Thursday, 29 December 2016

Inzemi 2016

Much like last year, we had our inzemi (although it seems like I didn't blog about it). Last year, the Industrie 4.0 team didn't take part, but this year, the Pokemon Go team did (although the fourth years didn't have to present).


The Pokemon Go team made a lot of good progress and I'm very proud of them for that. We had a practice run the day before, and when I compare the actual presentation to that, they made a lot of progress. In the end, we placed 6th out of 9. Our other team managed to place 1st, so our sensei was very satisfied overall.

Most of the teams were really interesting, although I quite disagree with the one talking about migrant labour in Thailand and Myanmar. Their proposal was to restrict the flow migrants from Myanmar to Thailand (and eventually stop), but I think to clamp down the legal flow will only increase the number of illegal immigrants, which in turn carries a higher risk of human rights abuses. So I asked them about it, but their reply was:
We're economic students so we decided to ignore the human rights issue.
Good thing I had a mask on because I was definitely not making a nice face. I think that when you're talking about developing countries, you have to consider the country as a whole, especially since such issues will affect the economy (plus not to mention the shadow economy). It's hard, to be sure, but a good guesstimate will be better than completely leaving it out of the model.

Plus, when you're talking about Tier 2 Watchlist and Tier 3 countries, there's even less excuse to consider these factors.

Apart from that, though, I found that most of the presentations were really enlightening. It's always interesting to see what other people are studying since my zemi has a very narrow focus.

And just in case I don't post before the new year, I hope everyone has a happy new year!

Monday, 26 December 2016

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

I hope you all had a great day yesterday (and are having a good boxing day today). I went to Church and had a baking class yesterday, so I had a good Christmas!

The cake I baked:


I'm planning to work on my graduation essay over the new year break.

What about you? Anyone have any interesting year end plans?

Friday, 23 December 2016

Yanagawa

I finally managed to go to Yanagawa (with my family)!! Unfortunately, it rained the whole time, so you can expect some rather dreary (but hopefully still pretty) pictures. For our trip, we decided to get the Nishitetsu tokumori ticket that includes the train tickets, the boat ticket, and a lunch set at one of the designated restaurants. It's a bit expensive, at 5000+ yen, so if you've got picky eaters or if you're bringing kids along, you may not want to get it. For us, we got my brother separate tickets, because he's a picky eater and there are no "child prices" for this set. Tickets can be bought at the counter outside the Nishitetsu station and advance bookings are not needed.


Yanagawa Boat Ride

Once we got off the train, we headed to the free shuttle bus to the boat ride! The lady who sold us the tickets was very nice and helped us calculate our route - that if we took X train we would arrive by Y and be able to board the shuttle bus at Z and such. It made travelling a lot easier.


I actually didn't think I took that many photos because it was raining, but it turns out that when you have a boat ride that goes on for over an hour, you will end up taking quite a few photos. Here's one of the few colourful ones:


And this was our guide! He basically pointed out interesting parts of the river and sang songs for us. Plus steer the boat and make sure it stayed balanced.



My biggest impression of him is that he doesn't believe in ghosts, since he mentioned that many, many times.

Oh, and the main problem with my photos was that I was seated in the middle, which means that I can't really get good shots without someone in the picture.


Going from the river to the canal! The guide was quite happily pointing out that Yanagawa is the Venice of Fukuoka, and that they are rather dependent on tourism. Sadly, Yanagawa has a shrinking population. But then again, the real Venice is also 'shrinking' because its residents are basically driven out by the tourism industry.

I was told that these staircases were built a really, really long time ago:



It really is very lovely, but Yanagawa isn't known for its autumn colours. The guide actually told "You came at the worst time".



Apparently, the building on the left is (was?) a brick factory.
Me - sees something not green or bare.

*immediately takes picture*



And those are the "floating" shops up ahead:


Our guide really didn't want to stop, though. He told us not to raise our hands because then he'd have to stop.



