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Updated: 2018-03-06T05:26:50.994-08:00


The End


The voyage draws to a close.As always, paradoxically, looking back it feels like more than the real duration (2 months), but I can't believe its gone so fast.And equally predictable, I've just begun to really have fun, feel comfortable, discover the nightlife of Nagoya, and meet people.While I haven't always felt compatible, the trip as a whole, and my stay in Japan in particular, has been fascinating, enriching and well worthwhile.See most of you soon at my surprise welcome home party :-)Kyoto and NaraWeekend before last I went to Kyoto and Nara with Bob, Eyal, and a horses head.Kyoto and NaraSome final pictorial thoughtsEverything is in order, for example, in the cafeteria, the potato chips are weighed to ensure precise quantities. And these men in uniform straighten the bikes all day:From japan2I told you they sleep in the labs:From japan2Last weekend Kenji took me to an Onsen (hot spring) in the mountains, with snow and everything. The great man himself, Kineneneneji:From japan2Pre Onsen:From japan2Then I went to the port. See the weekend photos (about 10 of them) in the second half of Japan2 album:japan2[...]

A lot about not much


SerendipityIts Tokyo. Its the morning. I had very tentative arrangements with Karen for later that night, and set out to explore the city. A series of random choices led me to Harajuku, where I bumped into her - out of 12 million people. This happened with adam in London as well, just looked up and there he was sitting opposite me on the train.thats her there:From tokyoGeijin RantQuestion: what does an 'Eggplant and Oregano' pizza have on it?........Answer: Eggplant and bacon (no oregano).Question: what does a vegetable sandwich have?....Answer: meat, and slightly more vegetables than the other sandwich.Question: what is a vegetarian sausage?Answer: I didn't bother to find out.ok ok ok ok, so i'm the minority.but WHY is there a need to add meat to absolutely everything to make it officially 'food'?i can rely on this chocolate mousse (Hershey's josh, Hershey's), and so i have had to eat a lot of them. its been very difficult.(left/top is for the chocolate focused individuals, right/bottom is for the ppl focused)Daily Happeningsgot a haircut finally. was difficult to find somewhere that a) had clippers, b) didn't want to wash my hair. not only that, but i had to buy the haircut from a vending machine, while the guy was standing right next to me. then i handed him the ticket. the vending machine even had a flashing light, so it was a robot as of the official definition (IRRC, june 2002, see Fernandez et. al).also, he spent a long long time meticulously trimming and perfecting the area around my ears and sideburns.this was a microcosm for life in japan. see my brain for more information.Non-sequiturthey love jingles here. and they are so damn good.Eye on japanif you don't have dressing on your salad, people will worry that you aren't enjoying it as much as you could be, and are prone to fuss around rectifying the situation.this is a good thing.[...]

More stuff and Tokyo


Mr Toba, the guy that runs the bar took me out again last week. Usually its with one of two other guys staying here. So far its been an Onsen (hot spring) and a great cafe. This time a tiny Okonomyaki (Japanese pancake / pizza) bar. The place couldn't have been larger than 2 by 3 metres. It was basically just the bar, and barely enough room to slide behind the patrons to an empty seat. It was packed with old Japanese, getting drunk, eating okonomiyaki, laughing, and singing karaoke. The lady behind the bar had a wonderful raspy laugh, and the man kept speaking a few words of Chinese to me. I was forced into jointly singing an old Japanese number (yes, that old chestnut). This is perhaps the most imperative reason to read Kanji.
The experience transformed my previously gloomy mood.

I just came back from Tokyo, here are the new photos, with short commentary in the captions.
But first, a couple other photos.

