Stories From The Road

Technos International Week – Day 2

Monday June 7, 2010

TECHNOS COLLEGE, Higashi Fuchu, Japan – The red carpet stretched across the outdoor courtyard, throngs of students stood on either side screaming…

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Today we had a late start, which was great, because all of us really needed to sleep off the jet lag. When I arrived downstairs I was greeted by a traditional Japanese breakfast. There were small egg omelets’ that had a rather sweet taste, Japanese yogurt that was more like a drink, bread, and all the rice you could ever eat.

After breakfast, I went for a walk through Higashi Fuchu with a few fellow International students. Higashi Fuchu is the part of Tokyo where  Technos College  and our lodging is located. We traveled down some residential roads and arrived at a park and took a break. The park had a few baseball fields and tennis courts as well as walking paths and playgrounds. Numerous sculptures dotted the park as well as the many fountains. We found an open area and began tossing a ball as a way to learn everyone’s names. After about a half hour of walking around the park we returned to the hotel.

At noon we boarded the bus using our prepaid Suica cards and traveled ten minutes to Technos College for the first day.

Technos College

Upon our arrival we were greeted by a few students and brought up to the 2F (second floor) skill up room. This room was used as a quiet study room by the English department. After dropping off our belongings we were brought down to the courtyard for the grand opening of Technos International Week 2010.

The design of Technos College is rather interesting. It is a single building, with an open-air courtyard in the center. Four floors rise above it with open-air hallways on three sides creating a triangle. There are another four floors above the hallways that surround the courtyard. At the top point of the triangle is a glassed in elevator. The entire building as a modern style to it and reminds me more of a business building than a school.

The welcome ceremony at Technos College

As we left the skill-up room we were lined up for the introduction. Music boomed over the loud speakers, with each school being introduced to a different song. The emcee announced once in English and once in Japanese. Each schools flag lined the courtyard. A couple of schools went before us and but finally it was our turn.

“Please welcome Hobart and William Smith Colleges”

The other emcee repeats the announcement in Japanese.

The red carpet stretched across the outdoor courtyard, throngs of students stood on either side screaming. Hands were thrown out into the walkway looking for high-fives and handshakes. I felt as though I was famous. We walked down the red carpet and came to the steps that ascended out of the courtyard. I turned around and took one last look at the crowd. They were screaming and shouting and clapping for us and I remember thinking that this is what it must feel like to be famous. These were my fifteen minutes of fame or rather two weeks, surrounded by adoring fans. They handed us a microphone and we each thanked Technos College and the students for our welcome. When we had finished we turned and walked up the stairs to Meet Dr. Kenji Tanaka the man whose vision and generous philanthropy made this trip possible.

The stage at the welcome ceremony

Dr Tanaka and I faced each other and shook hands first in a western greeting and then slowly bowed to one another, showing respect in the eastern tradition.

“Arigatoo Goziamsu” which means ‘thank you very much’. I slowly stumbled through this having only rehearsed this a few time before I actually met him. I also had embarked on this journey and trip without any knowledge in the Japanese language.

He returned the bow shaking my hand. I then greeted his wife who knew me as the kid who liked soccer. This was because I had listed soccer as one of my interests on a questionnaire that I had handed in before leaving the United States.

Once all of the schools had been introduced and had processed down the red carpet. The students looked up to us as we stood on the floor above. They threw out the rock-on hand and the hang-ten hand. As the crowed died down we were led into the tea salon for the welcoming party. Dr. Tanaka approached the microphone to deliver some opening remarks about the trip and what his hopes are for the outcome of this trip. After, Professor Brian Rogers from Pembroke College, Oxford gave the opening remarks for the international faculty. Mitsunari translated both of the speeches into English and Japanese. Blair who was a part of Technos International Week 2009 gave the final speech. He returned to Tokyo this year to do community service.

Dr. Tanaka

After the speeches the party began where we ate lunch and met the Technos Students. They were so happy to see and meet us. They took pictures with us and sometimes their eagerness overwhelmed them. Yet they were also extremely courteous and always had a compliment for each person. A couple of girls came up to me and said:

“You cool” or “your eyes are beautiful.” One girl even asked me out.

After the party we were given a tour of the Technos College facility. Technos College is an interesting school, which can be equivocated to a technical school in the United States. Some train to work in hotels, others in the airline industry as flight attendants, or in the bridal industry as well as many others. They have flight simulators that look like a full cockpit. Some recent graduates are even working on mainstream video games such as Final Fantasy.

I was given the opportunity to try the flight simulator. I flew over Japan and Tokyo and was told to eventually land the plane in the middle of the city. Piece of cake!

After the tour of the campus we left with a few of the students on a tour of Fuchu. We walked past shops and into a shrine that was located in the heart of modernity. We stepped from the modern world into the ancient world. We washed our hands with ladles of water in front of the shrine. The water is extremely soft. When we entered the shrine the students showed us how to pray for good luck. First you throw in a coin, then bow twice, clap twice, and bow again. After  our visit in the shrine, we walked down into the center of Fuchu for dinner. I had cold udon noodles and tuna sashimi with rice.  I was surprised how delicious cold noodles could be. After dinner I returned to the hotel.

The Airplane Room

In the evening, a few of us gathered in the lobby for our first chance to explore the city. I went out with the students from Pembroke, Amanda from Hope and Vienna. We took a train to Shinjuku. Our mission was to find the Park Hyatt Hotel and go to the New York Bar, which had a famous scene in the movie Lost in Translation with Bill Murray.

However, when we arrived in Shinjuku it was not what we expected. We exited the station and found ourselves in the business district. However, other exits bring you to a more metropolitan area. The business district was relatively quiet and full of corporate buildings. Shinjuku station is the busiest train station in the world!

After about an hour of walking we found the hotel. The bar was located on the fifty-second floor, one of the highest points in the city. We dressed up knowing that it was a classy restaurant.

Upon our arrival we were greeted and told that there is a 2200-yen ($22 on a 1 to 100 conversion rate) cover fee for live music. Although we were dressed up it seemed as though the staff did not want us there. Yet, they let us in anyway. Everyone was older and formally dressed. This was a one-drink place on our budget. We thought about leaving but we indulged ourselves because this was a once in a lifetime experience and we had walked about an hour to find this place.

The Airline Department

It was odd that they scrutinized our appearance when after a while they let people in who were only wearing t-shirts.

Drinks ranged from 1100 yen ($11) for beer to 2800 ($28) for a mixed drink. I ordered a New York mixed drink, which had bourbon, limejuice and grenadine. The most amazing part about this restaurant was the view. The bright lights of Tokyo beamed from below stretching in every direction as far as the eye could see. We took our time, savoring our drinks and admiring the view.

After leaving the restaurant we wandered Shinjuku looking for the train station. We got a little lost but ended up finding station that was one stop ahead of where we needed to go. Eventually we arrived back at the hotel around midnight and went to bed.

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