culture shock

November 15, 2008

We have returned from Japan and all of us have left a little bit there. Each of us has to go back to ordinary life now. At the moment we are lost for words to describe our experiences.

Therefore, we show you at this point three pictures of our high-contrast and exciting trip. These pictures illustrate our impressions very well.

Day 14 – Leaving Japan

November 12, 2008

12 November, 2008

4:00 a.m. or 6:00 a.m. – who cares? The wake-up call destroys the dreams. After a short night in Osaka we’re catching a last view on the city of Osaka while having breakfast on the 12th floor of the Hotel.
It’s unbelievable, but two weeks in Japan are finally over. Did we really just stay that short period? It feels like being in Japan for months… It’s the last chance to enjoy rice, misosoup and fish in the morning.
The bus takes us to Kansai airport. Some of the delegation members take a nap, others enjoy the scenery and everybody seems to be fulfilled with new impressions, memories and sadness. We all lost a bit of our souls in Japan and nobody really wants to step into the airplan.

At the airport we say “Mata aschita” to Tada-san, Yukiko-san, Etsuko-san and some Japanese delegation members. A last hug then a wave to the right and a wave to the left then we board the aircraft.
Although some us hope that the immigration officer finds a reason why we must stay in Japan, he doesn’t make us the pleasure. It’s finally time to say good bye!

Ho-ta-ru no hi-ka-ri, ma-do no ju-ki, fu-mi j-omu zu-ki-hi ka-ssane zu-zu,
i zu shika to-schi-mossu gi-noto o, akete so ke-ssa-wa, wa-ka-re ju-ku

The 12hour flight to Frankfurt feels like a never ending journey. Fortunately the aircrew keep us busy. It’s the last time that we enjoy a big “Kampai” on this tour and sometime between eating, sleeping and drinking we’re entering the German air space.

In Frankfurt we all split off for the final destination – Home. With tears in our eyes we have to say “Sayonara” to each other. Loneliness and disorientation will accompany us the next days, weeks, months… It seems that we all have a second cultural shock – Germany is so different and strange, but Japan is so far and well known. Let’s hope, that we will get a chance for a one-way-ticket to Nihon soon… Until this will happen we have to live on thousands of pictures we took

Thanks to everybody, Arigato gozaimas to all who made this journey unforgettable.

* Arsen, Carolin, Christian, Susanne, Benjamin, Christiane, Kira, Tom, Franziska, Maurice, Dominique, Moritz, Aileen, Kirsten, Julia, Gisa, Julia, Sven, Madeleine, Franziska, Michaela, Claus and Sascha *

Day 13 – Kumamoto to Osaka

November 11, 2008

11 November, 2008

Today we got up for the last time in the houses of our guest families. Later that day, we did some photographs and went with the guest family to Tokyoko Inn Hotel in Kumamoto.

Afterwards we went to a castle that coins the cityscape. We were amazed by the impressive architecture and the opulent design inside. Everything was built by wood. The reconstructed ruins of the castle Kumamoto were built in the year 1607 and destroyed during the Satsuma rebellion in 1877.

The Donjon and other parts of the castle are one to one reproductions exactly rebuilt by the rules of ancient Japanese craft traditions. The castle is placed on a hill inside the centre of the city. At these times, into the 17th century, it was one of the most massive buildings in the whole Japan. The outer walls had a length of 5 kilometres including 49 Yagura entries and 28 gates.

Because of the Japanese guides we got a very impressive view at the details of the castle. But there was still something we couldn’t understand – the notches on some stones. Did not understand why it was placed there.

Afterwards we went to the airport where our plain to Osaka was waiting for us. On the flight we had the chance to see the beautiful countryside and some high mountains of the country.

After our arrival in Osaka we checked into a hotel named KKR. There we met some Japanese attendants and explored with them the inner city of Osaka.

In the evening we had all together a nice meal at a restaurant. The main attraction there was that you could fry your own food into some feeders filled with hot oil.

At the end of the trip we wanted to thank our new Japanese friends and the guides who looked for us during the last two weeks. As we wanted to thank them we had prepared some little presents which we gave them before saying good bye.

Day 11 (Kumamoto Homestay)

November 9, 2008

9 November, 2008

7 o‘clock getting up, put on cloth and enter the car… It was a very early start but it was ok because we were on the way to a sumo training and fight. It was interesting… very „big“ men, nearly naked hit one on the other. These sumo-fighters were like stars for the japanese people, they always tried to explain to me who is the best fighter and who had the best chances against an other fighter.
After that, we went back home and had a traditional japanese breakfast with rice, fish and soup. It tasted very good because after 10 days in japan the most of us had accustomed to these breakfast.
2 o‘clock pm we entered the car again and drove to a friend of Chie (my guestmother), she is a Kimono teacher. She showed me how to wear a Kimono in a very traditional way and we drunk traditional green tea together and talked a long time.
After this we went to a very nice Onsen and Chie and I relaxed there for nearly one hour.
In the evening the family prepared a very big evening meal, with Takoyashi, Maki-Sushi and pasta (but I forgot the name). There were also some friends of my guestsister, so I had to answer very much questions and we had a lot of fun by dancing the Algorithm March 🙂 It was a veeeeery long day, I collected so much impressions and so I fall into my bed after all of that.
The next morning we only had time to had breakfast and to drive to the hotel. It was very sad to say good bye to the guestparents for all of us, because we all had a great time… and it was interesting so see how japanese live.

