Wednesday, September 16, 2015

JSP'12: Miyagi - Seventh Day

Continuing from where I left off, after having spent an entire day travelling to Sendai, Miyagi, we're back to the usual routine again on the next day. The day started early in the morning, as usual. As I get ready to go out, I like to check the weather update on the tele to plan how many layers to pile on on that day. To my surprise, the weather update showed falling snow and I promptly ran to the window and opened the curtains to see this. 

Glorious glorious glorious fresh snow!

Quickly threw on clothes and practically ran downstairs!

Spent a good fifteen minutes or so taking these beautiful, beautiful photos.

The snow was still falling, rather heavily. It was magical. The sound of snowfall, it's incredible. So quiet, so hushed, so surreal. I don't think I'll ever forget this feeling. Met some other participants outside who were just as excited! But it was breakfast time so eventually we went in for a quick meal. 

Look, even a little garden inside the hotel vicinity looked like a scene from a fairytale.

A different breakfast spread this time. Glutton game strong. 

Beef bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, potato salad, lettuce, 
cabbage, cheese salad, mini hash browns, corn soup, natto, rice. 

Oh yes I do like natto. It tastes almost similar to tempeh! 

After wolfing it all down, quickly went out for another round of photos #suaku hahahahah

Back on the road again.

This time, we headed to the government offices for a talk and tour!

There were images of nearby cities displayed, 
taken right after the Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami 2011.

We were also warmly greeted by Musubimaru, the character mascot for Miyagi, Japan.

Musubimaru is a riceball, as rice is an important produce in this prefecture, and the badass armor is a tribute to a historical figure, Date Masamune. According to this site, Musubimaru said, “My job is to go many places and promote wonderful things about Miyagi. And when I don’t travel, I can be found on the first floor of Miyagi Prefectural Government Office greeting visitors.”  Next, we were driven to the prestigious Tohoku University.  

More #snowspam hehe

Early lunch at the cafeteria. So nice and bright! 

On the menu - curry rice and juice - for everyone. Mmmmmm.

After lunch, it was time for a little spontaneous outdoor activity #yolo snowball fights!

Building snowman!

The local students were probably in awe of these groups of foreigners having the time of their lives in the snowy, cold winter hahahah it really seemed like we're in the movies, cliche winter scenes featuring snowball fights, screams of laughter, attempts of creating snow angels, snowman getting built here and there, flashing smiles in group photos, amazingly bright, crisp weather. Ahh best. After about an hour or so, we were ushered in for the talks by authorities from Tohoku University.

Everyone got a little too jolly earlier in the snow and probably didn't realize the consequences of earlier actions until it was time that the consequences hit hard. Really hard. Like snow-soaked shoes, socks, and gloves in the freezing weather seated in a cold room for hours trying hard not too shiver too much and die kind of hard. The room was heated, but it was a big room and our clothes were also damp. When we had breaks, all got up to walk around to warm up, and get warm drinks from vending machines to keep the numb off our hands. Youth lol

You know what's interesting, with the heated toilet seats and all, it's actually hard to find heated tap water in most of the places that I've been to in Japan. I remember this day really clearly because, well, it was fun as hell, but it was also the time that I truly understood how bitter the cold can be. During one of the breaks, I had to go to the washroom and really dreaded washing my hands because the tap water was icy sharp to the touch. Imagine you're already literally shivering with wet shoes and socks, and still have to have your hands washed with the cold winter water. No choice, just had to go for it hahaha but I guess with things being this way, precious energy can be conserved for more important things than washing hands. Especially after the disaster. 

During the talks, we were presented with firsthand accounts of what happened during the exact moment when disaster struck, how the students and staff managed the situation immediately after, the losses that soon followed, and the optimism in strategic plans to recover and move forward. Positivity is a recurring theme in these talks by authorities representing various fields, organizations, groups, universities, by both government and private sectors. It's always about learning from the past, and moving forward, pushing to be better, striving to grow stronger. 

Remarkable spirit, don't you think so?

After spending the entire afternoon in Tohoku University, we were sent back to the hotel for dinner and had the night to ourselves. We walked to the nearby shopping area again and aimed to get souvenirs! 

I shopped, I really shopped.

I bought so much, these were so affordable compared to the stuff we've seen so far in Tokyo. Sapu habis bruh I legit brought back close to thirty packages of chocolate bars, candy, biscuits. etc, all souvenirs for friends and family. First time in Japan after all, must go all and contribute to the economy! Hahahaha!

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