Known as Rotary, the international organization promotes the annual travel that every male and female between the ages of 26 and 40, and all backgrounds, should know – because this is a Rotary-funded six-week on-board study and anyone can apply for this significant life experience . If you are in this age group – you can enjoy the kind of experience that my article comments describe. To find out more about the program, visit the Rotary International website, find the GSE – Group Study Exchange program and contact your local Rotary Club for more information.
Our adventures continued:
April 20 – Wednesday:
Harry thinks the little Japanese cars are cute, but says he'd need one for each leg if he lived here.
Mr Tachiabana was driving to Fukuoka today – and the rest of the team was on its way – and there was some embarrassment at 9 am this morning. But we all met at the Nishitetsu Grand Hotel, where we stayed the first night when we arrived. We visited the Fukuoka Rotary Club at their hotel for their lunch meeting and were warmly welcomed – this is Hisa's Club. I talked and the team introduced themselves – and the video was good – they now have a pretty large collection of Club flags. They took our luggage by truck – and boarded the train quickly – and headed to Kitakyushu City. Here lives Kenji Ogawa, the incoming team leader. Later, we were greeted by the city mayor's office – and we learned that Kitakyushu is one of Japan's most important industrial cities for steel and a very well-known harbor – and has historic castles that people visit. Antonio was curious about a new airport to open soon, and Monica was inspired by questions about the newly opened homeless shelter. We also learned from the Education Council representative that the philosophy of education has changed in Japan – they are now focusing on teaching how to use knowledge rather than teaching knowledge. Coffee – we all needed an elevator – and Starbucks was the ticket at the moment. We walked through the city's downtown streets, shops and shopping streets – across the bridge – it's a pretty city – and back to the Station Hotel where the Kokura East Rotary Club meets for dinner. It was a lively group – maybe because they stand up for the whole meeting – and the Kenji's Club. Oh and no – no women and little English in both clubs. We are all new host families – and Kenji, myself and his cabin are heading to his house.
Kyushu Island has many typhoons – and that's why they build roofs on heavy rooftops.
April 21 – Thursday:
Hiroshi Tanaka is a company of Tanaka Sanjiro ltd. He imports specialty products for the Japanese fish industry – using glasses of various sizes (used for plankton filtering, etc.), values and fish tags – while Teiko and his son, Tomo, work on his work. business. They have operations in 24 countries and 3400 companies worldwide. Kenji Ogawa owns a company, Ken Corporation, which exports used large-scale motorized equipment, including tractors passing through grape vines, heavy equipment, agricultural machinery, trucks and buses that are shipped worldwide. Japanese Rotarians love cars – they drive Land Rovers, imaginary Mercedes, Ferraris – and there are more cars in the family than it seems.
Kenji and I went to Nippon Steel this morning at Land Rover – where Hitoshi Adachi (Rotarian and plant CEO) gave us a home to watch the steel plant. Monica and Antonio joined – and they all dressed in jackets, white gloves, glasses, hard hats – with microphones – to go through the smelter and the steel industry. If you've never been to a steel plant, it's fantastic to see it. Huge (I mean huge) cranes that move huge containers of molten steel (orange-red and spit fire) – huge furnaces to heat the raw material at awesome temperatures – neon red ore rivers that leave the big furnace – railway wagons that accept liquid stuff (and how do you get all the stuff in a steel plant together?) We went into the next plant – noisy and with such complicated machines – and learned to get coal from cast iron to make steel in one of the world's two ( the other at an American steel plant in Alabama). . The big buckets hung from the ceiling as the new liquid steel was poured into the molds – feeling small in a steel mill. Antonio said he felt like we were in a "Terminator" movie. We went to the Kokura West Lunch Club for lunch. Meaning: no women or a lot of English – and not as fun as our club (not much difference in Rotary clubs for Japanese men).
In the afternoon, we visited Antonio, who has been fascinated by this company since the beginning of his trip, TOTO, which (with 18,000 people worldwide) makes toilets and bathroom equipment (such as Koller). TOTO is publicly traded on the Japanese stock exchange under the toto symbol. Strange – but toilets here are modern technology compared to basic equipment. TOTO President Keizo Hanamura (former President of the Kenji Club) welcomed us. We walked around the plant and saw that the ceramics were made from raw material, molded, burnt (where it shrinks by 30%), sprayed on the glaze (by a robot) – and finally it looked like a toilet. We learned the different waves – and the technology to create the most modern toilet on the planet – warm seats, remote control, special glaze – new recognition of toilets – even toilets give a warm welcome in Japan … The showroom was full of beautiful bathroom items – all small enough to fit into Japanese homes. Antonio took many pictures. At Kenji's house – his wife Emi offered a good dinner – and Cleo (7) and Arisa (10) enjoyed it. Ken and I were playing online and showing him the LGRMC newsletters, the club's website and pictures – and he says he is very much looking forward to coming to America and seeing "not your father's Rotary Club" – says that the Rotary- she has to do something here because she's full of older, older men, no facial expressions – Ken is funny when imitating – and we laugh. He fits in well with our club and doesn't want to leave – because he has in his mind an image of such a club as "life in need of rotation." From today's hosts, no doubt – Rotary's enormous economic stance – I think all of our concerns are to continue to motivate people and gain membership in our clubs in the future.
This article is a series – read on – and many days will follow our wonderful adventure!