There was not so much blogging in Japan, the days were soon filled with other activities. I have now arrived to Sweden and I’m summarizIng all the impressions. The greatest experience from the trip has to be all the amazing people I met, both students and teachers. It have ro lead to something good when so many nationalities come together and realize how similar they are as humans, despite such differeces in terms of environmental problems. So grateful that I got to do this trip and damn what good food I have eaten!
My first morning in Japan. I came to Saijo yesterday afternoon, feeling a bit jetlagged and alone. Today I have taken my first jog and got outside the city to a small “forest”, good for the body and soul. In the afternoon we’ll meet for the first time, exiting and scary.
Finally I have booked all tickets and hotels for the journey. I was accompanied by my daughter to Malmö to pick up my Yen. I don´t think there has ever been a more nervous student going abroad then me. Before departure to Japan my family and I will go on a vaccation to Dalarna arriving home only a day ahead so I need to get started packing now…
As I am writing this I wish that I could tell you that I’m on my last flight, that soon I will be home with my plants and my cat, my friends and my boyfriend. However, this is only the second flight.
The night was spent on a hard concrete floor at Narita International Airport. At first I thought that I would have a 14 hour wait in Tokyo during the day sadly I did not read my ticket thoroughly enough and what it really said was that I had a 14 hour wait at night. With no money a hotel wasn’t an option and I did not feel comfortable walking around in Tokyo with my heavy baggage at night, what if I dropped my bag and my precious Umeshu bottle broke?! Thus the night was spent alone on a hard and cold floor, well I was not really alone, there were farting and snoring people all around me and a strange annoying American who kept on playing “smooth” lounge music really high throughout the night.
During my stay in Japan I have tried to get to know something about the gay culture, where do you go? What do you do? How is it like? Thus I have been scouring the Internet for a non Japanese website for gay guys in Japan, since the trend among guys in Japan seems to be to act a bit “feminine” my “gaydar” has been totally out of order. I finally found Badoo two days ago and through that I was able to talk to a guy also spending the night at Narita, he was going to Taipei. This cyber encounter was about al I got to know about the gay culture in Japan; sometimes the gay guys go to Taipei (or more properly one time a Japanese gay guy went to Taipei). I’m a bit disappointed, what I have learned on Wikipedia however is that gay culture in the nation goes back to the 1100th century and that gays today have almost the same rights as straight people. However, your not expected to flaunt your homosexuality and there still is a lot of hush-hush about the whole thing. I guess it is the same as in Sweden (pretty much), expect the 1100th century thing. The straight Japanese guys (well I think they were straight) acted pretty much like Swedish straight guys, calling each other gay, teasing and making fun, well well… heterosexual boys will be heterosexual boys, one day the gays and the women will rule thus peace and prosperity will be upon us.
As I am writing this I’m sitting besides a Japanese businessman, he has a mask to protect himself from germs I and is currently in a deep state of sleep. Some turbulence just set in and as usual I’m feeling a but anxious.
The week in Hiroshima has thought me a lot of unexpected things, I don’t like Sake, Japan is a very humid and very hot country, everything is cute, sadly I got the feeling that some things were a game, or a charade, some things were not real. I cannot elaborate more on that feeling since it was just a feeling. I have learnt that it’s quite hard to be a vegetarian in Japan and that bowing acutely is more respectful than shaking someone’s hand, of course I always bow and shake hands. I have also learned that Sweden, or Malmö University is quite unique in the way environmental issues are handled and discussed in a holistic way. The anthropocentric and ecocentric values are dealt with combined and the notion of sustainability and its three core dimensions; economical, ecological and social sustainability are jointly considered. This also forms a new broader way of thinking by the students, a property I saw lacking in others when attending the summer school. The gender perspective was non-existing, and some of the lectures and students where surprisingly uneducated in this area, also the treatment of women colleagues and fellow students was sometimes appalling, oozing of patriarchy and male dominance. There was also a great sense of double morality where some students and lecturers would say one thing and do another, some of the students did not really seem to be engaged in environmental issues they were simple there as engineers dealing with a single problem. I missed the overall engagement and burning passion among the students, I missed the personal engagement.
However, all was not bad, and I have learnt that the environmental issues facing many parts of the world are very similar, though they differ in severity we can all learn from each other. And as I am writing this on my 9 hour flight with my Japanese guy by my side, a cute guy in the back of the plain, a constant fear of exploding, falling, drowning, dying, I cannot help to wonder if that was the most important lesson, or maybe it was to pack a fan the next time I go to Japan.
One flight left, from Helsinki to Copenhagen then I am home.
On the 5th of august we had the opportunity to do some on-board practice on Toyoshio Maru, Hiroshima University’s research vessel. TM is built in 2006 and is used as a training vessel by the Graduate School of Biosphere Science, Hiroshima University. Toyoshio Maru is travelling around the Seto inland, western parts of Japan and sometimes as far as Korea.
The day was hot and the sun was shining when we left the hotel by bus. I think we were all tired because of the long and intense day we had the 4th with presenting our country reports and participating in the welcome ceremony held at Hiroshima University.
The japanese students were already familiar with Toyoshio Maru since they are using the boat for their research. We borrowed rubber boots and on board we had some ”safty instructions” ☺ and were told to always use helmet and life vest when being on the deck. Me and Kevin had also noticed that a lot of people in Japan wear a small towel around their neck because of the heat. So, equipped with rubber boots, life vest, helmet and sweat towel we were ready to start our research trip!
The trip was mostly about getting a presentation of TM and see if there was any significant difference of the environmental status between two locations in Hiroshima bay. Among the tests we conducted were CTD, pH, sediment tests and identification of benthos and planktons. I appreciated the more practical approach during the day because it’s always easier to get to know each other when working together.
In the afternoon we were all really tired. Me, Kevin, Mickey (from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University) and Vane (from Rovira i Virgili University) decided to have dinner at a restaurant in Saijo. We got stuck at the local YOUME that is a large supermarket center located about 15 minutes walk from the Green Hotel Morris. At YOUME we found a restaurant called the Casual Viking (!) which had buffé with as many japanese courses as we could figure out. The japanese food really is something special. All these flavours and textures some unfamiliar to me but oh so delicious!
We have arrived
My name is Kevin Malmborg, I’m 20 years old and I study environmental science at Malmö University. Environmental issues were not always of interest to me however with time I came to realize the importance of global engagement and responsibility.
I’m in my little brown hotel room (brown carpets, furniture, bed, wall and kettle, everything is in some shade of brown) ready for the INU 2013 summer school on global environmental sustainability.
Through my window I can see the tree covered hills hidden behind huge monotone concrete blocks surrounded by heavily corroded fences, gates and light posts. Japan is a humid country therefore the steel skeleton of which our unsustainable society is made of quickly rusts; the rust however is a quiet pleasant red-brown color, better than my hotel room.
…sadly not, though my company (Linnea) was much more good-looking than Audrey Hepburn. The food was interesting, a mix of the western styled breakfast; white bread, white buns accompanied with some strawberry jam, and the Japanese mash of ingredients colors textures and flavours.
Today we are heading out for Hiroshima; it’s time for some sightseeing,
Kevin & Linnea from the INU Summer School in Japan