Hopefully most of you saw my pictures posted from Japan. It was a great, eye opening trip. As one exec said, “Japan is an audience segment of one- unique and should be treated as such”. Boy did I see that. The culture is multi-layered and rich with meaning. The technology, hands-down the most advanced in the world. A trip to Ahikibara greets you with 8 floors of every conceivable type of gadget (pics coming soon). A few things I learned:
- Narita airport is about 2-2.5 hours from Tokyo. Pack a Bento box.
- Japan should be treated as a separate market with its own needs and opportunities.
- Politeness and etiquette is very important, more-so than the US
- Gaijin (foreigners) are expected to be unfamiliar with most customs, small attempts go a long way.
- Don’t open the taxi door or close it. It’s automatic.
- Don’t hand money to someone. Put it in the little tray.
- Our mobile phones pale in comparison. With less than 1% turnover, hundreds upon hundreds of dollars in subsidies are paid out to customers. A $10US phone in Japan is more advanced then a $300 smartphone in the US.
- Simple, clean UI often appears empty and feature-less in Japan. Cluttered/compacted UI in good Industrial Design wins the day.
- A mobile phone should be a flip-phone and make an audible, tactile “click” when opened. The bigger the phone, the more features you have.
- In Japan it’s legal to rent CDs. Everyone rips them and returns.
- Americans are too worried about Location-based services and privacy vs. Japanese. Japanese already have TV and GPS maps built into their phones. This is very cool.
- Many Japanese snooze on the train in-between stops. Perhaps it’s because they work late and then many stay out late.
- Melatonin can really take the edge off jet lag and help you sleep. I’ve adjusted both ways better than any other trip.
- Slingbox is hands-down the best thing for business travelers. EVER. I was watching local TV flawlessly from Japan in WMV9 from my TiVo at home. It helps avoid homesickness.
- MSN Messenger is good for voice chat but you must remember to bring a microphone if you laptop doesn’t have one.
- Nintendo DS is very popular with older Japanese thanks to a new game called “Brain Games” that tells you your mental age through a series of fun little games.
- Harajuku girls aren’t out during the mid-week. Go see the Meiji Shrine.
- The Fish Market & auction must be seen at 5am, but the market is closed on Wednesdays. Have the best sushi in the world with your VP in a hole in the wall with a long line, even if you don’t like sushi.
- If local Japanese ask you where you’re from and you say Seattle, follow up with “Ichiro”. Then they’ll understand- the Mariner’s player is a source of great national pride.
- If you learn one Japanese word, it should be “Sumimasen“.
- Have a drink at the Park Hyatt, where “Lost in Translation” was filmed.
- Pick up a Japanese Bullet Train (N-Gauge) model at Narita airport if you have a young son. You’ll be the greatest Dad ever and hear about it for days.
Next up: My whirlwind “Circle Asia” tour next month- Seattle>Sydney>Adelaide>Melbourne>Singapore>Hong Kong>Narita>Seattle. Over 27k miles in 11 days. I heard circumnavigating the earth at the equator is 24k.
Geek dinner anyone in Sydney?