Looking back the first year half 2013

At the time of this writing, I am sitting on a park bench nearby my wife’s parents home. She has been here since the beginning of April to take everyday’s housework burdens away from her and the baby inside her. I am also here for two weeks from now on to not to miss the moment of a new life start and to take care of him and the mother in the very beginning. It will come within a next few days.

I can imagine how my daily life will change when he comes at home. I could ill afford to spend a calm morning time regularly. He will wake me up any time, whereas sleeping is one of my most priorities of a day. However I am responsible for raising him, and that is the priority. I am looking forward to hold him in the arms and let him sleep. I am really looking to teach him how life is beautiful but sometimes irrational. I am well prepared for answering all of "why" questions he will give to me.

Now I realized that the blog title I’d given 10 minutes ago, and what I actually wrote about appear to be different. In some sense, it is not so accurate because I’ve put quite an effort on chess study which made me 1300-rating player from 1100 player, and I’ve been regularly reading Bloomberg Businessweek still to catch up with the latest trend in world economy and politics. There are still some other things which I’ve been doing. However it just didn’t come out from my mind in the first place cause I cannot help wishing my wife and the baby to smile happily in a very close future.

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Travel notes – Ishigaki, Okinawa – (2/2) 旅日記

Day 3 & 4 – 石垣島での自然遊び –
Day 3 & 4 – Marine / River sports-

旅の折り返しにあたるこの日、石垣島のとあるリゾートホテルに拠点を移した。その目的は2つのマリンスポーツのツアーに参加するため。

1つめのは白保沖合までボートで出るシュノーケルツアー。かろうじて少し太陽が見えるほどだったが、暖かい気候のなかしっかり楽しめた。ただ、数日前の大雨の影響で水の透明度が低かったのが残念である。

2つ目はカヤックでの川散策だが、これが非常に面白かった。僕たちはカヤックに乗るのは初めてであったので、ツアーガイドの石垣さんにパドルのこぎ方を一から教えてもらう。こぎ始めて10分くらい、少ない力で推進力を得ることができるようになって、どんどん楽しくなってくる。また二人乗りのため、夫婦間のチームワークが大事になのも面白い。そしてツアーの本質ともいえる、石垣さんによるマングローブ帯についての説明は非常にためになるものであった。(ブログ下部に受けた説明の一部を書いておく)

ツアーバスから帰ってくると、ホテルのスタッフが笑顔で玄関までお出迎えに来てくださる心遣い。総じて、素晴らしいサービスを受けることができたので、予定以上にホテル内の出費が増えてしまったが、すてきなくつろぎ空間と時間を提供くださったので満足している。

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We changed a hotel to the east side of Ishigaki. The primary reason is to enjoy snorkeling and river kayaking.

I and my wife have snorkeled in Hawaii and Bali, so this is the 3rd time. Unfortunately the water transparency was not so good because of heavy rain a few days ago. But it was warm enough outside and there was various kinds of coral leafs alive, so it was fun.

River kayaking was more fun for us. We’ve never even rowed a boat, so we needed to learn from the beginning. The kayak we used this time accommodates two people, so Naoko sits in front and I in back. At an early stage, we could get some clue how to efficiently paddle the kayak, and it got more and more fun. Apart from that, the guide Mr. Miyara is a knowledgable person about the nature there. Ishigaki is in the tropics, and there was a tremendous area of mangrove across the river. Now we know what mangrove is: it is not the name of a certain plant, but of a name of region.

Getting decent tired from the sporting, but the hotel staffs at the entrance were waiting for us and gave us the room key. I was amazed by the high quality of this hotel, and how they understand hospitality minds. I spent money there more than I expected, but they deserved it.

