Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Getting out

Deborah was in town over the weekend, so I took the excuse to take some time off and see a bit more of Tokyo.

On Sunday we went out to Odaiba island (お台場), which was once the fort protecting Tokyo's harbor and is now a huge man-made island devoted entirely to entertainment and shopping.

It's basically just one massive mall after another with rides, movie theaters and museums scattered in here and there. We went to Miraikan, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (日本科学未来館) - which had some exhibits on robots and nanotechnology that were pretty cool.

There was also a quintessentially Japanese activity going on at the southern end of the island. There was some kind of organized event for the fans of idol girls to take photo shoots of their favorite girls. There were packs of older men, all in their 50s to 60s, with expensive cameras taking photos of different girls. The men all had little yellow ribbons that marked them as participants in the event and the girls were doing various pin-up like poses for them. There were also organizers walking around with yellow arm bands that marked them variously as organizers, security and such.

On the way back, we saw this man-hole cover in front of the JR Shinbashi Station (新橋). The caption literally says fire extinguisher plug, or cap. I guess it means fire hydrant.

I've finally got my office all set up. I needed a set of file drawers, a little table for my printer and a white board. I talked to various people about this but we ran into a bit of a problem with funding regulations and it was unclear, who, if anyone was responsible for paying for it, and such purchases were clearly ruled out by the stipulations of my research grant.

So me and the general office manager did what one would do in such a circumstance at any university. We went over to the building that the department had just moved out of, talked to the janitorial staff (who, in Japanese, have a much more elevated title), and together rummaged the place for abandoned furniture. The head janitor took us around to various places where he thought he remembered that stuff like that was, but he was pretty old and I guess his memory isn't what it used to be. Eventually, we did find most of what we were looking for and the janitor assured us he would let us know when he found the other stuff. Sure enough, the next day, the moving company brought everything to my office.

In the background of this photo, you can see building 11, which houses our department and the School of Commerce. The faculty offices are on the top floor.

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