Konnichiwa Japan fans,
Pat flew in a few weeks ago to hang out in Colorado a bit before we hopped a plane across the Pacific to visit Japan. It was originally planned back in 1991, but finally 24 years later we were ready to hit the streets of Tokyo. The city sights and sounds were reminiscent of many places with 10-20 million folks running around, and part of the appeal was visiting Peter and his family, a friend I’ve known since I was a kid in New York, who has lived and worked in Tokyo for over 20 years now. Pat and I took the subway around the city, and one morning Pat noticed that I was the only guy in the train car. Then she remembered that she had read about “Women Only” cars because of men groping the ladies during the packed, rush hour commute, and of course then we noticed the large notice posted on the wall. No one said anything though since it was obvious I was just another clueless male foreigner, so I kept my hands to myself and we slipped off the train without attracting too much attention.
The bullet train to Kyoto that zips along at 200km/hour was a treat in itself, and we spent a few days there visiting temples and gardens. The bamboo grove in one corner of the city was especially scenic, and we were continually impressed with the clean, efficient and gracious nature of the people in such a crowded environment. It was as if the whole country took customer service lessons from Neiman Marcus or the Ritz Carlton, and it was easy to get used to having everything work and run on time. I also took a side trip to the now thriving city of Hiroshima to try to comprehend the devastation of standing at ground zero of an atomic bomb, and it was a sobering experience.
The final part of the trip took us on a discount flight on Peach airlines to Okinawa to visit some Air Force friends I had worked with in Antarctica a few years ago, and the beaches, scuba diving and relaxed atmosphere of island living were a nice change. We got the local scoop on some great sushi, shopping, and tasty ice cream along with a hike up a stream to a waterfall. Hanging out one night with a few US F-15 pilots was interesting too, and we learned that the Chinese and Russian pilots do not buddy up to our guys when they find themselves at an international air show the same way the Europeans or Israelis might share in the brotherhood of elite masters of the skies.
All in all another good reason to add a pin to the map in the basement and return to work with a new sense of efficiency and purpose. Hope your summer is warming up and you remain somewhere safe between the floods and drought across the country.
Bullet train Bob