The Subaru factor is far from Tokyo. Well, I can’t really complain – it took me more than two hours to get to the factor in Gunma for Subaru, and it’ll take me longer to go to Panasonic. A, the things we do to visit these esteemed companies.
A pretty good perk of studying are company visits – we get to see the inside of companies we otherwise would not be allowed to see. You can’t exactly knock on a factory and ask “can I look at your operations?”
So. Who is Subaru?
They are an plane manufacturing company that decided to use the jet engines to cars.
Yes, you’ve read that right. Planes. Jet Engines. Cars.
That’s basically it. They’re not really out to be the next Toyota. They are happy in their own world. Heck, they keep their production in Japan and USA, not really the ideal places for cheap production. It’s because they are not after cost – they are after quality with exceptional standards on safety. Yeah, yeah, that’s sales talk right there and I was convinced.
The visit was highly interesting. All I could think of is “robots, robots, ROBOTS!”. To be clear, robots are not necessarily terminator type robots. Robots can simply be one arm that handles the welding of the car door. We saw how cars are made from rolls of steel to that couple of million yen cars. Yes, from rolls of steel. We saw how they stamped, welded and assembled the cars. We saw the conveyor “belts”, and transmission “robots” that facilitated all product transfer.
Japanese companies are at the top of their fields when it comes to manufacturing. I got a peek at it. Wish pictures were allowed. 😦
One of our classes is branding, with classes mainly involving workshop sessions where we used our hands on crafting activities. The goal is to identify the brand and to visualize it. Now, I still don’t get it, but the activities are pretty interesting (though I hope I never do it again).
One of them is looking at a classmate, and try to make a mask of that person using your understanding of this person. So you talk and ask questions, then draft a mask. Here’s mine!
June 4, 2017 (technically 11:56pm, June 3 in Manila)
One thing with the Philippines – you get used to waiting. Long lines are the norm, and be prepared to pay for each and every benefit. (We do try to imitate the capitalistic US)
So, going to NAIA requires a fee on the expressway (if you wanna have a faster route). It’s a bit cheap, at only around PHP50 (rate changes regularly). Using the airport is also charged at PHP1,620, unless you are an OFW or a kid, in which case you get a discount.
When they say be there two hours before, be there two hours BEFORE. Lines are long, and you should prepare well.
Blackmail – Laglag bala
It has lied low in the past couple of years, but it may still be there. How does it work? Once you pass through the security check, they (the employees), will put illegal stuff in your bag (before, it was a bullet which was illegal before, but was amended by the President) and require you to bribe them to let you go. So watch your bags, never let anyone else touch it, and if flagged, don’t touch anything and don’t let anyone touch anything.
About nine months ago, I remember a guy telling me to go to Fuji on May. That’s probably because of this – the grass sakura. I think it would have been majestic had Fuji-san graced us with her presence, but that is one elusive sight. Was it still worth it? For people who want to take a breather from the city, most definitely.
How to get there
From Kawaguchiko station (look at article Fujinomiya), go to Platform 7 for the Shibazakura. There’s a shuttle bus at JPY2000. That’s round trip, with entrance tickets included.
It’s a pity Aokigahara is famous for the suicide, when it is has a beautiful forests and plenty of caves. They have lava cave, wind cave and ice cave. We started with the Ice Cave, walked around 20 minutes to go to the Wind Cave, then walked around two hours across the forest.
It costs JPY600 to go to both caves, btw.
Narusawa Ice Cave
The cave is pretty small, and there’s an area that is around 3/4 of a meter high, so better practice your squats before coming here.
The wind cave path is right behind the toilet! Turn right, then walk for around 20 minutes. I doubt you’ll get lost. Don’t go off the trail!
Once we got there, I kind of got confused why it’s called a wind cave. Really. It looked just like the Ice Cave!
I am not a superstitious person but I’m pretty easy to scare. So when I knew I was walking into what is known as “Suicide Forest”, I was pretty scared. I kept on thinking that I’ll see some personal effects of those who have left. About five minutes later, I was kinda hoping. No luck.
How to get there
There’s a pass you can buy at the ticket booth in Kawaguchiko station for a two day unlimited pass for JPY1300. It passes through the Aokigahara area, and some parts north of the Kawaguchiko river. As one way fare to Aokigahara is JPY670, we decided to just buy the pass.
Superstitious or not, we were careful to follow the directions.
Now, after our trip, that’s when I started to read on Aokigahara. Here are some items I’ve learned:
This place has been mentioned in literature, one of which was the manual for suicide (in Japanese). So people actually go here. About a decade ago, they usually find a hundred bodies here (take note, find). However, with how famous the place has become, they stopped publishing the numbers.
The reason why it’s scary? It’s unnaturally quiet. As it is very dense, it probably serves as noise cancellation. Did I feel it? Nope. I am not a quiet person. So my friend and I were talking the ENTIRE time, sometimes with music. In hindsight, I’ll probably be scared had I been alone.
There are signs discouraging people from suicide. I didn’t see one – or maybe I saw one but didn’t recognize it as it’s in Japanese. But I did see a lot of “do not go off the trail” signs.
Years and years ago, they even had the practice of leaving people here to die. That and with all the suicides, the atmosphere is believed to be “malevolent”. Oh, and they even have a practice (based on one blog) where one person sleeps next to a dead body when found to appease the evil spirit.
Fuji is one of the more known areas in Japan for one simple reason – Mt. Fuji. I see Mt. Fuji even from my place in Tokyo, Odaiba. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was so cloudy we didn’t see Mt. Fuji at all. 😦
How to get there
1. Go to the Keio bus terminal near the south exit of Shinjuku, 4th floor. The fare is around JPY3,500 roundtrip, less 10% for students (just tell them at the counter). Book your ticket online as tickets sell fast. When I went, those with no reservations have to wait 3 hours. Ouch.
2. Get off at Kawaguchiko Station.
That’s it. Basically Kawaguchiko Station is the main transportation hub here.
We stayed at Hotel Mt. Fuji You, which is the cutesthostel I have ever been, at a decent price (JPY3,800 a night)
With six hours for my layover, there’s NO way I’m staying in the airport. Almost all nationalities can leave the airport if they have a 24 hour transit. Some nationalities even have 72 hours (not for Filipinos). Since my layover is from 6pm to 12mn, might as well have dinner in China, right?
There’s a separate lane for the 24/72 hour visa free entries. The girl at immigration speaks decent English, and that’s about all the English I encountered. I had a friend write some Chinese phrases, and boy were they helpful!
At the taxi stand, I talked to the lady helping everyone. She helped us hire a car for only CNY60. It took us 15 minutes (yes, I timed) to go to the restaurant another friend recommended.
Since the restaurant was full, my buddy and I decided to just walk around. We asked some people (they have a google translate-ish app they used to talk to us), and off to the lake we went.
Near the lake is a restaurant. Of course we didn’t order the weird stuff. We paid CNY96 in total.
Back to Xiamen Airport
We then flagged a cab, and it took us 20 minutes and CNY40 to get back. We were back to at the airport three hours before our flight, with the check in counter opening 10 minutes after we arrived.