One thing I really love about studying in Japan is the ample opportunity to explore beautiful places after presenting your research in a conference. Your job is done, your Professor is happy, you can go out and enjoy yourself or..have a great time with your Prof!
In the second week of this October, my husband got a chance to attend a conference in a neighboring prefecture, Gunma. It took only 2 hours driving through the highway from our campus, thanks to Japan’s vast and well-maintained road infrastructure. We have never been to Gunma before, so it was a great chance for a little exploration. Our beloved Matsuoka couple (see my previous post: Ramadhan dinner with the Matsuokas) were our partner in crime. On the D-day, they were ready with a Gunma map, detail plans for three days, hotel reservations, and of course their cute lime-green car, the slave of our excursion.
Professor and his wife, Noriko-san, picked us up at 8 in the morning. The weather was bright and it got windy when we enter Maebashi, the capital of Gunma. Geographically, Gunma is mountainous and having no sea border. Jokingly, the Prof said that Gunma famous for two things; strong wind and strong wives (haha!). Along the way we talked about the recent Nobel Prize winner in Medicine and Physiology, Prof. Shinya Yamanaka, and other Japanese who have won the same prize previously, and how some genius have eccentric behavior. Well, in short we arrived at Gunma University Hospital, attended the conference, then had lunch in a very nice Italian Restaurant at the hospital plaza. The decoration was quite interesting, vintage movies’ scene portraits were hanged on the walls. Among them was Audrey Hepburn, whom adored by many for her gracious beauty even as she aged. Some ladies just retain their gorgeousness past their prime age, including our dear Noriko-san, said the Prof, which I strongly agreed upon.
Late afternoon when the meeting was finally adjourned, we went to our lodge for the night, Park Hotel, nearby Maebashi stadium and baraen or rose garden. After checking in, we went for a stroll to a close by park, met a Canadian guy who was walking two adorable dogs, had a small chat and continued to the rose garden. The garden gazebos were illuminated at night and the ambience was serene since not so many people were around. Unfortunately, the roses were not illuminated, so we decided to come back the next morning. Forgive me for having only one rose picture from wide variety of roses in the garden, because I was more charmed by the cosmos on display for sale. For the first time I saw a chocolate-brown cosmos petals, they were velvety and seemed elegant yet have something mysterious about them. Have a look!