Goodbye Japan

During the last three weeks, we explored some of the major parts of Japan. We drove about 1300 kilometres south until we reached Mount Aso, the largest active volcano of Japan. From there, we made our way 1700 kilometres north again. If you add this to the daily driving, then you come to a total number of about 5200 kilometres. Our bearings endured this distance as easily as they did the previous 17000 kilometres.
Whilst driving north, we passed the Miyagi prefecture. Miyagi is north of Tokio and hit the headlines in 2011, when the Tsunami damaged large parts of the coast. Ishinomaki was one of the cities that suffered near the sea shore, about 80% of the buildings got destroyed.

The sign marks the height of the 2011 Tsunami wave

A lot of work has been done within the last three years with all rubble being removed and new building being erected.

The sign shows that this house can stand a possible Tsunami. In an emergency case, people can climb up the roof

Life goes on. At the first glance you can’t tell that this city grew out of ashes again. However, if you know about the tragedy, then you can still see some leftovers of the Tsunami with huge parts of the former urban land still abandoned and some of the remaining houses derelict.

As some citizens never turned back, neither did some employers. Many facilities that got destroyed were never built up again (or at least not in the city). Some people not only lost their homes but also their work. Some of them are still living in temporary houses that are often too small to provide sufficient privacy.
The Hatachi fund is one of the foundations that are helping in particular children with the aftermath of the disaster. Hatachi means in Japanese “twenty-years-old”. They accompany children until they are twenty years and therefore officially adult. Hatachi serves as an umbrella for a various kind of foundations. Each is specialized on a certain aspect of aid. One of them is the “Chance for Children foundation” (CFC), which focuses on education.

igus Japan will support their work with one euro for each driven kilometre.

The money will be used, for instance, for study rooms where children can learn, play and get help with their homework. Also, they give out an “education-voucher”. The children use this voucher as a method of payment. A wide range of institutions such as cramming schools, sport clubs, music schools, museums etc. accept the voucher. They change it later with CFC to actual money.

This section of the tour has come to an end. I want to use the chance to say “adigato gozaimasu” to my Japanese colleagues, who were showing me great hospitality and support. It was a great tour.

We are on the way to Tokyo. From there the car will departure to the other site of the world. The next time I will write to you will be from Brazil.

Yours Sascha.




Fire and Ashes

When you travel thousands of kilometres, it is important that the seat is robust and comfortable. iglidur® bearings enable the driver to maintain a comfortable sitting position. Worldwide, manufacturers are using igus products to improve their seating in vehicles.

A seat manufacturer from Japan, who makes use of iglidur®

Seating manufacturers make use of iglidur® in several elements including seat height adjustments, backrest angle adjustments, crash-active headrest and adjustment motors.


iglidur® bearings are convincing with smooth motion. We make use of iglidur® for the seat in our car too. Our bearings help adjusting the seat without making any noise.

Although it can be said to be dependant on the weight of the person, the bearings must endure a high static load. With 100N/mm² iglidur® bearings could even carry the heaviest sumo wrestler. However, the quality of being able to carry a heavy weight does not compromise on the weight of the bearing itself; they remain light (about seven times lighter than conventional metal bearings). They are a cost-effective and reliable bearing solution for any kind of seat.

Japan comprises of four large islands, of which includes the mainland with Tokyo and Hiroshima. From Hiroshima we travelled right to the southern island Kyushu.

Kyushu is the third largest island, famous for its numerous hot springs. Pillars of white steam can be seen everywhere. Hot springs seem frequent, whilst we were in Taiwan, one of our bearings we immersed in boiling hot spring water for more than one hour, the result; the bearing was no different to before it went in! The clouds you can see in the background are not those of the usual kind, yet from hot springs in the mountains.

The unique geography of Japan (being situated at the edges of three tectonic plates), encourages the high percentage of springs. Here, the Pacific Plate, Philippine Plate and the Eurasian Plate are meeting, resulting in Japan not only a centre for hot springs, but also to one of tsunamis and active volcanoes. As our bearings can easily endure high heat (For instance: iglidur X is suitable for temperatures of +250 °C (long-time) and up to +315 °C (short-time), we took the car to Mount Aso; not only the largest active volcano in Japan, yet one of the contenders among the largest in the world. As the soil near a volcano is very fertile, the surrounding is very green.

Already from far away, while passing the lowland below the volcano, you can see the pillar of smoke.

The last eruption of Mount Aso was in 2011.

An eruption at our visit would have been surely more dangerous for us than our bearings. They are all dirt and heat resistant.

