5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – Part 8

Some people say games are just for entertainment. I don’t think so.

To demonstrate my disagreement, I am going to talk about my two favorite games recently: OX and Reversi. For those who have no idea what these names mean, they are both strategy board games and require 2 players in each round.

First, you may have heard of OX under different names such as “Gomoku” (Japanese) or “Five in a row” (English). Actually today I was very surprised to find that this game originated in Japan from the Heian period. It has been my favorite thinking game for nearly 10 years already and just now I know its origin:) To play this game, one player is O and the other is X, the winner will be the first one who can have a continuous row of five O/X horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. A good thing here is that we can play this game by several means such as on a table, a board, a piece of paper or our own smartphones and computers. Just remember to bring your brain with you. That’s important.

For example, this is the “Go” (or “igo” in Japanese) table, but it’s just fine, now I even like to play OX in “Igo” style more than on paper (^.^).

The rules of the game are simple, but it’s not easy to win especially when playing with good players. They know all the easy ways. So usually we have to “beat around the bush” and create some 2-way, 3-way or even 4-way winning moves. The hardest part here is not to let the other player know your plan or else he will destroy it from the beginning.

                                Early defense

The same situation happens in our real life. Not everybody is kind to us. Sometimes if they know what we are going to do next, they will try to slow us down or even to make us stop because of various reasons. So it’s better to keep our plan a secret and then surprise them later, right?

Now what about Reversi? Its Japanese name is “Osero” and I only knew about it when I came to Japan. The funny thing here is that at first I thought this game also originated in Japan because it seemed like all Japanese people know how to play it; however, the game was in deed invented and became popular in England at the end of the nineteenth century.

In Reversi, one player is Black and the other is White. There are 64 discs in total, each of which is black on one side and white on the other. The winner is the one who ends up with the most discs of his colour at the end of the game. Easy? Not sure.

My biggest lesson learnt from this game is that to never be happy too early because we cannot know what the future holds. You may have the advantage for about 80% of the game but then still lose. So who’s to blame here? And why? For example, Black thinks he is going to make a smart move and can flip 6 white discs over to black side, maybe he smiles and thinks of victory as well:) However, life is not a dream. Because after that Black just wants to hit his head against the wall when he realizes he has just created a good chance for White to flip more than 10 black discs over to white side and changes the situation. Well done Black!

So the point here is that if you want to win, you have to control your greed in short terms. Firm moves may not earn you many discs right at that moment but they will help you have a concrete foundation and avoid creating chances for the other player. And together with a bit of luck, you can win!^.^ This game attracted me because of its unpredictability and made me think about life in the same way.

To be honest, winning is not so important to me when I play these two games. Of course to win is better:) But even when I lose, believe it or not I still feel something good because usually failure teaches me more lessons than success. If I win, I want to play again. If if lose, I even want to play more and more to correct my mistakes. However, the feeling of playing itself is great already as it makes me feel my brain is working. And as everyone has their own work or maybe it’s just because they don’t like the games as much as I do, sometimes they cannot play with me. That’s why when someone accepts my invitation or invites me to play, I am always happy and ready for the games at anytime only except when I have carsickness:)

So if you are also interested in intellectual games, what are you waiting for? Let’s find a partner and try.

Hope you enjoy the games!^.^

5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – Part 7

“There are times that walk from you…

                                                               … like some passing afternoon…”

Well, I cannot explain why but the melody keeps playing inside my head whenever I recall memories about Toyama, the city where Yoshida-san and I went to the other day.

Actually, Yoshida-san came there to meet the customers and then we spent the whole afternoon taking photos of car maintenance process. It was a hot summer day so I almost felt tired when we finished. However, at that time I didn’t know the last hour in Toyama was the time I treasured the most of that day.

On the way to the customers’ place, I had seen so many stunning scenes of grandiose mountain ranges, the blue sea and green forest but the most striking thing to me was, unexpectedly, the late afternoon sunshine there.

                          Wide and sunny roads

                        Normal scene in the station

At first, I was attracted by the sight of the old trains running inside the city. I didn’t understand why but whenever the train passed by, it seemed like I was watching a slow-motion movie and going back in time for about 20 or 30 years ago (again now I am only 21(^.^)). That was in deed what I longed to see during the internship here. Something old but beautiful. And if you conclude that I am a nostalgic person, I totally agree with that.