Apparently, this is a huge fishing net, but it's not being used now. The guide said that this is just for show.


We also saw one momiji tree, which made my mom and I really happy.



We ended at around 1:50, and since the place I wanted to go for lunch stops taking orders at 2:30, we hurried to the restaurant!

Lunch @ Tachibana Residence

This is the set lunch that we had. I chose this restaurant because it comes with a ticket to the rest of the place, while the other places didn't have such additional perks (there is one that allows you free access to the onsen, but it closes at 1:30 or something like that).



This is some kind of eel nabe. Before we ate, we added a raw egg and let it cook for a while.



And this was the steamed eel with rice! Of course, the eel was nice but the star is clearly the rice!! It's kinda like takikomigohan (hope I remember the name correctly) and so delicious! I would be happy just eating the rice haha.



Apart from this, we also had dessert (chocolate cake and two pieces of fruit) and a soup. So it was a rather filling lunch.

As for my brother, we ordered him this:


Most of the food is eel-based, which he doesn't eat. So we had to get him the kids bento (1080 yen, including tax), which was more rice + chicken, saussage and the like)


After we ate we went for a walk around the place. Actually, we were supposed to do this before eating (since the food takes some time to prepare), but we were so cold and hungry we decided to just sit and rest.


Sadly, the house is undergoing renovations so the picture isn't as pretty as advertised.

And we found this really awesome room! Apparently in Yanagawa, if you have a girl, you have to make for them one of these hanging things (this is like a bunch of the hanging things).


I seriously love the expressions on the dolls, which are insanely adorable.




And we found a really pretty spot on our way out!



This is the 出会い橋 (deai bridge), if I remember the name correctly.


It's supposed to be a very popular photo spot, especially if you're in the boat! But I wasn't able to get a good shot until after we got off.

We also saw a rainbow while hunting for an onsen that was open!




The first onsen we went to closed at 3pm (until the evening), but that turned out to be a good thing cause the onsen at the community centre had a family room!


It was really cosy! After we got out of the onsen, we managed to board a bus back to the station and back to Tenjin.

Yanagawa is really beautiful, but it's probably best enjoyed during the peak season of Spring and Summer, if I remember correctly. I did hear that there are a few winter events (something about illuminations), but they seem to be held during a very specific time period. So if you're planning to go in November or December, it might be a good idea to search for information about the various events online and then plan your trip accordingly.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Exploring Itoshima (Part 2)

Ok, I'm back with the second part about my trip to Itoshima. In the previous post, I stopped after our visit to the salt factory. So after we had our fill of the ocean view and salt pudding, we decided to head towards Meoto Iwa (夫婦岩). Finding this on Google Map's was a little bit complicated because there's a much more famous Meoto Iwa in Ise. But if you search for 桜井二見ヶ浦の夫婦岩 (sakurai futamigaura no meoto iwa), you'll be able to find it. There's a public car park just next to it, so parking isn't a worry)


And of course there's an obstacle. Luckily there's a spot where it's rather narrow and easier to jump over. 


It's really just a torii in front of two rocks, but if you're looking for a day at the beach, it's not a bad place. I saw shower areas near the restaurant opposite (next to the carpark)





賑やかな春 (Nigiyaka na Haru)

We were actually aiming to go to this shop that we heard sells interesting stuff next, but we passed by Nigiyaka na Haru and decided to take a look!


It basically sells organic food (and there's a BBQ place, plus a bakery nearby), and we did buy a few things, but the real reason we stopped was because of this:


The animals. It wasn't really a farm, but we thought it would be interesting to take a look.



Dover

Our last stop was Dover, a shop/art studio run in an old miso factory. The artist is American and I think we spotted him painting in the back.


This definitely had a very hipster vibe. The things were lovely though - pity they were all really expensive!

Artist at work
 But I really do adore how they decorated the place. Totally feels like shabby chic, with the fake autumn leaves everywhere.


Also, whoever created this jar has the right idea of the amount of chocolate that one needs to have in the house.


