SJCI : a visit to Suzuhiro Kamaboko Factory

Hello everyone! As a report needed for SJCI, now I will write about the last SJCI study trip to Suzuhiro Kamaboko Factory.

Maybe some of you haven’t heard about Kamaboko. What is Kamaboko? Kamaboko is a Japanese Food, made from seafood.  Fish meat is pounded into a paste that is mixed with several ingredients and further can be steamed, poached, grilled or deep fried.  Kamaboko is a healthy and natural food, it doesn’t contain preservative and other additives, and also contain a high amount of mineral and amino acid, including essential amino acid. The very distinctive feature of Kamaboko is its unique smooth and fine texture.  Here’s some kamaboko picture to give you some insight about how exactly it looks like 😀

Kamaboko 😀 Red and white color is for good luck!

Around Japan there are about 900 Kamaboko maker each has its distinctive characteristic. Suzuhiro Kamaboko Factory is one of the biggest of all. Located at Odawara, approximately 1,5-2 hours drive by bus, this kamaboko factory has already owned its big name. Has been a family business since 1865, this industries has expanded its vision of not only making Kamaboko, but also to introduce Kamaboko throughout Japan and world. Place where it is located is not only a factory but also several minutes drive from the factory there are special shop to sell kamaboko, kamaboko museum, and a workshop where visitors can individually experience kamaboko making and eating (of course ^^).

At that day, first we visited the kamaboko factory. Guided by its own CEO, we were able to observe almost every step of kamaboko making. At first, white fish meat is filleted to remove bones and skin. Furthermore, to remove fat and blood filleted fish is washed with water from Hakone mountain. After that fish pound was mixed with salt, sugar, egg whites, fish sauce, and a bit of Japanese sake. After it is seasoned well, the kamaboko was shaped and further processed such as grilled, steamed, or deepfried.

Beside seeing the kamaboko making facilities we also see another facilities such as its quality control lab (where they conduct organoleptic test for each product every day and also shelf life test), packaging material warehouse , employee’s washroom and locker.  Hygiene was very important for factories that deal with food product, especially this company deals with such a perishable food source, fishery product. The production facility is surrounded by a hallway, this is to prevent dust and other contaminant to get inside the production facilities. Air that is circulating inside the production facilities is also filtered first. All year round, temperature inside the production facilities is kept in a same temperature to ensure a good kamaboko is being made throughout the year.

After finishing the factory tour we were taken to the kamaboko museum where we can experience a step of kamaboko making, the shaping of kamaboko.

Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum :D

Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum 😀

So basically, we were given a fish paste and we are taught to shape it like an original kamaboko shape. When you see the original kamaboko shape actually it is quite simple, like a long igloo. But believe me, it is really hard to deal with this fish paste, it is all sticky and difficult to be shaped.

To shape a kamaboko we only need one knife (which we can only use one side) and the board where kamaboko will be put. Fish meat is given in a ball shaped and we have to make it flat, fold it again, and slam it for several times. This procedure is done to give kamaboko its chewy taste. After that, here comes the more difficult step to shape the kamaboko with the board so it will be like kamaboko (like a long igloo as I have mentioned before). Believe me it is really difficult, and it is said that years experience is needed for someone to be skillful on doing this.

After kamaboko, we also tried to make chikuwa. Chikuwa is shaped by rolling it into a slender thin stick, that’s why chikuwa has a hole inside it and this is also difficult. But it was very fun! Our kamaboko was then steamed and our chikuwa was then grilled, we can take it home and eat it! ^^

Dressed up like kamaboko maker :D

Dressed up like kamaboko maker 😀

own-made chikuwa

own-made chikuwa

the whole class is making kamaboko :D

the whole class is making kamaboko 😀


making kamaboko

making kamaboko

At last we had discussion session, at that time it is explained that according to the statistics kamaboko demand is decreasing among Japanese, yes, this delicious food is not that popular again among Japanese. But in contrast, the demand of this food is increasing overseas. Even this company has open several branches like in China or Thailand. It is a good thing that this food has expanded its market overseas, but I think Japanese people (especially young adult) interest about this particular food has to be continuously risen up again! I also think that this case is not only happening on Japan, many kind of Indonesian traditional food is not that popular anymore among Indonesian young adults because it is considered as old-fashioned and not as exclusive as many imported modern food product.

