Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Second and Third Days in Japan

I've been a bit unfair to Japan. It's not just about toilets. This is a really fascinating, beautiful and unique country. The first day we tried to walk to the conference, but we discovered that's it's quite difficult to figure out what street you are on. Addresses are given by the block name here... and it's written in Japanese. Difficult to figure out.

We ate last night at a tiny restaurant on the street. They have little carts that fold out into complete restaraunts. There is a counter, a stove, stools, a cooler for sake and cold water. There were 4 Japanese business men there smoking and talking while we ate. Fortunately, one of the owners spoke Chinese, so Ben could order our food. It was a really nice experience.

Today we went over the conference in the morning. We went to see a talk about the Chinese Space Program, but it was cancelled "due to the sucessful mission". I was a little suprised by this. They should have sent some sort of delagate to give this talk. If they cancel this talk because it the mission was a success, wouldn't they also cancel the talk if the mission were a failure? Frustrating.

Juilien, Erica, and Afreen's talks went well.

We had lunch at a little noodle place near the conference. There were five MIT students in the group. There was a big discussion on how we should order. Two people in the group spoke chinese, so they haggled over the meaning of the characters (there is about a 70% overlap of chinese characters with Japanese Kanji characters). In the end, the waitress came over to take our order.... She knew the english names of all of the foods, so, in the end... it was no big deal. I had beef soba noodle soup. Very nice!


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