From Mount Aso, we travelled North again where we passed a chain of small islands near the mainland.

From there, we drove straight about 800 kilometres to the coastal city Nagoya.

In Japan, we have already coveredabout 3000 kilometres.

I will keep you up to date,

yours Sascha.

About customs and traditions

Most people associate Kyoto with the famous Kyoto protocol which sets obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emission. Fewer people actually know that Kyoto is the birthplace of Nintendo (initially, they only launched a card game and had nothing to do with game consoles) and probably even fewer know that Kyoto had been the capital city for more than thousand years.

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Kyoto is the perfect place for gaining invaluable insights into Japanese traditions. These traditions and customs are partly still visible. For instance, you should abide to some customs when visiting customers. Usually, the colleague that has a higher rank is introducing the lower ranked. It can also be said to work on the opposite too where usually, you hand over your business card to the individual who is higher up within the organisation first. Also, as you may already know, to bow for salutation is still common in Japan and of which I have just learned that the bowing has three levels. The first level, bowing about ten percent, is common between friends and colleagues. The second level has a bowing of about 30 percent, which is more formal. You use it mainly when meeting older people and people that have a higher rank. The third level, a bow of about 45 percent, symbolizes deep respect or an apology. I always make a bow of 30-45% whilst greeting a customer (just to be on the safe side). They don’t mind if a foreigner doesn’t know about customs or forgets them, but I would like adapt to the culture I am living in right now. A customer of whom are a major manufacturer for textile machines, is a sure place in which I could practise my bowing.

They are manufacturing customized machines and are about to set up new ones abroad. Of course, these machines need to be maintained, which can turn out to be very expensive. Thus, they are looking for maintenance-free products that can help increase the life of their machines. iglidur® and drylin® can help them extend the lifetime of their machines due to all our products having self lubricating properties and are therefore maintenance free. With igus® they don’t need to send their employees to customers abroad so often due to technical problems which again, helps save money.
Many manufacturer of textile machines are relying on igus® products. Often, not only iglidiur® bearings are essential to help to improve the quality and lifetime, but also other products such as igubal®. igubal® self-aligning bearings include rod ends, ball and socket joints, clevis joints, pillow blocks, flange bearings, pressfit bearings, and spherical balls that are all highly vibration dampening. This circular knitting machine, of MAYER & CIE GmbH & Co, relies on igubal® spherical bearings. They prevent any failure through the sticking together of textile fibres by their maintenance-free feature and the omission of lubricants.

As Kyoto is the traditional centre, it is not surprising that the city offers many cultural sights.

Everywhere, at least nearby the centre, you can find stunning temples or shrines.

One of the most famous temples is Kyomizu-dera.

The temple is UNESCO world heritage site and unique in the way it was built. They didn’t use a single nail. The huge terrace of the temple offers impressive views of the city.

The terrace is associated with an old Japanese phrase which means translated “to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu”. You can compare it to the English phrase to “take the plunge”. If one were to survive a 13m jump from the stage, one’s wish would be granted. Two hundred thirty-four jumps were recorded and 85.4% survived it. Of course, nowadays it is forbidden to jump from the terrace

Nearby the temple, hidden in a small street, is a restaurant that absolutely doesn’t look like a restaurant. There is no sign advertising or welcoming guests. It is one of the very traditional restaurants that are only open to an exclusive circle of members. In order to become a member, you need at least two recommendations and an interview with the owner of the restaurants. The owner, an old lady at the age of 70-80, proves the candidates knowledge about traditions and his behaviour. She decides who is worth to have dinner in her restaurant. Due to some relations we had the chance to have dinner there. At the beginning she seemed to ignore my “misbehaviour” but later she was sitting next to me at the table and correcting me when I did something wrong. For instance, when I forgot to put the spoon out of the soup she was doing it for me, or when I used my mobile phone she asked a colleague to tell me that I should put it away.  During the dinner we had the opportunity to meet two Geishas.

Geishas are traditional female entertainers who act as hostesses and whose skills include performing various Japanese arts such as classical music, dance and games.

It is not that everyone can just call them but only a few people can do so. Also, you cannot just become a Geisha. You must attend a selective school for it. What looks strange for most people is the white skin.

The use of white make up comes from an age where people knew only candles as the only source of light. At candle light the white face appears rose and natural.
Japan is a very modern country indeed, but at the same time you can find many old buildings and traditions that can be traced back hundred of years ago. I’m excited to explore more of this fascinating country.

I will keep you up to date,

yours, Sascha.