Day 23: The end of an adventure

Tuesday March 22nd, 2011 by Celine Vincent

As the sun rose on Thursday, March 17th, so did the participants of the Satori Study Tour. At least, most of them, since two didn’t want to say goodbye to their beds and had to be dragged out of their room. Fortunately, even they were up and ready to leave by the time the bus had arrived.

We headed for Kansai International airport, which was built on a man-made island in the sea near Osaka. Its enormous hall is impressive and it was there that participants used their last Japanese Yens to buy even more souvenirs. It was there that memories were exchanged and experiences were shared. There and then, we said our goodbyes to Japan and the Japanese people and we silently thanked them for the things they have showed and taught us during the past three weeks.

At 11:00, our plane took to the skies, headed for the Netherlands. The flight to Schiphol went smoothly and most spent their time sleeping or watching movies on the in-flight entertainment system. One member even used the flight time to study for an exam, which was inconveniently planned the next day. At 15:00, Dutch time, our plane landed and we once again set foot on Dutch ground.

From there, some said goodbye to the group and left to go to their homes and families straight away. Others took the train to Eindhoven to conclude the trip in the Walhalla, the bar of study association Thor. The eight minute delay the train had made us laugh, recalling that annual delays for Japanese public transport are measured in seconds. The litter in public places made us want to go back to Tokyo, to the cleanest streets we had ever seen. Even the unheated toilet seats were a reason to long back to Japan.

In Eindhoven, the Walhalla waited for us. After being checked for radiation by Thor’s board, we could finally enter to conclude our journey. Many people were there to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day (or to welcome us home, who knows?) but most must have gone home jealous after hearing the first stories we had to tell. And so our adventure ended, sitting at the bar with a beer by our side, telling stories and fighting the jet lag. Wow, what an adventure it was.


Day 22: Enlightenment

Friday March 18th, 2011 by Giel Op 't Veld

Last night’s karaoke called for sleeping in and that we sure did, as we wanted to spend our last day relaxed. Refreshed, we visited the last cultural highlight of our trip: the Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium. Its main attraction, a gigantic whale shark, can only be found in three aquaria in the world! Kaiyukan is built around a tank of 9 metres in height, which contains sea life from the Pacific. Visitors start at the top and spiral downwards around this tank while they enjoy looking at animals such as dolphins, penguins and corals in smaller tanks on the side. This construction was fascinating, as you were continuously introduced to new fish as you went deeper, while you were still able to see the rest swimming at different heights. As a consequence, the same fish tank could fascinate one over and over again at every level. We therefore spent quite some time at Kaiyukan, but we all agreed that it was definitely worth it.

After some free time, we concluded our study tour with a dinner at an izakaya in the famous Namba district. The all-you-can-drink menu took little time to kick in and provided us with an open and fun atmosphere to review all that we had experienced over the past three weeks. We discussed the cultural differences, which sights were most beautiful and also the technology and innovations we had seen. All pieces of the puzzle slowly fell together and we began to better understand the business and engineering mentalities, which are so different from our own. Speeches and toasts then concluded the evening and we returned to our hotel (or the local arcade halls) tired and well-fed.


Satori study tour featured in Cursor

Wednesday March 16th, 2011 by Rick van Kemenade

The Satori study tour received attention from the Cursor, the TU/e’s periodical. The piece includes an interview concerning the situation in Japan at the moment. Read the article here.

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Day 21: Kansai power

Wednesday March 16th, 2011 by Rick van Kemenade

Today we had our final technical excursion. This time we visited KEPCO, the utility company that manages the power network in the Kansai region. We listened to presentations about the company and about the cooperation with its partner companies. At the end of the excursion we got a look into the actual control room of the Central Load Dispatch Centre, which looked very impressive.

Afterwards, we went to the Umeda sky building where everybody was free until the end of the day. The building has a very interesting shape; two towers that are connected by a walking deck and floating escalators at the top. From the top floor we got an impressive view of the Osaka area. In the basement was a typical 20’s style hallway, where many participants enjoyed lunch.

In the evening a rather large group visited a karaoke bar. We found it just as hilarious as in the Netherlands. In Japan, karaoke means that you are in one chamber with a group of about ten people. You put on songs with a device which was only in Japanese. It took some getting used to, but finally we could control the device well enough to put on the songs we wanted to sing. Good spirit and fresh drinks made for a very enjoyable evening.


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Day 20: Danger! High Voltage

Wednesday March 16th, 2011 by Mike Wilmer

After the cultural experiences that have been attained over the last three days, it was time for a few refreshing technical excursions. On this day, we visited Otawa Denki and Mitsubishi Electric, both companies that showed us what real high voltage means.

We arrived a little early at Amagasaki station. However, unlike the Japanese customs we experienced earlier, our contacts - from both companies - were already waiting for us. After a short walk we arrived at the Otawa Lightning Technology Center. After watching the corporate profile video we had a tour trough the building. The tour showed us the high voltage and high current labs, a special test house and the lightning museum. During the tour we saw lightning bolts, trees being chopped down by high current and the effect of Otowa’s lightning protection products.

Our tour guides from Mitsubishi had already joined us at Otawa denki. When the program at Otawa was finished they escorted us to the site of Mitsubishi Electric. After the interesting morning excursions and a short trip by train we where pretty hungry. Mitsubishi had already prepared a lunchbox for all of us. After regaining energy from the delicious meal we could start with the tour. After a number of presentations about the company and their research and facilities, we had a tour over the site. We started with the Advance Technologies showroom, which showed us some of the recent (most innovative) activities of Mitsubishi, including smart grids, laser television, a supply vehicle for the International Space Station and robotics.

After a short break we continued our tour with a visit to the high voltage switchgear lab where we learned what types of switch gear Mitsubishi builds, how they build it and how they test it. To get a better view of the testing methods we also visited some of the test laboratories. In these rooms they test their products on temperature robustness and simulate the duribality for a 30 years lifetime. Also we were shown very impressive high voltage test halls and Mitsubishi’s vibration test facility.

When the tour ended around five it was time for the Welcome party. There were drinks and snacks and this was a perfect opportunity to chat with the personel of Mitsubishi and Otawa under a relaxed atmosphere.


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