I have been in Japan for nearly a week now and I am leaving tomorrow morning. This is my third trip to Japan (and Asia) in the last nine years. Several friends of mine travel to Tokyo on business and for the most part seem to enjoy it. But since I have never stayed in a hotel in Japan I believe as a tourist I have a very different sense of the overall culture than someone who flies in for a couple of days, has a few meetings and hangs out where the westerners are (Rappongi). I can say with all assurance that I love this place and could easily see myself living in Tokyo for a while. While that is highly unlikely (my family, friends and employees have nothing about which to be concerned), living within a completely different culture is energizing and perspective changing. And I don’t speak the language and barely understand enough to get around.
Since I often blog about customer experiences I’ll try not to rhapsodize too much about why I like it here in Tokyo – a city of more than 36 million people within the greater Tokyo area. 1 out of 3 Japanese people live in Tokyo. Japan is a country whose area would fit comfortably within the state of California. Yes it’s crowded. Really crowded, but it works.
I have had the great pleasure of spending a week with my great friend Tom who has lived in Tokyo for ten years. He began studying Japanese in college when were freshmen at USC. He is still taking Japanese lessons. The Japanese language is very difficult. But I do want to learn it. I had a DVD from our great client Rosetta Stone but somehow it has disappeared and I did not study up before I arrived. I will be sure to go out and get a replacement. But since my friend has been studying for more than 30 years and lives here I realize at best I will be able to hopefully get by. Some Japanese people speak English, but not many.
Tom mentions that Tokyo is easy and he is right. Convenient to live and work and I don’t believe I have ever felt (or will ever feel) safer in a city anywhere.
For those that are interested I will have a series of posts on different subjects regarding my observations about Tokyo and Japan. Travel, Food, Dress, Personal Grooming, Politeness (and Rudeness) will be some of the areas that I cover.
What I will leave you with now is that I have come to realize Japanese culture rules people’s behavior more than any other single thing. It’s not possible to try to platform some of things that occur here from a traditional customer behavior standpoint. There are those that say don’t try to understand certain things about the Japanese. And a western person there is only so much (and it probably is not much) I could ever really understand.
But you should come here and see it for yourself. In the words of the Governator – ‘I’ll be back’.