Farewell, Japan!

Over the past three weeks, we have explored many areas of Japan. Wrapping up our travels through the country, we drove more than 800 miles south to reach Mt. Aso, the country’s third largest active volcano. From there, we looped around and headed 1,000 miles North. If you add up this daily driving, we have reached a total of about 3,250 miles through Japan.  Our car and it’s bearings endured these miles just as easily as the 10,000 miles before. While driving North, we passed through the Miyagi prefecture. Located North of Tokyo, Miyagi was in the international headlines when a giant tsunami hit and destroyed large parts of its coastline in 2011. Near the shore, about 80% of some town’s buildings were destroyed. The blue sign on the building below marks the height of the wave as it crashed onto the area.

Farewell, Japan!

An astounding amount of reconstruction has happened in the area in the last three years. All the rubble was removed, and many new houses and buildings have popped up, including many with added safety features, like the one below. The wave signs on the this building signals that it was built to withstand a possible tsunami; in case of emergency, area residents can climb up to the roof.

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Life has continued on for the people of Miyagi. There are still some physical reminders of the terrible tsunami, like massive areas of former urban landscape, left truly abandoned, and many of the city’s houses still stand, but are not fit to live in.

Some citizens never returned after the wave, same for many businesses. Many facilities that were destroyed are either out of business, or have relocated to different areas of Japan. Some residents not only lost their home, but their jobs as well. Some are still living in temporary housing, which are often too small to provide adequate privacy.

The Hatachi fund is just one of the several foundations that is helping residents, children in particular, with the aftermath of the tragedy. Hatachi means “20 years old” in Japanese, named such because the foundation follows children until their 20th birthday, when they are legally officially an adult. The foundation serves as an umbrella for various other charity organizations, each specialized in a certain aspect of aid, one of which being the “Chance for Children” foundation, which focuses on education.

igus Japan is supporting CFC, donating one Euro for each km driven, and the money will be used to help with educational things like study rooms. In these rooms, children are able to learn, play, and get help with their schoolwork. Also, CFC gives “education vouchers,” which children can use as a form of payment at a wide range of institutions, such as tutoring centers, sporting clubs, museums, and music schools accept the voucher from children, then exchange the vouchers with CFC for their actual payment.

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Now, our time in Japan has come to an end. I want to take the time to say “arigato” to my Japanese colleagues, who showed me great hospitality and support during my time here. What a great tour!

We are now on the way back to Tokyo; from there the car will depart to the other side of the globe. The next time I write will be from Brazil!

See you soon,

Sascha

Driving North

We are still driving North, soon to reach our Northernmost destination – Sendai. Sendai is the capital city of Japan’s Mijagi prefecture. The coastal cities in this region were the most affected by the powerful earthquake and tsunami that hit in 2011.

Driving North

On the way to Sendai, we passed through Fukushima, where the tsunami hit and damaged a nuclear power plant, resulting in the meltdown of three of the plant’s six nuclear reactors. The cleanup is still ongoing, and expected to last at least a few more years. As radiation is high in the area, robots are replacing humans wherever possible. One robot, that us used to remove rubble, is making use of our Triflex R cable carrier system. Triflex R protects the energy supply by guiding and protecting the cable package in multi-dimensional movement.

https://youtu.be/j4pQ7AZ-Rvw

As we traveled North, we stopped for a visit to Mt. Fuji, the national symbol of Japan. At 12,388 feet, it is also the highest mountain in the country. The height does not sound very impressive, but seeing the mountain, which stands alone, is incredible. The mountain was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2013, and rather than being considered a “natural site,” it was named a cultural heritage site. Mt. Fuji has not only inspired artists and poets, but has also been a pilgrimage destination for centuries. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to take the car up to the top, I really would have liked to place our iglide on tour flag at the summit! 😉

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The tour in Japan is wrapping up, in the next week the car will leave the land of the rising sun to make its way to Brazil!

Until then,

Sascha

Japan Press Conference and igus Social Responsibility

This morning we officially kicked off the Japanese leg of “iglide on tour!” igus Japan hosted a press conference at the luxurious Palace Hotel Tokyo, and 32 journalists came to get an up close look at our car and hear about our plans for the tour.

Kunihiko Kitagawa,  or Kenny, which is easier for us non-Japanese speakers, is the Country Manager for igus Japan. Kenny gave the journalists an overview of igus history, our line of iglide materials and products, and the plans for the Japanese leg of the tour.

Japan Press Conference and igus Social Responsibility

A highlight of the conference was the speech from a representative of the German Embassy to Japan, Mr. Sickert. He and the embassy helped us with the complicated registration process of the car.

Sickert referred to igus as a highly innovative company that represents the German “Mittlestand” business model. The Mittlestand is comprised of mid-sized companies that are considered to be the economic backbone of the German economy. Mr. Sickert went on, saying that “With its highly specialized products, sales, and production on several continents, and obvious knack for marketing, igus is a prime example of a successful Mittlestand.”

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After Mr. Sickert’s speech, the press had their chance to ask questions, as well as walk around and take a look at a wide range of igus products on display with information about their uses and applications.

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Following the press conference, we left Tokyo for Iseasaki, where we will begin three weeks of driving and customer visits tomorrow. We are going to explore the entire island, planning on completing a full lap along the coast of the island, about 2,800 miles. For each mile, igus will donate one Euro to a Japanese charity that is helping children affected by the 2011 tsunami.

igus has been coupling with a new charity organization in each country along the tour. While in Taiwan, we partnered with two organizations that help developmentally disabled children and their families, especially regarding education.  One of the organizations, Maria Social Welfare Foundation, came to visit at our Taiwanese Press conference.

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In Korea and China, we donated aid in the form of rice, giving 1 kg (2.2 lbs) for every kilometer driven.  The donations from the Korean leg weighed in at almost 4,500 pounds – almost 4 times as heavy as the iglide car!

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Each local igus branch decides how to best give back to their communities. We like to think that igus stands for not only high quality, but social responsibility as well!

I’ll keep you up to date on our Japanese adventures!

-Sascha