While in Japan I did manage to do a little sightseeing before the start of the workday. Dave Peter, our VP of Biz Dev who was traveling with me from the US, and I were both still on US time and therefore wide awake at 5:00 am Tokyo time. If you’re ever in Tokyo and you are up at that time, you should visit a place called Tsukiji (Skee-jee). Tsukiji is a HUGE fish auction/marketplace down at the waterfront. A large proportion of the worlds fish supply goes through this marketplace everyday.
If is literally acres and acres of fish that is fresh off of the boats. Some is fresh, some frozen. Some is still being kept alive in tanks of water. Most of it is packed up in stackable styrofoam crates to keep it fresh and wet. There are huge tunas all over the place. Some are being carved up into steaks right there. There are also all kinds of other fish – clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, eel, octopus, squid – you name it. Right outside of the main marketplace area, there are a number of little sushi bars where you can get some of the freshest sushi you could ever have.
It’s a rather busy place, and messy too. There are local workers hosing off bloody fish and there is melting ice all over the place. I wouldn’t recommend going down there in your tux or coctail dress after a night of dining and dancing. There is a chance you might get a little dirty.
On the way back to the hotel, Dave P (a.k.a. DP-san) decided we should be a little adventurous and try the subway. We took a cab from the waterfront to Shinjuku station. That was quite an experience due to the enormous crowds. There are uniformed staff members standing on the train platforms whose primary job is to push people into the trains in order for the doors to be able to slide closed properly. It was only a few stops from Shinjuku to Akasaka, where the New Otani hotel is, and we were back to the hotel by 8:30 am to start the workday (after a short WALK to the Sonic office :). It was enough to get a feel for what its like to be a daily commuter in and out of Tokyo. Many Japanese business people ride the commuter rails in an out of Tokyo every day for up to a 2 hour train ride each way, while packed in a standing room only train car. Most of the ‘real’ business gets done at night, when business people go out to dinner with their prospective clients, which ends in taking a long train ride back home at 11:30 at night or so. Such is the life of the Japanese business person. I suppose this is not unique to Tokyo. There are people who do the same between Manhattan and New Jersey every day. Perhaps I’m spoiled with my 45 minute car ride to the office, or my hour+ Harley ride into work during the summer. I should consider myself fortunate.
BTW, there are a fair amount of Starbucks installed around Tokyo, but none of them seem to open up before 7:30 or 8:00 am. What’s up with that?