DISCLAIMER: This page describes my "achievements" in Japan -- notice the double quotes. All opinions expressed are subjective and cannot be held against me in a court of law. Remarks/corrections are welcome and can be sent to the following address: razvan (at) nict (dot) go (dot) jp.
2005 - 2006
- December 15, 2005:
- Arrived at JAIST after a 23-hour journey. If that's not an accomplishment, what is?
- Managed not to get very wet by the Japanese solution of keeping roads practicable in winter: sprinkles in the pavement, both on the street and on sidewalk, prevent the freezing and the accumulation of snow.
- December 16, 2005: Tried the first self-heating toilet seat. Pleasant feeling when it's freezing in the toilet. Not used the built-in shower though -- I'm not that brave yet. Perhaps a hand-drying system, or at least paper towel, would have been just as good an investment?!
- December 17, 2005: Cooked first Romanian meal (cabbage) using Japanese ingredients.
- December 19, 2005: Ate a fried grasshopper. Stopped because its legs tickled my throat. Drank plenty of liquids. The taste was good though, but probably only because of the sauce in which the grasshopper had been fried.
- December 20, 2005: Tried various drinks during Shinoda-sensei's lab BOUNENKAI. The best one was CALUPISU. You don't want to know what this makes Romanians think about. The Japanese version is milk based. On the second place is ANZU, which tastes of apricot.
- December 22, 2005: Attended a SADOU (tea ceremony) class at JAIST. My role was very important: I had to drink the tea students prepared. Only the most heroic volunteer for this task.
- December 24, 2005: Decided to try a jelly thing called KONNYAKU. Although it seems to be marvelous (see this link), I was rather put off by the taste and especially the texture. If you eat it with garlic it's very similar to the jelly in the Romanian "meat jelly" (a.k.a. piftie).
- December 25, 2005: Made an interesting discovery: washing machines in Japan don't have any setting for water temperature. They wash with the water that comes in, which of course happens to be cold. Either the Japanese washing powder works miracles, or the people never get really dirty here. For the third alternative is too shameful to consider.
- December 26, 2005: Obtained a HANKO, i.e., a stamp with my name written in KATAKANA, that from now on I shall put on all official documents. I also registered at the town and according to the law I am officially an alien starting from today :-)
- December 27, 2005:
- Ate OKONOMI-YAKI (grilled pie with everything), a dish that's supposed to come from Osaka. It's a mixture of egg, cabbage + unidentified vegetables (probably including tarragon), and meat (pork, octopus, etc.).
- Acquired a mobile phone (a.k.a. KEITAI) and thus became a real person.
- December 29, 2005: Been to MOCHI TSUKI (rice "cake" making). They are balls of a sticky paste made of mashed boiled rice that are then rolled in various dippings (e.g., with sweet beans, walnuts etc.). The only dipping I didn't really appreciate is NATTO, a traditional viscous substance obtained with fermented soybeans. It is said to promote long life and good health (see here), but for the moment it only stirs different feelings inside me.
- January 4, 2006: Made business cards (MEISHI), the typical Japanese kind with English on one side and Japanese on the other. The Japanese writing of one's name in KATAKANA is called FURIGANA. Here is mine: .
- January 5, 2006: Visited StarBED, the top-class computer facility I shall use in my research. Discovered that, as in every lab I've seen so far, a complimentary bed is provided for the hard-working researcher. Sleep must be very important here if you can do it everywhere.
- January 6, 2006: Found out how will my presence (for which I'm rewarded financially) be quantified. Each day within working hours I have to go to an office and apply my HANKO in a big book (a.k.a. "condica").
- January 7, 2006: Visited for the first time Kanazawa in day time. The shop assistants shouting "irrashaimaSEEEE!" (i.e. "WelCOOOOme!") as soon as you step off the escalator is rather disconcerting. I prefer it when they whisper this whenever you pass by one of them. I have also seen the famous hyper-realistic plastic food mock-ups that you have in restaurant windows to help you decide what to order. And it actually works better that the photos they have in the menus.
- January 10, 2006: Noticed that on the door of the room at JAIST where the xerox copier is located, underneath the description in Japanese, it is written "Morgue". Maybe that's why it was so chilly inside...
