domingo, 24 de julio de 2011

Nagoya June 2011

Hi all,
Just an update on a 1 week return to Japan in June for a conference. It was in Nagoya on the pacific coast, in the Aichi perfecture, and is Japans 3rd largest city. It was the chance for me to meet the U.ofTokyo, Kanzaki lab members again. It was a great experience to meet all of them and we went out several times. Nagoya itself seemed quite a peaceful city to me, as the name indicates in Japanese.
Kanzaki lab members and me posing with the ubiquitous v-sign :-)

Kanzaki lab members and other researchers enjoying the Japanese style dinner after the conference

Kanzaki lab members also threw a farewell beeru for me!

Shanghai May 2011

Hi all,
Wanted add an update of the far east adventures....was in Shanghai for a week in May for a conference...this city is ultra modern (e.g. the maglev train that "flies" at 430 Km/h from the airport to the city and the huge skyscrapers...I got a room on the 36th floor and felt a bit dizzy) to ultra old school (e.g. the taxi drivers that dodge everything in their way much like Mumbai or Delhi). Shanghai is the westernized version of China, pretty much a show case to the world.

Maglev speed at 430km/h...believe me its a fast train :-)
view of shanghai from my hotel room

 city view

sábado, 9 de abril de 2011

Origami and roses for Japan on St. Jordi day Barcelona

If you have been to Barcelona on the day of St.Jordi, the local Catalan patron, you will for sure have witnessed a beautiful tradition: the city is filled with stands selling roses and books. Boys are supposed to buy roses for ladies and receive books in return.
This year, some students and researchers from my university UPF had the idea to launch a little initiative for Japan. We ask the university staff and students to make Japanese origamis and sell them with flowers on St.Jordi. All the collected money will go to the much affected Tohoku university in Sendai.
Watch the publicity video (made by Eduard Sellabona):

The dream is to fulfil Sadako Sasaki's dream of 1000 paper cranes :-)

So this 23 April, you can see us selling origamis and roses on a stand in the ramblas :-)

viernes, 1 de abril de 2011

Global Pecha Kucha Inspire Japan

Pecha Kucha Barcelona is organizing a "Global pecha kucha inspire Japan" day on April 16. I am invited to present. Door money goes to Humanitarian relief efforts in Japan. Drop by if you are around :-)

martes, 22 de marzo de 2011

Why robots can't fix the reactors?

Much done but long way to go even for Japan, the robot superpower. If you have asked this question yourself while watching the nuclear power plant disaster rescue efforts, here an interesting report:

jueves, 17 de marzo de 2011

Did you know...

that it could take you 23 phone calls to all major hospitals in town, 2 hospital emergency visits (in vain), and 2 days and a half (if you are lucky enough to get to talk to the national civil protection office) to get a radioactivity test in Barcelona?
its a shame and its scary, given the sheer amount of nuclear power plants in Catalunya and around. No one knows who to talk to, not even the local official health service offices. Are'nt we all discussing nuclear safety now???

Real heroes

Friday 11 March, it should have been around 14:30 Tokyo time. I was at the lab on the 5th floor with around 4 other colleagues in the same room, after having lunch at the university restaurant. I was starting to log in to my laptop when I felt a sudden jitter of the table. Having experienced the shake the previous week (see my earlier post) I knew what it was and stood up. As always the others consoled me saying its usual and will not last long. Unfortunately it did not stop and in fact got much harder. Soon we saw shelves with books literally falling down and tables and chairs being thrown up and down. That was the moment I felt the fear that just instinctively made me run out (this is not the advised reaction to an earthquake; it is much more safe to cover and hold under a table or other sturdy furniture). Nevertheless, I saw also others following me and we ran down the stairs while the whole building was shaking as if in a bad turbulence on a flight. The way down the stairs from the 5th floor seemed eternal. I remember having ran out in the footwear used inside the lab while all others took the time to change the shoes (for hygienic reasons, the Japanese change shoes for indoors, outdoors, toilets etc). Finally having reached the ground floor we just needed to open the door to run to the patio. I thought I was dreaming  when I saw my colleagues opening the door and waiting for me to pass saying: "after you Zenon-san". Honour, politeness and fairness until the last moment, thats the Japan I witnessed. Out on the ground we saw parked cars simply swinging back and forth and the tall buildings around us on four sides moving like ships in wild winds. The football ground we were on seemed to be like on a ship swaying in the sea. Despite all this, there was no panic, everyone knew what to do and most were trying to tell me that this will go away and trying to cheer up eachother with jokes. Might sound surreal to some, but these are the real heroes who have been fighting for their lives and homes on an island that has been hit by natural calamities all throughout their history....but always with a friendly smile on the face and with utmost respect for eachother.  I miss you Japan. Zenon

miércoles, 16 de marzo de 2011

Say no to nuke!

