I don’t speak Japanese except for hello, good-bye, and where’s the bathroom? But I am back in Tokyo this time operating without a ‘net’ that is my friend who lived here for nine years and speaks Japanese. So far it’s been easier than expected.
Google Maps is definitely not evil when it comes to navigating a foreign place. Fortunately there is enough English to understand where you are and where you are trying to get to. Despite only a wi-fi connection – I am still working through some Droid/Verizon phone issues, I walked last night from Roppongi to Akasaka which is about a fifteen minute walk and the weather was cool for late May in Tokyo. One consistent challenge in Tokyo is the fact that street addresses are ephemeral and far from exact.
Somehow I managed to figure it out. I asked a Japanese waiter who spoke tiny bit of English at the excellent restaurant I walked into called Uoshins.com – the Nogizaka outlet. I knew I was close but I was too hungry to wait and had both a great meal and got the confirmation that I was literally down the street from where my next meeting was to be held. At least I am not just another guy who won’t ask for directions.
As I waited for my 10PM meeting sitting outside the Orange restaurant (a meeting which ended up being at 11PM since my associate was delayed with a conference call with the U.S. office), I heard a voice in English ask me if I was waiting for my friend Joe. It turned out that he was sitting outside waiting as well and we had a very nice meeting and I learned about his business and family.
I write often about the need for people to get out of their comfort zone. You’d think I’d have more than I can handle being in Tokyo and not speaking Japanese. Instead I find that I am squarely in my comfort zone and loving it.
It’s worth finding out how far you can stretch your comfort zone. Next time why don’t you meet me here?