Saturday, July 27
I went out with the staff at Ikebukuro branch for dinner and drinks. It was nice to chat outside the office with so many great people. By chance the table settled with the women on one half and men on the other. I was the fortunate one that got to straddle that line. What luck!
Sunday, July 28
Sunday was Tiffany’s birthday. You may remember Tiffany as the new employee who replaced me at Sagamiono. My kohai (後輩). For her big day she had invited many of us out for dinner in Shibuya. Of course I said yes and I went south to meet her.
Along the way I met my old coworker, Luke, and his girlfriend. We rode the train together. As we exited the station I saw one of my training mates, Becs, and she joined our troop. Dead ahead I saw Ryan, a current coworker, and went up to say hi. While chatting I looked to my left and saw Tiffany with more familiar faces. I felt like a big deal!
Our dinner was at a themed restaurant, Alcatraz ER. It was a prison hospital and all the decorations matched. The food served was supposed to be creepy to. Towards the end of the meal some of the staff lurched down the hall under strobe lights and scared other patrons. The whole thing was pretty campy but with the company, it was fun. I stayed out as late as possible and took the last train home. The remaining revelers gave me a hard time for leaving, but they couldn’t convince me. Why would I want to go all night with a bunch that broke out from a prison hospital? 😛
I am spoiled rotten and lazy to boot. And it’s totally the Japanese lifestyle in Tokyo to blame.
To be fair, I’m kidding when I say this. Like the rest of the people here, I try to work very hard and I often deal with challenges. That having been said, Tokyo is a really livable place.
Public transportation: Between the trains, and to a lesser extent, the buses, there is absolutely no need to drive around the capital city. Like everyone else I know very well that I can hop on a train and after a few transfers come out of a station very close to wherever I’m trying to go.
For example, I will soon return to climb Mt. Fuji. Thanks to the great infrastructure, I will be able to travel from my door, to the top of the country and back in less than 24 hours. Oh, and I can call my mother from the top of the mountain. Because there’s cell phone service there too.
Convenience stores: These places are literally on every block. Or in the case that you’re in downtown Tokyo, there are five-to-six per block. They’re all open 24/7 and you can buy anything to make it through the day.
The mindset: Japanese culture stresses harmony and discourages conflict. In a sense this thinking has worked it’s way down into modern-day conveniences. Household appliances operate quickly and quietly. The service industry moves customers along in a breeze. The government… is like any government. Come on, this isn’t a utopia.
All told life is designed to be as comfortable and easy as possible here. I’ll give it to them, they’re doing a pretty good job.