May 9 - SendaiThis morning I got up very late: 10 a.m. At that time May was already in kindergarden. Kazu had bought some typical German breakfast for me, so I got bread and marmelade. After the breakfast we went for a walk.
Working in Japan
In Japan the weekend (the 2 days off per week) are usually not on Saturdays and Sundays as for most people in Germany. It depends on your workplace. In Toru's case his days off are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and this is why he could join me during my stay. But it doesn't necessarily mean, that you really have a day off: there are costumers calling so you always have to answer your phone and need to be available for your company. Toru told me when he signed the contract it was mandatory to give his telephone number to the company.
Anyway, the three of us went for walk and I was surprised to see an IKEA at the nearest Shopping Mall. Kazu explained to me that it was the company's 2nd try to etablish IKEA in Japan. First time it went wrong but know people love it. They only had a very small IKEA at their place but IKEA is thinking about extending it. Then Kazu and Toru showed me the kindergarden of their daughter and I was surprised: It was the best kindergarden I had ever heard about: they have very nice facilities and playgrounds (more than an amusement park than an normal playground), they also have horses and kids are allowed to go horseback riding. Moreover kids can already get English classes. Native English speakers take care of the kids and so it is almost natural for them to pick up the English language.
|IKEA in Japan|
|slides at the kindergarden|
|Stable with horses at the kindergarden|
|more slides at the kindergarden|
After walking around we went to a restaurant and ate noodles (still my favourite dish:-) and then Toru drove us to the most famous shrine in this area
|Toru and Kazu in front of the entrance gate|
and from this place we went to the main temple, just located opposite the street
|main temple (unfortunately I don't have a better picture of it)|
|boards filled with wishes written on wooden tablets|
|some information about that place|
|the last cherry blossom trees for me:-(|
That place was also famous for its deep-fried tofu and so I ate tofu and had my last black sesame ice cream (probably for the next 3-4 years:-( )
|famous place for deep-fried tofu|
|tofu plus sauce|
|eating deep-fried tofu|
After visiting this place for about 2 hours (14:00 to 16:00) Toru drove us back and because we had already missed the time to pick up May from the bus station we went to his parents' place to pick her up from her grandparents' house.
At 17:30 Kazu and I left Toru and May behind and Kazu drove me to her workplace at the univeristy. We were supposed to meet the professor I had met one year ago in Cologne when Kazu and her professor were on a business trip.
Last year in February I met Kazu in Germany. She wrote me an email and asked if we could meet because she and her professor were on a business trip in Europe (including Bonn and Cologne). So I met her and one of her professor on a Sunday morning and we visited the Cologne Cathedral, walked along the promenade of the River Rhine and had a typical German lunch including beer together. Later Professor Yonekura backed out to the hotel room and I showed Kazu the main sights of Bonn. In the evening we met Professor Yonekura again plus his Assistant Professor Takashino as well as another professor named Professor Pushpalal. I was treated by them to dinner. We had a great evening and talked and laughed a lot.
When Kazu had told them that I was about to visit Japan they wanted to meet me again and a common dinner was arranged.
When we arrived at the university Kazu showed me her former workplace (in the meantime she had changed to another department and when we met she had already been in her maternity leave). Professor Yonekura welcomed me very kindly and then showed me his office and explained about the impacts the eqarthquake had caused to his office.
It was very interesting because everybody in Japan had his own story to tell about the earthquake and the tsunami!
After seeing all the cracks in the wall, the new bookshelves and the ropes that were now spanned from one side of the shelf to the other side to prevent books from falling off if the earth is shaking again we went to a very traditional Japanese restaurant, that Kazu had chosen for us.
|Kazu in front of her university|
|kind of pickled radish|
|meat and vegetables that were about to cook in the heated pot|
|Namahage and I|
|Namahage and Kazu|
|from the left: Professor Yonekura, Professor Pushpalal, Namahage and Assistant Professor Takashino|
|Professor Pushpalal enjoying the talk with Namahage|
|Kazu, Namahage and I|
Thanks to the professors and Kazu's arrangements I had a very nice and interesting and informative evening. We totally forgot about the time and when Professor Pushpalal took a closer look to his watch he was surprised that it was already 10 p.m. We had sat together from 18:30 til 22:00 and time had been flying by that fast. I was treated by them again (even though I really wanted to pay this time...) but anyway. We said goodbye and wanted to take a taxi back to the university but then I recognized that I had forgotten one of my backs in the restaurant and thus Kazu and I went back to pick it up. After that Kazu and I took a taxi on our own and from the university Kazu drove home. We were back at home at around 23:00 but I was still so excited and so many things went through my head that I couldn't sleep immediately. Instead of sleeping I read in my book til 1:15 a.m.