November 2006

Trip to Japan

Posted on November 12, 2006 at 11:20 pm in

My company sent me to their headquarters in Japan for some training November 5-12.  The complex is located at the base of Mount Fuji next to Lake Yamanaka.  It’s an interesting site because you can tell that it’s out in the country as compared to Tokyo but it’s still pretty industrial looking.  Everything seems to be built a bit smaller over there – the bathrooms, the doorways, the beds; when they come to America they must feel like they’re in the land of giants.



After a week of training, I was able to spend a couple nights in Tokyo before I came back home.  This is another place that everybody should visit – once.  The whole time I was there, I felt like if all the signs were in English then I’d actually be in New York and not Japan.

There were a couple things I wasn’t prepared for.  Not saying the Japanese are not friendly people but they did their utmost not to make eye contact with me or acknowledge that they even saw me.  Unlike in America where if we see somebody who is obviously not from around here we might take a second look at them or think ‘Huh, don’t see that very often’; I know I stood out like a sore thumb there being a good foot or two taller than the average person, and obviously not Asian in appearance – but I think if I needed to get anybody’s attention for help or directions I probably would have had to physically grab one.  I had a constant feeling of being utterly alone even in the largest of crowds there since I couldn’t read or understand their language; maybe that’s how folks from countries that don’t have any English in their culture feel when they come here?

The second thing that surprised me was how expensive everything was.  I thought electronics especially would be a good buy and since the Playstation 3 was being launched, I thought I’d be able to get one for cheap.  No!  With the exchange rate, it would have cost me about 800 bucks for a PS3; digital cameras were just as bad – seemingly twice as expensive there than here.  I went over there with a ton of cash to buy stuff and ended up bringing most of it back – which looking back is a very positive thing.  Oh yeah, speaking of expensive – my hotel room was a few hundred a night and had three beds and about as much square footage as the bathroom in your typical 300-a-night room; things are very different over there.