Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Kobe Luminaire

The Luminaire is one of Kobe's yearly festival. It started in 1995 to commemorate the Great Hanshin earthquake that hit Kobe that same year. Thousands of people died and many buildings destroyed. I also read somewhere that each light represents a life lost during that unfortunate day. This year, it started around 5th of December until the 15th (am not sure). From JR-Osaka station, I took the train to Kobe and went down Motomachi station where I met my friends. Thousands of people went that day and enjoyed the lights of the Luminaire. I even bought a Kansai-Train pass with the Luminaire in the picture :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A smiley in the sky...

I was going back to the laboratory yesterday (Dec 1, 2008) around 5:30pm for the Discrete Math group study when I looked up in the sky. The sun sets much earlier during autumn so at 5:30 the sky was dark. I always loved looking at the sky, the stars and the moon during the night, and the clouds and blue skies during the day. But yesterday's moon and stars were quite different. They seemed to be smiling at me happily. Hmmm, well, the other star was smaller, and so it looked like an unbalanced face. But maybe, the "face" was doing a *wink*.

So I sent a message to my friends hoping that one of them will take a picture of it. The one i took from my mobile phone was not very clear.

Top photo: from my mobile phone.

Bottom photos: taken by Igor

I thought I was the only one admiring the moon and the stars last night. But no. Here it is, a gallery of pictures of the same stars and moon I saw last night:,23607,5036115-5007150-01,00.html

We learned that the stars were Venus and Jupiter, in rare position with the crescent moon. And indeed it seemed like a smiley in the sky.

But today, it was different. It was the opposite. The crescent moon was on the upper part of the stars and it looked like a "frown" and not a smile. Kinda sad... hmmm maybe my feelings were drawn from the sky I saw today. Well, maybe...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Enjoying Autumn

It's autumn season! Trees are changing colors, and eventually, leaves falling. For me who come from a tropical country, this kind of scene is a wow! I remembered that we have a picture frame in our house with a similar view-- lake and mountain during autumn. The mountain looked colorful with the changing colors of the leaves. And wow, last weekend I was not looking at pictures from a land i-dont-know-where, but I was enjoying the view for real!

Arashiyama, Kyoto was our destination last Saturday. We took the train from Takanohara Stn in Nara to... okey I can't remember hahaha. We changed trains like four or five times. Okey, I won't mention that we got lost in one of those times (sshhhh :p). We took the Keihann line, then Hankyu line to Arashiyama, Kyoto. There were so many people going to the same place. We had lunch beside the river while watching the birds and ducks :). We went to the Monkey Park! And you know what? There were so many monkeys in the Monkey Park hahaha. Oh, by the way, some reminders while in the monkey park:

Don't stare at them in the eyes (I mean, the monkeys).
Don't feed them outside (but you can feed them in the rest room, not restroom,okey?
Don't touch the monkeys.
yeah, the first one, don't even try it. Some monkeys just know you are staring at them. And they won't like it! Just trust us hehehe. Don't feed them outside... just feed them in the rest room. There is a place where you can feed the monkeys. There was a screen so it was safer to feed them. Don't touch the monkeys? I won't even dare!!! They even sound scary.... yiiii
After the Monkey park, we wanted to take the boat in the lake (river?). However, we were told that pictures are not allowed while in the boat. AGAIN??? okey, nevermind. we want to take pictures! so we decided not to. We just went around, crossed the bridge and had some snacks with okonomiyaki. We also went to Hogonin temple a night where lights added beauty to the colorful trees. I think they called it Momiji Park (momiji means autumn colours or maple). It was beautiful. But what a crowd. For me, it was beautiful but I would have enjoyed it if I was free to move around. But the crowd made it impossible to just move around.

The next day, we went to Minoo Park. The first time we went there was summer, so it was all green. Now the leaves are really nice but we were expecting more "reddish" leaves. Not all leaves are fiery red while others have started to fall off. But still, a beautiful sight.

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Hogonin Temple,Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto going up to Monkey park

Monkey Park

Minoo Park, Minoo, Osaka

Pictures courtesy of Engelene :D

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fujisan Experience

On foot... August 28, 2008 along with some friends, we started walking (or climbing) up Mt. Fuji. Japan's symbol, Mt Fuji or Fujisan to the Japanese, is Japan's highest mountain standing at 3,776 meters. It's symmetrical cone makes it beautiful and attracts people, local and foreigners alike. We started our journey at around 7pm from the 5th Station of the Fujinomiya Route, some 2400 meters in altitude. Equipped with flashlight, thick clothes, raincoat, we went up and enjoyed the first hour of walking, enjoying the beauty of the city lights below. The sky went darker as we ascended further. The city was no longer visible. It was not raining but it was getting really colder and the dampness caused by fogs made it more uncomfortable. It was cold, and tiring. We were walking, climbing, holding on to rocks and rope. We see nothing beyond what our flashlights could reach.

I for one wanted to give up. I did not think it was possible. After the 8th Station, I just wanted to stay and wait for whatever it was. But staying still was not a good idea. We have to more so bring warmth to our muscles. Physically, i was giving up. It was only my will to survive, to make it that, perhaps, helped me moved on. It was all in the mind.

Hours of walking finally brought us to the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, the rain started to fall down and the wind was blowing madly on top! It was really cold! My hands were shaking, my cheeks frozen-like, and everybody was already exhausted. We just wanted to go back.

