31 December 2007

Ski at 野沢温泉 (Nozawa-onsen, Japan) on 29-30 December 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-12-29_jp-nozawaonsen.htm

Clear mountains at 野沢温泉 (Nozawa-onsen)
I first travelled to 野沢温泉 (Nozawa-onsen, Japan) on 29-30 December 2007 with thirteen friends from スペドラ (Spedora) to ski and relax in hot springs. Our night bus left 東京 (Tokyo) around midnight under the rain and arrived in early morning under a cloudy sky. We had to wait a few hours before skiing but then enjoyed great snow on the ground and in the air; snowfalls were a pleasure. The following day was sunny, which allowed the skilled ones to speed down the most exciting tracks. Before leaving, we tried different free old style 温泉 (hot springs); the one I chose was a bit cramped and very hot, but its great atmosphere sent me back in time.

09 September 2007

Fashion exhibition in 東京 (Tokyo, Japan) on 09 September 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-09_jp-tokyo_wakita-expo.htm

Dress based on Fabcell, while green, by 渋谷みどり (SHIBUTANI Midori) in 東京 (Tokyo) I attended a fashion exhibition entitled 情報の官能 (The Senses of Information) in 東京 (Tokyo, Japan) on 09 September 2007 in company of 倫太朗 (Rintaro) to see artistic prototypes of smart clothes. This first exhibition of textiles and garments by 脇田研究室 (Wakita laboratory) featured binary ("0"s and "1"s)-based compositions, tools and artistic works such as color-changing dresses exploiting the Fabcell technology and the Wearable Synthesis concept. 脇田玲 (WAKITA Akira) founded the laboratory at 慶應義塾大学 (Keio university) in 2004 to investigate the future of information design; it is thus involved in fashion, communication and interactions.

Fabcell is a square textile invented in 2006 by 渋谷みどり (SHIBUTANI Midori), woven from flexible non-emissive yarns connected to electronic components, which color varies with temperature. There, the exhibited dress turned from green to red in a few minutes when electric current was applied to its conductive yarns. This technology is potentially useful for fashion or to inform about e.g. a wearer's emotions. However it is not yet ready for use in everyday life because the strong voltages used to quickly change the color are dangerous, the textile resists badly to washing, and small cells are still difficult to create.

The Wearable Synthesis concept defines clothes and accessories as modules with both input (e.g. temperature sensor) and output (e.g. colored lights) that communicate to generate various effects. For example, a dress may change its color according to other worn items, or to the presence of a friend. Such a model was exhibited but out of order when I went by.

08 September 2007

Trip to 서울 (Seoul, South Korea) on 03-08 September 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-09-08_kr-seoul.htm

Guards on the go at 경복궁 (Gyeongbok Palace) I travelled to 서울 (Seoul, South Korea) for the first time on 03-08 September 2007 to give a talk at the 10th International Symposium on Analysis, Design, and Evaluation of Human-Machine Systems (aka HMS2007) and another at 연세대학교 (Yonsei university) (see Post 07 September 2007). On my first day, I explored the city center and walked to the top of 남산 (Namsan park), where I lingered on great views over the capital. On my last day, 자영 (Jayoung), a Korean researcher from the university, and her friend 질 (Jin) guided me inside 경복궁 (Gyeongbok Palace) and accompanied me for lunch in the charming 인사동 (Insadong) district.

I loved the relaxing and lively atmosphere of the capital, its great landscapes and tasty food, its classy women and skilled jazz musicians. Behaviors and costs differ greatly from 東京 (Tokyo, Japan): people are more friendly but more noisy, notably in subways; traditional dishes such as 비빔밥 (bibimbap) and transportation, even taxis, are quite cheap. Living several months in 서울 (Seoul) would certainly be a heartening and enriching experience.

