Half a year in Japan

It's October (10月), meaning summer (夏) is over and it's already been half a year since I moved to Kobe (神戸). Time flies. Then again, it's been a very busy half-year: settling in, starting a new(ish) job, and travelling a lot.

After half a year, Kobe and the Kansai (関西) region are starting to feel like home, even if I don't quite speak Japanese (日本語) yet. At one class per week (週) it's going quite slow, though I'm starting to pick up some random words in sentences, numbers, times/dates etc; so I'm a lot less "lost in translation" than before.

In the meantime, I've made a few new friends, done some exploring of the Kansai region, finally started learning to play the guitar, and have been working on some (probably too many) awesome astronomy projects, ranging in size from large-scale structure via galaxies and star clusters to a single solar system. And currently, I'm organising a big conference to be held here in December: (Modelling and Observing Dense STellar systems. All of this keeps me quite busy!

Since the temperatures are getting a lot nicer, I'm looking forward to using my bike a lot more this autumn (秋) and winter (冬). Also, I'm hoping to see a bit more of Japan (and not only Kansai). At work, there'll be the conference, and hopefully I'll finish a few of the projects that I've been working on. More on those when I'm (almost) ready to submit the papers!

Market in Jimbocho

Last week, between a workshop on Friday at ELSI and a four-day symposium at NAOJ from Monday on, I visited Tokyo. I stayed in Jimbocho (神保町), a nice area where I'd been before on my first visit to Japan. The area is known for its many (antique) bookstores and small cafés. Altogether a nice area in busy Tokyo!

On Saturday, there was a market of sorts in the streets. Very nice, with different kinds of food, pottery, books and many other things on sale, people playing games (Go), music playing. I hope to figure out if this is a regular market, as I would recommend it for a visit.

Market in Jimbocho

Market in Jimbocho

Market in Jimbocho

Saturday evening, I had dinner at a nice restaurant that I also knew from a previous visit: Tokyo Achikoko (アチコーコー). Okinawa-style food, quite distinct from "standard" Japanese. Another place that I highly recommend. During dinner, we experienced a long-lasting earthquake. I'd felt one the night before, but this one lasted much longer. Fortunately, the epicentre was far away and very deep, as this was the strongest earthquake since 2011. Very strange to see things shake in ways that they shouldn't.

Restaurant in Jimbocho