And thank God, we came down, safely. But going down equally difficult. The wind was meeting us as we descended, and the rain was pouring still. We could see nothing ahead of us but fog.

The experience was something we cannot forget. It was not an enjoyable one, but I guess, it made us conquer some of our fears and limitations. We were able to overcome the challenge, the hard way. And maybe, that made it more memorable.

Some advices. Mount Fuji is beautiful! Admire it from a distance. If you want to experience sunrise on top of Fujisan, check the weather. :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The lessons of going on foot...

The past days, I already had thoughts of running (jogging) or simply walking around the campus during early morning. But that never happened. I always find myself enjoying my bed in the morning and getting up late.

August 20,2008, I decided to get up early. With all the thoughts and feelings the night before, I just decided to walk around, hmmm maybe from GaiDai to Onohara. Oh, maybe to Handai with the usual Onohara path, was a better idea, I thought.

Leaving the dorm, I didn’t bring my keitai with me. I just brought with me some money just in case I won’t make it walking coming back. I started heading to the Madani Jutaku Bus stop when I decided to take a bottle of water from the Jidouhanbaiki. And from there, I took the way down to Madani Jutaku 入り口.

This jogging-running-walking thing made me think of simple decisions. Instead of taking the planned path, I thought of going to Handai using the ‘monorail path’, the usual path the University Bus takes from Minoo campus to Suita campus. And it was great! The wind was suzushi (cool), well it was 6:20 in my watch, the green scenery of the rice field, the aroma from the rice wheat made my walking much better. The walk made me noticed the rice stalks that were just beginning to show and enjoy the smell of the rice field. It made me feel more alive. Yes, with all the things that are happening around, the daily routines, I thought I need one ‘nature trip’ like I usually do in Zamboanga.

So I headed on to Handai. And in an hour, I was already at Handai Byoin Mae station. I took the path going to the campus, but then again, I felt like not going in and decided to take another path. Another, ‘what if’ came to my mind. What if, instead of going inside the campus to Senri gate then to Onohara, why not take the path around the Handai and maybe find the Senri gate in the end? I just took on my What If thoughts then. I started jogging to a new direction, a new path, which I really don’t know where it was leading me to. I just thought that this new path will lead me to some familiar place later.

And indeed, I was walking and jogging for 5-10 minutes on a new path. I had to make decisions again along the way. The CROSSROAD. Should I go straight? Hmmm… definitely not to the left so I decided to turn right. Whooaaa… I felt like I was in the middle of the forest! I really didn’t know where that is but I continued to walk. On both sides of a narrow road were huge trees and bamboo poles. You can hear the cicadas noise (why are they following me?!) and the birds chirping. It was about 2-3 minutes of that scenery when I found ‘civilization’! But this is not where I wanted to go. The path I took did not lead to Senri Gate of handai. Instead the signs said ‘THIS WAY TO YAMADA MONORAIL’ and ‘HANKYU Railway YAMADA STN’.

Whaaattt!!!!????? Walking on farther, the road signs were pointing me to MinamiSenri and other Senries here in Osaka!

But that’s the lesson of going and following your instinct, of following what you feel, of following what your heart says. Sometimes, you get lost. Sometimes the road you thought was right, was never right. We take different paths, thinking that this path will bring us to where we wanted to go but only to find out it’s not. And again, in moments like this, one has to make a decision. Either to go on farther and farther away from your desires, or just stop, feel that moment, and backtrack a bit. Go back to where you started losing your way and find the right way again from there. We just have to accept that we are really lost sometimes. But we also have to accept that we can always find our way again.

Going back for a few minutes of walking, I found the sign that says ‘KITA-SENRI STN’. The sign brought hope. I will find my way. I started walking and as I made every step, I can feel a more familiar place now. Yes, this is KITA SENRI, I thought. The Hankyu line was my guide. Yamada Stn is just a station away from Kita-Senri Stn. I looked at my watched. It’s about 5 minutes before 8am. I have been walking around for almost two hours already and the wind was not suzushii anymore (suzushikunakatta). But I never felt tired, never felt anxious about the new paths I took. I was just sure enough, that as long as you are aware of what is happening and have faith in you, you will find your way back ‘home’.

P.S. I stopped by McDonalds and made ‘omochikairi’ (takeout) for shaka-shaka chicken and Melon pan. I took the bus back to madani Jutaku.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nature`s Beauty

After long weeks of preparation for the 3-minute midterm presentation, we decided to take a break by going to Minoh Park. It was worth the time! The scenery is beautiful and the sound of the running water was so refreshing. It seemed like the pressures and stresses we had were gone with the running water...flowing it far away from us. It was a good time of chatting and enjoying the beauty around us that day. The sights were like those of a calendar we had before in our house.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sakura in Spring

I arrived in Osaka, Japan during Spring season. The best season, I guess, among all seasons. It was still really cold when I came. This one thing that I really looked forward to seeing in Japan is the SAKURA (Cherry Blossoms). I have seen many pictures of the Sakura in calendars and postcards. And it will be an experience for me to see sakura for real.

Indeed they are beautiful!!! The Japanese people themselves enjoy the wonderful scenery painted with the sakura all over the place. yes, it would seem a common sight during Spring, but one should not miss enjoying its beauty for it wont be there for long. After 10 days or so, the cherry blossoms are blown out by the wind.

Osaka University Minoh Campus