My late mother taught me that in life I must have some very close friends who can fully understand me and whom I should fully understand in return. They are our 知音 (zhī yīn). Literally it means both sides understand and know each other's “music”. And through music we can fully understand each other.

Have You Climbed Mount Fuji?

Dear Colleagues,

I first visited Japan in 1978 as a trainee engineer under a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) fellowship programme. The study team (from nine developing countries) visited many spectacular engineering and construction projects. The most impressive construction site was the 53.85 km-long Seikan bullet train tunnel connecting Honshu and Hokkaido. The two-way tunnel was laid 100 m under Japan's seabed, which is endangered with nine geological seismic faults. American and British engineers studied the project and concluded that it was not a feasible engineering undertaking. The Japanese, however, completed this acclaimed “civil-engineering project of the century” in the late 90s. Bullet trains are now running via the tunnel, connecting the economy of the remote island of Hokkaido with Honshu.

During my three months' training in Japan, I was fascinated by the serene beauty of Mount Fuji, ...

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