That basically marks the end of our trip. We decide to drive back to Fukuoka city for dinner, since my brother wanted sushi and I needed to pick something up from school. It was definitely very fun, and I'm glad that my mother finally got to go to Itoshima!

Monday, 19 December 2016

Exploring Itoshima! (Part 1)

One weekend, my mom decided to rent a car and explore Itoshima, a place that she's wanted to go ever since she heard about the oyster huts. As the navigator, I found a really good blogpost by Fukuoka Now that we (somewhat) followed. And in an even greater stroke of coincidence, the car rental company was the same! That was definitely not planned(:

Our car for the day :D 


First stop: Oyster Huts (牡蠣小屋)


Since we set off rather late (around 11), we decided to head straight to lunch. Itoshima is famous for its oysters (or so I hear) and once the oyster season comes, oyster huts pop up! We decided to visit 住吉丸 (sumiyoshimaru).

But first, I saw the fluffiest cat at the huts!


Unfortunately, said cat (which my brother nicknamed "Garfield" because of how grumpy it looks) refused to look in our direction.



Inside the hut, we were all given yellow jackets and shown to a grill.



It is really all seafood. For my brother, who isn't a big fan, it meant that there wasn't much for him to eat (and we ended up getting him some fish which he enjoyed cooking).

The oysters are 1000 yen for 1kg, though if you choose the bigger oysters (which they didn't have when we came), the price goes up. If I remember correctly, the biggest oysters cost 1500 yen per kg.


Apart from oysters and fish, we also ordered scallops and prawns! And oyster rice.


The seafood was extremely fresh, and I totally see why we needed the jackets. Oysters tend to open with a pop (if you're lucky) or what sounds like a mini-explosion, complete with oyster juice flying all over the place. Not to mention all the ash from the grill in the place!


It's definitely worth it for the seafood, though.

After eating, we were back to the car and off we went!


But not without stopping to take a few photos.


We were basically driving along the coastline and the scenery was breathtaking. So when there was a place to pull over, my mom stopped for a while for us to enjoy the view and grab some shots.



Maitachi Salt Factory (Tottan)

Our second stop was the Maitachi Salt Factory (which according to their site is called とったん), and has the most scenic parking lot I've ever seen. And yes, I will be using the word scenic a lot because the view truly is beautiful.

Scenic, right?


Because the road to the factory is narrow, only cars that carry the elderly, disabled or very young are allowed to drive all the way to the factory. Everyone else has to walk in.


It's about a 5 to 10 minute walk, though, which isn't too bad.


I really love the look and feel of the place. It's got lots of places for people to relax and play, and almost everything is made out of wood (or what looks like wood)





The people there were really helpful too. We were directed to walk to the back and look at this:


Apparently, this circulates the seawater for 10 days, helping evaporation along and making it saltier.


And if you look, you can see the pipe


Which leads into the sea.


After letting the sun do its work, the salt water is further heated up until it's 30% (or was it 33%?) salt. So the white thing you see floating on top in the picture below is salt!


Just scoop it out and it's done. It just needs to be dried via centrifugal force and then tested for quality.

Because the salt water isn't heated to insane levels (like what the big factories do, according to the guide), all the minerals in the salt are preserved. The factory is pretty old, and produces about 40kg of salt a day! (Which makes the salt sold here rather pricey, but we still bought a packet because it seems healthier. Plus, how cool is it to know where the salt is from?)


And if you're here, you have to try their salt pudding! There are a couple of flavours (plain, sesame and chocolate), but I like plain the best!


And according to the sign, the most number of bottles sold to one person was 64! I wonder how many s/he ate, or what sort of party this is. And if you don't want to drive all the way to the salt factory, this is the same pudding that my friends and I got at the Sumi Cafe, which I blogged about here.

I actually have three more spots to share, but I think this is sufficiently long. I'll stop here now and come back and finish up tomorrow (or Wednesday).