Saturday, May 7, 2011

Golden Week Gathering 2011

One of the events that I look forward the most come Golden Week every year is the annual Golden Week gathering, which is traditionally held in Tokyo. It started from just a small barbecue gathering more than a decade ago and back then, it was the seniors from universities who took the initiative to hold a gathering to welcome the new juniors to Japan. There were only less than fifty people in the family and everyone was very close to each other during that time.

A couple of years later, some of the seniors graduated and returned to Malaysia, while the ones who remained in Japan were in their final university year. The forth-year batch from kosen (technical college) at that time volunteered to take over the organisation of the gathering, and it was from that point that this annual gathering has been organised by the juniors from kosen. Perhaps it was due to the geographical factor, it has since become a lus non scriptum for the forth-year juniors from Kisarazu Kosen to be the main organiser every year.

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The nearest train station along the Keio Line to the venue of this year's gathering.

The venue for this year's event was University of Electro-Telecommunications (電気通信大学) or more commonly known as Dentsu-dai in Chofu city, Tokyo. Yup, that university that created a device that enable couples in long-distance relationship to "French kiss" over the Internet haha!

Some may wonder why of all places, the gathering is held in a university this year, instead of in a park or garden. The reason is pretty simple - that's because everyone was kinda eager to learn how to make that kiss transmission device, so that we can spread more love through the Internet haha! Actually, there was a last-minute plan change, and the organiser had to move the venue from a youth centre to a park and finally to a university.

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The morning session was sports activities at the university's gymnasium, with basketball being the main attraction.

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Two courts of badminton to breed future Datuk Lee haha!

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And one table tennis for people who prefers smaller balls or non-hairy shuttle cocks.

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The youngest member who attended the gathering this year.

It was exactly one year ago that I got to know Crystal senpai, who was the first batch of students who enrolled into the preparatory centre in UTM in 1992. That is like almost twenty years ago! Since the gathering last year, she has been kind enough to invite me to her place several times and the latest one was last month, when we celebrated Amy's and my belated birthday.

Just like last year, Kevin tagged along to this gathering too this time.

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Taking some rest from badminton, while having some light chat.

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When we thought that Crystal senpai is the most senior among us, came Mr Ng, who was one year her senior.

It was my senior, James, who invited Mr Ng to this gathering. He did not study at the preparatory centre in UTM, but he did his Japanese language course in Tokyo, before enrolling into Tomakomai Kosen in Hokkaido. I got a pleasant surprise when I found out that Mr Ng hails from Taman Sri Hijau. In case you wonder where is that, that is one of the main housing area in Taiping. Yes, he is from my hometown and used to study in SM Darul Ridzuan, just a ten-minute drive from my house.

He is now happily married to a Chinese and have a pair of children and lives in Saitama.

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Desmond, the leader of the organising committee delivers his short welcoming speech.

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Lunch time was in the form of pot-luck and everyone contributed different kinds of food to be shared among ourselves.

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Amy taking out her huge packet of Mamee, specially imported from Penang haha!

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Everyone was rushing for the fried rice brought all the way from Oyama. That's Thomas the chef, the junior from Oyama Kosen 
who carried the whole rice cooker to this gathering!

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The juniors from Tokyo Kosen brought two huge trays of sushi and it was among the food that finished the fastest.

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Fresh assorted fruits from a group of seniors. The green melon looks kinda pitiful, but everyone still finished everything lol!

After the makan session, it was time for ais-pecah (ice-breaking) session. We often use the term "ice-breaking" but do you know where did this term actually come from?

The earlier meaning of this phrase, i.e. "to forge a path for others to follow" alludes of course to the breaking of ice to allow the navigation of boats. The figurative use is quite old and was recorded by Sir Thomas North in his 1579 translation of Plutarch's Lives of the noble Grecians and Romanes: "To be the first to break the Ice of the Enterprize." It wasn't until the latter part of the 17th century that it took on its current "establish a relaxed relationship in socially awkward situations" meaning. For example, Samuel Butler's Hudibras, 1678: "The Oratour - At last broke silence, and the Ice."

If we move forward another two hundred years "breaking the ice" reverts to its original usage, when specialist ice-breaking ships were introduced. These ships, known as ice-breakers, were equipped with strengthened hulls and powerful engines, were employed in the exploration of polar regions. Soon after the ships were introduced the term "ice-breaker" began to be applied to social initiatives which were intended to get strangers acquainted with one another. In 1883, Mark Twain used the word that way in Life on Mississippi:
"They closed up the inundation with a few words - having used it, evidently, as a mere ice-breaker and acquaintanceship-breeder - then they dropped into business" (taken from here).
Back to this gathering, so we proceeded to the "ice-breaking sessions", by having Mr Ng to briefly introduce himself to the young juniors.

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Who would have thought that someone who came from a small town would turn into such a successful man today.

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Sharing some of his experiences about the earthquake that hit Japan recently.

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There was a slight drizzle, but the juniors were still on all ears under the umbrellas, listening to the wise words of our senior. 

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The latest line-up that is joining the big family we have here in Japan.

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I suggested to Chai Ei to ask about Ivy's height. He really did that and ended up kena ketawa by everyone lol! (Lai, jangan marah, joking only, okay?)

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The sweetest couple at the gathering haha! I like it when one of them said the reason they bought this jacket is because
 if they will be the first ones to be rescued from the rubble if there is an earthquake haha!

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With Mr Ng and Yew Keong.

