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If aliens ever land on earth, I'll be an ambassador because I'll know exactly how they feel. I've spent two weeks in Tokyo.

I've travelled to other non-English-speaking countries before, but usually they have at least some signs etc in identifiable international icons for us damned pesky foreigners. Obviously, tourism is NOT as vital to the Japanese economy. Good for them, I say, but it certainly added an extra challenge to my navigating my way around the city. The public transport system is excellent, trains come every few minutes and boy, do they fly along! I avoided travelling in peak hour, though. They really do have people who squish you into the trains at the busy times, and trying to get back to the door when you want to get off is difficult.

I used to like Hello Kitty before I went to Japan... I think I overdosed. That cute little critter is on EVERYTHING. It almost put me off my old well-worn Hello Kitty undies.

The food in Japan is wonderful. OK, I'm a vegetarian and they eat a lot of fish there (I'm not one of those "vegetarians" who think that fish is a vegetable), but I managed to get along fine. There must be a hundred different types of fungi and seaweed, and my host was a fabulous cook, so it was a culinary delight.

One of the highlights of the trip was Abbey Road nightclub, where the Parrots play Beatles covers. They were so convincing, it was uncanny.

Another challenge was internet access, which is very difficult to find in public. Trying to use a japanese version of Photoshop was pretty funny. I did build two bilingual sites, but I just dealt with the kanji as though they were pictures. Let's hope they're not upside-down.

If you can ever get to Japan, GO! It's an amazing experience and it certainly is refreshing to travel somewhere where your own culture (broadly speaking) is not the dominant force.

March 2000

Ever thought about a career in Japan?


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