A Casual Sound Walk at Kawazu Seven Waterfalls in Izu

During my stay in Izu, I made time for the stunning Kawazu Seven Waterfalls (河津七滝). Located in the mountains above the onsen town Kawazu, the site was of natural scenic beauty. But this time it was more than a feast for the eyes; it was also one for the ears. I was taking a soundwalk along the 1 km long trail past the waterfalls.

A soundwalk is a walk one takes focusing on the sounds of the surroundings. As different from what we usually do, in a soundwalk we pay more attention to what we hear, experiencing the environment through sounds rather than sight. And how a scene sounds like is known as a soundscape. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) also released standards on the measurement and management of soundscape. So this time, I was feeling the soundscape of the Kawazu Seven Waterfalls with what I heard. It was a nice and relaxing walk. When I closed my eyes and listened: it was a symphony of water splashing, gurgling, rushing, gliding through and hurtling against rocks.

Along the trail, we also came across statues from the story of The Izu Dancer by Kawabata Yasunari, Japanese sculptures, a suspension bridge… All made pleasant additions to the walk. If you visit Izu, the Kawazu Seven Waterfalls is a must-go!


日本伊豆之行(下)︰在河津七滝聲音漫步

這次伊豆之行我特意抽時間遊歷美麗的河津七滝,慕名而至,滿載而歸。七滝即七瀑布,位於温泉之鄉河津附近的山上。瀑布與瀑布之間是一條約一公里長的小徑,沿途風景迷人,讓人心曠神怡,但這次不止是一場視覺盛宴,更是聽覺享受,因為此行我不單是郊遊看風景,而是聲音漫步(soundwalk)。

平日我們習慣以視覺來感受外界,甚少依賴聽覺來感受,但視象與聲音都是組成我們記憶和感覺的部分,很難分割開來,聲音漫步讓我們專注聆聽周圍,以聲音感受環境。透過聲音來感受和描述的環境被稱為聲景(Soundscape),國際標準化組織(International Organization for Standardization)近年亦為量度和管理聲景訂立國際標準,可見聲景研究和設計漸趨重要。這次七滝中連接瀑布與瀑布間的小徑是很好的聲音步行路線,沿途有不同特色的聲景。把七滝風光盡收眼底,閉起眼,又是另一番感受︰一場水流的交響樂遠遠近近響起,是水或濺起,或潺潺流動,或穿過或激打石頭的聲音……

沿途還遇見「伊豆的舞娘」裏主角的雕像、日式傳統雕塑、吊橋等等,為途人增添不少驚喜,留下美好回憶。假如你到河津,七滝之景絕對不可錯過!

Greetings from Izu

I am not a fan of driving, particularly overseas.  However, if planning to visit the countryside with multiple stops, I find it more convenient to drive when travelling in Japan, in particular to the countryside when you have multiple stops. Driving in Japan is a pleasure. The toll roads are very nice with service areas and wider roads. The highways in Japan (國道) are equally good and there’s no need to pay tolls. What’s so good about the highways is that they have roadside stations (道の駅), where you can shop for local specialties. The bonus we got this time was the sunshine.

We were on our way to Izu – the onsen village. As there were so many things to see in Izu, I decided to stay in the middle of Izu, where I could decide which part or direction to go. The hotel I stayed in was Izu Marriott Hotel Shuzenji, located up in the hill. We could see Mount Fuji from the room and had in-room onsen. It was pretty chilly though…

I highly recommend this hotel if you look for a quiet night because there are not many restaurants in the neighbourhood. Just a reminder that the room service finishes at 10pm!


日本伊豆之行(上)︰看到富士山美景的室內温泉酒店

如果你在日本近郊旅行,又有好幾個目的地,駕車是比較方便的選擇,加上在日本駕駛是相當愉快的經歷,例如收費高速公路路面寛敞,沿途設有服務區,有餐廳、洗手間、販賣部等等,十分方便。一般國道(國道)同樣方便,除了不用繳費外,亦設有道之驛(道の駅),是與高速公路服務區類似的休憩區,其中商店還賣當地特產。最高興的是,這趟旅程陽光普照,風景怡人。

我們這次是到温泉勝地伊豆。因為伊豆有太多值得看的地方,我決定落腳在伊豆中部,方便我前往不同地方。這次我住在位於山上的伊豆修善寺萬豪酒店 (Izu Marriott Hotel Shuzenji),從温泉房間更可望見富士山,雖然有點冷……

如果你想安靜度過一晚,伊豆修善寺萬豪酒店會是不錯的選擇,因為附近沒有太多酒店。另外温馨提示︰酒店的客房服務在每晚十點結束!

