September 24, 2009

One day subway ticket

Getting around Nagoya is pretty easy, especially with this 'Donichi-ticketto'. It's valid for the entire day and costs 600 ¥ / 4,40 €.

At first look the metro map might look confusing. In reality its so simple and easy to use that one really can't go wrong. This map is naturally Nagoya's. The colored lines are metro lines, rest for regular trains.

Port of Nagoya

Oneday subway ticket... Yesterday we headed for a brief visit at Nagoyako, the port of Nagoya to inhale a scent of sea breeze.

If you have ever driven or own one of Toyota's cars it is very likely that it has passed through this Port. By annual metric tons of cargo Nagoyako is the largest port in Japan. Other major ports are situated in Kobe, Yokohama, Chiba and Tokyo.

In 2007, replica of Venice was built next to the port tower for tourists. The so-called Italiamura employed several Italian workers who rode gondolas in the narrow rivers and offered other joys of Italian culture.

The attraction had to end its operation because it violated construction standards. Italiamura was made of wood. Typhoons create huge waves at the sea shore, and therefore all buildings near sea needs to be built of concrete. Oddly it still exists. The former owner didn't have finance to demolish it. So far no one has shown interest to acquire the land.

A View towards inland reveals an orange ice-breaking ship, which was formerly used in expeditions at Antarctic. At the moment its open for visitors.

The 100 meters high Port Tower offers 360 degree view against a fee of 300 ¥ / 2,20 €.

Some smaller cruise ships offer tours. Though, I have no idea where this nicely lit vessel is heading.

September 22, 2009

So many phone users in subway.

An ordinary afternoon in the subway. Men dressed in black trousers and white shirt.

Everyone is tapping their flip-phones, why?. The wireless internet is not reaching underground so what do they actually do?

Many use that time to write an email (or to sleep). When they're out of the subway, phone returns online and sends the ready emails. And once again precious time is used effectively.

September 21, 2009

Poo patrol

Guess what these two costumed fellows are doing. Running around on a busy afternoon with pliers on their hands. Yep, they're picking dog poo from the streets. That job is better to do anonymously, and why not dress cool while in patrol.

Tolerable haircut

I took a haircut somewhere in between the busy yesterday. Cost: 1000 ¥/7,30 €. Result: something like in the picture above.

Green parking in Japan

Green parking loots. Clever idea. Twofold benefit:
  1. Less asphalt needed
  2. Better rain absorption

September 18, 2009

City of Toyota Part 2/2

Grande finale of this day-trip was Café De Chef. A cafe with great atmosphere and mood and most of all fantastic coffee.

Solid experience. After training in various countries the Japanese barrister and owner, Kazuo Nonoyama, opened this lovely place. He has run the place now for 18 years with his wive.

Smalltalk. Their smalltalk and friendly chatter turns the place cozy and warm to visit.

Art. His and her wife's attention to detail and style is marvelous!

If ever in Toyota city, this place is one to put on the list!!

The city of Toyota Part 1/2

Long day behind. Early in the morning we left to Toyota city by subway & train. Did you know, the city is named by the company, Toyota Motors Inc. Roughly every 12th citizen is directly working for Toyota. Much of the people in there are indirectly employed in car industry.

Clean, quiet, modern - those three words are my description of Toyota city.

The main entrance. We had English speaking guide for two hours free of charge. They presented quite a lot from assembly lines to press and welding processes and new concept cars. No pictures were allowed during the factory walks though.

Amazing assembly of parts. The most expensive Lexus at the show room. It had a TV but it wasn't configured yet.

This is the i-unit.It's a kind of Robot, transforms to different two vehicles and takes you from a to b.

The world headquarters of Toyota Motors Inc. From here we headed back to the Tyota city by metro.

One great side about Japan is you always find something new to eat. This set is from a place called Mamehana, a chain that makes huge range of foods only from soybeans.

It's tricky really, because sometimes you could be sure it's something else, yet it isn't. Well, salad is salad and rice is rice. That's no trick.

Cheerful service! Mr. Murayama was our kind waiter. Meals came in a minute. Japanese chefs are so very fast.

Curvy design bridge, which crossed the Yahagi-river.This place wasn't far from the center so we took a walk there.

Fishing seemed popular in Yahagi river. Probably they're lucky, because we saw many fishes jumping in the crystal clear river water.

A school after bridge. Apparently every school in Japan look as exiting and colorful as this. So I heard.

September 17, 2009

Flying to Japan...

Finally in Japan!! Though, can't really comprehend it yet. So today we arrived to Nagoya. The nine hour Finnair flight was all the way so smooth. Not a single air bump or odd noise. Just Lift and land - perfect. Apparently Finnair has renewed their Asian fleet or at least this flying metal can was very new. It had media center and with everything you could imagine.

Plane was full of Japanese tourists. Great side about Japanese flyers is that, unlike many westerns, including Finns, Japanese don't really make a single noise when they fly, nor do they make frequent toilet visits or bounce to their cabin luggage when the belt light turns off. It should be rather easy to sleep during flight. Well, us it seems impossible no matter how quiet.

