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  I visited the Ehime carbon fiber plant of Toray Co., Ltd. last Friday, June 20. I love visiting factories of almost any kind and try to make best use of the opportunity to visit the factory, stores or anything that are in the field when I see one. 

  I wanted to visit this factory in particular, as I understand Japanese companies lead the world in carbon fiber, material with great potential, particularly in the age of resource constraint. I am also interested in carbon fiber, as it is now being extensively used for aircraft such as Boeing 787. I had no idea how carbon fiber is processed, and thus I wanted to see it myself.

  I heard about carbon fiber over two decades ago as high potential material, mainly in use for golf clubs and fishing rods. I have not heard about it much until recently when I came across the mass collaboration of developing Boeing 787 on the global scale. Carbon fiber makes aircraft lighter and thus, improves fuel economy.  It also does not corrode, and thus can make the aircraft cabin more comfortable, by keeping the humidity.

    I felt Seeing is believing is true. I realized the complexity of the process and the need for huge tanks etc. when we took a tour to see how the process works. I also learned a lot about how the development process has advanced so far, and how much more potential the materials has. If we are able to do something about it cost (and probably the process), it may transform the auto industry.    

   After the factory visit and very interesting and informative discussion with the plant manger and the staff, I went to Tokushima to give a seminar at the Tokushima Bunri University. (I did not realize the distance between Matsuyama and Tokushima until the night before!—indicating how little I know about the geography of Japan!and I was quite embarrassed.) 
  After 3.5 hour drive in the fog (unfortunately, I could not see much despite the drive along the coast), I arrived at Tokushima. Though the magnificent hall in Tokushima was too big for my kind of audience (and it was pouring by then!), I enjoyed giving a talk. The title of my talk was What should the city, firm and we do when the world is becoming flat? 
  My main audience was the students, but there were some general public. The seminar was reported in the Tokushima Shimbun the next day and this past Friday. It was another day of activities and meeting with various people. I feel very fortunate to be given the opportunity to visit various places in Japan. (My knowledge of geography is improving!)  

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