Day 3 & 4 -番外編:マングローブ植物と地上植物-
Day 3 & 4 – Side story: Mangrove plants versus land plants-


主にマングローブ植物の一般的な生態について教えてもらったのだが、特に印象に残っているのは、マングローブ植物と地上植物の戦いである。マングローブ植物の生息域は河の水面の高さや、海水にひたる時間の長さによって決められる。それゆえ、マングローブ帯といえども、数十センチでも盛り上がっている砂の丘の上には地上植物が生息し、それより低い位置にマングローブが生息するという状況にある。しかし、その境界線ではお互いが光を目指し上へと葉や茎を必死に伸ばし、その結果が写真のような争いに現れる。写真の例では地上植物がマングローブ植物のまわりにまきつくことで上へと成長し、そしてマングローブ植物は光合成することができなくなるので、この位置でマングローブ植物群は敗退してしまう。

Around the border between two living areas of land plants and mangrove plants, there is a battle. Both plants try to gain the sunlight as higher position as possible, but this time, the land plant won. It twines around the body of the mangrove tree, and the mangrove got weaker by this gradual but strong attack.

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Day 5 & 6 – 石垣島ダイジェスト –
Day 5 & 6 – Ishigaki island bus tour –

「石垣島の魅力はその周りの島々にある」という話をよく聞く。竹富島の他にも、大自然がそのまま残る西表島、素朴な雰囲気の小浜島と黒島、などフェリーで一時間の距離に様々な特色を持つ離島が石垣島の周りにはある。それはそうだと思う。だけど、一つの旅で移動はあまり増やしたくないし、「いや、石垣島自体も面白いはずだ」とも信じてこの旅では一日の竹富島をのぞいて全て石垣島に滞在した。

そんな旅を締めくくる最終日は石垣島の唯一のバス会社・東バス主催による石垣島一周ツアーに参加した。路線バスが一日に二本しかなかったり、そもそも走っていない地域があったり、と公共交通機関での移動では無理が出てくる。ちなみに僕は車を運転しない(ペーパードライバー)。

さて、ツアーが始まってみるとお客さんは僕たちだけ。
「島垣さん夫婦のために本日は案内させていただきます」
と、元気なガイドさんは山田さんという。聞けば、東京出身らしいが、途中までは地元の人と勘違いしていたぐらい色々と詳しい。川平湾、ヤシの木公園、黒砂糖工場などの2時間半のツアーは非常に楽しくて、石垣島の魅力が伝わった。

旅を終えてみての石垣島旅行は、半分国内旅行、半分海外旅行という感じだった。国内というのはもちろん基本的な食生活や言語、人々の容姿が同じだからそう感じて、その一方、海外らしさでは気候の違い、自宅の横浜から時間的にも距離的にも離れていることなんかがあるだろう(韓国のほうが近い)。

そんなことを思いながら、またここにのんびり遊びに来たいな、と思った晴天の最終日であった。

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People often say so about Ishigaki area: "the real virtues of Ishigaki are not in Ishigaki, but in its surrounding smaller islands." To some extent it must be true, but I also wanted to know more about this island rather than more islands. In this trip, I made a plan to stay only one day outside Ishigaki and the rest days inside Ishigaki.

And such a last day of the trip was devoted to a whole island tour by a local tourist bus company there. I have been feeling difficulties in traveling in Ishigaki because there are few public bus lines which run twice a day only. It’s important to note; I don’t drive a car.

"When no more guest arrives within 2 minutes, today’s tour is going to be a private tour for you Ms. and Mr. Shimagaki:-)" And it really was. The tour guide, Ms. Yamada is originally from Tokyo but despite her origin, she knows about Ishigaki in very depth. The tour bus drove from the city center to the north east end, and made a whole half circle of the island. It was good enough for us to get to know this beautiful island.

Well, the trip is now over, and my impression on the trip was ‘half domestic travel, half international travel’. What I mean with domestic travel is, I can speak Japanese, the basic food culture is the same, and people look Japanese. In respect of international part, it is farther than South Korea from my home for instance, and the climate has a striking difference.

On the last day, most hot and sunny day than ever in Ishigaki, I missed the island and wanted to come back again.

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Cleaning rooms pollutes the earth?

