Sunday, 17 May 2015

There Were Supposed To Be American Students

So yesterday, instead of having a nice Saturday at home, I was at school from 10.30 am to about 10pm. Why? Well, one of my zemi's had a special session.

That seems extremely unconnected with the blog post title, so I'll explain it now. You see, we were originally supposed to be having a combined session with some university students from America. My friends prepared their presentations in English and everything (my group was told not to present, because even we don't quite understand what Industrie 4.0 is about yet). I spent most of my Friday helping them correct their slides and script and all that.

But then on Friday night, my friend messaged me telling me to check my phone. Turns out the American students won't be coming because they got in late and won't be able to wake up at 5 am to take the 6.30am train here. I'm actually not sure who was more disappointed, my friends, who were slaving over their presentations and worrying about having to speak in English, or me, who was correcting grammar and worrying how I was going to do simultaneous translations for groups of people. Either way, it was an unpleasant surprise, but my teacher decided that the English presentations would go ahead, without the Americans, so at least their effort wasn't wasted (the worrying about talking in English thing, though, totally wasted).

So yesterday came and went. It turned out to be a really interesting day. I spent the morning listening to my friends present and reassuring them that "it's fine, don't worry, it's all under the time limit". As for the afternoon, after the student presentations, we had two guest speakers, both my teacher's school-juniors (I think). One of them is a civil servant who's currently working in the digitalisation department in Fukuoka, and he talked to us about his experience in the public service. He even spent 3 years in Hong Kong! It's not relevant to me, but I found it interesting, especially the last part, when he talks about Fukuoka's future plans - it sounds a lot like Singapore's Smart Nation plan to me! I wonder if Singapore and Fukuoka will be working together.

The second speaker, who was invited ahead of time (the first speaker was invited on Friday night to fill in the spare time created by the absent American students), gave a presentation on the Internet. He's apparently an expert on flaming (being flamed on the Internet), and does a lot of other cool stuff, one of which is being able to make and sell fireworks (unrelated to the day job though).

This would be the time to mention that I was taking photos for this, but after the presentation, I'm more reluctant than ever to upload them here. You might have noticed, but the photos here are either of me, or of nature. Sometimes, my family and friends appear, but it's rare. The reason is that when I was in TUFS, the principle of never uploading photos of people who have not given consent made quite an impression to me. So, if you see people here, there's a 99% chance that I've already asked and gotten their permission to put their photos up here.

So, I've always done this, but didn't really understand why. This lesson helped me to understand it a bit better - I think on the whole, Japanese people are much more cautious than Singaporeans online. This is a generalisation, but hearing advice to never put your photos on public, only stick to non-controversial stuff, don't write a blog unless it's about what you ate for dinner or something equally non-controversial, and to make sure you never make anything public, I kinda understand why even in videos for dance covers, you can see dancers wearing masks.

Apart from general how to keep safe and some things about stealth marketing, the lecture also touched on how the Internet can turn hatred into something positive. The last part of the lecture looked at certain examples of, well, I can only think of the phrase "positive trolling". One of them, is the 日本鬼子 (Chinese: riben guizi - Japanese devil) phrase that popped up during one of the anti-Japan demonstrations that occurred in China a few years ago (around 2010, if I remember correctly). Even though the Japanese knew they were being scolded, they decided that this was also a girl's name, and thus, Hinomoto Oniko was born:

Image from
That more or less confused the Chinese-internet since it's not a normal reaction, and I guess things simmered down? I'm not too sure, because I was laughing pretty hard.

The second thing I remember is what the teacher caleld the Ikemen Japan Incident that took place in 2005, although I can't find anything about it on the Internet. Basically, Japanese users pretended that the words "Ikemen" (a handsome guy) and "moe" (it basically refers to a cute girl), with the result that someone repeatedly called the Emperor of Japan "Ikemen" and "Moe" in an attempt to insult him. Not exactly something that builds better relationships, but I found it funny.

Oh wait, I finally stopped searching using the words "Ikemen Japan" because it just gave me J-drama, and finally found two results. They're both in Japanese though, but if you want to read about it, you can do so here and here.

After the two lectures, we went for dinner, which was why we ended really late. I took pictures of almost all the dishes, but I don't think anyone wants to hear a blow by blow account of what I ate (do you?). I'll just post one photo of a dish I thought was... interesting.

This may look like an ordinary squid, but what you can't see in this picture is that it's actually moving. Well, not the sliced bits (thankfully), but the head and the tentacles were. I think I just stared at the dish, and waited for someone to try eating it first.

Oh, and the moving parts were later turned into black tempura:

Tasted good. Still don't know why it's black. Squid ink?
The talking to the speakers part was interesting (especially since one of them had an Apple Watch, so I got to look at some of the functions), but my favourite part was talking to my zemi-mates. I didn't really know them before this, so any chance to get to know them better is a good for me(: I'd really like to have a good two years here.