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December 31, 2012

Kizuna Day 2

Started the day with a lecture on the Great East Japan Earthquake and reconstruction efforts. Prevented myself from falling asleep by doodling on the lecture notes, which proved to be an extremely useful technique throughout the trip haha.. shall try that in school next year.

I learnt that the Japanese were caught off-guard by the tsunami, not the earthquake (which they had already many measurements in place). Disaster recovery is divided into two aspects: Hardware and Software; Hardware meaning repairing collapsed buildings and such, while Software deals with the education and mental state of the local community.

Left Tokyo for Utsunomiya after lunch, via the bullet train!

Shinkansen (Japanese Bullet Train)
The Shinkansen (新幹線), also known as the "Bullet Train", is a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan. It can reach maximum speeds of 240–300 km/h. Shinkansen literally means new trunk line, referring to the tracks, but the name is widely used inside and outside Japan to refer to the trains as well as the system as a whole.(x)

After sitting on the bullet train for the third time in my life, it still doesn't feel as fast as it should be. Apparently tickets for the Shinkansen is expensive- ironically the train only stops for 1 minute at each station so it is always a mad rush to get in and out of the train, haha.

We went to visit the Tochigi Prefectural Government Office after that.

Prefectures are governmental bodies larger than cities, towns, and villages. The former provinces of Japan were converted into prefectures in the 1870s. Each prefecture is further subdivided into cities (市 shi) and districts (郡 gun). Each district is further subdivided into towns (町 chō or machi) and villages (村 son or mura). (x)

Had a more clearer picture of the real impacts of the disaster in the Tochigi Prefecture in particular. As the trip progressed, I guess one undeniable fact was that we became more and more immersed into the actual happenings of the 3.11 disaster, and it ceased to be just another headline in the news, another tragedy, another casualty count.

We were also introduced to the specialties of Tochigi, of which possibly the only thing that went into my head was ICHIGO ICHIGO ICHIGO (not the guy in bleach). Strawberries!!

Unfortunately agricultural imports from Tochigi are still banned locally :(

Later I realised that the government office is not just a work building! After the video/talk/lecture, there were tour guides who brought us to view the beautiful evening skyline at this storey which also, had a children play area and exhibitions showing traditional craftwork and pottery of Tochigi.

The rooftop also had a helipad, used for food and aid distribution in times of need. I was thinking in the lines of attempted assassinations but guess not... haha. The architecture of the building was also pretty cool, the middle of the building was empty except for a middle storey which was a patio growing some horticultural stuff.

The picture on the bottom right is the mascot of Tochigi, christmas version! Haha so cute!

End of day 2!


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