Friday, July 23, 2010

rocks and culture weekend

Last month I received an email from one of my coworkers. The Japanese portion of the email was quite extensive, but the English translation essentially said "We will go on a geology excursion. Let me know if you want to join." Despite having little to no information upon which to base my decision, I said yes. What the heck. My first field trip in Japan. As the weekend approached, folks (my boss, my parents, Ryan) starting asking me various questions, such as what geology I would be looking at, where I was going, when I was leaving/returning. To all of which I had no answer. This got me starting to worry. I took off work the Friday before so that I could purchase some new hiking boots and a small day pack, thinking that these items could potentially come in handy. I hoped that I wouldn't also need a tent, etc. However, my worrying was for nought. It all worked out splendidly and I had a really nice time. Here are some pictures. 
A professor from a different University organized the trip and brought a few of his grad students along with five from our University. Their school has a rule about wearing hard hats during field trips, so that's how you can tell them apart. I'm told our school has the same rule. Oops.

We left early in the morning and took a 1.5 h bullet train West toward Nagoya to an area by the Toyokawa river. 

Lots of greenery here, but not many animals. There were just a few of these giant bullfrogs.
From recent rains, the river was really full. This was great for pictures, but unfortunately covered up a lot of the geology that we were trying to find.

Every field trip will include at least one picture of people squatted around looking and pointing at the ground, or in this case, some nice contact metamorphism.

The organizer, Professor Michibayashi, did a great job of describing all the features in both Japanese and English. He is also great at getting the students fired up. Apparently when he does his field excursions for his research, he is very hardcore and stays in very rough conditions - barren fields in the middle of nowhere, for instance. However, when he goes on trips with students, he prefers it to be a bit more mellow, bless his heart. 

We stayed at a little ryokan, with all the usual trappings: onsen, yukatas for everyone, a big, 20-bowl dinner and equally expansive breakfast. Above is the sign that they tell me welcomes us to the hotel. I shared my room with two female grad students who, fortunately for me, speak perfect English. We had a nice time.

In addition to the onsens and the dining rooms, there were also video games and this living room filled with lazy boy recliners, which I found kind of amusing.
Also amusing slash bewildering were some of the items on sale in the lobby.
Stay tuned for part II of the weekend, in which we check out some ancient culture and head to the local natural history museum.

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