2010 Tateshina Trip Log

July 2nd (Fri)

For someone who has spent most of her time in the research lab and library, I secretly looked forward to this Tateshina trip, where I could be in touch with nature filled with greenery. With much excitement I packed my things, and my luggage quickly became full. While I expected not to be able to write papers at the destination, putting in professional literature and my laptop is what we call "Dissertation sickness"?

In the morning at about 8:30, people I am familiar with were gathering around Shinjuku Center Building. We have been talking much about Evgeni's Facebook contents, and there was a lot of commotion when Mathias arrived with his beautiful fiance, while we waited for others.

After having lunch at "Suwa Glass Town", we headed towards Suwa Grand Shrine, where it was said the once-in-seven-years Onbashira (the honored pillars) festival was held in May of this year (Note: vertical Shinboku (god tree) cut from the Yatsugatakea mountains are chosen and the four posts are erected around the shrine). The talked-about main post was bigger than I imagined and I felt a strange feeling of something majestic. While listening to the interesting explanation from Choi, who knew a lot about cultural treasures, I went around the shrine, I was pulled along by Wang, who was about to buy a omikuji (written fortune), so I ended up also buying one. I immediately read the fortune regarding studies, and I was pondering about this year's dissertation destiny, those around me were fussing about "academic fortune is..", "Dissertation is.." Everyone was thinking about the same thing.

At our lodging, Cherto no Mori, was precisely a pleasant place surrounded by forest. It had a nice coolness that would be unimaginable in Tokyo, and a relaxing silence, where one could hear the birds chirping. Moreover, as was rumored, there was no cell phone signal! Why should one find relief in not being able to use civilization's convenience? During the orientation held at the training room after dinner, we were briefed on Cherto no Mori and Yatsugatake (Eight Peaks), and introduced ourselves to each other. In the midst of everyday life that has become routine, I tend to think the whole world is just that around me, but the world really is full of different people who are doing different research with different lifestyles. But, a common point through this world is laughter that gives joy to people's hearts. Those who gathered at the living room refreshed themselves of the trip's weariness while drinking beer. After returning to their rooms, girls talk about another common point of this world, love, continued up to late in the evening.

July 3rd (Sat.)

During breakfast time, Jack, the husband of Miya, appeared accustomed to taking care of feeding their child. They say that in the morning it is Papa, and the in the evening it is Mama who takes care of the child. As I look at Miya, who was able to balance both studies and child-rearing, I felt ashamed at my complaints about studying only. In preparation for the translation, Gip and Miya headed early towards Tateshina Forum, while those who were left behind enjoyed free time walking through the forest. While inhaling the damp delicious air, I enjoyed finding hut-like vacation houses that sometimes appear in the midst of the greenery. Li, using her specialization in kanji, dished out a lot of puns, making us all laugh heartily.

The conditions of seven East Asian countries were reported on at the 38th SGRA Forum. It was a rare experience, which could hardly be had in my own research field. During the panel discussion, there was intense discussion about whether it is possible to put into numbers human happiness, or whether it was valid to discuss the happiness of developed and developing countries using the same indicators. I was a bit surprised that philosophical discussions were being made even in the field of natural science, and it was an opportunity for me to relate it to my own field of specialization.

During the cocktails, while partaking of the delicious dishes, everyone enjoyed conversations about matters that were not discussed fully during the forum, or about Yatsugatakea. In particular, what tickled me most was Evgeni devouring up 20 dishes, saying that he was substituting for Phrachatpong who was forbidden to have a meal after 14:00. The fireworks were suspended because of rains, but everyone had a blast taking souvenir pictures.

July 4th (Sun)

This was barbecue day. After finishing breakfast, those who were showing off their cooking specialties headed a little earlier towards the Lodge. Since there was a lot of people starting to cook at the same time, things got really busy: cooking utensils became scarce, people were looking all over for cutting boards and knives, and bewilderment when ingredients could not be found. However, in a short while, people were enjoying the cooking as they became more aware of each other's needs, and began sharing knives, as well as lending each other condiments.

The barbecue party started with the birthday celebration of Lu's child. Then the each country's chef talked about their dishes. Boiled dumplings by the China team, green curry by the Thailand team, Sate (grilled marinated chicken)by the Indonesia team, Japchae (cellophane noodles ) and Jeon (Chijimi or Korean Pancake) as well as yakiniku and Kimchi by the Korea team. There was also Taiwan's herbal broiled eggs with tea and Japan's Oden, with even its own "Oden" flag. These all look so good to me that I didn't know where to start. I ate till I was so full that I had to pass on the last dish, Yakisoba (Fried Noodles). Thanks to everyone's cheering, the Japchae and Jeon of the Korea team were all eaten up. Hurray!

After everyone helped in cleaning up, we had the water melon bashing last. It was my first time to see a water melon bashing so I was cheering nervously, not knowing what to expect. The small and careful steps of blindfolded Li and a child with bat in hand was a great contrast to Professor Supredee's mighty swing which sent the water melon scattering in pieces.

These were the unforgettable and enjoyable three days, which passed by so quickly

(By Yoon Jin-Hee, trans. M. Maquito)

Photos of the Tateshina Trip
by Tanihara
BBQ by Morimoto