07 September 2007

Visit at the textile department of 연세대학교 (Yonsei university) in 서울 (Seoul, South Korea) on 07 September 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-09-07_kr-seoul_yonsei-textile-lab.htm

Side view of textile keypad on a child's sleeve at 연세대학교 (Yonsei university) I visited 연세대학교 (Yonsei university) in 서울 (Seoul, South Korea) on 07 September 2007 to give a lecture about the general public's needs in ubiquitous computing and to see prototypes of smart clothes by 스마트의류 기술개발연구소 (smartwear research center), on the invitation of its director 조 길수 (CHO Gilsoo). I strolled in the university campus for the first time, appreciating the open spaces and trees before heading for the textile department.

After my talk, Korean specialists in smart clothing introduced me the activities of the group, answered questions, and showed prototypes while explaining the challenges and techniques used. They presented a ski suit monitoring exposure to sunlight with ultraviolet sensors, bike wear detecting the wearer's strong emotions (e.g. fear) with galvanic skin response (aka GSR) sensors, a dress lighting up according to surrounding sounds, and garments for children containing pressure interfaces. I was notably interested in the textile keypads and connectors as washable basic elements to design smart clothes for the general public; the keypads were embedded in sleeves of tops for children, and the textile connectors were demonstrated as data transmitters for the ski suit. The garments were all featured at the Smart Clothing 2007 fashion show held in 서울 (Seoul) on 11 May 2007.

[Update 08-Sep-2007] 자영 (Jayoung), a Korean researcher from the group, kindly guided me in the capital for my last day in the country (see Post 08 September 2007).

06 August 2007

Hike at 富士山 (Mount Fuji, Japan) on 05-06 August 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-08_jp-fuji.htm

Sunrise from the summit of 富士山 (Mount Fuji) I hiked 富士山 (Mount Fuji, Japan) for the second time on 05-06 August 2007 with fourteen friends to see the sunrise from the top, which was a success thanks to a wonderful weather. Like the previous time (see Post 02 July 2006), we climbed from 五合目 (the fifth station) until we reached a shelter, where we dined. Most of us slept but I remained awake and could thus talk with hikers in the main room, watch thunder in the clouds outside, and later have a look at the stars, red moon, and city lights around the lakes. Leaving at midnight, we reached the top of the mountain just before sunrise, which was beautiful. After a two-hours stop in a frosty wind at the top, we slowly descended then headed for ゆらり温泉 (Yurari spa), which we all enjoyed much.

28 July 2007

Trip to 北京 (Beijing, China) on 22-28 July 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-07_cn-beijing.htm

Broad streets in 北京 (Beijing) I travelled to 北京 (Beijing, China) for the first time on 22-28 July 2007 to give two talks at the 12th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (aka HCII2007). During my stay, I visited the famous 天安门广场 (Tiananmen Square), 紫禁城 (Forbidden City), 天坛 (Temple of Heaven), and 北海公园 (Beihai Park). 超 (Chao), a Chinese classmate from 総合研究大学院大学 (Sokendai, Japan), took me in charge the first evening, and showed me 天安门广场 (Tiananmen Square) before telling me how to deal with the city and inviting me for a gorgeous dinner.

The city was extremely polluted, with grey fog on daytime and halos on street lamps at night, especially at 天安门广场 (Tiananmen Square), which is surrounded by incredible streets. The only patch of blue sky I noticed was above 天坛公园 (Temple of Heaven park), where lies 天坛 (Temple of Heaven), a UNESCO world heritage site that features 祈年殿 (Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests) and 圜丘坛 (Circular Mound Altar).

I quickly toured 紫禁城 (Forbidden City), another UNESCO world heritage site, with conference fellows but should return for the inside of the buildings. However, I fully enjoyed alone 雍和宮 (Lama Temple), the gigantic 北海公园 (Beihai Park) with its beautiful 九龙壁 (Nine-Dragon Screen) and 白塔 (White Dagoba), the historical 明城墙遗址公园 (Ming City Wall Ruins Park), and the exotic 王府井大街 (Wangfujing street), where I pondered whether to eat scorpions or not...

27 May 2007

Trip to 群馬 (Gunma, Japan) on 27 May 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-05_jp-gunma.htm

湯釜 (Yugama) without shadows at 白根山 (Mount Shirane) I travelled to 群馬県 (province of Gunma, Japan) for the first time on 27 May 2007 with eight friends to see 白根山 (Mount Shirane) and relax in hot springs. We drove a mini-van from 東京 (Tokyo) in four hours but got caught up in traffic jams on the way back. Anyway, the incredible emerald-green crater lake 湯釜 (Yugama) at 白根山 (Mount Shirane) was worth it. We hiked a bit in the area and even spotted snow and ice. Later, we drove to 草津温泉 (Kusatsu hot springs), where we watched the traditional 湯もみと踊り (Yu-momito dance) that was created to cool down the water of the local hot springs. We then bathed lazily at 草津大滝乃湯 (Otaki-no-yu), imagining how hot the pool would naturally be...

17 April 2007

Stroll in Parc oriental de Maulévrier (Oriental park of Maulévrier, France) on 17 April 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-04_fr-maulevrier.htm

Japanese landscape at Parc oriental de Maulévrier (Oriental park of Maulévrier) I keep being surprised by places friends take me to when I go back "home" to France. I owe my first visit to the Parc oriental de Maulévrier (Oriental park of Maulévrier, France) on 17 April 2007 to François-Xavier, who drove me there. Except for the castle, I would not have guessed I was in France! Although the sky was a bit cloudy, our timing was wonderful: the vegetation was colorful and flowers blooming, which was particularly moving for the Japanese landscapes.

13 April 2007

Exhibition at Musée d'Orsay (Orsay Museum, France) on 13 April 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-04-13_fr-orsay.htm

Inner panorama at Musée d'Orsay (Orsay Museum) I enjoyed my favourite French museum, the Musée d'Orsay (Orsay Museum, France), in Paris on 13 April 2007 in company of François and Valentine, whom I had not met for a long time. A former train station, the building is spacious, beautiful and bright. The art works are mainly masterpieces that tell us stories both individually and in connexion with their surroundings. As always, my admiration goes to the architects and artists, and my congratulations and best wishes to the staff.

29 March 2007

Trip to 富士五湖 (Fuji five lakes, Japan) on 28-29 March 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-03_jp-fujigoko.htm

Towards the south from 西湖 (Saiko lake), 富士山 (Mount Fuji) I visited 富士五湖 (Fuji five lakes, Japan) for the first time on 28-29 March 2007 to enjoy its great landscapes with 明日香 (Asuka). We first crawled into the icy 鳴沢氷穴 (Narusawa cave) and 富岳風穴 (Fugaku cave) then hiked the warm 青木ヶ原樹海 (Sea of Trees). Surprisingly, we spotted monkeys in mountains near 西湖 (lake Saiko); no photos of them: they stayed away and ran quickly. After a divine dinner at café M, we spent a lovely night at サニーデビレッジ (Sunnide village). In the morning, we walked around 河口湖 (lake Kawaguchi), and after lunch we visited 浅間神社 (Sengen shrine), which used to serve as a starting point for pilgrimages to 富士山 (Mount Fuji). The weather was extraordinary all along and we had great views of the mountain on the way.

18 March 2007

Hike in 鎌倉 (Kamakura, Japan) on 18 March 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-03_jp-kamakura.htm

Statue of a 天狗 (tengu) at 建長寺 (Kenchoji temple) I hiked 天園ハイキングコース (Ten-en hiking course) in 鎌倉 (Kamakura, Japan) on 18 March 2007 with 明日香 (Asuka) to breath fresh air and admire statues of 天狗 (tengus). The weather was fine for our five kilometers across the forest, with clear views over 横浜 (Yokomaha) in the north-east and the sea in the south. We walked from 鎌倉 (Kamakura) station to 鶴岡八幡宮 (Tsurugaoka-hachimangu shrine) then checked several temples on the way to 瑞泉寺 (Zuisenji temple). There, we started the hike, which took us to 建長寺 (Kenchoji temple); its buildings and statues were great rewards after the physical effort.

