One Year Ago…

…I was crouching on the floor in my laboratory at Tohoku University, feeling the ground shake violently, watching the walls shift, shelves break and things fall down. When the earthquake finally stopped, everyone asked “大丈夫?” (Japanese for “Are you OK?”) while coming out of the places where they had taken cover. Fortunately nobody in theContinue reading “One Year Ago…”

What planet are you from?

One day during my second month in Japan I was waiting for my turn at the doctor’s. A mother with a very young child, I guess just a few months old, entered. When the little boy noticed me, his eyes became very wide and round, and for minutes he didn’t look away. The mother seemedContinue reading “What planet are you from?”

Exchange Student Goodbye Party

Last Wednesday we had the Closing Ceremony for Tohoku University’s exchange programs and afterwards a goodbye party. While I still have a few weeks in Japan, many exchange students have already left or will leave soon, so indeed a lot of goodbyes had to be said. Naturally, there were many speeches at the ceremony andContinue reading “Exchange Student Goodbye Party”

Curtain Salad!

Remember that bitter melons (thanks to Maxi for the name) were growing in the university’s “Green Curtains”? Today, the nice ladies who make sure that there’s enough tea in the break room, wash tea cups and so on made a salad with these goya (that’s what the bitter melons are called in Japanese). Well, bitterContinue reading “Curtain Salad!”

Green Curtains

After the nuclear accident at the Fukushima I power plant only few of Japan’s nuclear power plants remain in operation, mostly because plants that were shut down for maintenance may not be restarted before undergoing extra safety checks. This leads to a power shortage, and we need to save power to prevent blackouts. Air conditioningContinue reading “Green Curtains”

Start of Semester impressions

Today I’ve been back to my laboratory at Tohoku University for the first time since the day of the Great Tohoku Earthquake. Our building suffered only minor damage as shown by a green “inspected” sign, that also says to take care because some of the facade’s tiles have become loose. Some of the bathrooms inContinue reading “Start of Semester impressions”

Return to Sendai

I arrived at Sendai station this morning after more than 11 hours of bus ride from Kyoto. The city looked as usual, except maybe a bit more construction work and fewer lights. While the highway bus approached the destination I wondered if I would be able to take the city bus from the station toContinue reading “Return to Sendai”