I and my wife did the big cleaning in our rooms last weekend. The first thing you do in cleaning is to throw things away. So after pulling all clothes out from closets, there was a tremendous amount of clothes and shoes which were not in use for the recent two years. We decided to say “Good bye old clothes.”

Now I wondered if you can do the same in the next generation. Because I know that processing garbage by putting them in landfill cost reasonably high. How many people on the earth care about the space occupied by such garbage? I suppose, most of the masses and even politicians are indifferent to the problem, even though more and more land is occupied by the landfills. I guess such a new era will comes to real all of a sudden; “Buying a T-shirt costs $10, returning a T-shirt costs $20”.

The aim of producing new goods constantly is to have better world to human beings. Throughout the whole history, we’ve made a lot of technological innovation and we’ve become more and more productive. If you look back the people 100 years ago, cars are such luxurious products for the richest people but now more than half of Japanese households possess their own car.

We became richer, but we have smaller space. During the human development, we haven’t cared about the old products which are under-promoted to garbage/waste. This is kind of a tradeoff, or this downside can be considered as cost needed for innovation: is it principally true? I don’t think necessary, because there are some ways of reusing, recycling old products (2 out of the “4R” principle) but simply we have not been cooperative to that aspect.

While I am writing this blog, I started to be obsessed with finding out a new business model to accelerate the 4R. Very challenging task for all human beings. … after I googled, it turned out there are several services for this aim. They are not yet popular with many people though, I hope they catch on.

Chess addict 2

I am sorry but again I am going to deal with chess in this blog. Even though I subject myself to writing at least one different blog post every month, stemming from my new year’s resolution, now there’s only one thing that I can can come up with; chess.

(This February was an interesting month besides chess too. In Sapporo, I met with a college friend and going to water pipe. Also I went to a 4 days business trip to Sweden and it was fun. On the way, I met with a swiss-hood friend in CPH, etc.)

Since January, I’ve been a frequent player at chess.com, where I am now playing with 5 players. I have a chss opening theory book on hand and started to utilize some specific theories there. It works great. (Ruy Lopez, Caro Kann is my favorite at this moment.)

I am not fooling you but I would like to join one international competetion of chess match in future. Thus I became interested in top chess player’s mind and how they think. I borrowed two books by a Shogi (Japanese chess) player and by a Go player.

(Unfortunately chess is not widely popular in Japan, but the rule of Shogi is pretty much similar to the western chess.)

Let me quote some interesting phrases from the books. What they are saying does not sound about games but also life.

"Luck does not help in Shogi games. The weather does not matter. You matter only."

"Each move has reasons. Good games always have consistency."

"I’ve never been bored with Shogi because there are yet lots of mystery even after studying thousands of strategies."

Quoted from ‘Courage in challenges (挑戦する勇気)’ by Yoshiharu Habu

"It’s delusion that better players know about the games better; nobody knows about the future of the games."

Quoted from ‘Professional player’s mind (プロ棋士の思考術)’, by Norimoto Yoda

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Chess addict

I happened to talk about chess with my colleagues. It turned out that chess is fairly popular in their country (Bangladesh). I have a very nice chess board from Italy, which had been out of use since I bought. I brought it to the office last month, and now the lunch time chess is hot trend in our office.

As you might know, chess has a very long history spanning over 1500 years. Even though the game rule is very simple, the existing strategies and theories are just countless. I’ve started to read a book about the most famous opening theories. I’ve registered myself to some popular chess websites e.g. chess.com and chesscube.com, where I can play with online players and learn strategy: now I am truly chess addicted.

The inspiration that I have now resembles to the motivation to learn foreign languages. I found some similarities between them;
– I like to study something which has no end.
– The effort I give has a direct influence on the result.

But also, there are some unique features which I like in the game of chess:
– I need to use my brain a lot. On-going matches get stuck in my head all the time.
– The tense atmosphere cannot be experienced nowhere except playing chess against human.
– The theory is beautiful and perfect, which I admire a lot. (As I once studied NP problem at the university, I know how hard is it to find such perfect moves).

