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Published by: breunisoos3321 on Aug 23, 2011
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 A Trip to JapanThis time I was on an official trip to Japan. The Thai Airways flightfrom New Delhi had a stop-over in Bangkok and also the onwardsflight was about three hours later on United. I was already so tiredthat I was sleeping all of the way till the landing announcement over Narita Airport. The food was not to my liking at all but I did not mindtill they allowed me to sleep peacefully. Narita Airport arrivals terminalisn’t large comparing to Bangkok International Airport. After collectingmy baggage I moved to the airport bus terminus. The details of thebuses were already supplied by my colleague in Japan and faced noproblems in locating it. I was also told that buses are the cheapestmode of transportation and I paid only US$20 for a journey of approximately 200 kilometers. The normal train charges for thisdistance might be US$55! The bus had been very much Japanesewith announcement systems in Japanese and English. My destinationwas a hotel in Hitachi City which is located north of Tokyo but a lotsouth of the snow-capped Osaka. The very first shock as soon as Ireached Japan was that I had lost signal of my cell phone I keptattempting to search for signal but it was not to be as Japanesemobile signals are on a different frequency and does not support therest-of-world frequencies. Luckily I had my laptop with VPNconnectivity and thereby access to the whole world via it. I was alsocarrying a sprint calling card which all telephone billings on my creditcard and most likely the cheapest form of staying in touch with theworld in Japan. The only challenge was to find the sprint access codein Japan which the hotel in this little town could not help me- it was0066-33 which my hotel provided during my stay in Tokyo. Nextfactor of mention will be the level of automation down to the toiletseats. It feels like traveling in a rocket which all the automaticfunctions develop on the toilet seat – the flush controls, person’sweight data all are controlled on the toilet seats. I somehow fit myself in the room but was surprised to see that some burly Americans hadbeen also in a position to adjust themselves in similar rooms. Earlymorning I did realize why people call Japan – “The Land of RisingSun”. It was quite bright at four o'clock within the morning itself!Japanese, well-known for their timing reached my hotel at 8:23 AMas promised with out even half a minutes' delay. The day wasconsumed in professional discussions. I walked back to my hotelroom which was only a short distance away. The streets wereextremely clean and looked uncluttered. A few shops had beendotted on the streets with only very couple of cars plying about. AMacdonald was located close-by and I knew exactly where to go if Ididn’t get appropriate food in my hotel. I was taken out by my hosts toa common Japanese style restaurant. This was located at about 20minute’s brisk walk from my hotel. Shoes had to be deposited in theentrance as per Japanese norms. We were seated on chairs but theconventional Japanese custom is to sit on ground. The very first
serving was ‘Tempura" which was mouth watering and I could relateit our extremely Indian “pakodas” as a close equivalent. Further on,steamed fish and steamed rice had been on menu. I tried my handusing the chopsticks however it was challenging for handle for me.Duck and chicken had been other delicacies to comebesides “Sushi”. To provide the final touches to dinner, “Saki” wasserved; an alcoholic beverage is made out of fermented rice with alive fish in it. The glass had to completed bottoms-up in 1 gulp. It wasdifficult to convince my hosts that I am a complete tee-tolar but theyunderstood and didn’t insist on it. My host was a young Japaneseexecutive who was a Black Belt in karate. Sports is an essential partof Japanese life and they show the same discipline in sports as inother fields. I observed Japanese to be extremely hard-working andcreated their great nation not by opportunity but by continuous andsustained efforts. The commitment to society of Japanese people isexemplary. I learnt that all the citizen volunteer for the security watch-keeping on a regular basis and my host was on that service last nightfollowing finishing dinner with me and in between catching the trainthe morning. Traveling on Japanese trains was my subsequentexperience. The train timings were accurate with out even half aminute deviation. The reservation counter opens later so I took thefirst train leaving at 6:03AM from Hitachi city in an unreservedcompartment. The compartment was extremely clean and at thismorning hours enough seats were available for everyone. Way backin 2001, Japan was so advanced that internet services had beenalready available on mobile connections. Nearly 60% people hadbeen carrying laptops and were busy on the web whilst traveling. Allbaggage had to be deposited in the compartment near the door. Theview outside was similar to an Indian countryside -houses withsloping roofs to stop accumulation of snow but strong enough towithstand the frequent earthquakes in this city. Tokyo was muchlarger with each large streets as well as smaller ones which were off the primary streets. It looked like buildings everywhere with the easeof space lost. Walking on the streets 1 could discover lot of storesselling every thing from household needs to air tickets to electronicitems. I purchased a extremely cheap use-and-throw camera therefor US$5. The shops had been clustered with all of them havingdisplay windows. Browsing through these shops, 1 could find somesurprise buys. Nobody understood English so I had to obtain utilizedtowards the place and explain my requirements either via sketches or by making gestures. Unmanned vending machines had been lined onthe streets selling packed water, red bull and cold drinks. All theshops accepted mostly money and many of them regretted creditcards’ payments. I used the taxi service a couple of times in Tokyoand they were so costly that only my heartbeat was running the meter down. The minimum charges had been US$6.five and also themeters raced away your money. Anyways, that was the only optionleft to me to reach the airport back on time. So, I spent a hefty US$80for which I would have paid no much more than US$8 for a bus ticket!By on

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