In this case many people from all over the world begin to like it and consume it. Even some research is being conducted to particular traditional food that is fermented for example Indonesian tempe, by overseas researcher, because of its good nutrition value and another health value.

Well, all that I can say is let’s try to appreciate our own traditional food by eating it more frequently and spreading the news about it! If it is not the young generation, who will preserve the culture of such a healthy, delicious, and special traditional food?  😀

Oh, and I have every conducted simple research with my friends back at my home university about Indonesian traditional fermented shrimp paste named terasi. The research is done by adding bacteria inoculums and manipulating the salt concentration added to see pH change and also protein concentration. This shrimp paste is really delicious and you can add it together with chilli to make delicious Indonesian chilli sauce called sambal. You should try it sometimes! 😀

own made sambal terasi :D

own made sambal terasi 😀

With love,

Afifa Ayu Koesoema


SJCI : a Visit to Tsukuba Space Center, JAXA!

Hello all, how’s your saturday night? 😀

Tonight I will give you a little report for my last Study on Japanese Companies and Industries visit! It was a visit to Tsukuba Space Center of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), yes, just imagine, a visit to Japan’s NASA! 😀 For me it was really amazing, although i don’t look like a big fan of those mighty-guy-stuffs actually i do love aviation and aerospace! Can you believe that my favorite National Geographic TV Show is Air Crash Investigation? 😀


At that day, we arrived at Tsukuba Space Center at about 2 PM, after going through 1,5 hours trip by bus. In front of Tsukuba Space Center there was a huge rocket model! So cool! 😀 JAXA Tsukuba Space Center is open to public twice a year, and we were one of the lucky one to visit it this year!


JAXA’s Rocket!


After that, we were given explanation about this space center, mainly about the environmental test technology center. At first we were given the understanding about how important spacecrafts such as satellites for our life. For daily usage, we always use GPS from satellite to help us navigate. For expertise, satellite can help them to record many data such as the temperature fluctuation in the earth to predicts the global warming pattern. We have to admit that nowadays, we will not have such an convenient life without spacecrafts.

We were given explanation about the importance of creating spacecrafts that can withstand the extreme condition so that each of the components will functions optimally. During the launching of satellite using rockets, it has to withstand the extreme condition of rocket machine vibration, acoustic pressure, and acceleration. During separation of the satellite with the rocket it will also create a great shock, so it has to be tested as well. 

When it’s operating at the space, it has to withstand thermal vacuum (due to the situation of non-atmosphere it  will have no convection in space so the satellite will experience such a huge temperature gap up to 300 Celcius). At the space there would also be radiowave and magnetic wave that can cause interference to the satellite.

There were a lot of tests to be performed to ensure that satellite can function properly. From the explanation, i think JAXA really has a leading facilities related to spacecrafts testing. It even has the largest space chamber to simulate the high vacuum, cryogenic and solar light environment in space with the size of 13m 😀 it was such a pity that we cannot see the facilities directly 😦


After that, we were given a tour of astronaut course. Actually i was expecting to see the real facilities but again it was only like a museum.

First we saw an astronaut suit. I did not remember exactly how many layers are there in astronaut suit, but it was so many, mainly composed of insulation layer and some life support. Inside the helmet there was a drinking bottle, and i also remembered that astronaut is using diapers when they are wearing those suit! I also remember that because the helmet is too big astronaut cannot read directly so they have a mirror in their arm part to help them reading. So interesting! I can never imagine to be an astronaut!

Astronaut Suit :)

Astronaut Suit 🙂

Second we saw facilities of biomedical studies, the scientist were mainly working to reduce the space-sickness that astronaut always experience in their first days in space. They use tilting and rotating bed and chair to simulate it.