There are about 35 opening theories out of 40 left on me to learn. Very excited!

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The year-end housecleaning – Why do we Japanese do that at the year-end? –

There should be compelling reasons why we Japanese people rather like to clean the whole house at the year-end. I wondered this tradition while I was scrubbing all dishes in a shelf a couple of weeks ago. But this speculation made me aware of how Japanese people are smart to use the small land efficiently. The whole house cleaning has a noticeable good effect in terms of convenience in your daily life.

First, let us recap Japanese traditions a little bit. For Japanese, the year-end and the new year is one of the most important seasons. In December, it is an extensive party season to forget the woes and troubles of the past year (="bonenkai"). In January, we get together to hold a new year celebration party (again…) to make new year resolution and to wish each other good luck(="shinnenkai"). Those tradition reveals the Japanese people’s special attention to the years border. We look back and forget at the year end and our mind reborn at the year beginning. Here it is plausible enough for having the year-end cleaning to refresh.

I’ve also found a physically good effect of implementing the year-end cleaning. Hey you, please look around your laptop now. I would like to show you a most probable conversation with you here:
Can you find something you have not used for a recent year? Yes. Will you use it next year? Maybe not. When will you through it away? I don’t know, but some time later… Why not do that at they year-end?

The real problem here is that we buy more stuffs than we through away, and often we are unconscious of the fact. Our house is gradually being occupied by such unused products… we need to get our living back from such evil products! – We should through them away, well, probably at the year end?

The fate of any stuffs, goods, products is categorized into 4:
1. Consumed as intended (e.g. your favorite chocolate)
2. Consumed but not as intended (e.g. almost spoiled strawberry for jam)
3. Never consumed (e.g. your favorite pictures with a famous baseball player)
4. Thrown into bin (e.g. 5 years old digital camera)

Just categorize your stuffs into those categories! Then your house becomes bigger. You believe me?

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Values matter

The borrowing books from the library today:

– The 30 Best Politics Books Politics
– The 100 Best Business Books of All Time
– Why People Get Tired?

“Oh my… I drew a business book on weekend…” But I made the choice, Junji Shimagaki on 27.November.2011. My values now matter. I want to read those books.

Your motivation toward one thing determines what you do next. I know that there are lot more fun places than the library, but I am leaning toward going there. I wanna understand the fundamentals of the world as much as I can do during my life. Quantum theory in physics taught me that the world is described by probability, not by a deterministic number. During my lately reading, economics is telling me the importance of opportunity costs and trade-off. Time and money that you spend losses another possibility that you might obtain. The work at Sony Ericsson now is a learning for me everyday: it is impossible to handle all the tasks existing, so prioritizing items is the important skill which I was not able to see in study. Study has no goal.

I would like to expand my world rather than wasting time, therefore I have an overwhelming preference over the library than a shopping centre. But, by no means am I blaming on people who are not in the library: your values matter!

Now I am turning around the 30 years old age (now 28 y/o and 2 months). Having kids in some years is inevitable (again, this is “my values”), and the time spending for kids is enormous. I will not be able to spend for myself like I am doing.

And, I am feeling fierce thankful to my parents that they raised me with so strong curiosity all the time.

10 days in Bali: Travel plan

バリ島旅行記 「全体像」

10月1日 ジャカルタ経由でバリ島へ
October 1st. Flight to Denpasar airport via Jakarta
@Narita, Jakarta, Kuta Bali

10月2日 ワゴン車で最西端に行きシュノーケル、北部で宿泊
October 2nd. Snorkeling at the west edge of Bali after 4 hours of car travelling; Staying in a north hotel
@Menjangan, Lovina

10月3日 北部から南部へ向かいながらプライベートツアー
October 3rd. A taxi tour from north to south
@Kintamani, Ubud, Pura Taman Ayun, Kuta

10月4日 ホテル近郊ショッピング、ホテル散策
October 4th. Shopping around the hotel area; Exploring the hotel
@Kuta (where our Hotel Padma is located)