Hi all, back in Barcelona and physically in safer conditions (big sigh)...sufferings of the Japanese people that have been flashing over the media in Japan sits too deep in mind, to catch any sleep. It is really bad over there. Honestly, it is irritating to hear that the west is basically concerned now about the leak getting to the West....agreeably it is an important discussion, but first it is about Japan and the Japanese. But, at the same time, I think it is finally time to discuss the end of nuke power (with given respect to the Japanese engineers for the Fukushima plants almost withstanding this unimaginable quakes way above they were designed to withstand). take care Zenon

lunes, 14 de marzo de 2011

Escaped to Kuala Lumpur

Hi all, it has been basically some days of exodus of foreginers from Japan. Therefore flights have been difficult to find. Besides every few minutes there are quite strong tremours also at the Narita airport. I had to sleep at the airport last night and it has been a cat and mouse game, when every 10 minutes or so the alram goes off and people crawl under chairs and tables. Everything then really shakes a la poltergeist for about 30 seconds. I think everything has been moving literally all the time. Sleeping impossible. Most European embassies think it is adivisable for foreigners whos presence in Japan is not strictly necessary to leave the country for some time. Anyways, I made it to Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur and will catch a connection to Europe tomorrow. Quite relieved I have to say. take care. Zenon

viernes, 11 de marzo de 2011


Thanks all for the emails and the commentaries here at the blog...
We here at the Komaba campus at the U.of Tokyo were quite lucky, there were no problems with buildings etc. It was just scary to run out of the 5th floor of the building which felt like in a flight turbulence. I guess one of the scariest experiences for me. I have to say that the Japanese colleagues take it much more tranquilo...actually thats whats needed more than panic. Anyway, very lucky here compared to more northern areas around Sendai as you might have seen on TV.
There have been aftershocks the whole day and night....many foreign people here in the hostel where I am could not sleep the whole night..but we have to get used to it as aftershocks were just announced for a whole month! baf.
turns out the blog is quite useful to keep informed..hope I can chip in some better news soon. Loads of love from Tokyo. Arigatou and adeu! Z

jueves, 10 de marzo de 2011

martes, 8 de marzo de 2011

First shake...went lucky

7.2 magnitude that struck off the coast of Japan this afternoon has triggered a small tsunami. We felt it quite well here in Tokyo at the lab...the building was literally shaking...but none else except seems to care too much. Baf...

lunes, 7 de marzo de 2011

the most surreal experience: pachinko

Tokyo is not merely visual, its sounds are equally special: e.g. a pachinko (comparable to pinball) parlour is I think one of the most surreal experiences...smoke-filled, extremely loud, crowded place, where no one talks..but are immersed in the game. if you listen for a minute, the sounds of the multitude of flippers and the clattering balls suddenly start to feel like a chant.

Wedding at Meiji Jingu shrine

it was a sunny saturday at yoyoji koen and the nearby beautiful meiji shrine...I happened to witness a ceremonial wedding

jueves, 3 de marzo de 2011

View from the lab

The lab is in the Komaba campus, one of the 5 campuses of the University of Tokyo. Its in the Meguro district of Tokyo. Quite sunny days and mild weather. Spring is indeed nice here.

warm espresso tea latte

the campus is full of vending machines selling both warm (red) and cold (blue) drinks. and most drinks are an example: warm espresso tea latte, yes it includes all of those..and is actually not bad.

lunes, 28 de febrero de 2011

Frist day at the Kanzaki-Takahashi lab

dora cafe interior near the Komaba campus
  It was so nice of the lab members to throw a welcome party for me (!) with Japanese food, drinks (Japanese beer, saki)..also I presented myself with a few informal slides

martes, 22 de febrero de 2011

Thats it...tomorrow is the flight to Tokyo...will miss the spring in Barcelona...but will keep you updated from the far east..