In general, people are very helpful and friendly. Also, very expressive and responsive to what other people are saying.

in nagoya, new videos/photos


Hi, so, this is my first blogging experience from this side of the blog.its hard to read the words backwards.there are two new photo albums of 'good times' in japan.just around and stuff:japan2and weekend in Kobe:kobe-himejiI just showed up to the synagogue in Kobe friday night at dusk, and they welcomed me in. took part in the singing and dancing around to welcome shabbat, and sat down for a great meal with a bunch of israelis and their japanese wives, assorted other expats, and an interesting japanese guy who is almost converted.------------also, here are a few great photos from a great man, dave from adelaide. taken during the conference in kunming, china.Dave's (Adelaide) photos from the conference----------and check out this short video of the conference made by a gekko loving spaniard (he makes robots that can climb walls)----------here is a video of my living quarters (or really, eighths)----------[...]

what am i doing in japan


i've been asked what i'm doing here -
enjoying the opportunity to gain experience in computer vision, work in a top lab in japan, and of course the chance to live and travel in japan for a short amount of time (6 weeks).

i am here with the lovely and witty EeHui, another student from monash uni.


we are primarily writing a manual in english for the 100 eye camera system, but also involved in the research project.


its a novel, interesting and complicated system. with multiple cameras, its possible to recreate scenes from arbitrary angles (even if there was no camera in that position).

they also have this nifty SeeLinder, a kind of tv that is cylindrical, so you can walk all around it and see the 3d picture from any angle. its pretty cool.
if you really care, you can check out :

so i've been going to work, staying late, working on personal projects most evenings, but going touring on the weekends.
see the photos and other blog entries.

snapshot of my japan observations


japan is an extremely interesting mosaic of cultures. having never been occupied by foreign rulers, japan has remained unique, but chosen and assimilated aspects of eastern (mainly chinese and korean) and western culture over the centuries.a good glance at the culture is given by Wikitravel (i love all things wikipedia) is the country where the past meets the future. Japanese culture stretches back millennia, yet has also adopted (and created) the latest modern fashions and trends. Japan is a study in contrasts and contradictions. Many Japanese corporations dominate their industries, yet if you read the financial news it seems like Japan is practically bankrupt. Cities in Japan are as modern and high tech as anywhere else, but tumbledown wooden shacks can still be spotted next to glass fronted designer condominiums. On an average subway ride, you will see childishly cute character toys and violent pornography- sometimes enjoyed by the same passenger! Japan has beautiful temples and gardens which are often surrounded by garish signs and ugly buildings. In the middle of a modern skyscraper you might discover a sliding wooden door which leads to a traditional chamber with tatami mats, calligraphy, and tea ceremony. These juxtapositions mean you may often be surprised and rarely bored by your travels in Japan. Rulesi feel like there are so many rules in this society.for example, with eating, these are the things i've been told directly, or read.its impolite to- wave your chopsticks around while talking- lick chopsticks- pierce food- eat each small dish one at a time !!!and thats just what i know just about eating.its hard to know if there are more rules, or if i'm just not familiar with them.[personally, i think its rude to find that last one rude (eating each dish separately)!]another faux pas that i made, was at an Onsen (hot spring). i went in with my underpants still on.the guy that took me told me that bathing naked is good for peace between nations.hmmmm, next time i will be better behaved and bare my gift to the nation of japan.also, people are quite modest, and will play down a compliment. on the other hand, if i've ever been complimented about anything, i say thanks enthusiastically, before reading a slight surprise and amusement.Boardsthere is a board in the lobby area, with everyone's room number, a little rectangle with a flap and a cache of coloured magnets. you must move the flap or stick the magnets to signify whether you are in your room or not, or away etc. apparently this is normal, and clearly everyone's business. there are similar boards outside the labs and offices at university.Indirectpeople are not direct. apparently, when speaking japanese, there is an emphasis on inference, and implication.i suppose that is why its very difficult to ask questions.well, not so much difficult, as hazardous.if offering something, it feels as if it must be accepted.when asking if something is available, then it seems that the answer will always be to oblige the said interpreted request, even though it may have just been a query.there is no doubt that a) the language barrier does not help, and b) this type of interaction becomes natural and therefore not a problem in everyday lifehowever, for this rude and insensitive foreigner, i am now scared to ask for/about, or offer anything most of the time.Uniat the university, there are at least 4 robotics related labs in the centre, each with at least 20 people. there are beds in all the labs, and people often work late and stay the night. they also have fridges, food, playstations and manga comics.the presentations are more conversations, and the relationship between the professors and the students appears to be less formal and more interactive than in australia.this is an illustration of the apparent contradictions.the language has 5 levels (or thereabouts) of grammar depending on the authority of the person[...]