Visit to Tokyo

by Dave Michels

Thanks to NEC hosting its iExpo conference in Tokyo, I had my first trip to Japan.

When I was fairly young my father did some business in Japan and exposed to me many of the cultural aspects he enjoyed. For example, sushi. I was eating sushi back when it was a foreign food (that caused girls to squeam).

Japan is very mainstream today, cars, anime, cameras, even Ninjas. Kids don’t even know we were once enemies.It’s actually quite impressive that not only is Japan a close ally now, but how much they have recovered from a war torn infrastructure nearly 70 years ago. Japanese items are now considered very high quality, and they dominate certain industries.

I’ve always wanted to go to Japan so jumped at the chance. I wrote about the NEC IEXPO event on UCStrategies. I’ll just say here that NEC is an impressively global, diverse computing company. Its US offerings are small compared to what it offers in Asia (especially Japan).

My trip to Tokyo was just less than a week – at least I think so, that international date line confuses me.

My slides:

NEC Japan from Dave Michels

I try to keep TalkingPointz mostly telecom/UC focused, but I wanted to share some of my observations and conclusions about my trip.

I won’t pretend to be an expert on the Japanese culture after just a week, but here are some of my observations.

Clean: Japan is a clean country. Tokyo is a crowded city, yet clean. What I found mysterious about this was there were no trash cans. In the US, you don’t have to go far to find a trash can – but you have to walk over a trail of litter to get to it. I bought a snack on one walking street and had to carry my trash all day because I could not find a trash can, and I refused to be the only person in Japan to litter.

Beards: Speaking of being the only person in Japan – I think I may have been the only one with a beard – at least in Tokyo.

Toilets: Japanese toilets are well known, but for reasons I can’t explain are not that common in the US. I offer a quote from In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki.

“Our forebears, making poetry of everything in their lives, transformed what by rights should be the most unsanitary room in the house into a place of nature. Compared to Westerners, who regard the toilet as utterly unclean and avoid even the mention of it in polite conversation, we are far more sensible and certainly in better taste.”  

He was referring to the bathroom itself which tends to favor isolation over convenience, but the actual fixture is indeed something to behold as well. “Toto, this isn’t Kansas.” For additional information check out the Toto Neorest line.

Island: Japan is an island. Of course we all know this, but it’s easy to separate that from everything else when in fact it can’t be. Not only is there seafood at every meal, but there’s more social concern. This was evident even from the US after the earthquake and tsunami, but in general the society seems to look out for each other – as mentioned, not much litter, efficient use of space, little waste that I saw anywhere.

Formal: It’s a formal place. Everyone working wears formal clothes or a uniform.

Health: I saw very few overweight people there. The diet was healthy – every meal had vegetables and there was much less wheat, dairy, and sugar. I was told Japanese females live longer than any other race.

I had a wonderful time in Japan and look forward to any opportunity to return.