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!


Day 8 (administrativ branch) – JA ASO

November 6, 2008

6 November, 2008

At our first day in Aso the business branch of the administrative visited the Japanese Agricultural Association. During the day we spent with the staff of the JA ASO in Ichinomiya, a board member and the manager of the branch of finance of JA ASO gave lectures regarding their business fields, company structure and working philosophy . After that we visited the bank of the Association and talked to young employees about their working experiences.

Afterwards we went to a JA ASO supermarket where organic products and food like fruits, vegetables, lunchboxes etc. were offered. For lunchtime some of the Japanese employees joined us in the little restaurant of the market. While the communication between the Germans and the Japanese were quite little because of the language skills we agreed with our hosts in the delicious taste of the typical regional beef we had for lunch. For dessert we enjoyed Japanese pears called nashi.

In the afternoon we participated in a guided tour through a manufacturing plant with some harvesters of JA ASO. The main products of the Association are rice and soybeans. We wondered particularly about the cultivation of strawberries in big greenhouses and asparagus though many Japanese do not know about asparagus. By the way, in the prefecture Kumamoto the farmers usually harvest asparagus during the year from April to October.

That was followed by watching a film about the harvest of rice in the prefecture. Although it was very interesting some of us were very tired due to the fact we spent the whole day at JA ASO. At the end of our stay we discussed with some employees of the Association about there working fields and there development during the last years.

Day 7 – Kumamoto and the mayor of Aso-city

November 5, 2008

5 November, 2008

When waking up there are always the same questions: Where am I and what time is it?
Today we have left Tokyo and travelled to the prefecture of Kumamoto. It’s hard to describe how you feel after one week being in the city of Tokyo. It’s an amazing metropolis and I’d like to come back to Tokyo. At the same time I have been happy to leave the city and to get to know the calm countryside of Japan in the prefecture of Kumamoto.
To pack and transport our bags we are already well proven – we are able to do our luggage blindfold. Although we have also learnt that the explanation for sleep has a broad interpretation during our trip.

After we have arrived in the city of Kumamoto we have taken the bus to the city of Aso. At a traditional Japanese guesthouse ‘Rijokan’ we have had a break for lunch. We’ve got horseflesh and other regional viands to eat. The hospitality and the ambience were overwhelming. Our delegation has visited the house and its Japanese bathrooms ‘Onsen’ and the Japanese backyard. In the city hall of Aso we were welcomed by the mayor of Aso-city.

At the evening we have been invited to a celebration with about 100 guests. We’ve got lots to drink and lots to eat. To underline this wonderful party we have got entertained with traditional Japanese performances e.g. dances and drumming….

What have we done this morning again?