Tokyo, Day 1
So, the journey over here was extremely pleasant. The drive from home to Heathrow appeared to violate the laws of physics by taking around an hour without visibly breaking any speed limits or involving any acrobatics, and this gave me half an hour in the departure lounge. One observation: the only newspapers available here were fairly right-wing ones (Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday). I guess there aren't too many lefties round those parts...
After breakfast in the departure lounge we boarded and departed on time. The journey went quickly, thanks to a laptop full of presentation notes and ideas, and an excellent in-flight entertainment system. The latter - which I'm convinced is imprinted with the visual style of the Vexed team - gave me a chance to catch 500 Days of Summer and State of Play, both of which were thoroughly enjoyable. Despite a seemingly endless supply of a rather lovely Portuguese wine, I experienced a massive sleep fail on the flight. A stagger through customs and the journey to the hotel followed. By complete coincidence, I'm staying in the place I would've been at had I gotten my shit together and come to Japan with Julie and chums a couple of years ago; the advance party had told me good things, and I wasn't disappointed.
"An hours power nap", I thought, "then I'll get on with the presentation". Four hours later I crawled out of bed and - panicking slightly - cracked on, finishing around midnight and pausing only for a brief wander around Akasaka, the area I'm staying in. It's really rather nice, combining (as Tokyo seems to) greenery with skyscrapers and bustle - and seeing it by night for the first time was quite breathtaking. Within easy walking distance of the hotel are the Imperial Palace, a bevy of shops and restaurants, and seemingly hundreds of tube stations.
I slept, for fewer hours than I hoped, and then it was up to breakfast on the 40th floor. Peach jam - nyum nyum nyum.
What else have I noticed so far? There's lots of folks wearing masks, particularly in the airport but all around the streets too; I noticed that at immigration when we arrived they had heat-sensitive cameras designed to spot travellers with high temperatures, so I'm guessing there's a general disease-consciousness here (related to swine flu, no doubt).
All I know about architecture I learned in a 90 minute boat trip round Chicago earlier this year; whilst looking out of the hotel window I can't see much in the way of reference between buildings, but there's definitely an aesthetic in the layout of the whole city which I want to think about some more. Christmas is already here, chiefly testified to in neon.
Today, I plan to rehearse the presentation for tomorrow several times, and do some research into the questions I'll be getting in the media interviews. But first I'm going to wander down to the gardens of the Imperial Palace and work out a decent route for a daily run; and this afternoon it'll be time get the tube over to Hombu Dojo and go train. Looking at the latest timetable it seems I'll not get a chance to see Kobayashi during my time here after all, which is a bit sad... but I'm spoilt for choice when it comes to other instructors :)
Tonight will be an early night to keep me fresh for tomorrow, hopefully after I can drag my UKTI handler, Tony Hughes, off to the Ninja Restaurant round the corner...