Chepetto 2009 Japan trip

Story: Jani Palovuori

In October we published a story about a joint game project between TAMK and Okayama University students. Our team went to Japan again in April, this time the students of the School of Art and Media were accompanied by a group of students from the Degree Programme in Business Information Systems. Here's the diary:

We took off from Helsinki around half past five on a Sunday night, 5th of April. We first flew to Osaka and arrived there eight o'clock on Monday morning. From Osaka we took a Shinkansen to Okayama, and finally a cab from near the station to our accommodation. The place was a small hostel-like facility meant for visiting teachers at the Okayama University. We could use English there, as the receptionist spoke quite clearly considering we were in Japan.

After we all had settled in, we were told that there wouldn't be any presentations today. This came as a great relief, because most of us hadn't slept in over 30 hours. Our accommodation was really pleasing, and naturally everyone was ever so friendly. I tought this must've been the greatest culture shock to a grim and stiff Finn.

On Tuesday at one o'clock the university students came to pick us up and give us a tour around the Okayama castle and a nearby garden. At this point our communication wasn't really blazing, but we did manage to have a few conversations which lasted more than a minute or two. The weather in Japan was about the same as the Finnish weather during the highest temperatures of a typical summer. The pretty cherry blossoms were blooming and after the sightseeing we had free time, during which we all practiced a great load of cultural recognition each in our own way.

Wednesday was a game day and we started at ten o'clock in the morning (!). First we had a little tour around Okayama university, then lunch and then the presentations started. A Japanese professor had a presentation that really made our jaws drop. It was about teaching a task that requires great precision and coordination with robotics. To tell a long story short: First they see how a man who has practiced calligraphy 47 years does it, then they move to a novice. They followed, among other things, how the gaze moved as the person draw the lines, and how long did it take to draw each line. After this they attached the brush to a giant robotic arm which then guided the hand of the novice. The hand also reflected a red circle at the canvas to help anticipation. wat?

After the presentations of the Japanese professors and students it was our turn. The presentation went well, and after hearing a few comments it seemed that we were on the right tracks. After all the presenting we had a break and time to prepare for the party.

Soon after arriving at the university's canteen for the party, I noticed the mood was starting to be quite emancipated. We had all kinds of Japanese foods and drinks - including sushi of course. After the toast we gave the Japanese our gifts from finland and it was soon clear that the biggest bomb was definitely the Turkish Peppers. The peppers brought great pain and great fun at the same time for the Japanese. After a few beers and days together the Japanese turned out to be quite the conversationalists. Sorry to say the party ended our time together, which was too short as always. Luckily Heikki had the chance to visit a local ballroom dancing -student club and became the celebrated king for one night.

On Thursday we left to Nagoya and on Friday we visited Trident College of Information Technology, where they teach game design, programming, 3D, graphics and web-design. We presented our Imagine Cup entries and they presented theirs. The good people at the Trident seemed quite interested about a possible future collaboration.

Now playing Cherry Blossom Girl from Air as we soon arrive at Tokyo.

The delegation:
TAMK personnel
Perttu Heino, Ari Närhi
Project lead
Teemu Haila
Project group
Heikki Leppänen Jura Paatola Matti Särkikoski Tuomas Rinne Jani Palovuori Kaisa Kukkonen Nelli Telkkinen Jussi Salonen

Read the previous story about the project