see the R&D department of Optex. Finally, there was the opportunity to ask questions in a small Q&A. After which we left Optex to go to Nara.     Since the heat was still very present we had taken some lighter clothes with us to Nara. So after an interesting toilet break, most of our “2.5-star” clothing had been exchanged for a bit more heat tolerant clothing and we went on our way to Nara. Nara is the place of very nice temples as well as the home of a lot (and...

A trip to Hiroshima: Never Again

Good day readers! Today was another one of our cultural days, where we visited Hiroshima. The day started early with a wake up call at 6:30 in the morning. The briefing was at 7:20 sharp, and there was no time to eat breakfast at the hostel  so we had to eat our own, as we had to catch the Shinkansen! The Shinkansen is more commonly known as the Japanese bullet train, which connects major regions within Japan. The train can reach speeds up to 320 km/h, and from the inside feels just like an airplane. The train departed at 8:23, and we arrived in Hiroshima at 10:35. Fun fact: The average daily delay of the Shinkansen over 2016 is approximately 54 seconds, which is worse compared to the 36 seconds measured in 2015. Once we arrived in Hiroshima we took the tram to the Hiroshima peace memorial, which is the building in the picture below. Because the atomic bomb that landed at 8:15 in the morning on the 6th of August 1945 exploded almost directly above this building, the blast and shockwave pushed down on the frame. Therefore, it is one of the few buildings that was not completely pushed over by the blast. It was confronting to see the remainders of a building standing in a modern city. If you did not know better you could not tell that such a horrible thing happened to the city of Hiroshima such a short time ago. After the peace memorial building, we continued to the Hiroshima peace museum. The museum had a very modern and simplistic feeling and atmosphere, but...

Monozukuri tour #2

Hello again there dear readers! Today we continued the Monozukuri tour by starting of with a visit to the Hilltop, a company specialized in prototyping aluminum products for a variety of customers. This varies from creating prototypes for airplanes, to custom-made products. Their production is by means of letting machines do the routine work and the employees doing the creative work. On top of that, their R&D department consists of people specialized in mechatronics, system design, and product design. All in all, a perfect environment for a creative technologist! The second company that we have visited, was called crossEffect. This was typical industrial design company that was specialized in helping clients with creating product by applying rapid prototyping; saving the clients a lot of time and money in the product development. In this company, prototyping is done with the use of vacuum-injection, resin casing and laser etching. Rapid prototyping is one of the company’s main strengths. Besides specializing in rapid prototyping, they also have a partner company called crossMedical. This company saves many lives by giving surgeons the opportunity to practice surgery on a 1 to 1 scale replica of their patients’ organs such as the heart. By doing so, they surgeons get more confidence in performing the surgery and ultimately decrease both time and chance of complications. Back at Kyoto Makers Garage we listened to a presentation given by a master student who started his master thesis on analyzing start ups in Kyoto, but ended up focusing on the Makers Garage studio. Finally, the two-day Monozukuri tour was rapped up with a presentation from a start up called...

Monozukuri tour

Good morning, afternoon or evening to you! Today, we woke up, well rested in our new kyoto-based beds, ready to face the day.We all made our way downstairs to enjoy a briefing and a german breakfast: a hotdog bun with a sausage. After this, we split into two groups: one visited Hacarus, an e-care startup that utilized AI for healthcare related products, and one software producing startup called Nota. I joined Nota, and I had a great morning learning about this Silicon Valley-styled startup company. Their apps are called Scrapbox and Gyazo, two incredibly useful and nifty apps. Gyazo was one of the first screenshot and screensharing applications and Scrapbox is aimed at companies for information sharing and structuring. After a good q&a session we headed over to the local Doshisha university for some lunch. I had the most delicious bowl of udon noodles I’d ever tasted. Finally, we made our way over to the makers garage where the other group was already waiting for us. The makers garage is a small fablab for students and startups with a wonderful atmosphere. Sabrina, from the makers garage, gave us a great talk about the local company and startup scene. Later, a Japanese guy called Sushi gave us more insight into the Japanese culture which was great. Our group of knowledge-hungry travellers is very good at asking interesting but endless questions, so the afternoon turned into more of a never-ending AMA. They ordered pizza for dinner for us, which was really good.A great day, and more to come tomorrow! With love,...