London > Japan 日本


This is where my journey started, although my mental preparation for this journey started somewhere in the mid 90's. Japan has been somewhere I have wanted to visit for a very long time.

I landed in Narita airport 09:10 the following Monday morning. I’d lost an entire night, but was still awake to see, hear and smell the city. I was here on business, and one of my colleagues from our Japanese office had offered me a range of transport methods to get from Narita to my hotel. I chose the train, rather than the easier door to door Limousine Bus.

I got to the train terminal in Narita and went to a machine to get my ticket. I ended up with an unreserved ticket. When I got onto the platform there were sections to board by ticket type. 1 for Reserved Tickets and 1 for Green Tickets. I opted for the ambiguous Green platform. Turns out, this is First Class! AC, leather seats, a ton of leg room, foot rests; the lot. Needless to say, the guard very kindly explained, in Japanese, that I had to move.

Narita Express: Next stop, Tokyo!

Was very excited to see signs for the Shinkansen, or bullet train. I didnt get a chance to ride it this trip; one for next time.

I arrived at my hotel after jumping in a cab at Tokyo train station. I arrived at 11:00 JST, and was not expecting to be able to check in this early. They spent ages finding me a room, and I was informed I could go upstairs. Bliss! I really needed a shower. I had woke up at 07:30 the previous day to start my trip and had a full day ahead of me. I felt I had been awake for ages, having not seen daylight, chasing the sun, for the past 12 hours.

The room, was incredible. And the view, from the 24th floor, even better.

24F

I pinged my colleagues to let them know I had arrived, and decided on a quick power nap. I woke around 6pm and went for a quick walk, south, towards Roppongi.

Roppongi

I had to force myself to sleep, and I woke many times throughout the night. But tomorrow was a big day! Had a workshop with my clients and their IT vendor. I met my Japanese colleague first at our office.

I quickly grabbed breakfast from the 7Eleven downstairs. Apple juice and a sushi ball; with a sort of fish paste in the middle; quite strong as the first thing to line my stomach!

We had to hold our workshop in an external meeting room, as our client had visitors from London over. We walked round the corner and into a pasta restaurant. Apparently they have a conference room in the back! Check it out! Cafe Crew

We definitely worked up an appetite in a small meeting room with no windows, so we went out for sushi. A chef prepared our food in front of us, and yes it tasted as good as it looks! I felt so bad that I left a piece, as everyone else ate it all so quickly no problems!


Everything was made, by hand, in front of us here by a sushi chef. What you see on the top of the counter is sweet egg. It was fantastic!


We finished our meeting finally at 8pm, and I decided to walk the half hour back to the hotel, to get some air and stretch my legs.

This was the control panel for the toilet in my room. It was awesome. Mine feels decidedly boring and sub par now!

I fell (forced myself) asleep at midnight and woke up at 4am, for no reason.

Day 2 and we were back with our client, this time in their office, to discuss some final points, and I was able to meet some of their execs to discuss our project.

My colleague took me for a sashimi lunch, although I decided to treat him for looking after me so well, and this is what we had:

Incredible sashimi lunch. 900¥!!!
http://www.kitaohji.co.jp/

That night, I was invited to dinner. Some of our execs from London were also over for various meetings with prospective clients, as we grow our business in APAC. The whole of the Japanese office was invited, so I really got to spend some good time speaking with them (as well as sharing some Asahi).

The food, its presentation, the setting, the staff, everything was absolutely exquisite here.

The Asahi was flowing, the food was out of this world, the setting was amazing, and my Japanese colleagues are awesome.

Team picture! Appirio Japan ツ

Appirio Japan — the best hospitality in the world!

This gentleman was my wingman for the week as we were visiting my Japanese clients.

After the meal, the EMEA visitors were taken by one of our Japanese hosts to a local jazz club — All of Me Club — where we had a lovely evening.

Appirio Japan, white building in the middle, 8th floor.

Thursday night, myself and the President of our office in Jaipur, were treated to a Korean BBQ by 2 of our colleagues. En route in the taxi, we passed one of the Yakuza in their trademark black Mercedes-Benz!

Korean BBQ, steak tartare and the cow longues we eat earlier!
Brilliant night, talks of Japanese culture and food. Learnt a lot!

Friday, was my day off. And not to be let down my the incredible local hospitality that we had been shown so far, we were treated to a tour, with a local guide, for the morning!

We arrived @ the Sensoji temple in Asakusa — http://www.senso-ji.jp/
The shine was in the middle of downtown Asakusa, and had row upon row of shops for tourists such as ourselves!

I thought, if there was a chance at any point during this visit, to pick something up for Amy, then this was it. I bought her a 5 cup and teapot green tea set, a decorative fan with stand, and I picked myself up a rather posh set of black wooden chopsticks!

It is said that the smoke from the incense that burns in the middle of this walkway, has healing power. Visitors would walk up, and waft the smoke upon a part of their body that needed either healing, or good fortune. It is common to see children direct the smoke over their heads, in the hope that it will help them become intelligent.

Tokyo Sky Tower

We ventured up the Tokyo Sky Tower, up to the 31st floor (the round section you can see here), as the weather was wet and humid, and the visibility poor; we avoided the top floor. There are a whole host of restaurants and shops that make up the base of the tower, including this dude:

Chargrilling eel!
View from 31st floor
Asahi main office; designed like a beer! Can you see the body and the head?
We then found a Moomin cafe! And I had a seat and a catch up with the Moomins :)

On Saturday, I had the day to myself. I decided to walk from my hotel in Minato across to Shinjuku. First, I passed the electronics store I had seen all week. 9 floors of gadgets! How I restrained myself I’ll never know. Something for the next visit ;)

The walk down Route 20 along the northern edge of the Shinjuku National Garden, the weather was roasting, and the views were lovely.
As I turned left at the Yotsuya Sanchome Metro station, I started to see the signs and lights synonymous with Shinjuku.
Taito Station: Shinjuku

I made it to the base of Japans best Street Fighter players. I descended down to 2F and waded through a eternally deep curtain of cigarette smoke to find the flashing cabs. Had a few games, beat a few, lost to more, but it was an experience!

Outside Shinjuku station

I then walked down the 305 to Shibuya and its infamous Crossing. En route there were some very busy but awesome streets filled with life, sights, and sounds. I grabbed a hotdog from this street vendor!

Before I knew it, I was there…

Shibuya Crossing

So, the sun was setting on my last day in Tokyo, and I was feeling sad already. I jumped onto the Metro, hit the Ginza line east back to my hotel. I ordered room service while I packed my bags, and ordered the Limousine Bus for the morning, to take me to Narita.

Trip out of Tokyo
Breakfast at the airport.

Like me, the Japanese appear to have no clock in their stomach and will eat such food at any time of the day. I really enjoyed eating with chopsticks all week. It definitely helps you pace your eating much better.

Until next time, Tokyo… さようなら

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