The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday Night in Tokyo


I just got back from a company dinner at a "traditional" Japanese restaurant in a high rise. I ate many things I could not identify, but didn't kill me. I thought a nice garnish was a small crab, complete with shell and claws in my appetizer.

I’ve noticed the Japanese are very stingy about two things: napkins and trash containers. One napkin is basically all you’re going to get for a meal. In any room, it’s a real hunt to find a trash container.

I went to the Tokyo office this morning for some meetings. Before the meetings we visited the office where most of our contacts work.

It was a big room with a lot of desks crammed into it. You’d have maybe three or four desks sitting side by side; touching actually. Facing them and touching would be another 3 or 4 desks to form a unit. As though crossing a ‘T’, the supervisor’s desk is at the end of the row, looking down the length of the unit. I certainly wouldn’t want to work that way now. Cubicles are certainly an improvement. I remember working in engineering at Chrysler nearly 20 years ago, and the engineering area was a huge space filled with desks. No privacy, but at least they weren’t touching.

Downtown Tokyo is like a teeming anthill. Many people are commuting in from a train ride which is an hour or an hour and a half long (or more!). The train rides are grueling, as the “pushers” make certain that every available cubic centimeter of space on the passenger cars is filled. It is my understanding that 1/3 of the population of Japan lives in the Tokyo metropolitan area. They tend to arrive at the office around 9, but may stay as late as 9 at night. Not that it’s all productive; they spend a lot of time here. Consequently, they take their time off very seriously. Weekends and holidays are off limits for the most part. I certainly can’t blame them.

The building is lightly air conditioned; just enough to take the edge off. Everyone has an old fashioned folding fan with which to cool themselves.

This has been a very interesting trip.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

it is amazing to me that you can be half a world away but still be right in front of me with your words. you are having an experience very few individuals outside of japan has had.

greetings from here to there! i expect you to send me a postcard! even if you have to wait until you get back to send it.

--li

Rick said...

I'm still right here; I'm just over there. I mean here. Well, you know what I mean.