Lazy Day in Tokyo

Keiko and I decided that today would be a day of rest and no touring activity. We awoke late and spent time doing a budget and expense reconciliation of the MBA Japan trip, answering e-mails and catching up on reading.
I ventured out on a Japanese grocery shopping trip selecting items for a romantic Japanese steak dinner :-). Keiko was proud that I didn’t get lost. Her parents are working late today and we plan on preparing a meal for them on their return later this evening.
Tomorrow we are off to Tokyo to see some more old friends and have a thank you dinner with Sachiko. Drinks in the afternoon with Mark Uno, the former President of Avaya-Japan will be a special date. We have not seen each other in many years and I appreciate that our good friend Junko is bringing us together again.

Shopping and the Spa

Sunday we witnessed the first signs of the potential typhoon

heading our way; a rainy and windy day. Perfect for the planned day of shopping and the spa.
After a very un-Japanese breakfast (bagels, smoked salmon, etc), we visited both a discount outlet mall and then the largest indoor mall in Japan., AEON Lake Town Center.
Aeon is billed as Japan’s biggest “eco shopping center.” At 220,000 square meters (and with five times the number of shops as the Tokyo Dome) it is certainly is large, but attempting to minimize its footprint through a concept labeled “Hito to Shizen ni Kokochi Ii”, a term that roughly translates as “people and nature feeling good together”.
The Center features landscaped lawns and numerous planters, but also uses solar panels and a hybrid gas eco system (the first of its kind in Japan). The combined efforts of these various eco-friendly systems results in an estimated 20% reduction in carbon emissions.
Two points of interest I have not seen or heard of at US malls:
  • Lake Town also features Japan’s first consumer-ready charging station for electric vehicles. 30 minutes charging (presumably while they’re shopping) is good for 120 kilometers (75 miles) on an 80% charge.
  • A very pet-friendly environment complete with an elaborate dog spa and a dog run for visiting customers.
I also returned to a large Uniqlo store to complete my personal clothes shopping, selecting a number of brightly colored items for the summer and fall season. Cannot help being a bit of a fashionista’ in Japan!
You need to be a fan of Bill Murray and “Lost in Translation” to understand my spa experience later in the day. While I am most familiar with the cultural customs and traditions associated with the bathing experience, I never fail to be amused by my “illusion of similarity” and produce a smile from my companions.
Today I feel asleep while laying outdoors on a slap of granite, slightly titled and flowing with hot spring water (create an image in your mind!) in the rain. When the rain turned from drizzle to downpour, a stranger woke and rescued me.
A refreshing experience and then it was “Suntory Time”.

A Family Day with COSTCO and Tempura!

Saturday was another relaxing day, beginning with a trip to Uniqlo to take advantage of a hugh sale. Needless to say, Keiko and I are doing our best to help the Japanese economy.
The Japan rainy season (generally June) has started earlier than usual and the day featured a light, steady drizzle. Speaking of the weather, a typhoon may be heading our way on the 31st. It is expected to clear on Saturday, June 4, as we are scheduled to depart for the USA.
The ultimate consumers, we journeyed to COSTCO with Keiko’s parents for an awesome experience. I could not believe the many hundreds of Japanese people in the store buying a wide array of products from around the world.
Lunch? …. a 200Yen foot long all-pork hotdog with all the trimmings (soda included) for all along with an unbelievable number of other Japanese with the same idea!
A Fujikawa family gathering and early dinner at a great tempura restaurant was the final feature of the day. Keiko and I enjoyed being with the family, particularly our 2 nieces (Mai and Hana) and nephew (Yudai).
Tomorrow we take on a discount outlet mall and a hot springs spa in the countryside.

Tokyo R&R

Arriving back in Tokyo Thursday evening, we were greeted by family members and two 4.1 earthquakes.
On Friday, our first day back in Tokyo, Keiko and I slept late and relaxed at her parent’s home. We then headed off for a day of shopping in Akihabara–I in the search of a hobby shop to feed my remote control model habit. Found both the shop and the model, an F1 Ferarri! Now, will Keiko buy me an early Christmas gift??
We had fun looking at all the latest various home and personal electric and digital gadgets in the largest store in the district.
We then went to Akasaka for a dinner with old friends from Avaya and our FIFA World Cup team. It was a wonderful time and I am humbled by their friendship and kindness.
We had quite a conversation on the future of Japan and I was impressed with the views and opinions of these capable young professionals. Interestingly, three are now working for different technology companies including one at CISCO and another who is CEO of a start-up enterprise. All great contacts for a future MBA visit.
On the way home, I stopped, on the recommendation of colleague Jason Harkins, to have my ears cleaned and “picked”–a most interesting process. The de-waxing was??––the massage of the ears, nose, eyes and face was quite refreshing.

Brief Japan MBA Reflection

Our students departed for Bangor on Thursday, May 26. Keiko and I are back in Tokyo and looking forward to some days of R&R.
The trip was great from our perspective but demanding in terms of time and energy. Perhaps for myself, getting old makes keeping up with a group of twenty-somethings both a challenge and opportunity! It was a great trip.
If you have had the time to follow some of the student’s blogs, you will know that they were deeply engaged in the trip. They were well received in Japan on a professional and personal level. Keiko and I were quite proud to be with them.
Keiko and I will remain in Japan through June 4 visiting with family and friends and making some business appointments. My business appointments relate to helping some of the Maine companies I work with to potentially seek opportunities in the Japan market.