                                  The rail tracks

                  Falling in love with this train

Gradually, the sunshine were getting more and more gentle and when I turned around, everywhere looked like a picture. Or a dream. A special feeling grew inside me and I just wanted time to stop so that I could enjoy the moment a little bit longer. My mind felt relaxed. Life suddenly became so calm and easy. But now I am afraid. I’m afraid that one day my memory about that afternoon will fade out and I will forget how miraculous the sunshine used to be. Just like everything else. And I never ever want it to happen.

                       Such an indescribable feeling

                                          Just look!

Eventually, we still had to go and the only thing I could do was to try to keep the afternoon stay in my heart as long as possible. The quiet and empty train platform even made me miss the sunshine more. Goodbye Toyama! Glad I could come to see you!

Goodbye!

 

 

5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – PART 6

Guess what?

Finally, I have completed two challenges in only 3 days. Even now when looking back, I couldn’t believe that they were over and I could made it because none of them was on my check-list for the internship before.

The first challenge was the 2.2km marathon with all GRIT members. Well, I know for many of you, especially sporty people, 2.2km is so easy and some even can run for a 10km – 20km marathon without being too tired. However, this 2.2km road was a real problem to me as I had not been actively exercising for my whole life (actually 1/3 of my life I guess ’cause now I’m just 21(^.^)). No sports, no exercise (except the compulsory Physical Education lessons at my schools and university), just eating and sleeping whenever I could, that’s why I was almost in a panic when Yoshida-san told me that I had to run in the July’s marathon. “Only 2km.”, he said. ONLY?!

And that day came without my expectation. I was nervous and afraid that the team’s result would be affected because it was a relay marathon and everybody in my team could run very fast (or at least better than me). Yoshida-san’s wife, Rie-san, had kindly prepared tights, a 5-finger pair of socks and a towel for me the night before. A big bus arrived at the office by noon and brought us to Gamagori, the location of the marathon.

                                    Let’s go!

                     Enjoyed karaoke altogether

                 Area around the marathon path

                          Relaxed before the run

            GRIT members’ children also had fun

As it was near a beach, the beautiful spot somehow reduced my anxiety. But when my turn came, I was very surprised that two GRIT members, first Hinata-san and then Honda-san, joined to encourage me along the way. If it hadn’t been for them, I might have stopped and walked a lot instead of running (^.^). My legs were tired as hell but as I didn’t want to upset them, all I could do at that time was trying to keep my body moving forward. The moment I passed the baton to another GRIT member, my legs nearly felt nothing and I was exhausted but also extremely happy. I finished it.

                    Grateful to have him on the way!

                        Honda-san joined us later

                                   Cheers to all!

Then it was time for the colorful firework. However, I didn’t stay until the end because just a few hours later Yoshida-san and I would have to start going to Mount Fuji to climb the day after. Yep! That was my second challenge. A much much harder one.

First and foremost, I owe my biggest thanks to Yoshida-san for what he has done for me. To be honest, he prepared 80% of what I needed for the trip, including some things I didn’t even think of. Well, that was such a strange situation for me because I was the one who had to plan and prepare everything for all of my previous trips whether they were short or long and with friends or not. This time, Ogura-san, also a GRIT member who climbed Mt. Fuji last year, offered to lend me her bag, a headlamp and a pair of gloves. The other things? Please ask Yoshida-san. How odd but yeah… sometimes we take care of others, and sometimes others take care of us. Kindness just always makes our hearts feel warmer.

There are 10 levels in total and we started from level 5 together with two of Yoshida-san’s friends who had four times of experience in climbing Mt. Fuji before. It had been raining until we reached our shelter at lever 8 so I was worried that we might not have a chance to watch the sunrise the next day. Moreover, as my legs still suffered from pain since the marathon day, I was quickly to get tired and had to take a break constantly. Nevertheless, Yoshida-san and his friends were very kind to wait and encourage me all the way up there although my common questions were “Which level is this?”, “Are we near the shelter?”, “How far is it?”, “How long will it take?” and “Can I take a break here?”. Well, I’m 200% sure that nobody will want to invite me to climb a mountain with them in the future after reading this post:)

              It was rainy and foggy when we started

                    Could only see within 10 meters

                      The road was not always easy

     However the weather got better in higher places

           Already got a fantastic view from level 7

We reached the shelter at about 7pm, stayed there until 2am the next day then started climbing to the top. It was an amazing scene created by the starry night sky and an endless line of people with their flickering headlamps one after one. However, I was too tired to take any picture of that marvelous moment, which made me regret up to now. Actually, there were times when I thought I couldn’t move on due to the lack of oxygen. But again, it was still Yoshida-san and his friends who helped me through the tough periods by carrying my bag, giving me water and keeping close distance with me in case I needed any help. Eventually, we could made it to the top of Mt. Fuji by about 5am and enjoyed the fantastic rising sun together. To me, words can not fully describe the beauty of those spectacular moments and I am sure with you that it totally worths all the efforts.