Day 9 (processers)

November 7, 2008

7 November, 2008

With the graceful sound of the morning voice the seventh of november 08 begann exactly at 7.00 am. Right next to everyones morning business, 23 delegation members walked sleepily to the yearned for morning appell. After singing one of our most favourite anthems “Hoch auf dem gelben Wagen” we went to breakfast. Even if the weather was not as fine as the day before we all were in a good mood and everyone was looking forward to start the company visting programm.

Our first destination was the Namino Yasuraegi Koryukan, which is a local meeting place for student or pupil groups. Two years ago the former school house was converted to this kind of facility. The two social workers who guided this visit, showed us the whole premises including every seminar room. I was really surprised after having realized, that the two guys were dancing with us – dressed like very cute ladies – at the welcome party through the night.

Our second destination was a buck wheat mill called Michi no Eki. While watching at some workers producing very long noodles in a really tiny  factory, one of them had a quite shocked expression being photographed by almost ten “tourists”, just doing her daily job.
Next to the factory there was a huge bio market, including a restaurant and a souvenir shop. Having bought as much as we could, the market had surely its greatest turnover ever. Back to germany the first thing I have done, was cooking buck wheat noodles for my friends. Unfortunately they had not the enthusiasm I had, eating this lovely meal. At least they liked the delicious soya sauce, for gods sake.

After having dinner we went to our last destination, a company called NOK. Walking through the majestic entrance, we suggested, this company has to be very successfully. While listening to the presentation of our young tour guide, our premonition was confirmed. With a global market share of 50 percent, this company is one of the leading producers of industrial mechanical parts and hydraulic or pneumatic equipement. Next to the lecture about the company profile, we had a guided tour through the factory. Not to get lost, a coloured stripe on the floor set the way.
Near by the laboratory, where engineers were searching for brand new innovations, a big wall blocked the view of our spying eyes. In spite of smoky air (allegedly not contamined) and a really high noise level, it looked like the workers were in a healthy and cheerful constituion. At last we took a common picture with the employees.

On the way back home we were looking forward to the big surprise nobody wanted to tell us. Finally we did a journey to a puplic onsen, where we just were relaxing and thinking about how to establish a big and successful company.

What a happy day.

Day 9 (social branch) – MIYAJI

November 7, 2008

7 November, 2008

We have been very happy to visit the kindergarten, because to work with kids is mostly diversified and full of surprises. We have just arrived at the kindergarten the kids surrounded us. A welcome concert has shown us with how much discipline and joy the work is done in there. Afterwards we did handicrafts and created a Sumarai-hat. So we have trained our ability in working with paper. Luckily our little helpers have assisted us actively and we got over the language barrier easily with hands and feet.
After some dances it was time for lunch. We have been sitting on undersized chairs and tables, while the kids have served us a delicious meal. Together we took lunch and the little ones have had quite a lot of fun watching us eating with chopsticks. The following afternoon nap we would like to take as well. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough space for us on the mattresses. Therefore we have used the free time to talk with the employees and noticed that they really love their job.

In the afternoon we have played with the kids again. At the end of the day each of us had a new little friend. Then the kids said good bye to us in the European way shaking our hands. Some of them gave us a lovely hug too.
This day has been unforgettable for me and one of the best in the program. As you know: Children’s laugher has a global meaning: I am happy.

Day 8 (processers) – Suntory Brewery

November 6, 2008

November 6, 2008

It was the 8th day in Japan for us. The second day in Kumamoto-Prefecture and we had maybe about 7 days before to taste the refreshing Japanese beer.

After eight overwhelming days in Japan, the next six where up to follow. Seven young Germans, that built up the occupational group of processing, where on their way, on their mission to discover the secrets and miracles of the refreshing Japanese beer they had a chance to taste in the whole last week. What makes Japanese beer so complete, absolute so.. pure? This and further questions shall be answered to in their visit to the Suntory Brewery Kyushu-Kumamoto.

The bus arrived with those beer-specialists inside, synchronous as they left it they have been greeted by a Suntory co-worker in her yellow-grey suit. Full of expectation and after a short speech of greeting by the “Braumeister”, who worn a nearly completely white suite of purity, we started our walk through the factory, leaded by the “Suntory-Women” in her two-coloured suite.
A video of introduction has given some first answers to those brave Germans, that astonished until the video was over. One accentuation actually was given to the brew water flowing through volcanic minerals placed pretty close to the Suntory-Brewery in Kumamoto. This pure and controlled mineral water is fundamental for the whole (following) process.
Machinery, finest ingredients like hop and malt, a lot of also-filled-drinks like coffee or juice have been introduced to those “beer specialists”, that actually could learn a lot about the Suntory Brewery and about brewery itself.

Finally the processing group could convince themselves by tasting fresh brewed Suntory beer. And yes, they really could taste those food awards, the fresh water and the lovely selected ingredients.
Besides the very great taste of the Japanese beer those “specialists” have been a little bit suprised about how that beer was draught. The delegation leader didn’t hesitate to show them the nice German way, which is not always the cleanest. However the “Braumeister” seemed very impressed and commented that there actually are some nuances in the taste of the differently draught beer.
After such a fullfilling visit at the brewery the group was so happy that they spontaneously composed a song in the bus driving back to the Aso Youth Center.

“Sun-Sun-Suntory! Hey biru, Hoh jusu, Hey kohi – oishii!”

Thanks to Suntory Brewery Kyushu-Kumamoto!