I’ve been in Japan for the past two weeks. I’ve had a great time, but at the same time I’ve had a very hectic schedule: six talks in two weeks in various cities. I have been riding the bullet trains and the Tokyo train and subway system. I’ve been ordering food from menus I don’t understand a single word of, and I’ve been getting lost just trying to get out of various train stations. I also have a lot of work to do and have been rather busy doing it. If you are into movies, the one that best describes being lost in a place where suddenly one doesn’t know how to speak or write is “Lost in translation”. I really like it, but it becomes a lot more real after you have experienced the effect yourself.
Right now, I’m at the airport with a little bit of free time, and there is an animated television on the airport TV while I type this. I will give you a glimpse of what I have seen.
Here is a garden in Kyoto. I don’t know anymore which one it was. I saw so many and all of them were so beautiful that these details do not matter.
This is not the best picture I have, but it give you an idea. The gardens typically have a lot of water and are very green. Moss carpets cover the ground and the path is usually made of stones that wind through the garden for maximal enjoyment of nature. These are very common next to temples, and sometimes you can drink special teas with a view to the garden.
I also went to Tsukuba. The city where KEK is located. KEK is a big physics laboratory in Japan.
The laboratory has a fun media center at the entrance of the building where the theorists are housed. They display pictures of particle physics event from the Belle experiment like the one shown in the picture on a big screen. The picture refreshes every few seconds.
The most impressive sight was however the size of the spiders on the KEK campus. I was barely able to stop with my face one inch away from one of these while I was running to try to get some paperwork figured out. It was really big. The body of the spider is between 2/3 of an inch to an inch. I took a picture with my finger next to it (with my finger as close as I dared to). This was quite something.
Finally, I spent quite a few days in Tokyo. I saw a lot, and took a lot of pictures – I usually do that when I’m traveling.
Here is a picture of me in Shibuya (If I remember correctly).
That is one of the busy neighborhoods of Tokyo at night. As my wife says: it is full of blinky lights and home to the busiest pedestrian crossing on the planet (this is right behind me). We have a 15 second movie of a typical crossing and it is quite impressive: it looks as if an anthill had just been stirred. Of course, I don’t look particularly great in this picture. If you are visiting Tokyo you can become very fashion-conscious. To become more of a local my hair should be spiky and the clothing much more tight-fitting. Oh well.
I will board my plane to China soon.