About 5 minutes ago, Mozilla Firefox crashed, making it the second time in 1 week I have lost a valuable entry to this blog. I had spent good time writing a few paragraphs about my visit to the Toyota plant (see entry to sections below) and had just pressed the "insert photo" button in order to present my loving family, friends, and admirers with evidence of the robots I had witnessed, when Mozilla just....crashed. So much for technology!
Last week was filled with 3, yes THREE, straight days of Japanese tests! Nothing else but continuous studying and the feeling that hell was crashing down upon my shoulders. The first day was a skit (mine was with another student, Alvin, and was a rather comical rendition of a Japanese salaryman mixed up with the wrong crowd in a party). The second day was kanji, for which I spent maybe 20+ hours writing the complex critters non-stop...in all, there were 111 new kanji required for this test! The third and final test day consisted of grammar points and listening. All in all, it was an exhausting experience that I am overjoyed to be done with. That being said, I think I did decently.
On Wednesday afternoon, CIEE held an organized trip to the Toraya company headquarters. Toraya is a Japanese sweets company that has been producing traditional wagashi for over five centuries! Wagashi is made from azuki beans, grains such as mochi-rice or wheat, potatoes, and sesame seeds. We were talked to by two guys in lab coats, whom I originally assumed (and naturally I think) were bakers. Ends up they were actually salary-men-executives. The whole thing reminded me a lot of the Muppets lab and the two guys were Dr. Bunson Honeydew and his assistant Beaker. Not quite the Wonka experience I had hoped for- no one was turned into a giant wagashi- but we were given samples with tea and a gift bag at the end to boot! Overall another interesting look into Japanese culture.
For any interested parties, here is wagashi: