YKRF Forum [Day 2] in TOKYO

Monday, 23 January 2017

Got up early the next day and met up with the discussion team after breakfast. The hotel we stayed in served two different types of cuisine: Japanese and Western. Tried the Japanese one on the first morning and boy was it really different. If you know about this dish called the natto bean then you'd probably know what I mean. Yes it's probably great for health and all but it's really hard to eat, especially in the morning. Great experience though. So anyway! We headed to the train station where we took the train to the school for our first activity of the day: a seminar by Professor Nobuto Yamamoto, in the faculty of Law in Keio University. (and we got to see the Japanese morning rush too)

Like Korea, they line up to get into the train

The entire day consisted of a seminar, thereafter lunch, and a group discussion and then an exciting sushi workshop and after dinner, a short trip to the Tokyo Tower (which was located a walking distance away from the school). I enjoyed his lecture about the different people, where each of us come from and how this affects us in a certain way. However, that was a thing of the past and in the present and the future, many of these things would change because travel is becoming more and more affordable and people are starting new lives in other countries. 

Headed for lunch at a nearby restaurant that served some awesome Japanese hamburg steak. Came together with rice, egg, fried prawn and some amazing sauce that made me think about a dish in Singapore (tie ban dou fu). Headed back to the school for a discussion session after lunch

We were divided into discussion groups based on our interests and fields of study ranging from Politics, Law & Diplomacy, to Economics, and Traditional Culture. We had different topics that we had to discuss about pertaining to our fields of interest and we had to come up with interest ideas to tackle problems that could surface in the near future. The theme of the entire forum was 2050, and what would be expected from Korea, Japan and China in the year 2050. It was a great time of discussion and idea-generation and a lot of laughter and fun as well. 

After which, we had a sushi workshop where we learned how to make a proper sushi from a renowned chef. He has his business handed down from his father who got it from the grandfather. Well, it essentially means that he has had the business for a long time and he had learned all the tricks of the trade and is now running the business himself. So there were many things that he mentioned about sushi making. It's always about the art but at the same time maintaining a smile and having customer interaction while you prepare their sushi. We, on the other hand, were far too engrossed in making the rice a right shape, adding the perfect amount of wasabi and then rolling it in our hand. He also showed us how to properly grind wasabi and each side of the wasabi actually produces different flavors (spice and sweetness) and therefore many different places have different tastes of wasabi blend. 

The quiz that had translations from Korean, Chinese and Japanese so that we would solve the entire thing through teamwork (it was all about sushi) - this would win us a certain prize at the end

He talked about his knife and how sharp it had to be to ensure a good slice of fish that does not affect the freshness, purity and providing a smooth texture on the fish. In order to prove his point, he asked for a few volunteers where he would test his knife on... 

So Minseok형 and Yoon got the chance to try and you just have to see their faces of astonishment and shock when the knife landed on their fingernail. So apparently they explained it to me and even though it was a light tap on their fingernail, they felt a sensitive sensation on the flesh underneath. That was how sharp the sushi knife had to be. We got a chance to watch him prepare the sushi a few times before having our turns to go up and prepare the sushi. While waiting for everyone to take their turn, we feasted on a variety of sushi prepared by him. 

Though we didn't get the chance to slice the fish, we were given the opportunity to roll our own rice, shape it, put the wasabi on, put the salmon on and then roll it to give the perfect shape. Nobody's ever looked as perfect as his did and to be honest, I don't think it'll ever be unless we have the kind of practice and experience that he has had.  

Thereafter, everyone headed back to completing the quiz where we were able to try to win our group a certain type of sushi that he would prepare. This sushi is made with tuna, and the special thing about this is that he chars the side of the tuna to produce a scorched flavor that blends really well with the wasabi and the rest of the tuna meat. Apparently, the sushi goes for $20 a PIECE. Yes, one piece of that is $20. 

$80 bucks right there

After the sumptuous dinner, we took a walk (in the sweltering heat, yes) to Tokyo Tower, which everyone said was walking distance but took a whopping >30 minutes hahaha. I guess that's the difference between a Singaporean and everyone else. Walking distance to me, would be 5-15 minutes. The sky was clear, the lights were beautiful and I was looking forward to going all the way to the top for some fantastic photos. 

Arrived, got our tickets and began the 1-hour-long wait in the queue to get to the top

Of course, a little bit o' Pokemon Go action on the way

There are three different sections to the Tokyo Tower, and going up to each section had a higher price attached to it, but the tickets we got granted us access all the way to the observatory on the top, and that meant taking another elevator all the way to the top. It was well worth the wait, there was an amazing view at the peak and the lights were just breathtaking. Though, I probably wouldn't go through the waiting again in the summer season because it was just so darn hot. 

We were given free reign to head back to the hotel by ourselves in our groups, or if we chose to do more sightseeing by ourselves, to go in a group so as to not get lost. We chose to had back to rest while some others went out since it was a tiring day considering the fact that we had just touched down the night before. Headed back to the hotel, got some rest and got ready for another amazing day. Stay tuned for Day 3! 

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