Saturday, October 1, 2011

Japan: Day 1

I wrote a few blog essays during early mornings and other spare moments over the last week, while I was in Japan.  I'll post those accompanied by contemporaneous photos over the next few days, followed by a catch-up post if need be.

View from hotel window
View from my hotel window

And so, just like that, I'm on the other side of the world. Well, not "just like that"; it's fully two days later, however you slice it, and there were two planes, a bis, and a 10-hour sleep in between. 

Sophia University
Sophia University welcomes the Eco-Sophia Symposium

I've never suffered much from the classic symptoms of jet lag, as I've heard them reported. Although I didn't sleep on the 14-hour transpacific flight, and thus was awake almost 24 hours during my trio -- and this for a person who hasn't stayed up all night since she was a teenager -- and couldn’t quite figure out why I was hungry last night at 8:30 Japan time after eating three meals in the preceding 12 hours, I slept soundly, woke refreshed, and enjoyed the hotel's continental breakfast.

 Opening ceremonies 2
The conference opening plenary, with the start of my conference scarf

In other words, I feel like it's Monday morning and I'm ready to get to work at the conference, although I missed a weekend day somewhere in there. We'll see how I'm holding up at dinnertime after a full day of speeches and sessions.

 Private schoolchildren
Kids from private school cross the street

Last night I was recalling some of the other international travel I've done over the last few years. The walks I took in Salzburg, the sites we visited in Seoul, the tiny hotel room on the canal in Aarhus. Compared to some of those trips, this one is logistically simple and stress-free. My well-appointed hotel is a short stroll from the conference site, which is an urban university campus. Student walk from class to class checking their cellphones, carrying their satchels, earbuds on, wearing their athletic gear. Just like home. Only the impeccably attired campus security and work crews, along with the unsettlingly ubiquitous medical masks, stand out. Otherwise it's like university life everywhere: hanging out at the student center, taking a morning jog, grabbing a drink at the vending machine, watching the celebratory centennial banners dance on every light post.

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