- January 11, 2006: Managed to finally find an alarm clock with LED display and radio in Yamada Denki. It took a search in at least 6 stores to find it, and when I did I was just about to lose hope of ever seeing one again. As a bonus the device I bought also has a CD player :-)
- January 15, 2006:
- One-month anniversary of my stay in Japan. Been to a very beautiful concert in the Ishikawa Concert Hall (ONGAKUDO) that combined Western classical-music instruments with Japanese traditional ones (like KOTO or SHAKUHACHI).
- On the way to the concert I've noticed something unusual: bus timetables have entries for hour 25. Two completely unrelated theories emerged:
- Evrika! Having 25 hours in a day is what explains the amazing progress of Japanese economy. Everything became clear to me.
- In order to prevent losing face and help keep the facade (TATEMAE), in Japan Cinderella was granted an additional hour to get home (possibly by taking the last bus at 25:05 :-)
- January 20, 2006: Two more food-related "achievements":
- By mistake I bought green tea thinking it was a kind of herb (genre herbes de provence). Realized later that the KANJI for "tea" (that I do know!) did appear on the package, but with a smaller script. Invented new use for green tea: delicately-scented salad herb; seems to go well with tomatoes. Must try on a Japanese person before patenting though.
- Bought something that looked like rice cookies with pistachio nuts (follow this link for a photo). It would have fooled anyone; until they looked carefully at the label and recognized the MOCHI TSUKI wooden tools that I had seen live on December 29th (see above). Almost lost a few teeth when tried to bite from those "cookies", and was very disappointed by their lack of taste. Later found out they need to be baked or grilled to restore the softness of MOCHI. Tried the tip and discovered a significant improvement in palatability.
- January 21, 2006: Been to New Year Party organized by the Tatsunokuchi International Exchange Association (TIEA). Wrote KAKIZOME (the first calligraphy of the year) and drew my face for 2006 with my eyes covered (see here). Met and been photographed with the President of JAIST, Professor Ushioda.
- January 29, 2006: Made another bicycle joyride, this time to a waterfall not far away from JAIST. Very beautiful scenery. It reminded me of Cascade d'herisson from around where I used to live in France.
- February 8, 2006: Did Romanian cooking for the Tatsunokuchi International Exchange Association. The menu consisted of aubergine salad (vinete) with tomatoes and onion, and meat-balls with tomato sauce and polenta (chiftele marinate in sos de rosii cu mamaliga). It was a big success, if anything because no food was left at the end :-)
- February 9, 2006:
- I found out that, amongst many other things, when wanting to register a car you have to provide a drawing (or, thankfully, a map) of the place where you are authorized to park. A policeman will subsequently come and check the place exists and is not too far away from your home.
- When registering for the WIDE camp some items in the registration questionnaire caught my attention. Besides wanting to know whether I smoke or not, they wished to know whether I go to bed before 23:00 or not, and whether I snore (with the options: "loud", "soft", "not at all", "I don't know"). The go-to-bed question was related to the "Wine-time" activity in the camp, which is scheduled every day between 21:30-26:00. Note the extra-additional hour in the day that seems to exist in Japan (cf. second note from January 15th).
- February 10, 2006: Been guest to a KOTO (a Japanese traditional 13-strings music instrument) class, and made a few relatively successful attempts at playing it. The kind SENSEI (teacher) offered to lend me a SHAKUHACHI (a vertical bamboo "flute"), which is another instrument I want to try in Japan. As preliminary training I was suggested to blow in beer bottles. Too bad I don't drink beer; perhaps if I blow in a bottle of CALUPISU (cf. note from December 20th)?!
- February 11, 2006: Been to YUNOKUNI NO MORI (in an approximate translation, "the wood(s) from the county of hot springs", although I haven't seen any hot springs around there). This place is a touristic imitation of a a Japanese village (maybe a tad too touristic). In each house you can experience one traditional Japanese craft. I have tried my hand at pottery, and the tea bowl that resulted will be sent to me in about two months.
