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For the past few months, I've been doing consulting work for a small company that specializes in weather radar. The project I've been working on is a joint venture (or something) with NEC, in Japan, and when the time came for some systems integration testing, it was my good fortune to be invited along.

In fact, we went to Fuchu, a city in the Tokyo metro area about an hour west of downtown, and were there for about a week at the end of June (2001). We were working most of the time, of course, so I could only explore in the evenings, but in the end I did manage to get free for one afternoon and one day, most of which I spent just walking around Fuchu looking at things.

I'd never been outside the continental United States before, except for a visit or two to Mexico when I was too young to remember, and some visits to various parts of Canada. So, the most foreign place I'd been to before was Montréal.

We stayed in a Western-style hotel, which proved to be a good base of operations—I could go out and explore, and still come back to something comfortable and mostly familiar.

What did I know about Japan before I went? I'd studied Japanese for a year in high school, but I don't remember learning much about the culture. So, I suppose most of what I knew about Japan came from Japanese movies, notably The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and Tampopo … and maybe Akira and Ghost in the Shell. I'd probably also picked up some ideas from science fiction stories, notably Neuromancer. