Japan 2004 – Day 1 (Traveling to Japan and traditional dinner)

Japanese dinnerThe Japan Airlines Flight #005 departed JFK exactly on time and landed at the Tokyo International Airport in Narita, Japan exactly on time. During each moment of the 13 hour and 25 minute flight you could sense the feeling emanating from the JAL crew that they truly enjoyed serving you. They could not do enough for the passengers. Upon leaving the airplane each crew member bowed and smiled to express their appreciation for having been able to serve. That is what I like about traveling to and visiting in Asia — things just work the way they are supposed to.
Upon taking off, the Boeing 747-400 headed north west, through Canada on a great circle route that made a huge arc toward the top of the world and then south across the International Date Line to the island of Japan. As the car nears Tokyo on the way to Shinjuku, the Magellan GPS indicated that we were at 35 degrees 40 minutes North of the equator and just over 140 degrees East of the Greenwich meridian.
Tokyo is an hour or two, depending on traffic, west of Narita. The TCAT bus service to downtown Tokyo is very efficient but sometimes I am lucky enough to have a car service. The International Road Transport Union, for whom I will be giving a speech later this week, was kind enough to arrange for a car to take me to Shinjuku where I will be staying for two nights before heading to Yokohama. The car was a Toyota but not like anything I have seen in the U.S. It was similar to a Lexus and seemed to be a special model for car services. There was a color GPS screen for back seat passengers with a remote which could handle all the music, air conditioning, and GPS controls. Unfortunately, it was all in Japanese and so was the driver, so my efforts to take advantage of it were not successful..
Traffic was quite heavy in Tokyo and it got me thinking about the comments I will be making later this week on using IT for congestion control on the roadways of the world. More on that later. Shinjuku is one of the sections or towns in Tokyo and is dominated by huge skyscrapers. After checking in at the Century Hyatt, I was met by Setsuro Tamai (President & CEO of IDG Japan, Inc.) and Megumi Okamoto (Director for the World Expo Unit of IDG). We took off our shoes and enjoyed a casual but traditional Japanese dinner on the 52nd floor of an office building overlooking the city. We had a discussion about trends and directions of the IT industry and the upcoming conferences to take place this week.
Tomorrow begins a series of meetings, speeches, and visits. I am sure I will learn a lot and look forward to sharing here in the weblog.
Historical note: My first of many trips to Japan was in early April 1992, just as we were launching the first ThinkPad. Since then, more than twenty million ThinkPads have been sold.