- February 18, 2006: I had a haircut for the first time in Japan. This could only happen after I provided the hairdresser with my full name and phone number. The length of the haircut was easy to negotiate; as for the style on the sides and nape, I was presented with a selection of printed sample styles that I could chose from. At the end, after they politely asked for permission, photographs of the resulted haircut were taken (face and profile, a.k.a. mug shot). Thereafter my "style" was in their PC, and with the discount coupon I received I will have an easy time getting the same haircut again. You realize I'll never change the hairdresser while I live here. Not bad as a fidelity strategy, isn't it?
- February 25, 2006: To mark the two-month anniversary of my stay in Japan I threw a house-warming party which turned out to be quite a success. The event purposefully followed the payment of my first salary in Japan, and will be followed (according to schedule) by the purchase of a car, a 13-year old Toyota Carina ED (a lucky "13" I hope). By a fortunate coincidence on this day I also took my first class of SHAKUHACHI.
- March 1, 2006: This is the day when I officially started driving my Toyota Carina.
- March 4, 2006: Shinoda-lab celebrated the graduation of several of its master students with an OIKON (end of the university year party, but could also stand for "oyster convention" :-) We ate excessive amounts of oysters in a small restaurant on the Noto peninsula. At least one member of the lab got sick.
- March 7-10, 2006: A negative accomplishment this time. While being near lake Hamanako in Shizuoka prefecture, no matter how long I stared in the distance I didn't manage to see FUJISAN (Mt. Fuji) because of the fog. Very disappointing :-(
- March 14, 2006: This evening I received the tea bowl I made on February 11th. I realize now it's smaller than what Japanese tea bowls are like. But it's doesn't look too bad after all, and since I made it myself it fits perfectly my hands.
- March 25, 2006: I participated to KARAOKE for the first time. The activity takes place in small private rooms, and the various electronic devices look very professional. Interestingly there is an echo effect added to the microphone input so that it sounds as if you're on a huge stage. I tried various songs, including O-Zone's "Dragostea din tei", but the most successful was probably my rendering of Frank Sinatra's "My Way".
- April 15, 2006: Been to HANAMI in the famous Kenrokuen garden. A very beautiful experience.
- April 24, 2006: I started using Japanese smileys. Contrary to the Western horizontal ones, the Japanese smileys are written vertically, and hence offer more possibilities. Next are a few examples, I'll let you decide what feeling they are supposed to convey: (^_^) (^_-) (-_-; ) (^^)/
- April 29, 2006: Been to Tonami, a city in the neighboring Fukui prefecture where each year a famous Tulip Fair is held. Although not all tulips had bloomed, it has been a very colorful day.
- May 3-5, 2006: This is what Japanese call "Golden Week" since it's holiday over here. Been to NOTO HANTOU, the Noto peninsula famous for it's impressive rock formations on the seashore.
- May 6, 2006: I dared for the first time to cook seafood. I started with IKA (i.e. squid/calamar). It was a very interesting cooking experience, as I was learning from my own mistakes. (^_^)
- May 21, 2006: I made a trip to the neighbouring FUKUI prefecture. The two objectives of the trip there were TOUJINBOU and EIHEIJI. TOUJINBOU is an area on the coast of Japan Sea with interesting rock formations. However it's fame comes from the fact the it is one of the favourite suicide places for Japanese people. However on the sunny day when I've been there it wasn't at all scary -- somewhat disappointing in a way. I've even been to the island called OSHIMA, which is connected by a red bridge to the coast. The spirits of the deceased are supposed to dwell on this island, and hands are supposed to reach out to you through the floor of the bridge, sometimes visible in photos. There is nothing strange in the photos I took, and although the legend says that visitors come back inhabited by more then their own spirit, so far I feel nothing unusual... Anyway, EIHEIJI was the other objective of my trip. It is a Zen temple, one of the two main Soto-Zen temples in Japan. The visit was very interesting, but I still didn't manage to see a Zen sand-and-rocks garden -- apparently there was none there. And I thought they were so typical?!
- May 28, 2006: Did the first real hiking on a nearby mountain called SHISHIKU (Dancing Tiger). However finding out after climbing for 1h30 that the top is only at 679 m was disappointing. JAIST was visible from the top though...
