A Cluster of Stars: Subaru

July 5, 2017

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. 😦

 

 

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Chinese Visa

June 21, 2017

Since I’m going to Beijing for an exchange and Filipinos need visa to go almost everywhere, I had to apply for my Chinese visa.

Planning

Accomplish the online form (just google Chinese visa application form, there’s one site applicable to all countries). You’ll have to tick which type of visa. In my case, they refused a tourist visa (which was recommended by Peking University). They (the consular) wanted a short, non business visa. Guess who wins?

Fortunately, the type of visa you selected in your application form can be changed manually, so it’s pretty convenient.

Prepare your requirements:

  • Photocopy of invitation letter
  • Photocopy of resident’s ID

Yup, that’s it.

Consular Office

The Tokyo visa service center is about 15 minutes walk from Toranomon station, Ginza line. Go in the building (it’s in the 8th floor), fall in line at the counter, and they’ll tell you what to do. At this time (July 2017), there’s a Tully’s Coffee at the ground.

It’s like the US visa, they have a quick “interview” then you are told whether the visa will be granted, and told when to go back. Regular processing is around 4 days, and payment is made when claiming the passport. I need to pay JPY9,400 (If i remember correctly).
So after my entire offboarding story when I was in Netherlands transiting in Xiamen, China, I’m now going back, this time armed with an actual visa! 😀

Branding: Crafting with your Hands

May 2017

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!

and here’s the rest of the class’:

The NAIA Pain

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)

Unlimited Fees

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.

Long Lines

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.

Korean Visa in Tokyo

May 22, 2017

My first trip to Korea was through the visa free transit to US (AU, JP and some other countries qualify too, I think). My next one is a week long stay, and not for transit. So I had to apply for a visa. (I’m from the Philippines. I almost always have to get a visa everywhere. *what-can-I-do-countries-are-afraid-of-us sigh*)

Unfortunately, there’s not much information about Korean  Visa application in Japan. (the Japanese don’t need a visa. can i be Japanese, pls?) Even the Korean Embassy’s website is not really useful considering it’s either in Japanese or Korean. Thanks to google translate, I managed!

How to Prepare

  1. Online application – your picture will be uploaded there. I think it functions as a manually written application that is legible and saved them typing time.
  2. Resident’s ID copy
  3. Bank account copy (I’m a student so I don’t have a tax return)
  4. Original certificate of enrolment
  5. Student ID copy
  6. Invitation letter
  7. Passport, of course
  8. Photocopy of valid visa for OECD countries visited. I think you should give  copy even for those invalid visas, if they are on a different passport.
  9. Copy of birth certificate

 

How to get there

1. Go to Azabujuban station, Oedo line. Take exit 2.

2. There is a separate office for the visa application. So with google maps, I suggest you just search for Olympic Inn in Azabu. The Korean Embassy’s consular office is right there.

Since nobody told me that piece of information, I went to google map’s Korean Embassy and they gave me this. Really, just go to Olympic Inn.

In the Embassy

It’s in the third floor. Once you get in, go to the reception guy and take a number by pressing the icon with visa written on it . He will ask you if you have filled up an application form – just show him all your papers (even before he says anything) and that should settle the language issue. If you speak Korean or Japanese, go ahead and chat him up.

In case you need the services of a photocopying machine, they have one inside for JPY10 a page. (I had to photocopy my resident’s ID. Given the lack of information, I used the Korean Embassy’s requirements in the Philippines, and of course a resident ID is not on the list)

Once they called my number, I just submitted my papers. She simply asked where I’m staying (the address in my application form), and I showed her the invitation letter.

They then gave me a slip of paper saying I can pick up my passport in two days. I didn’t pay anything. Hmm. Is it because I’m a student (with an invitation letter) or is it because it’s single entry that it is gratis?

Application time is from 9 to 11:30am. Claiming is from 2 to 4pm (you’ll have it in your slip). Unfortunately, they will not mail your passport so you actually have to go back and claim it.

Sakura – Grass Edition?

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May 13, 2017

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.

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We’ve got the most special seats in the place. Right next to the driver!
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They also have shows. They’re not much, but it’s decent entertainment.
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Hello, Mt. Fuji – flower edition! This is the reverse of the usual shot. See that platform? Normally people go up there, and the real Mt. Fuji is right behind us. Unfortunately, the mountain’s hiding so we had to settle with the flower edition.
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The good thing with the rain is that you get shots like this.
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Shibazakura! Fields of flowers, lake, mountains. What else do we need?

 

 

 

 

 

Asuka Shrine

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May 14, 2017

One of the main shrines in the Fuji area, the tree with the ribbon is more than a thousand years old! That’s good quality, right there.

We walked from our place, Hotel Mt. Fuji You to here for around 20 minutes, so just consult your google maps. 😉

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This is the entrance before the torii, before the demarcation point between the earthly world and the spirit world.
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On the way to it, we saw plenty of paths filled with sakura flowers. It seems that the beauty of sakura is merely increased with how fleeting it is (considering they bloom for only around two weeks)