Mission Complete

2010
01.23

Thursday was uneventful.  The highlights were food.  :)  I’m not sure how the Japanese came to love curry, but they seem to eat a lot of it in “fast” food.  At lunch today I had pork curry, with a panko breaded pork cutlet, served over rice.  Good stuff.

My colleague and I had dinner at a good Italian restaurant adjacent to our hotel.  The spaghetti and meat sauce was really quite good, but it was a small portion for $12.  It wasn’t much larger than the side of pasta you’d get with an Italian entree in the US.  Food prices seem generally high here, but maybe it’s just the weak US$.  When I was last in Japan (2002), we were trading at 135 yen to the dollar.  Today we’re at 90 (-33%).  If the pasta had been $8, I would have thought it to be much more reasonable.  I hope Congress stops ratcheting up our national debt, so I’ll be able to afford more than cat food on future trips.

One thing you may not have thought about if you’ve not been out of the US a lot is that it can actually be quite tiring just listening to people talk all day.  When people are talking in English, you brain can filter out other conversations pretty well.  But when they’re not speaking English, your brain is constantly trying to process the sound, and it wears you down.  It’s not “I ran a marathon” tired, but it’s noticeable.

Here are some photos of/from my hotel room.  It’s the smallest room I’ve ever stayed in.  There are no drawers for your clothes, and not even a luggage stand for your bag.  The “desk” is deep enough for my laptop, but that’s about it.   Notice that the bed touches two walls, with about 1′ gap on the end.  The only usable side of the bed is so close to the desk that I have to turn sideways in my chair to stand-up.  It’s convenient to be so close to the convention center, but I next time I’ll look for a place with bigger rooms.  This would be fine for one night, but it’s very cramped for four.

Bed & Desk

Bed & Desk

Hall & Bag "Storage"

Bathroom

I’m 99% sure they’re referring to the water.

Drinking Soap?

Friday at the show went well.  Good meetings, etc.  Saturday night I had the distinct honor of going out to dinner with a friend I met many years ago in an old job.  About 8 years ago I used to travel to Japan on business, and this man was my counterpart.  We have had very similar career paths, our kids are the same ages, etc.   He and I have seen each other a couple times in the past couple years, but never had much chance to really hang-out.  So Friday evening we met in Shimbashi, an area of Tokyo.  We ate at a “tuna restaurant”.  The Japanese often have restaurants that specialize in a particular item, and this one chose tuna, since they’re a stone’s throw away from the largest fish market in the area, and tuna is one of the top prizes.  We had at least 5 different varieties of tuna, prepared in several different ways…all raw.  It was absolutely delicious.  My friend brought another friend/coworker of his that I’d met previously, and another gentlemen that we had worked together with many years ago.  I was genuinely flattered that they were all willing to give-up a Friday night to come socialize with me!  We discussed everything from work, to politics, to sports, to women…they’re all great guys, and I’m looking forward to coming back to see them soon.

On a side note, I’ve always assumed it was safer to eat raw fish in Japan than in Atlanta, but today my biologist friend tells me that 7% of Japanese have food-born worms.  Oh, great…thanks for that.

Today I went exploring with an old friend from college.  He works for the US Army in Tokyo, tracking diseases that can be spread by bugs, etc.  We met at the airport, where I was able to check my big bag, and store my brief case.  We took a local train to Narita, the city the airport is named after (or maybe they’re both named after a rich guy?).  We went to the local temple, which was very busy…apparently in preparation for the new year.  I’ll post more on this later.

I’m writing this from the Sky Club in Tokyo, about to board for my flight to Hong Kong.  I’ll spend the night there, explore a bit on Sunday, then head into China on Sunday afternoon.

Tokyo to Hong Kong

One Response to “Mission Complete”

  1. Ed Selby says:

    You had the better flight, but at least my hotel room was bigger/nicer than yours.

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