- June 9-11, 2006: Participated to several events of HYAKU-MAN-GOKU (1 Million Stones) festival in Kanazawa, which is related to the building of the Kanazawa castle. With this occasion I have seen TOUROUNAGASHI (floating lanterns) on the Asagawa river, where I also placed a lantern on water. In addition there was a TAKIGI Noh representation, which is Noh theater played on a stage with fires lit in the 4 corners.
- June 28-30, 2006: My first trip to Tokyo (on business :-). Very exciting. The only fault I can find to Tokyo is the over-crowded public transportation. But it is so very alive! Here are the highlights:
- The temple area, Asakusa: the smoke coming from an incense burner in front of the main temple is supposed to give you health and luck; the neighbourhood is very old-style picturesque.
- The famous night-life area called Shibuya: more crowded than I thought, and it was only on Wednesday; saw real-life original ganguro.
- Otemachi is the emperor's palace, a traditional park/garden surrounded by very modern buildings.
- Roppongi seems to be a classy area; going up in a tower (53 floors, 250 m) you can have a nice view of Tokyo -- if it is not clouded, as it was when I went.
- Funny announcement on public transportation: unclaimed suspicious bags or persons must be reported. Since nobody claimed me yet, I was all the time nervous while using the metro :-)
- July 4-7, 2006: Trip to Kotohira (Shikoku island), again on business. Immersion in the Japanese tradition that proved wearisome, in the sense that "too much is too much". Japanese food revolving around rice, soup and grilled fish for all the three meals of the day may cut one's appetite. And sleeping with 4 other unknown people close to each other on the floor may cut your sleep short. Too much kindness from the hotel personnel is also tiresome long term, as they frequently came to rooms to bring water, yukatta, wake me up, take me to breakfast, etc. A few other highlights:
- The trip was by train, so that I can cross SETOBASHI, a two-level bridge of 13.5 km connecting the main island of Japan, HONSHU, with SHIKOKU, while going over several other small islands.
- Kompira-san climbing: this shrine is one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in Japan; climbed twice, once all the way to the inner temple (~1360 steps), the second time only to the main temple (~780 steps).
- Bizarrely some things reminded me of Romania (see also the next item), such as the Romanian-like flag that I've seen in two locations, and some shrewd-looking entrepreneurs.
- I attended a class of making SANUKI UDON, the famous pasta of the region. The peculiar thing was that preparing the dough involved using our feet to step on it (while it was well protected in a plastic bag). The even more peculiar thing was that we did all operations on music, ranging from ENKA, to latino and culminating with the celebrated "Dragostea din tei" by the renowned group O-Zone :-) Thus the Japanese and the Romanians joined hands; and feet.
- August 4, 2006: Participated to one of the activities of Japan Tent (and obtained a free t-shirt in the process). "Japan Tent" seems to be one major events that connects foreigners and Japanese. People from all over Japan come to Kanazawa each year, and it is an occasion for inter-cultural exchanges. There were artistic performances, food from various countries, and of course talking. I was a volunteer for one of the associations that had a food stand selling tapioca desserts. Besides other things this was an occasion for me to try KAKIGOORI, crushed ice with syrup -- a folk's version of ice-cream --, as well as fish-on-a-stick, a fisherman's style grilled fish. The event was auspicious since on this occasion I also met for the first time another Romanian in Japan. Of course she was from Tokyo, where Romanians seem to be more abundant than in our less popular area of Japan.
- August 5, 2006: Attended the largest firework display in Ishikawa, during the 21st KAWAKITA MATSURI, a local festival. The total duration was of about 1.5 hours, and the fireworks were indeed impressive. But I have to admit I missed the synchronous music, as we used to hear during the fireworks in Geneva.
- August 9-10, 2006: Made a business trip to NAIST, the Nara Institute of Science and Technology, and discovered that there are places even more secluded than JAIST. On this occasion my colleague and I stopped in Kyoto for a while. Thus we were able to visit a few of the renowned places in Kyoto, such as TOUJI, an UNESCO World Heritage temple, or GION, an area where famous geishas used to reside. But there are still many things to do in Kyoto.
