It looks like this term is going to be much busier than last with lots of excursions and traveling. I am also really enjoying a couple of my classes and since our Term 3 grades were sent out this past week, I am in an excellent mood!
In the last two weeks, NUCB organized 3 excursions for us. First one being an educational trip to the Asahi Beer Factory! (which involved three free glasses of beer at the end). But in all seriousness it was very interesting, and like the Toyota trip earlier in the semester, we got to see the efficiencies and high automation levels of the Asahi factory. Asahi is the top-selling beer company in Japan with approximately 35% of the market share. We literally see Asahi’s beer and soft drinks everywhere; in stores, vending machines, advertisements, EVERYWHERE. It was definitely cool to see where all the magic happens and learn how their beer is made. (I was also surprised at how clean and beautiful it was!)
Next stop on the NUCB agenda was a trip to a local high school. I have to say this was probably one of my favourite NUCB excursions thus far. A few of us students had the opportunity to go to a commercial business high school and speak with the Director, some teachers, and a classroom full of students. It was quite interesting to see the contrast between a Canadian and Japanese high school. First of all, I never learned accounting when I was in high school, unlike these students. Also, we all had to wear slippers from the moment we entered the school. All students wore similar slippers and were wearing navy blue uniforms. The students attended class for 5.5 hours each day then cleaned the classrooms and garden for one hour. After cleaning, each student trained with the extra-curricular group of their choosing, only one group all year, for two hours each day. We visited many different clubs including Japanese archery, ping-pong, calligraphy, kendo, etc. Make no wonder I see so many students sleeping on the train everyday, I would be exhausted too if I were them. In all, it was a great visit and the staff and students seemed very appreciative of our presence.
The last stop we made was to the Taketoyo Thermal Power Plant. We got to listen to the director of the plant give a presentation about the various units of the plant and their outputs, as well as the problems the plant was currently facing, particularly following the earthquake last year. We then received a tour of the plant and finished off at the massive solar panel unit. This trip was particularly interesting because we received insight on the problems Japan is currently facing in terms of energy and what this plant in particular is doing to support and provide the Aichi prefecture with power. It is not often you participate on a company tour and get to hear about the obstacles they are dealing with, so it was particularly fascinating. The plant was very old and rusty and these solar panels demonstrated the plant’s hope for the future.
Finally, a fellow student and I took a weekend trip to the lovely city of Nara (the ancient capital of Japan). We visited a number of different Buddhist temples include the Todaiji Temple which is the largest wooden structure in the world. I took time to just sit and stare at this temple and try to take the best mental picture I could. It truly was breathtaking. However, what was most interesting about the city of Nara was the sheer number of deer. Yes, that’s right, deer. FACT: There are more deer in Nara than people. It was actually very astonishing to see the amount of deer walking around and how friendly they were. Deer represent ancient heavenly symbols in Nara and therefore are allowed to roam freely. My favourite part of the trip was the hike up Wakakusa Hill which delivered an unbelievable view of Nara during sunset. With narrow streets, ancient temples, and deer walking around, Nara definitely gave me the feeling of old Japan.
After all of these amazing activities, there is still more to come! This weekend I’m going back to Kyoto to discover more of the city. I can’t believe I am only in Japan for one more month; there is still so much to see and do.
And so the adventure continues…