Biomedical Research Facility

Biomedical Research Facility

Third, we saw isolation chamber, use to simulate the spacecraft condition. It was a huge room without window, inside is painted white and there are no windows at all. It is used to train and as well select astronaut because when they are in space they have to withstand this stressful condition everyday. In the end we saw some astronaut food! 😀

Isolation Chamber

Isolation Chamber

Astronaut Food :D

Astronaut Food 😀


After the astronaut course tour, we were directed to the Space Dome, some kind of an exhibition hall. Here we learned that satellites are always covered with a golden colored material to help it withstand the harsh temperature changes. We also saw some model of Japan’s rockets and satellites from times to times, But the most fun part is taking picture of course!

Golden colored insulation of Satellites

Golden colored insulation of Satellites


JAXA's Rocket from time to time :)

JAXA’s Rocket from time to time 🙂


Astronaut wanna-be :)

Astronaut wanna-be 🙂

Space dome

Space dome

Rocket Engine! to the Outer Space!

Rocket Engine! to the Outer Space!


I really wish i could have another opportunity maybe later on to visit JAXA again and discussed more about their other mission to send small animals to the space and examine their physiological condition, etc. like sending small fish to space, let it hatch, and bring back the baby fish to the earth.

I really want to know whether they have sent any bacteria or microorganism to the space 😀 Being a space microbiologist seems to be awesome! 😀


See you in the next post!



Afifa Ayu


Review : Autumn Semester Class at 東工大

Hello all!

I hope you all are doing well and fine, because here at Yokohama, it’s becoming quite cold (again) and it will rain until tomorrow 😀

This is, again, a very late post. Actually I really want to post about it from such a long time ago, but i just forget. Since yesterday I have just got my supervisor’s signature for Spring Semester Course Registration Sheet suddenly I remember about my intention to write this post 🙂


So in last semester (Autumn Semester 2012) I took 4 Classes, 3 with credits and one no credit class. As a Young Scientist Exchange Program student I took 2 compulsory classes which were Topics on Japan I and Study on Japanese Companies and Industries I. I took Japanese Class with no credit which was J1 and one class from my major which was Advanced Bioorganic Engineering. As an addition, I also had my Seminar and Sotsuron (Research) inside my lab.

And here I will explain a bit about each class, just in case someone is interested on this exchange program, for the full information you can just go here  🙂


Topics on Japan I (2 Credits)

Topics on Japan I is a compulsory subject for YSEP student and there we learn about Japan, it was taught by Yuriko Satou Sensei. From basic knowledge (from trivial facts and knowledge about Japanese societies), some history of Japan until some aspect about economic development and education of Japan.

This class was interesting because all the international students were mixed with Japanese student so here we can not only learn about Japanese culture and custom but also other country’s culture! We were asked to make group and give presentation about a country (we can present as our own country or other country). In that opportunity I present about Italy, mainly talking about its music, although some people said at that time it was more or less like a music class! 😀

My Presentation :)

My Presentation 🙂

From this class we are able to exchange ideas and deepen our understanding about Japanese society and in the end comparing it with other countries, thus knowing the strength and weakness of Japan.

The special features of this class are the inspiring special lectures and cultural activities. We have the chance to heard special lectures from David Zopetti, a Subaru Literature Price award Novelist. For the cultural activities we all could watch Bunraku (Japanese Puppet Theater) at National Theater with such a low price and we also had one day visit to Chisetsu Elementary School to do some sharing! 🙂

After watching Bunraku at National Theater :)  photo credits : Alfan Presekal

After watching Bunraku at National Theater 🙂
photo credits : Alfan Presekal

I think it is not hard to get high score for this test, you only have to attend all classes, special classes, participate in cultural activites, be active, and collect the final report (it’s 600-1000 words) 😀


Study on Japanese Companies and Industries I (2 Credits)

This class was also taught by Yuriko Satou Sensei. Only one word that can be said for this class : FUN! From the name, we can predict that we visit a lot of companies and industries to see how actually the industrial activities in Japan are. But, actually I think it’s only 20% of the course, the rest 80% is having a fun trip! 😀

First we visited Life Safety Learning Center where we experienced earthquake, fire-fighting, and fire simulation, it was really fun. We also visited Fujitsu Ltd., we had special lecture by someone from Gurunavi (it’s some kind of mobile application to find any restaurant near you, which’s pretty convenient to be used in Japan), visit to Nissan Motor Company and JFE Steel. Here are some photos, photos were taken from http://www.ryu.titech.ac.jp/~ysep/tour/tour.html

Fujitsu Ltd.