11 March 2007

Walk in 桜木町 (Sakuragicho, Japan) on 11 March 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-03_jp-yokohama.htm

ランドマークタワー (Landmark tower) in 桜木町 (Sakuragicho) I walked in 桜木町 (Sakuragicho, Japan), a popular area of 横浜 (Yokohama), on 11 March 2007 to enjoy the sunset and night scene. I discovered this place in 2002, during my first stay in Japan, and keep going there because I love its open spaces, relaxing atmosphere, and lovely-human-fauna.

10 February 2007

Snow festival in 札幌 (Sapporo, Japan) on 08-10 February 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-02-08_jp-sapporo.htm

Me in front of the huge snow statue on an oceanic theme in 札幌 (Sapporo) I visited 札幌 (Sapporo, Japan) for the first time on 08-10 February 2007 to attend 札幌雪祭 (Sapporo Snow Festival) and to discover 北海道 (Hokkaido). The festival is famous in Japan for its ice and snow statues but there is more to see, and the trip is really worth it. I was lucky with the weather as it snowed every day, sometimes heavily, but with periods that allowed clear photos. I enjoyed the city and the locals, even spontaneously being talked to by customers at a coffee shop, which never happened in 東京 (Tokyo).

Alone, I freely wandered in town the first day, exploring the streets, relaxing with a warm coffee, and watching statues on day time and night time. The following day, I went up the nearby 藻岩山 (Mount Moiwa) to enjoy beautiful but slightly foggy views from its top. There, I stumbled upon a bar completely made of ice and snow by artists: the bar The Ice, where I had a drink and chatted with the staff and fellow tourists. On my last day, I relaxed and enjoyed views away from the city, at 豊平峡温泉 (Hoheikyo hot spring), an open-air hot spring surrounded by snowy foresty mountains that I definitely recommend.

21 January 2007

Trip to 伊豆半島 (Izu peninsula, Japan) on 20-21 January 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-01-20_jp-izu.htm

Oceanic view from inside 沢田公園露天風呂 (Sawada-koen open-air hot spring) I visited 伊豆半島 (Izu peninsula, Japan) on 20-21 January 2007 with 明日香 (Asuka) to discover a new part of Japan and enjoy an open-air hot spring with an oceanic view. To avoid resorts, we directly reached 下田 (Shimoda), where we strolled a while and visited temples; we particularly appreciated the view over the bay from 寝姿山 (Mount Nesugata). In the evening, we rode a fun train to 蓮台寺 (Rendaiji), and spent the night at 金谷旅館 (Kanaya ryokan), which was expensive but huge, with a gorgeous hot spring. The next day, we enjoyed the landscapes of the peninsula by bus. We stopped at 堂ヶ島 (Dogashima) to bath in the tiny 沢田公園露天風呂 (Sawada-koen open-air hot spring) and to see the coast by boat. We then rode a bus to 修善寺 (Shuzenji city), where we visited 修善寺 (Shuzenji temple), and paddled in a mineral hot spring situated on a rocky promontory in the middle of 桂川 (river Katsura) called 独鈷の湯 (Tokko-no-yu).

03 January 2007

Trip to 伊勢 (Ise, Japan) on 03 January 2007

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2007-01_jp-ise.htm

夫婦岩 (Wedded rocks) at 二見 (Futami) I traveled to 伊勢志摩 (Ise-shima, Japan) on 03 January 2007 with 明日香 (Asuka) for a New Year visit to one of the most famous Japanese holy places: 伊勢神宮 (Ise-jingu). The city was extremely crowded, which I expected because Japanese from all over the country pray here during the first days of January for a good year. After our pilgrimage, we walked in 二見 (Futami), breathing the invigorating air of the sea, and enjoying 夫婦岩 (Wedded rocks), a famous pair of rocks connected by a holy rope near 與玉神社 (Okitama shrine), which is my preferred local spot.