I’m leaving Tokyo today to head back to Washington, DC. It’s been a terrific nearly two weeks here in Asia. I’ve split my time among Tokyo, Hong Kong and Manila. The trip was a combination of business development meetings for my strategic advisory sports business, JLynn Associates, and Georgetown Univ’s Sports Industry Management program as well as spending time with relatives and friends.
Here’s a few random observations about Tokyo (will write up a separate one about HK and Manila):
– definitely one of the most efficient airports in the world. Despite being such a heavily-trafficked airport, one’s bags are waiting for you at the baggage claim within 20 minutes of arriving at Narita
– the Japanese people are so courteous. You are welcomed warmly at the airport … even the baggage handlers for the airport express bus bow and wave to you as you depart
– I don’t how these bus drivers navigate the congested and crowded roads in Tokyo — especially the narrow side streets. But, they expertly do so with grace. And, when they exchange drivers, the drivers bow and thank the customers as they leave the bus (compare that with some of the surly bus drivers we have in the US)
– Talk about tall buildings? Just like Manhattan, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo and other major cities — everywhere you look there are skyscrapers
– Although I’m half-Japanese / half-Caucasian, I definitely feel in the minority here (no knock – just like living in the US — the only place I’m in the majority is in the land of the hapa haole’s … Hawaii
– Coolest toilets in the hotel (Prince Park Tower Tokyo) … when you open the door, the lid automatically opens up … and the toilet has heated seats and a bidet built in (which includes water temp and directional capability) … and when you close the door, the lid and seat automatically close (this is good for guys since they won’t get yelled at for leaving the seat up!)
– Went to two of our family cemeteries to pay respects … amazing … over 600 years old … I get an incredible amount of strength and spirit from these yearly visits to pay my respects (it was particularly special this year to visit both the Tobari and Matsumoto family cemeteries)
– Love my relatives … my Mom’s sister, Aunt Yasuko, is a special lady. It’s neat for me to visit with them since she and her husband live on the same plot of land that my mother’s family grew up in Setagaya. They’ve lived on that land since ’39. I used to regularly visit my grandmother and great aunt in Setagaya (including many summers). My aunt and uncle had a new house build on that land but they’ve kept many of the old stones.
– The food, the food, the food. NY Times article said NY has the most restaurants of any US city with 25,000 places. Article said there are over 150,000 restaurants in Tokyo! Yes, it’s expensive here, but there’s so many options it’s easy to eat find inexpensive food here (I love the ramen noodle shops).
– Harajuku is such a cool, hip and fun spot. The youngsters there are so experimental in their clothing designs and outfits. Also love Roppongi (and Roppongi Hills). It’s cool to see the mixture of new hip spots combined with the Japanese temples and shrines that hundreds and hundreds of years old.
– The hotel service is impeccable. You are greeted with friendly and warm gestures throughout the hotel — they’re appreciative of the patronage. For one who travels frequently and often runs into surly or unhappy hotel staff, this is a welcome change.
I could write so much more but I’m going to take one more long walk outside of the hotel before I depart for Narita Airport.