- August 19, 2006: Participated to another festival, this time organized in Tatsunokuchi. In the afternoon various performances took place, such as a contest of hip-hop/pop dancing. The main attraction however was the JYONGARA dance in the evening, a collective and repetitive dance executed in a "circular" formation. The goal is to accomplish a complete rotation, which takes more than one hour. The repetitive nature did spoil some of the fun, at least for me. However I got to wear a HAPPI, a simple traditional Japanese costume, and in the end there were some fireworks too.
- September 1, 2006: Celebrated my birthday in my apartment with several friends. We ate "zacusca" that I prepared, TAKOYAKI that we made together, as well as birthday cakes, of course.
- September 3, 2006: Visited NATADERA, a temple complex in Komatsu. It was nice, except that I got bitten by many aggressive mosquitos :-(
- September 5-8, 2006: Trip to Nagano to attend the autumn WIDE camp. My best memories are the orchards I could see around there. From around the same time good apples became available in super-markets, and I became happy.
- September 14, 2006: In preparation for the conferences that will attend in November, I obtained the "re-entry permit". This means that from now on I can leave and re-enter Japan. I am not in prison anymore!
- September 23, 2006: Went on a trip to NOTO-HANTOU, somewhere near Wajima. The trip was organized by an association in Kanazawa, and the main goal was rice harvesting (INEKARI). Personally I only used the sickle once, because we started very late. The reason was that in the rice field a traditional wedding ceremony was held.
- October 4/5, 2006: Felt the first earthquake since I arrived in Japan. Rather weak, maybe 3-4 degrees, and short, perhaps 2-3 seconds. However I was surprised that nobody commented about it on the next day, since earthquakes are quite rare in this area of Japan.
- October 15, 2006: Although not on purpose, the anniversary of 10 months of life in Japan has been "celebrated" in a two-fold manner: (i) I made a hiking trip to AKA-USAGI-YAMA (the Red-Rabbit Mountain), a famous mountain in the region from where Hakusan is visible; (ii) on this trip that lasted around 8 hours Japanese was almost exclusively spoken, which is a new record for me.
- October 18-19, 2006: In order to obtain visa for Thailand, I made a two-day trip to Osaka. A nice city with kind people that for the moment I think is better than Tokyo. The nicest things I visited are: KAIYUKAN, one of the world largest aquariums, and the famous Osaka castle (OSAKAJOU).
- October 28, 2006: Trip to a place about 1 hour away from JAIST to see the changing colors of leaves in autumn (KOUYOU), something which is almost equivalent to the SAKURA viewing in spring (HANAMI). At that place monkeys were also supposed to be around, but we weren't so lucky (-_- )
- November 5-12, 2006: Went to a conference in HangZhou, China, then stopped for a couple of days in Shanghai. Today's China is an interesting combination of modern and not so modern, driving style is crazy, and people are warm and friendly. Although too friendly sometimes, such as when I had to pose with at least half a dozen people queuing for this privilege. Some say I should have felt like Brad Pitt, but I felt more like a monkey or some other exotic animal :-) Nevertheless things are always going well under the attentive but kind eye of the big-brother-like policemen. During this trip I also saw ZhouZhuang, which some call the Eastern Venice, although it is only a village.
- November 18: Watched a game of softball between the joint team of Tan-lab and Shinoda-lab, and some bad guys who won. I didn't understand the rules, but it was fun. I also tried to explain the theory that baseball actually originates in the Romanian game of "oina", but I don't think I managed to convince many people :-(
- November 25-December 1, 2006: Attended a conference near Bangkok. A good occasion to eat spicy food (sometimes too spicy!) and see elephants in various sizes. I found out that elephants are a symbol of gratitude in Thailand. Other animals I saw were many lizards, including a huge "monitor lizard" (more than 1 m long), from the same family with the famous Komodo Dragon, the world's largest living lizard.
- December 5, 2006: I moved to a new apartment, and managed to sort out all the related problems by myself (in Japanese). This is perhaps the biggest accomplishment of this year.
- December 18, 2006: Tried a kimono for men called HAKAMA. The result can be admired in this photo. I am supposed to wear it during a shakuhachi performance on January 15.
