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Everyone avoids me like a cyclone ranger

May 14, 2008



I’m in Japan this week for work. Travelling from Dublin via Copenhagen I managed to sleep most of the way and woke to find myself in Tokyo wearing shorts, t-shirt & sandals… while the heavens had opened. How was I to know there was a typhoon off the coast. The sunny weather I had been tracking for the past 3 weeks online had broken.

I like it when things just work. I like it when the simple instructions from my Japanese colleague get me to my hotel via airport bus with the minimum of hassle. I like it when the hotel upgrades my room and I look from my window to a view of a city park.

Headed straight into the office mainly so I could touch base with my manager who has been travelling around the region in the past week. John has made it through China, Korea and Taiwan. I was originally meant to travel with him but Ben’s ‘First Holy Communion’ took priority. Apparently I’m coming back to ‘do Asia’ at some point in the next 12 months.

The Guinness-branded shirt & Irish whistle gift set for Atsushi-san was well received so I headed off with John to get back to the hotel since I had no real meetings planned that day and he was done for the day. We took a wrong turn for the train station (we should have gone right and walked toward Chofu station) and ended up walking for 15 minutes to Fuka station. This in itself wasn’t a problem until we realised that being a slightly minor station there was absolutely no signage in English. Not an iota.
Now I know what they mean by the culture shock ! There was a ticket machine but of course we had no way to figure out how much to pay or even what platform to take. Luckily a combination of looking clueless, a bit of sign-language and poorly pronounced ‘Shinjuku’ (our destination) got us out of a hole.

Spotless and safe. Two words to describe what I’ve experienced on public transport so far.

After a couple of hours during which I phoned home and caught up on email we headed out to meet our colleagues Atsushi, Shinji and Kurumi for dinner. The above photo was taken near the restaurant as it started to get dark. We had time to kill because the taxi was incredibly fast and we could probably have walked from our hotel. The ‘Times Square’ shopping building beckoned and I got my first flavour of a Tokyo retail store. Everything I could never want in one place. Everything I should never need. I’ll be back before Friday !

Dinner was the real-deal: shoes off, tatami table, enclosed dining area, endless variety of food and great company. All fluent in English (even me and my fellow Irishman !). It turns out that 2 of the Japanese team are coming to Dublin so we’ll get to repeat the hospitality in 2 weeks time. I’m told it’s one of the perks of my job and so far I’m enjoying building these working relationships.

A good chat with John in the hotel bar should have seen me ready to get a good nights sleep but it wasn’t quite late enough. So I did some work on a spreadsheet-based tool before heading to bed before midnight. I had the strangest dreams and woke at 5:00am. Ah shit … I really thought I wouldn’t be hit by jet lag. I so want to experience this city without fading away every evening. By 5:30am I gave in and decided to do some work on my laptop so my day might be a bit lighter (it worked – I’m getting to write this up before we take the train to Yokohama for a meeting with a local company).

Before the end of the week all I really want to do is (apart from get my meetings done) do a little shopping and see some live music (possibly even some J-Pop like this).

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