The Art of Choosing a Gift

Before each business trip, I plan out the meetings and prepare for them with the support of my very nice colleagues. One of the biggest challenges is to select an appropriate gift for the host.

This is something I have to learn from my friends in Japan. They always come up with nice gift ideas with nice packages, among which I like most is this:

嘉ぎ
嘉ぎ

A delicately packed Japanese sweets box from “嘉ぎ”, which is located inside the Nakanoshima Festival Tower, opposite to Conrad Osaka. There are 6 Japanese flavours of the 嘉ぎ biscuits, namely matcha, roasted green tea, soy sauce, ginger, sake and roasted soybean. The sweets taste delicious and the Japanese style reminds me of my friends. That’s what makes it a good present: something that brings back the people and memories.


送禮的藝術

每次出發公幹前,我都會和我的同事一起準備該行的日程和會議所需,而最讓我們頭疼的是為接待我的朋友挑選一份別具深意的禮物。

這點我得向我的日本朋友們好好學習,因他們總是能想出包裝精美、別出心裁的禮物。而這款由「嘉ぎ」店家出品的糖果禮盒就是我的最愛︰

「嘉ぎ」位於大阪康萊德酒店對面的中之島慶典塔(Nakanoshima Festival Tower)內,一盒糖果共有抹茶、焙茶、醬油、生薑、清酒和黄豆粉六種味道,特別好吃,而且都是日本獨有的風味,總讓我想起我的日本朋友。一份好的禮物大概如此,能讓人回憶起送禮的人和事。

Five years of Knowledge, Innovation and Creativity, Happy Birthday to Knowledge Capital!

It is always a pleasure to visit Knowledge Capital (ナレッジキャピタル) in Osaka.  Every time, there is something new going on.  No exception this time – it is the 5th anniversary celebration, cum the launching of global education alliance.

haveaniceday.ac.osaka.hotel.marriott

The electronic arts performance, the exhibition and the seminars were all amazing.  I particularly like the idea of rebuilding the historical study classrooms, some even with themed decoration such as green, for holding talks and seminars.

For those who are interested in visiting Knowledge Capital, it is situated in Grand Front Osaka, about 5-minute walk from Osaka Station.  InterContinental Osaka is my all time favourite as it is actually part of the complex making it super convenient.  But I did not stay there this time due to the need to commute to the north of Osaka.  I stayed at Courtyard by Marriott Shinosaka Station, which turned out to be very nice for its close proximity to Shin-Osaka station, bigger rooms and a variety of restaurants nearby.

In fact, it was very nice meeting old friends and making new ones from Japan, Poland, Thailand and France. Once again, happy birthday!  Kanpai (Cheers)!


融合智慧、科技和創意 — 恭賀Knowledge Capital成立五周年!

每次去大阪的Knowledge Capital(ナレッジキャピタル)都留下難忘的回憶,因為總有別開新面的主題活動,而今次則是Knowledge Capital的五周年慶祝典禮,同時亦是全球教育聯盟(Global education alliance)的簽署儀式,很是熱鬧。

典禮節目豐富,電子藝術表演十分精彩,展覽和研討會引人入勝。我特別支持翻新舊教室的建議,亦可為一些課室增添主題設置,例如以綠色為主題,用作舉辦講座和研討會。

Knowledge Capital位於Grand Front Osaka商廈內,在大阪站下車後走約五分鐘就到,十分方便。同樣位於Grand Front Osaka內的大阪洲際飯店是我最喜歡的酒店,加上又鄰近Knowledge Capital,這次本應入住,但此行我需要到大阪北部,所以就選了靠近新大阪站的新大阪拉弗雷飯店,除了交通便利外,酒店環境舒適,房間寛敞,附近還有林林總總的食肆,是個不錯的選擇。

這次能夠和老朋友再聚,又認識了來自日本、波蘭、泰國和法國的新朋友,實在是滿載而歸。在此再一次祝賀Knowledge Capital五周年誌慶!乾杯!