The next activity on agenda was games session. However, the rain got heavier and we had no choice but to move to somewhere else that has shelter to play our Bingo games. The winners get prizes too; all from 100-yen shop though haha! The prizes however, are still interesting stuff such as mini toilet pump, massage stick, and fish wind socks called koinobori used during Kodomo-no-hi haha!

I almost score zero luck when it comes to Bingo. So, this time, it was the same result. Kevin asked me out to draw the numbers because he was one number away from Bingo. He needed the number "74", but I drew out number "73" haha!

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Crystal senpai started off the Bingo games by introducing herself to the juniors.

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Kevin went out to draw the numbers too, while playing the game at the same time lol!

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Yang Herk, the proud winner of the toilet pump receiving his prize from Soo Sing haha!

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Rare case to see people play Bingo until fall asleep lol!

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Two best friends who played with their Frisbee disc. One of them got hit on the nose in the end. Don't laugh.

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"What see see? If like, say click like".

Unlike the previous years, where we used to have a three-day-two-night or two-day-one-night gathering, it was a comparatively short gathering this year. It will be some time until most of us get to meet up with each other again, most probably until the next gathering one year from now. Therefore, just before the "closing ceremony", it was photo time.

The pattern is always the same. It begins with the huge group photo with everyone in it, then we slowly break the big group into smaller ones by going according to batches and kosens. Sometimes, we will be more creative by taking group photos of people from the same hometown too. But you have to make sure you have enough kaki, because if there's only you alone in the photo, that doesn't count haha!

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Eh, silap! This was taken in 2007. And fast-forward four years later, everyone turned into handsome prince and gorgeous princesses below.

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Ex-PPKTJ 14th Batch (2005).

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Ex-PPKTJ 15th Batch (2006).

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Ex-PPKTJ 16th, 17th, 18th Batch (2007, 2008, 2009).

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Ex-PPKTJ 12th & 13th Batch (2003 & 2004).

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Former and current members from Nagaoka Kosen.

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Former and current members from Kisarazu Kosen.

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This one too rojak already. No theme, just random people, all in one photo haha!

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Guess what's the common thing the three of us share?

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Kevin was busy making bubbles. How I miss playing with this.

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The big family from Golden Week gathering 2011.

My batch initially wanted to have a gathering among ourselves on this day, but since it clashed with the main gathering, we decided to combine both and wrap things up by having dinner together later that night.

This year, we have sixteen out of twenty-eight (yup, our batch holds the record for having the most number of members) of us who came down to Tokyo. We would have more coming to join us, if not because of the awkward way the Golden Week holiday fell in the middle of the week this year, in between Monday and Friday.

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Wan Ying walking around inside the train to ask everyone take a sip of tea because she was lazy to carry the bottle already, 
while asking her super random "5-4-3-2-1 answer me!" question haha!

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Our dinner was nabe (Japanese steamboat) buffet at Nabezou Shibuya in downtown Tokyo.

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Condiments, which include the dipping sauce (tare) such as ponzu (made of soy sauce and juice pressed from a bitter orange, sweet sake, and kombu (kelp) stock) 
and gomadare (made from ground sesame, soy sauce, kelp stock, sake and sugar), chopped spring onions and reddish chopped radish.

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Non-meat ingredients as starters, which include tofu, leeks, enoki mushroom, carrots, white cabbage, etc.

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Trays of meat, that looks like zebra pig-crossing haha wtf!

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Group photo from the first table.

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Another group photo from the second table.

I guess we made the right decision to have our get-together dinner at a nabe restaurant. One of the most important feature of nabemono is eating together from a shared pot. The Japanese believe that eating from one same pot will foster closer relationship. It was from there came the Japanese saying: "Nabe wo kakomu" (鍋を囲む) that translate "sitting around the pot", which implies that sharing nabemono will create warm relationship between the diners who eat together from the shared pot.

After our satisfying meal, we went to see a special screening of "Late Show with LYK" haha!

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Elvin was the first one to went out to share with us on how he plan to propose.

It was a very random thing actually, because we ran out of idea of what to do after our dinner. While killing our time around the foyer at the ground floor, we somehow came out with the idea of having Yew Keong to tell us stories. In the end, it turned out to be a talk show, as he asked some of us to talk about our marriage plans, how we confessed and all those sort of stuff where you don't get to know usually.

Too bad Mingrong wasn't around, otherwise we would be in for some juicy stories haha!

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A final group photo with my batch mates.

This year should be my last year to attend and blog about this annual Golden Week gathering. Nevertheless, it has been a long and memorable journey. My personal thanks to Desmond and his team for successfully pulling the string together and making the gathering this year possible, despite several obstacle along the way. Hopefully, the juniors will keep the tradition going on for the many years to come.

Here comes the end of the entry. Thank you for reading.

6 comments:

Dt said...

Are all three also ong さん?

zhenhui said...

おつかれ~~~ライス!!!!!

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glad to see that everyone had fun man!!

PIK YEE said...

it is really a good memory to all ...lets make it once more loh !!

calvin said...

@ dt:
good guess, but nope, i'm the only ong in the photo xD

calvin said...

@ zhenhui:
aiyo, i thought you made a typo there. took me a while before i catch your ball haha! xD

we might do another one during the summer. that time, you make sure you come har! =)

calvin said...

@ pik yee:
try reading this ten years from now, and you will feel that those are really memorable moments spent together. will try to make another gathering this summer! =)