On the road
Posted by David Sear on
02 December 2010
Here at the offices of Valve World we like nothing more than setting off on a road trip
You can't beat the excitement of experiencing a different culture, talking to local business people and learning more about the where's and how's surrounding the manufacture and use of industrial equipment such as valves, pumps and the like. Recently, for example, this editor paid a first-time trip to Japan, where he visited several manufacturers and end user companies. Whilst many people expressed some concerns about the global challenges, most were reasonably upbeat and keen to discuss how their companies were moving forward.
A brace of end user reports has been prepared for Valve World: check out a feature about the Idemitsu Kosan refinery in Chiba in the August 2009 issue, whilst the September 2009 edition includes details of my visit to Sumitomo Chemical.
A word of thanks is definitely given to everyone who helped me prepare for this trip and made the journey so productive and enjoyable. Without wishing to overlook anyone, I'd like to pay special thanks to Mr Arimatsu and Mr Kouda, who really made sure I got from A to B safe and sound, and took the time to show me so much of their beautiful country.
Travel tips for Japan
Having spent just a few days in Japan, I make no claims to fully understanding the country or its courteous people. The following personal impressions and observations are presented merely as helpful hints to other first-timers.
Trains: are clean, fast and punctual. Good way to get around. Signs and announcements in Japanese and English. Watch out for symbols painted on the platforms – these indicate where you should queue.
Taxis: plentiful and inexpensive, can be hailed from the pavement. The driver will open and close the door automatically for you! (But don't expect him to speak English.)
Food: simply delicious! You can't beat the traditional sushi bars for a real dining experience (but the Kobe beef comes a very close second!). Tell you host the food is delicious by saying the word “Oishii”.
Sights: I really enjoyed visiting Tokyo Tower (offers great views of the city) and seeing the temples and shrines at Kyoto, (Ryoanji Rock Garden, Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion Temple). The views of Mount Fuji from the train between Osaka to Tokyo were breathtaking.
Security: I experienced no qualms whatsoever walking about at night or taking the train alone.
Communication: whilst various business professionals I met spoke very good English (and others are keen to learn), communication can sometimes be a real challenge. I recommend that visitors check in advance whether an interpreter will be required. I was really fortunate in receiving a recommendation for Mrs Mayumi Yamada Honeycutt (email@example.com), who interpreted discussions on technical aspects of refineries, etc, with local engineers.
Introductions: be aware that bowing is very much the traditional form of greeting in Japan. So whilst the company export director may welcome you with a hand-shake, his colleagues could look surprised if you offer your hand instead of bowing.
http://www.tokyotower.co.jp/english/ - Info about the Tokyo Tower
http://www.sacred-destinations.com/japan/kyoto.htm - Details of the many temples, etc.
www.asahi.com/english - English extracts of a Japanese newspaper
www.bbc.co.uk/languages/japanese/ - Useful facts and phrases to prepare for a visit