Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tokyo: Arrival and initial observations

Hello friends. I have decided to start using this blog to post about my adventures in Japan. For those of you who do not know, I am beginning a 2 month consulting project here for a large bank. This project was confirmed last Tuesday morning, so, less than a week later, I have arrived in my apartment in Japan, with Jewish connections galore and ready to start work tomorrow.

A few quick observations:
  1. My guidebook mentioned that Japan is one of the most ethnically homogeneous places, and they weren't kidding. 99% of people I've seen on the street are Japanese. I've never been to a global, cosmopolitan city (think New York, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Sydney, Wellington, Cairo, Tel Aviv) that looks so homogeneous.
  2. The subway system is immaculately clean, runs on time, and is full of people at 11 PM on a weeknight. It even has handles coming from the ceiling to hold on to (think what you playground had when you were little.)
  3. My 23 sq meters (~240 sq ft) temporary furnished apartment is 100% functional and has everything I need (including a washer/dryer!), except perhaps a place to host Shabbat dinner...Hopefully my longer-term apartment (which I move into on Thursday), which is 32 sq m will have room for a table.
  4. My welcome team dinner consisted of a many course meal (I lost count) of totally amazing vegetables, including sweet melon tofu tomato soup, cold pea soup, enormous grapes, and more.
  5. Google Maps with GPS works on my Blackberry. Without this, I would never have been able to get from my apartment to the restaurant. I have no idea what I will do on Shabbat...
  6. No one carries a blackberry. Apparently (according to my manager), Japanese cell phones have long offered email access, so Blackberries never really caught on the way that they did in the US.
That's all for now. I'll post more soon

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