Our plan was to catch up the time difference by waking up early in Finland. Bad idea. We woke up at five in the morning. Idea was that in the plane we'll sleep, and at the time we arrive in Japan it's morning. Sleeping didn't work out. Were more or less awake for over 24 hours. Better would have been to sleep as long as possible before boarding. Next time we know better.

From Nagoya Central Air Kintetsu shuttle train bounded us to heart of Nagoya, from which we continued by taxi to ムーミンママ's parents place. It's hot here, they say it's getting cold, but the thermometer still at nine in the evening was +28 degrees. Short cycling trip to Tokyo Hands departments store soaked shirt with sweat.

Tomorrow, we'll head to Toyota car factory for a tour!

September 14, 2009

Time to say: good bye Tampere and Finland!

Good bye Tampere - this is a start of new era!  I could call it Exchange in Japan. After a bit more than two years of living in Finland we are flying away. Why? Because Finland is boring. No, just kidding. It's not boring. The reason is school exchange - a compulsory issue, which must be completed. In practice it means studying Japanese in Oita university for five months. In addition I hope to pursue an internship in Japan, which would add another five moths to the stay. Ten moths of official stay, and why not enjoy Japan more, so two moths for travelling, which all in all is one year.

I think living in Japan will open eyes to many things, most of all differencences and similarities between Finland and Japan. I hope you find these observations interesting! To keep you updated, I promise to commit to write one post per day.

Because of our move we thought it is time to move to a new blog as well. And so, here it is The look is slightly different, and address too. The top photo is from blueberry picking after berries dyed our hands purple. In menu above we've included interesting blogs that we'd recommend for everyone. Please note if you don't wish to have link to your blog up there of course we will remove it. Well, we hope you find this new new outfit pleasing.

September 5, 2009

What do you think about Finland? Image of Finland 1/2

Current hot-topic in news is Finland's image. Apparently our country has a image deficit. In short that means, Finland is a better country than people see it. News note that Finland is not recognized, and little is known about it.

Often times, even Finns them selves disregard the beauty of their own mother land. Personally I have to admit it to be true. But why? I've heard someone saying playfully: what good is left of Finland if the perfect social system is removed? Normal answer goes something like: Good things that remain are summer and the nature. Fair enough. I like both of those too.

Unfortunately, however, summer is awfully short. It lasts for four months from beginning of June to end of August. Sounds long but by definition summer is reached when the daily average temperature is +10, which in turn means that the daily average can be +11 degrees and that's our summer. Not to even mention that it might also rain like there's no tomorrow.

What about nature then? Loads of beautifully scattered lakes, plenty of clean forests, hills, ocean, even some wildlife and occasionally auroras (if those can be included in nature). Yes, Finland's nature is very precious. Take a walk in it and it will relax and refreshen you. In contrast, a city like Roma, the capital of Italy, has no green areas except one tiny park, all the rest is parched by hot sun or sealed with stone structures. Actually Rome and Italy doesn't really compete in the same class with Finland. It has other things to offer. For instance, from our forests you hardy find historical monuments. But let's go back to what Finland's nature has to offer: blue lakes and vast forests. Both are beautiful. But think about it this way, once you've seen one of them you've seen all of them. Majority of the forests are very much alike. Pine trees, spruce trees, and birch trees. Eye gets accustomed to that quickly. Take a walk or drive across the country and you will believe me.

Numerous negative comments about Finland's image can be found from related forums. Those comments are written by Finns them selves. One way to explain this type of poor valuation comes from our qualities of our culture. I'm not an antropologists but I know for a fact that we Finns tend to be modest and self-depreciative from our true nature. In a situation where others praise them selves Finns like to play it down. That's a bit like Japanese but not as profound. One could hear:
"No it's not really because of my talents or dedication it was mere luck..."
This cultural quality is likely an ingredient of those negative comments made by many Finns. What happens is that easily, when one states a negative comment of this country, in one way or another, it will block all positive sides from one's mind.

Now a commission for developing Finland's image has been established. Brand Commission's driving idea is that the brand is build by Finnish citizen. Therefore they aim to engage people of Finland to help building a positive brand of their home country. Commission is gathered from handful of formidable persons, led by Jorma Ollila, the former CEO of Nokia, current boad director's chairman in Shell, Nokia and probably one of the most influential men in Finland. The brand building task is too much for one person, but if every Finn from top politicians to retired farmers pursue positive message of Finland it will work - there is no doubt about it. Finland is a good country, first, its goodness only needs to be realized by its downward-looking citizen. More about the commission in: Finnish, English and Japanese (poor Google translations).

Commission aims far ahead. In 20 years time the results, what ever they may be, could show up - if they do at all. It will be interesting to see how will it turn out. Common goal, huh? What individuals can do? On the next part: a day-in-life-story and how it possibly raised Finland's image.

Till then, thanks for reading.
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