Fujitsu Ltd.


Nissan :)

Nissan 🙂


JFE Steel, with the helmet and safety clothes :D

JFE Steel, with the helmet and safety clothes 😀

But what was very epic? During the Christmas day we were going to Atami, a city at Shizouka prefecture. Indeed, we still have lecture about job opportunities for foreigner in Japan, but I think most of the time we were having fun, enjoying the splendid city, soaking ourselves inside Onsen, eating marvelous dinner buffet, and sightseeing! On the way back home we also visited Asahi Breweries, yummy!

Atami Sightseeing :D

Atami Sightseeing 😀

Visiting Asahi Breweries as well

Visiting Asahi Breweries as well

The score for this course i think was pretty easy, we only have to submit short report after each visit and the best of all, we did not have to submit final report that time!


Japanese Class J1 (no credit)

Actually Tokyo Tech’s system about Japanese Class is a bit confusing, and i don’t want to write something misinterpreted, so if you’re curious please just go here. Anyway i took the class without credit which was two times faster than the class with credit. In this class we were using 2 books which were Hakase 1 and Hakase 2 (roughly equivalent with Minna no Nihongo 1). The book was fun, i mean it had funny pictures inside it, and it did not contain as much grammar as Minna no Nihongo 1.

We got regular homework from the class, but mostly it wasn’t such a big deal, only one paper per one lesson. Beside that, the final test was not difficult and i think most of the teacher were very nice 🙂 We can also ask for a certificate to certify that we has passed this class to international student center. After this class we can continue to J2 or Jpb3, or even taking JLPT N5 (just like me!!)


Seminar and Sotsuron (6 Credits)

First sotsuron, is your research, basically the central part of your life here, lLOL. It weights 6 credits (i think mine weights much more). So once you arrived at Japan, for several weeks everyone in the lab will tutor you about how to use stuffs and do stuffs. After that your Sensei will decide in which subtopic of the lab’s research will you do research. Basically, we do progress report every 1 month or 2 month during the seminar time. Seminar is kind of gathering for the lab member, in my lab it’s only 2-3 hour per week, but the duration varies between lab and also the number of people inside the lab. There are some lab that can have seminar for whole day, usually they have more than 10 people inside. In weekly seminar we are told to read one paper related to our research and describe it to your friends, and also telling everyone what you have done during the past one week. But as i told you, once every 1 or 2 month, you will have progress report seminar where you have to make slide about your progress.


Advanced Bioorganic Engineering (2 Credits)

It’s a graduate class, but since it’s conducted in English, so I follow this class. The other reason why I took this class is because the first half is really related to my research (of course, it’s my sensei that taught the first half of the course). The first half mainly was about book which she edited (cool!), Future Directions in Biocatalysis.

Advanced Bioorganic Engineering Book :)

Advanced Bioorganic Engineering Book 🙂

It talks about novel reaction for biotransformations (like using other solvent than water such as ionic liquid), uncommon kind of biocatalytic reaction (like Baeyer-Viliger Monooxygenases), etc. Those few topics were really what we do in my lab. The last half was taught by Hisakazu Mihara Sensei. Mainly talks about synthetic DNA, and protein.

We are requested to one presentation about one paper and in the end one report about one paper. So it doesn’t actually give you that much burden.


And i guess that’s all for the class sharing, I hope that it can give you slight information about YSEP Classes and if you are interested please tell me! 🙂




Afifa Ayu Koesoema