10月5日 舞踏鑑賞、博物館、午後から腹痛で倒れる
October 5th. Watching the traditional dance and the museum; canceling the rest of the plan due to my stomachache
@Denpasar, Kuta

10月6日 午前中は休養。エステと舞踏鑑賞
October 6th. Taking a rest in the whole morning; Going to spa massage and watching the traditional dance
@Kuta

10月7日 プライベートツアー、博物館、買い物、舞踏鑑賞
October 7th. Private taxi tour to many places for the museum, for shopping, for watching dance
@Denpasar, Ubud, Uluwatu, Kuta

10月8日 部屋アップグレード、ラウンジで休憩、買い物、舞踏鑑賞
October 8th. Upgrading the room and going to the VIP lounge, shopping, watching the dance show
@Kuta

10月9日 3時間エステ、ショッピング、イタリアンナイト
October 9th. Going to spa massage four 3 hrs, shopping, dinner at a nice Italian restaurant
@Nusadur, Kuta

10月10日 ラウンジで休憩、チェックアウト、日本へ向け出発
October 10th. Relaxing in the lounge and checking-out the hotel. Flight to Japan
@Jakarta, Kuta

10月11日 日本に到着
October 11th. Arriving in Japan
@Narita

More fun stories are coming soon next weekend!

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A weekend post on 2011.August.28.

I went to Tokyo Disney Sea in my second time. But the park showed me an absolutely different face than before.

This time our company (Keisuke and Yukko) lead us where to go in the park, because they know about it better than us. Then the park on this day made me aware of how different the park is looked. Two years ago when only our couple went, we got on a lot of rides there. but this time, we rather enjoyed shows and concerts. It was a lot of fun. Our friends showed us that the park is not for kids but also for adults who enjoy the theatre.

A week later, we went to the library to meet new books (which is our monthly plan to go). This time, I came across two authors who introduce totally different Japanese worlds.

The first author is a chef of a so-called sushi academy which trains people to become a professional sushi cook (#1). In his book, he explained stories of how new sushi cooks overseas started their business and how the life is. Overall speaking, they love sushi and the place where they live e.g. Poland, Spain, Malaysia, Australia… etc.

The second author in mountains area in Nagano/Japan lives on his own crops and wines. On the other hand he appears to be a successful restaurant owner which locates next to his house and farm. Throughout the book he insists that he is not talented in business at all but just followed his way of life.

The worlds appeared in the books are unrepresentative for most of the Japanese people. But they are living on the same planet Earth, and even in the same country for me. Here I found a similarity with Tokyo Disney Sea. The park exists as Tokyo Disney Sea for everybody, but how it is looked and how people enjoy in it is up to you. Given a certain condition, you are always free to choose how you enjoy it even if other people do not understand the value of your choice. On the flip side, when you try to view a same matter from different perspectives, you might find another good faces of it. This is what the books and Tokyo Disney Sea taught me.

As a conclusion, apart from the main theme, let me point out one more similarity from the opposite direction. People come to Tokyo Disney Sea because they expect to enjoy the park. Also in our lives, we also expect fun and good things which are endless life goals for everybody. When you are too busy to think about rewards in your daily life, I will suggest you to think more about joyful, so that you will enjoy everyday more.

(#1) As you may know, sushi is now one of the most famous international food, not only for customers but also for business. Because of its low cost of investment at the beginning, loads of people from the world is coming to the academy to learn sushi.

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A weekday post on 2011.August.3.

Some trivial facts about students

This morning in the microeconomics book I found an explicit description about the trade-offs between study and work. Your payment during student life is lower than that you will obtain after graduation. It also says the following; you can spend your 4 years of college life going around with friends in parties. But remember, study is some sort of investment in future income. If you spend time for playing, you will less get paid.

Those are so obvious facts but the interest thing is that, most of students in Japan do not understand that fact. I agree with them to the point that they enjoy life, but if they had wider view to future, they would not do the same. Ironically, economics students are known to be lazy.