- December 25, 2006: I had my first public performance, playing shakuhachi in front of my colleagues of the Hokuriku Research Center in a self-organized Christmas concert. Things went well, and now I'm getting ready for the future artistic career :-)
- January 1-3, 2007: Painted a plate, broadly in KUTANI style, according to my own design under the guidance of local KUTANI artists.
- January 11, 2007: Made a small but pleasant house-warming party for my new small house.
- January 15, 2006: I had my official debut on stage, playing shakuhachi in front of more than 300 people during the new-year party of a cosmetics company, Wamiles. Apparently my performance was very appreciated, despite the fact that I noticed myself some problems.
- February 12, 2007: I have played for the first (and probably last) time PACHINKO, and apparently-original Japanese gambling machine. You receive a number of small golden balls (maybe 100?) that are injected in a vertical pinball-like game area. The goal is to have the balls enter a small hole in the lower part of the area. The player can control the speed with which balls are injected by turning a wheel in the lower right side. Scoring points gives you more balls that can be replayed. The lucky players exchange then boxes of balls for money. Except for the fact that it's easy to lose money, another negative aspect is the loud music, which perhaps puts people in a kind of trance. Nevertheless PACHINKO seems very popular in the area, judging by the number of places where you can do it.
- February 25, 2007: I have participated to SOBA UCHI, that is making of SOBA, a spaghetti-like noodle that has the main ingredient a cereal named SOBA. This special flour has a darker color than the wheat one, and a specific taste/smell. Because of it's different properties SOBA flour is usually mixed with wheat flour so that the noodles don't break. After being boiled SOBA can be eaten cold or in soup.
- March 3, 2007: Today was HINA MATSURI, a festival during which girls receive ornamental dolls and show them on layered platforms. The richer the display the luckier the girl will be. From my point of view the good part were the sweets, made of MOCHI, AZUKI (sweet red beans) and wrapped in SAKURA leaves.
- March 5-8, 2007: Another WIDE camp in Hamamatsu. Same isolated location, but nicer weather, so I could take good pictures. Nevertheless a feeling of deja vu...
- March 18, 2007: Cheered at Kanazawa Road Race, a running event that takes place every spring in Kanazawa. I may participate to the next year 3 km race :-)
- March 21, 2007: Attended a tea ceremony at JAIST organized by the SADOU circle.
- March ??, 2007: Trip to an area in Toyama prefecture known under the general name of Gokayama, which is famous for the houses called GASSHO ZUKURI. They have three or four floors and steep roofs; no nails are used in the construction of these houses. The style is so unique that those houses are registered as UNESCO World Heritage.
- April 4-19, 2007: Trip to Romania to celebrate Easter at home. Ate plenty of traditional food. While there I also visited again the holiday residence of the former kings of Romania, Peles Castle.
- May 2-4, 2007: Trip to Toga-mura, another village in Gokayama, where people go mainly for fishing. I also had the chance to taste the fish from the nearby river. The World Drama Festival is held every summer in Toga-mura.
- May 9, 2007: When in Tokyo, I saw for the first time the system about which I have previously only heard about. When sitting on the toilet seat, a noise like that of flushing water starts sounding, so as to prevent embarrassing noises from being overheard. When you stand up, the real toilet flush will happen automatically (see the usage instructions). Apparently the generated noise helps saving water :-)
- May 15, 2007: After a very long time I have been again on a rowing boat, on the lake in Tatsunokuchi Kyuuryou Koen. It was a lot of fun, although the lake is rather small. Then in the evening I saw again a KABUKI representation given by children during the festival in Komatsu, just like last year.
- May 21-23, 2007: Attended a conference at Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Very impressive scenery, especially if one wakes up early enough to see the sunrise :-) On the way there I saw an interesting festival in Asakusa.
- June 2, 2007: Watched the parade, the main event of the HYAKU-MAN-GOKU festival in Kanazawa (see also the entry from June 9-11, 2006).
- June 6-9, 2007: Attended a conference in Braunschweig, Germany. Nice little old town. Drank again "malz bier" a sweet non-alcoholic malz drink that I could only find in Germany so far. On the way to the airport I also stopped in Frankfurt for half a day. At Narita airport I also run into Miss Universe 2007, Riyo Mori.
