Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sun and fun in Japan

Day 3:

Today was another extremely busy day. We left at 8:15am and didn’t get back until almost 10pm. It’s tough to be a tourist in Japan. This morning another one of our professor’s friends, Yas Nakano, met us to help show us around the city. Our professor said they randomly met in Bloomington and have remained friendly. If it’s not clear by what I’ve written so far, my professor is really into networking. He knows people from all over the world. He said he’s got something like 4,000 contacts in his palm pilot. Several weeks ago we had the opportunity to skype with Walter Jennings, who runs the PR company Fleishman-Hillard in Australia. One kid in my class emailed him about their internship program and he ended up getting the position for this summer. I’m super jealous and thinking about applying for next year.

Ok, back to Tokyo. So, Nakano-son. He met us at the hotel for our mini bus tour of the city, primarily of the government district and the imperial palace, where the emperor lives. It was nice to see it all, but not exactly the best atmosphere for taking photos. I hope to go back on foot to wander around. The area around the imperial palace was beautiful. It was also nice to go around by bus because all of our travel has been by train thus far; most of them were underground which obviously doesn’t allow you to see the city.

On our tour around the city Nakano-son was talking about the problems the US is having with Japan’s consumption of tuna. He made an interesting point. He said that it’s very possible India will become the largest world power soon and cows are sacred there. He posed the question, what are you going to do when India is the biggest world power and they tell you you have to stop eating beef? I told him I was going to argue with him because cows aren’t on the endangered species list like some of the types of tuna are, but I saw his point.

We took the bus straight to Bloomberg. We had these official looking name badges, sadly we had to give those back. We also weren’t allowed to take photos inside, which was a major bummer. It was such an amazing office. All of the walls and meeting rooms are glass because they believe in transparency. No one has offices, they all work next to each other. (Can’t say I would personally love that.) Right when we got in they told us to check out the kitchen area. They had so many different types of food and drinks. I grabbed an apple juice, but tasted some of my classmates’ juices. They tried carrot juice and a vegetable juice, both of which were surprisingly delicious. After our snacks, a Malaysian man named Nicholas talked to us about the company. They refer to themselves as an electronic news source, not a news wire. They have these terminals, which they rent out to businesses. It’s insanely expensive, but has the most up-to-date business and financial news. There’s also a ticker running across the floor of the office. We got a brief tour. It’s pretty large, something like four floors. After our tour we got to speak with Brian Fowler, who is the managing news editor. It was awesome to hear from him. He also showed us how the terminal worked. He primarily used the search function, and I have a feeling we could have spent much longer learning about all of its different functions.

After Bloomberg we took a train to lunch. We were told it would be a ten-minute walk, but it ended up being a train ride away. Unfortunately, we all had to go to the bathroom really badly. We stopped at the train station and I had to use my first squatting toilet. It was an adventure. I’ve been really surprised with how many eastern style toilets they have. Most bathrooms have a combination of “normal” toilets and eastern style ones. The difference between the two is funny. It’s either quite primitive or very advanced. The “normal” toilets play music, have the seat heated, bidets and several other functions. They’re pretty crazy.

For lunch we went to an okayomiaki type restaurant. It’s like a do-it-yourself Benny Hanna. They bring the food out for you and you cook it on the grill in front of you. It was really yummy. We tried three different types, one had pork, one prawns and the other ground beef, at least it looked like it. I’ve stopped trying to care what’s in my food. Very few people speak English so I just point and hope it will be good.

After lunch we went to the Tokyo Edo museum. It’s a history museum and I was a little bored. I wouldn’t say I’d rush back there. Our guide was a little difficult to understand. He was so adorable though. He asked all of us to sign his guest book at the end. It was really cute.

After the Tokyo Edo museum we went to the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan for dinner and to meet some journalists. The Jschool really went big on this one. It was a western style dinner and the food just kept coming. We started with salmon, shrimp and white fish and then had a mushroom soup, salad, a steak with veggies and a baked potato and then dessert, too. I was stuffed beyond belief. Thank you, Jschool. The man who helped set up dinner was named Hiromi Hemuki and he actually works for the state of Indiana and tries to bring Japanese business there. I sat across from him and it was interesting to hear about his work. There were several other journalists there, but unfortunately I wasn’t sitting close to them. Dinner ended pretty late and we were all tired, so afterward I just came back to the hotel to go to sleep. It was another wonderfully full and exciting day in Japan!


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