                    Finally made it to the 8th level

                A lot of people also stopped to rest

                             About to start again

                                 Dreamy scenery

                         The top was full of people

                           Here came the morning sun!

                   Totally got lost in this beauty

                               Gorgeous sun rays!

           Just wanna stay there longer and longer!

The way back cost us less energy but in fact my fingers got hurt so much because of the steep and rocky trail. I even walked backward to avoid the pain but it wasn’t really effective. After about 4 hours of struggling, Yoshida-san and I finally came back to the 5th level and yes, I became alive again (^.^).

                The way down was quicker and easier

                 Still had good views at some points

                       However my feet don’t like steep roads:)

                       Began to see the plants again

                                   Scary forest:)

Deep down in my heart, I felt happy, grateful and motivated at the same time. Both challenges gave me the lesson of how important my thinking was. I realized that my mind decided everything. When it seemed impossible to continue and I thought “Oh I will die if I don’t stop.”, my mind tried to say “Ok Lien just take one more step and see if you’ll die or not.” So as I didn’t die yet, I took another step, then another step,…. and kept going until I reached where I wanted to be. Fast or slow is not important. Taking a break from time to time is fine. Just don’t quit! That’s it.

“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” (Henry Ford)

 

5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – Part 5

I love morning walks.

For me, it’s a good time to reflect as well as to be ready for a brand new day. Although I can’t remain it daily, I always try to enjoy the walk as much as possible. And of course, it can’t be completed without a camera in my hands (^.^).

One morning, I discovered quite a lot of interesting things when walking in the area near Yoshida-san’s house. Well, generally streets in Japan are most of the time clean and have some kinds of plants, but I didn’t expect to see many beautiful flowers like that. They may hide in a small corner and are easily to get ignored but if your eyes keep searching, they will appear to surprise you.

So charming under the sunlight

The more I looked closer, the more pretty things I found.

In fact they are very tiny

Don’t you feel like it’s Autumn?

Besides plants, I could also get inspiration for my photos from other scenes such as some Japanese-style houses, the decorations of the door, the roads and places I saw when walking. Sometimes I just stopped and looked around to enjoy the poetic scene in front of my eyes without doing anything. It really made me feel like my soul has been enriched and somehow the love for life has also been enhanced.

Found an interesting coffee shop

Schools were still quiet at that time

After the walk, I returned home satisfactorily and soon went to the welcome party held by AIESEC members in the afternoon. During the party, I had an opportunity to meet other interns from different countries such as Germany, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. I tried to conduct the self-introduction in Japanese with the help of Hikaru and luckily it went well even beyond my expectation. All the AIESEC members are very friendly so it was easy for me to communicate with them in spite of my poor Japanese (^.^). They let us experience some traditional Japanese games, origami and calligraphy as well. We had a lot of fun and I realized other boys’ handwriting was even better than mine:)

 

An AIESEC member taught us first…

… and then it was our turn.

The results^.^

So glad to meet all of them!

And just because of all the good things I had in a day, I was recharged and got ready for another one!

By the way, if you have never woken up early in the morning and go for a walk, try it tomorrow!^.^

 

 

5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – Part 4

Do you like castles?

For me, it’s a yes! In my opinion, castles are more than just luxurious places designed for the noble people. As they were often built very long time ago, castles are also the witnesses of history, the evidence of a dynasty’s prosperity and last but not least, the works of art that are still able to attract us up to now.

On the second weekend of the internship, Hikaru and I had a great day together and our first destination was the Nagoya castle. As old places always hold special appeal for me, I was very eager to explore because in my imagination, it must have been an ancient building. However, Nagoya castle gave me a big surprise (^.^). Now please don’t misunderstand me because although it isn’t as old as I thought, the castle still has its own beauty and I like it. The nearby area and the roads to the main building are wide, quiet and full of green trees so yeah… it’s my type already!:)

A peaceful view near the gate

Japanese traditional house

It still seemed like an old place until I stepped inside the main building. Can you guess what is the most shocking thing there? An elevator. True. There is a modern elevator system inside the more-than-400-year-old castle but Hikaru and I chose to use the stairs instead as they look quite impressive.