- June 21-23, 2007: Attended a conference in Nara, the ancient capital of Japan. The symbol of the city are now the deers, and there are many temples and shrines. During the reception dinner I had the chance to play TAIKO in public :-)
- June 25, 2007: I briefly dressed in Myanmar traditional clothes during a belated birthday celebration for Khin, a.k.a. Mizuiro-chan.
- July 8(?), 2007: Witnessed a model photography contest in YUNOKUNI-NO-MORI. Visited the nearby Automobile Museum.
- July 13-17, 2007: Trip to Hokkaido (Sapporo, Toyako, Shikotsuko). Saw a couple of Ainu people, the indigene population of Japan. For the first time I rode a horse. I also visited Isshiya Chocolate Museum.
- July 28, 2007: Climbed Hakusan, one of the three most famous mountains in Japan. The weather was not so good, so I decided it's not worth going to the top yet. This will happen next month.
- August 12-13, 2007: Climbed again Hakusan, this time on a two-day trip. The weather was much better, but the food horrible. I recently heard that the Murodo chalet is famous for that. On the good side, I got to see the sunset, the Perseids meteor shower and the sunrise. But then the weather got bad again, and when we reached the top we didn't look so good :-)
- September 1, 2007: Trip to Tokyo as part of the festivities celebrating my birthday :-) Ate in a Romanian restaurant called Darie. The best were "papanasi", some kind of Romanian doughnuts eaten with jam and sour cream, but "mititei", specific skinless lamb-based sausages, weren't bad either. I also ate cakes and chocolate, of course, for example in the Wako chocolate salon.
- September 7, 2007: Started driving a new car, Mazda Axela Sport (also known as "Mazda 3 Hatchback" in other parts of the world). Its nickname is Matador.
- May 10, 2008: I GOT MARRIED!!!
- August 1, 2008: Received SHUDEN, the beginer level certificate, and CHUUDEN, the intermediate level certificate of the Tozan shakuhachi school.
- October 26, 2008: Participated to my first official shakuhachi concert, the biannual concert of the Ishikawa branch of the Tozan shakuhachi school.
- February 11, 2009: My son, Toshiro Dan, was born. This day also happens to be a holiday in Japan, called Foundation Day, when it is traditionally considered that Japan was founded in 660 BC. Nice coincidence! Here is his name in Japanese: .
- July 26, 2009: I bought my first shakuhachi (see photo) as I decided to try to obtain an instructor license after I finish the basic study of shakuhachi (maybe next year?!).
- December 1, 2009: I obtained OKUDEN, the inner-level certificate of the Tozan school of shakuhachi. I find it nice that this day happens to also be the National Holiday of Romania.
- August 15, 2010: I was awarded KAIDEN, the full-proficiency certificate of the Tozan school of shakuhachi (see it here).
- November 27, 2010: My second son was born, and will be called Kenji Radu. Here is his name in Japanese: .
- September 25, 2011: Not long after becoming 35 years old, I obtained JUN-SHIHAN, the assistant-instructor license of the Tozan school of shakuhachi (see it here). I was the 5th out of 13 people who passed the theoretical and practical examination. Starting from now I can use my Shakuhachi name, BEURAN ROBAN, that I have received from my professor, SAKAKURA ROZAN. Here is the Kanji version (enlarged because the characters are difficult):
- April 18, 2012: I received the 2012 NICT Award for Excellence of Achievements for my work on wireless network emulation. You can see the award here (in Japanese, but with my name in alphabet :-) and the accompanying medal here.
- July 11, 2012: In view of having a kimono made for the shakuhachi concert that will take place in September, I have decided on the emblem that will be use on the kimono. This emblem (or crest), called KAMON, is used to identify families in Japan. The one I selected is based on the character for Mountain which is also part of the name of the TOZAN shakuhachi school:
- August 14, 2012: I have received a gold-stripe driving license, which is given to drivers who have not had any traffic violations within the last 5 years. This driving license is valid for 5 years, as opposed to the initial one (green stripe) or the normal one (blue stripe) that are only valid for up to 3 years. In addition to being a recognition of safe driving, the gold-stripe license also results in lower car insurance rates, which I am looking forward to.
Last modified: Thu Aug 16 09:13:40 JST 2012