Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Old boys get-together

An old friend was in Manila the day before I traveled to Tokyo last February. He was in the Philippines to meet with co-researchers for a study on disaster mitigation and planning that's being led by his university in Japan. Ryo Matsumaru had been doing consulting work for most of his professional life so   his being with the academe now was still quite new to me. I mentioned to him that it was good that he was available to meet that day as I was flying to Tokyo the following day. Before parting, he asked me about my schedule in Japan and if it was okay to contact our other former laboratory-mates so we could have a get-together there. I thought it was a great idea considering I had minimal contact with our friends in the last decade. 

And so, on short notice, two of my former lab-mates at Yokohama National University met me at the hotel where I was staying We had a great time exchanging stories about life and perhaps the highlight was the recent experiences of Daisuke Sagawa in leading the clearing operations along a weather sensitive section of a major expressway in Japan. His dedication and hard work made it possible for the expressway to remain operational during the heavy snows in Japan last February. In fact, his attendance in our get-together meant he had to pay for the leave by working the following Sunday! This is a guy who works his ass off everyday but probably gets little credit for it and yet he remains dedicated, which is a most honorable thing anywhere and any way you see it.

Just like old times at the Transportation Engineering Laboratory of YNU
Sashimi just the way we liked it and with draft beer to wash it down

I thought that it was quite fitting for us to meet in Tokyo after so many years and that it was not by chance that I was staying at the Hotel Okura. I have not stayed there before but the Okura (including the kanji) happens to be the name of our sensei. Okura-sensei passed away about a decade ago but we all have fond memories of him who guided us when we were curious students in his laboratory. I think our toast that night wasn't only for among ourselves but also, and especially, to Prof. Izumi Okura.  

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