The main building

Wooden stairs

Most of the inside parts are made of wood and they are all very clean as well. There was one time when we were walking around the room, suddenly the lights became darker and finally were all turned off. I thought it was a power cut but then realized that it was how they illustrated one normal day in the past from dawn until midnight. Actually it’s a good idea because the visitors feel like they are traveling back to the old days and living the life of the old people.

A good place to study?

Nevertheless, my most favorite thing here is the wonderful view from the highest floor of the castle. Just “WOW!”^.^

Looks like a forest

Here are some more photos of the castle’s area:

Must be awesome during the Sakura season

Dangerous-looking but beautiful mushroom

Neatly-made hedge

A cute Italian dog we met

Best matcha ice-cream

After Nagoya castle, we went for lunch and that was also my first time eating “okonomiyaki”, a special Japanese pan cake or you can also call it “Japanese pizza” (^.^). We tried two different types and they were both very delicious.

Big enough for one person^.^

What’s next? It was, still, Hikaru who introduced the fun things in Japan to me. Have you ever heard of “purikura”? Well maybe all of us know the word “selfie” but in Japan they have totally made it to the next level:))

Choose any selfie booth you like

Prepare to become real models

And receive cool stickers to keep forever^.^

That’s not all for the day. Before Hikaru had to come back home, we still got enough time to go to Shibafuku, a famous place to try matcha shaved ice in Nagoya. However, as the shop is quite small while so many people came to eat, we had to wait for about 20 minutes until some guests finished and there was one table available for us. The waiting time wasn’t wasted. I discovered a small corner near the door where the shop’s owner put in some plants and took quite a lot of cool pictures there.

Very cute small cacti

And here comes the giant shaved ice. Yummy!!!

Was it good enough for the weekend? I guess so!^.^

See ya!

5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – Part 3

Ohayoooo!

Recalling memories is somehow difficult but it reminds me of how important it is to keep a daily journal. So, are you curious about where I will take you to today? Let’s read and see!^.^

On the 28th of June, Yoshida-san and I went to a graphic design exhibition in Tokyo with two other GRIT members, Naoki-san and Honda-san. There were three new things for me at the same time so I felt very excited. And what were they?

As many of you may have heard about the Shinkansen – a Japanese super express train before, I also read about it long time ago and really wanted to get on the train one day. Thanks to Yoshida-san, that day came much earlier than I expected. So how did it feel? F.A.S.T. Like a bullet. Especially you can feel it the most when watching two trains pass in the opposite direction in just about 5 seconds. Not only that, it is also clean and modern inside so my first experience with the Shinkansen was very comfortable.

                            The train is coming

                                 Comfy chairs

We reached Tokyo in nearly one hour and a half. There had been a lot of people in the exhibition’s building already when we arrived but my biggest impression was the architecture of the building. That made me wonder how long it took the architect to generate ideas for it. Subarashiiiiii!!!

                 The location of the exhibition

                          Very well-designed

After registering, we walked into a big room where they held the exhibition. It was difficult for us to choose which one to visit among hundreds of booths because they all looked very attractive. And I’m sure anyone who is passionate about technology will certainly feel like a fish in the water (^.^).

         An ideal place to try out new technology

                                A quite big booth

We made a tour around the room in the beginning and then spent most of our time in the “Illustrator” area. Many designers greeted and introduced their works to us so our hands were gradually full of name cards and portfolios just after about 30 minutes. Well… no surprise why all the drawings were so good and creative as Japan is long-known as “the country of manga”. I just wish my drawing skill was up to 1/10 of theirs because whenever I draw a dog nobody can realize that it is a dog:)

Having stayed there for nearly 4 hours, Yoshida-san and I said goodbye to Naoki-san and Hon-da san as they would remain there for further research. “Enjoy Tokyo!”, they said, and  I started my first short exploration of this city.

                                  GRIT! team

Yoshida-san and I went to the Shibuya crossing after lunch and yeah… it was as crowded and busy as the images I usually saw on the Internet. Places like this are good for those who love shopping or entertainment and the area seems like it never sleeps.

                                    Snapshot of Shibuya

As we did not have much time and could only stay there for a while, I will share with you more about Tokyo in another post (^.^).

However, the strange thing here was that when we made it back to Nagoya, I suddenly felt so peaceful inside and realized: “Oh, Tokyo is beautiful, modern and has lots of interesting things but honestly if I have to choose where to have long stays, Nagoya is sure to be my choice.”

