Archive for January 10, 2014

From Nagoya

Posted in Biographical with tags , , , on January 10, 2014 by telescoper

So, my first ever trip to Japan has started pretty well. The flight via Frankfurt arrived on schedule and I arrived with all the luggage I was supposed to have too! I didn’t get any sleep on the long flight from Frankfurt to Nagoya, but then I never seem to manage to drop off on aircraft. I was quite jealous of the lady next to me, actually, as she slept soundly for most of the journey.

Here I am, then. It’s mid-afternoon local time but ridiculously early morning on my body clock. Travelling West to East is always more difficult, I think. Going the other way you can usually sleep off the jet lag pretty quickly, but going East-West and arriving in the morning (local time) means you’ve basically lost a night’s sleep. On a trip to Shanghai years ago I was in a similar situation, arriving at the airport in mid-morning to be met with a welcoming committee and taken to a very big lunch (complete with beer). When this was over, around 3.30 in the afternoon, my hosts suggested that I must be tired and took me to my hotel. No sooner had I unpacked my bags and put my feet up than I fell sound asleep; I didn’t wake up until midnight. So it was that I remained completely out of kilter with the time zones. It took most of my stay in China to get adjusted. I thus learned the hard way that if you want to deal successfully with the problem of jetlag then you have to stay awake as long as possible on the day you arrive…

I must seem like a complete wimp to those observational astronomers who not only go jet-setting around the world but also climb up and down mountains to get to observatories perched on their summit as well as working all night rather than day once they’ve got there.  How they manage to cope with all that and remain (relatively) compos mentis when they arrive back at their day job is beyond me.

Anyway, despite lack of sleep the flight wasn’t too bad. I was impressed by the collection of classical music and jazz available on the in-flight entertainment system offered by Lufthansa, and there were even some decent movies on offer. I managed to see the first of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies, which I quite enjoyed though I found some of the set-pieces far too drawn out. I also watched, for the first time in ages, Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

First impression of Nagoya is that it’s basically an industrial city. My hosts tell me that the city was very heavily bombed during WW2 because of the important factories in the area. The campus at Nagoya University where I’m staying is fairly small but facilities seem pretty good. I’m looking forward to doing a bit of exploring at the weekend, when hopefully I’ll find some interesting historical buildings!

I was a bit worried about how well I would manage without being able to speak (or read) any Japanese. There are challenges, but the excellent Metro system is actually quite well signposted in English so I’m not anticipating too many problems sightseeing. Buying food might be another matter!

Better draw this rambling post to a close. Hopefully my brain will be up to writing something more substantial tomorrow..