In Japan, there is an unspoken elevator etiquette for riding elevators. Here is what I have learnt so far in four weeks.


  1. If you are the first to enter an empty elevator, you are the new elevator captain.
  2. As the elevator captain, stand close to the control panel and hold the door open button until everyone safely boards the vehicle.
  3. Once the last person boards, let go of the open button and press the close button immediately. Hold until door is closed. You must abort the procedure if anyone decides to sneak in.
  4. As the captain, you must now hold…


I would not of believed it if you told me at the beginning of 2017 I would be living in Japan by the end of the year. Yet, here we are.

I’ve managed to travel the world through sheer luck and lack of planning. I’ve moved countries nearly every few years. Starting first in Scotland, then Hong Kong for 5, Australia for 3, Hong Kong for another 5, Australia for another 8, UK for 9, US for 6. So it is not surprising that I find myself moving to Japan.

Surprisingly, this is not the first country I’ve moved to…

Amazon opens up their own internal tools and services, not to make money, but to use of the market to test whether their internal tools are as good as they can be.

If no one outside would pay for it, it could mean it is solving a problem that doesn’t exist.

That fascinating fact is what Zach Kanter’s piece, Why Amazon is eating the world points out.

… the “extra revenue” here is great — but the real value is in honing Amazon’s internal tools.

If Amazon Connect is a complete commercial failure, Amazon’s management will have a quantifiable indicator (revenue, or lack thereof) that suggests their internal tools are significantly lagging behind the competition. Amazon has replaced useless, time-intensive bureaucracy like internal surveys and audits with a feedback loop that generates cash when it works — and quickly identifies problems when it doesn’t.

Last week, I discovered the Sony Xperia X Compact after a Japanese designer showed me one at Google I/O. This Android phone drew my attention because of the similar size to my current iPhone SE.

After a little research, I bought one off Amazon at $350 (for comparison, the iPhone SE is $400). Here are my thoughts:

Sony Xperia X Compact (with the Nova Launcher)

The device is made of a solid glossy plastic like the iPhone 5C. Under ambient light, the screen and bezel of the phone is barely distinguishable, resulting one single black monolith look (with a black background). …

Reading Richard Branson’s Goodbye to Virgin America after Alaska Airlines announced after buying the airline they will retire the brand.

I fly almost exclusively on Virgin America for the last four years, only twice flew JetBlue and United to destinations that they didn’t serve.

I will miss the mood lighting, the service design of their meal service (order on demand), their funny safety video and their quirky ground staff in SF.

I discovered a delicious fish in Japan I had never had before.

The first time I came across it, I only knew of it as the “Red Fish” at Ezo Seafoods in Hirafu, Niseko. We had it delicious steamed in soy sauce and it was so delicious.

Red Fish

A week later in a local sushi restaurant in Sendagai, Tokyo called 鮨隆, we had an omakase (Chef’s selection) where the chef a Kinmedai (also known as Splendid Alfonsio) for usthat was one of my favorites of the night.

I am currently obsessed with communication efficiency.

For example, I could say “the efficiency of communication” or “communication efficiency”. They both mean the same thing but one has twice as many words. The best emails are the ones where it is not possible to remove a single word.

The emails I write tend to have a lot of “filler”. Phrases like “I think”, “maybe”, “sort of”, “kind of”, etc, are all extraneous. Before I hit send, I do a pass through my email to remove these phrases to increase clarity.

Maybe there should be a character limit for emails after all.

I am reluctant to throw a party on my birthday to avoid people from knowing.

I do it to avoid drawing attention, to avoid inconveniencing others, to avoid unreasonable expectation.

Inevitably, my closest friends, my loved ones, my family, my friends at work will surprise me and remember. For that I am hugely grateful.

But for those who let the day pass by silently purposefully or not, that is a wonderful gift I treasure.

Only recently did I realize that the wasabi (わさび) I had all my life was a lie. Most wasabi served in restaurants are not from the wasabi plant, but simulated wasabi made from mustard and horseradish. You can see this by looking at the main ingredients of popular “wasabi” products.

I realized after watching a BBC segment on growing wasabi in the US. The Canadian agricultural researcher in the story spent years developing a cultivation method for growing the wasabi plant and is licensing his technique to farmers. Real wasabi could fetch up to $308/kg, according to this story. …

I thought it was time for me to write down exactly what cafes and restaurants I would tell people to go to.

There are many places that I like which are not in this list, but the ones here are my absolute favourites. So if you were just visiting, you should check these out. Some I love for the décor and vibe, some because of the food and others just because of the people.


My Sydney Faves list on Foursquare is the definitive list, but there are a lot on my Sydney TODO that I’ve heard great things about but…

Alastair Tse

Software, Design, Data, Architecture, Photography, Food.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store