                                Welcome back to Nagoya

What do you think?

Thanks so much for your reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – Part 2

Hey there! How have you been doing?

Today I will continue sharing with you about my experience during the internship at GRIT. Actually this has two purposes, one is to help you be more well-prepared when coming here or even just to get inspired if you are still considering whether to choose Japan or not, and the other is to help myself remember this valuable trip once it finishes. Moreover, writing is good for our brains so… why not?^.^

On the first weekend, Hikaru and I went to Nagoya port. I love the smell of the sea, the sight of many ships coming and going continuously and last but not least, I like the park there very much:D One thought kept appearing on my mind: “If only my house were near the port so that I could go here every weekend or almost everyday after work.”  It’s quite strange but just by looking at the vast sea ahead, I felt so relaxed and was inspired to go on new journeys in the future.

                            Nagoya port’s area

                       An eye-catching building

                Dreaming of going far and wide

Here comes the beautiful park. The interesting thing is that they divided the trees in this park into different areas based on the continents. Below is a very strange kind of flowers from a tree I captured in the “African area”:

And this one is in the “Asian area”. Sometimes you can also see it on the streets in Japan, looks like a bird’s beak, huh?^.^

After Nagoya port, Hikaru and I went to Osu area, a must-go place for shopaholics. From far away, we could see the red roof with a big Japanese cat appearing as signatures for the street.

The attractive stores and exciting atmosphere there may encourage you to have unplanned shopping, so rather be sober or you will cry later with an empty wallet!:)

But… it was 1pm and the two girls were dead hungry, so what did we search there? Fooddddd!!! You may not be surprised with my choice (^.^).

           Matcha tea with ice-cream and taiyaki

Full and satisfied, I said goodbye to Hikaru and came back home with a big smile on my face. What a wonderful day we had together!

In short, whether you are in need of fresh air with big blue sky and wide sea or a place of entertainment in Nagoya, now you’ve already got two on your list.(^.^)

Have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 MONTHS TO REMEMBER – Part 1

Konnichiwa!^.^

I am Lien, a Vietnamese intern at GRIT from June 2017 to November 2017.

I have been in Japan for one month and if you ask me how I feel about this country and the internship itself, I can just say: “So far, so good!”^.^

Back to the first day I came here, I was warmly welcomed at the airport by three AIESEC members (including Hikaru – my TNM) and Yoshida-san, the president of GRIT. So, after five months of waiting, finally I could set foot in the country I had always been dreaming of.

                      The airport team

When we got to the office,  I was, again, surprised. What was special there? Oh, dogs! Five big dogs. Two black and three white. Wandering around and playing as if this place was their park. They can approach you, lick you and even take your seat. So if you feel a bit scared now and scream inside “Omg how am I gonna survive in five months with these dogs?”, I totally understand. But don’t worry. Even if you are not a dog lover, I bet you will soon find the dogs here sooo cute and easy to live with. Or even if you had been bitten by a dog before like me and hated every dog in the world, they will change you:D

After the greetings, Shiho-san, a GRIT member, showed me around the company and here I found my favorite place: the Production room. Everybody in GRIT is friendly and helpful but since the first time I entered the Production room, I felt good vibes coming from the way people worked and talked to others, and also from the work itself.  Trust me you will feel comfortable when you are with them. Most of the work there includes cutting and  wrapping, and because the products are very cute and interesting sometimes, you’ll feel more relaxed just by looking at them.

In the afternoon, I went for a walk with Yoshida-san, Rie-san and the 3 dogs in a park for about 30 minutes. How strange it was as I had just been there for about 6 hours but already felt like a week. I walked slowly, looked at my new friends and enjoyed the gentle sunlight and summer breeze. Everything seemed so peaceful and suited me.

When we came back to the office, Yoshida-san printed the photos of all GRIT members for me to study their names. Although I like the photobook a lot, I think it will make me sad by looking at all the Grit members’ faces when coming back to Vietnam as they treat me so kindly and and funnily as well:)

                          My favorite photobook

That night, I had a chance to try the real Japanese matcha ice-cream. The other foods were also very good but yeah, I am a crazy matcha lover so it was the only thing I remembered^.^ If you have the same love for matcha like me, you are in your paradise!

                               Matcha matcha

There are still a lot of things I want to share with you in the next parts so… stay tuned!^.^

Ja, mata!

Hello world!

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