Land of the Rising Sun
(March 1 - March 21, 1999)

You can click on "photos" to get directly to the photo page.

Hi y'all.  Actually, I should say "Ohayougozaimasu", which is Good Morning.  We haven't had an out of the country trip since Germany last October and we were starting to suffer withdrawal symptoms.  Well, this year they have me leading one of two teams running around the world doing Y2K audits.  My first one was in Bromont, Canada IN JANUARY.  UGH UGH UGH!  I experienced -30 degrees fahrenheit for the first time in my life.  For one who despises the cold with every bone in my body, it was not fun.  It seemed to snow just about every day.  To say that I didn't find it beautiful to see the newly covered ski slopes next to the hotel would be lying.  It was, indeed, beautiful.  But I still hate the winter and the cold. 

My second stop was Atlanta, so I got to stay at home for an extra three weeks.  My colleague, Merle, who is leading the other team has been to more exotic places, first to Guadalajara, Mexico and then to Sumare, Brazil.  He is off to Singapore now.  Diane and I left Atlanta on Saturday, February 27 at 10 AM and arrived at Narita airport in Japan on Sunday, February 28 at 5 PM and at the hotel about 7 PM.  That was about 22 hours door-to-door.  LOOONG trip (via Portland, Oregon).  We are very happy to be here, although our previous three trips to Tokyo have been in the fall when the weather was marvelous.  It is winter in Japan now and we are hoping it warms up over the next few weeks.  Some of you already know that Tokyo is one of my two favorite places on the planet, Paris being the other one.  I'm sure this will be the last trip to Tokyo for me and I'm very grateful for the opportunity and I plan to savor the experience.

My first trip to Tokyo was an 8 week stay in 1993 and it was only my second ever trip out of the USA.  I fell in love with it, as did a colleague and good buddy Peter from Switzerland.  We both became enamored with Japan.  Peter was to Japan one more time than I was during our joint assignments in Audit.  That was the year this confirmed bachelor met his love in 1995 and got married in 1996.  I joke with him that we both love Japan but he loves it more given that he married a Japanese lady.  Now they have Noako and you saw the photos in the October Germany travelogue.  People ask me why I love visiting Japan so much.  I love the culture, the people, the ambience, the food, the idea of feeling very safe in a very large city.  Here is an example of why I love to visit Japan and talk to the people.  Following is an excerpt from a note I received from a contact I am dealing with on this trip.

"I'm now in Makuhari for my physical check-up and some work. To answer your question, I, a poor Japanese worker, live in a very countryside where you can see the Oceanus river and that the edge of the earth is falling down. From my humble apartment to Makuhari, it takes about one and a half hours.  And to Roppongi HQ, less than two hours. So, Makuhari is a bit closer for me."

Now I don't think he is really all that poor, but he isn't rich either.  But what an interesting way to express himself.

We will be here until Sunday, March 21, at which time we will board a plane at about 5:30 PM and we will arrive back in Atlanta at 3:50 PM THE SAME DAY.  So, you can see that we will get home before we take off and regain the day we lost when we traveled TO Japan.  ;-)  A phenomenon of the international data line that still amazes me every time I cross it.  I stayed up as much as I could on
the flight from Portland, OR so I would be tired when I got here.  

Diane and I always get a bit excited when we get through Customs at Narita Airport and get our ticket to board the "big orange bus" for the ride into Tokyo and to the Hotel New Otani.  The bus
rides so smoothly that you feel like you are gliding down the highway.  There is always a great feeling when we see the New Otani come into view and the bus pulls into the parking lot on the lower level of this huge and beautiful hotel.  The Hotel New Otani has always been our home when we have been in Tokyo.  It is comprised of a Main Building and a Tower.  We have always stayed in the Main Building because it has a much nicer feel to it, more like old than the more modern Tower.  However, we always exited and entered from the Tower because that was an easier walk to the subway station in Akasaka-Mitsuke than from the Main Building.  The thing is that the walk through the hotel was always a nice walk as you pass some shops and restaurant on the way to the Tower exit.  Another great feature of the New Otani is the beautiful Japanese garden, including a bridge and waterfall, behind the hotel.  We took many walks around the garden during our stays at the hotel.

I did manage to sleep pretty good our first night in the hotel.  Diane can sleep anywhere, anytime, so she never has a problem.  I wanted to get up to see the end of the golf tournament going on in Southern California, which I was able to do, in English no less.  When it ended about 6:30 PM PT, it was 8:30 AM on Monday morning here.  It's much different than dealing with a 5-6 hour time difference to Europe.  For one thing, I can't play in the stock market unless I stay up all night because it doesn't 'open' for me until 11:30 PM Japan time. 

It's winter here but our first day is pretty nice, about 45F this morning and going up to about 60F and sunny.  I haggled a bit at the front desk when I checked in for one of the rooms that I know looks out towards Mt Fuji and was able to get one, and it is one that we have stayed in before.  Winter is the best time to see Mt Fuji because there is too much smog and haze in the warm months.  Lo and behold, there it was this morning, WAY OFF in the distance, snowcapped, and identifiable by its unmistakable shape.  Great view.  Our only trip to Mt Fuji a few years ago ended up with us not being able to see it because it was in the clouds.

That's it for now.  I'll send something out next week.  On tap for this week is to go eat shabushabu.  We have a date to do this on Friday or Saturday evening with some Japanese friends that we know here, plus I think our team will go eat shabushabu tomorrow or Wednesday evening.  Great dining experience.  Take care.

Until next time.

Return to International Travelogues Menu

Return to Roaming America Main Menu