Tags: wde08

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Big in Japan

I’m back from Japan. Thank you to everyone who took the time to give me some sightseeing tips. I had a a great trip.

Web Directions East was really well organised. John and his team took really good care of me and all the other speakers. The only glitch was on my part and it was medical in nature.

Maybe it was the long flight over, maybe it was lack of sleep, but my body protested its new-found surroundings by rebelling in the vocal department. As I was wrapping up my presentation on stage on the morning of the conference, I could feel my throat becoming raspier. An hour or two later, my voice was on its way out. I attempted some damage control by ducking back to the hotel for the afternoon which meant that sadly, I missed a whole bunch of undoubtedly excellent presentation while I tried resting up my body and throat. I still had a whole day of workshopping to do two days after the conference proper and I needed my voice for that.

I spent the day before the workshop being somewhat antisocial by not speaking at all. That helped somewhat but on the day of the workshop itself, I still sounded like Tom Waits. From a medical standpoint, I probably shouldn’t have attempted to spend a whole day talking about Ajax but from a professional standpoint, I was determined to deliver what I had promised. I made it through …just. There were times when I thought I really wouldn’t be able to reach the end of the workshop but it somehow worked out. On the positive side, I really only had to make sure I was audible to one person: the simultaneous interpreter. The interpreters’ voices were all working just fine so the workshop attendees received a translation of my words without an accompanying translation of my laryngitis.

On reflection, it probably wasn’t the best idea to celebrate the successful conclusion of the workshop with an evening of merriment that culminated with karaoke. But hey, when in Japan, right?

The rest of my time in Japan was spent soaking up as many sights, sounds and—most importantly—tastes as I possibly could. In brief…

  • Everybody I met in Japan was friendly and helpful. This is a country where people don’t get into fights when they get drunk, they just get even more polite and friendly.
  • Every subway stop in Tokyo has its own jingle. This is, quite simply, awesome.
  • Advertisements eschew telling you a domain name in favour of showing you what to search for. They must be very confident of their search engine rankings.
  • is a great part of Tokyo. Personally, I think it’s even cooler than .
  • A trip to proved fruitful. I successfully acquired a .
  • Getting up early to visit was totally worth it. It’s a huge chaotic cathedral of seafood.
  • Visiting the on a weekend was fortuitous. There was more than one wedding party to observe.
  • is a beautiful place, perhaps one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Staying in a heightened the experience.
  • —or at least the — is crazier than Shinjuku and Shibuya combined. It’s an unimaginative cliché to say this but it really was like Bladerunner.

Then there was the : , and in Tokyo, , and in Osaka …it was all wonderful.

Diligent tourist that I am, I had my camera with me at all times. For your viewing pleasure I give you:

Nihon

I’ve been doing a lot of travelling this year. I intend to cut back (or attend more virtual conferences like Aral’s). I’m worried that my carbon footprint will require a few forests to offset. I mean, I’ve got the velocity of a squirrel, for crying out loud.

That said, there are certain opportunities that are just too good to pass up. Like, for example, when John asked me if I would speak at Web Directions East in Tokyo next weekend. Yes; Tokyo. A place I’ve always dreamt of visiting.

Tomorrow I’ll fly from Heathrow to Narita and I still can hardly believe it’s really happening. While I’m extremely nervous about my presentation and workshop, I’m also unbelievably excited about visiting the land of sushi and manga. Even better, Jessica is coming with me and, if anything, she’s even more excited.

We’ll be in Tokyo for the best part of a week before heading on for a couple of days in Kyoto and a couple of days in Osaka. We don’t have much of an agenda apart from soaking up the atmosphere and—being the foodies that we are—eating everything in sight.

If you have any hints or tips on what do in Japan, please share them. For my part, I can only promise lots of photographic documentation and maybe even a bit of blogging.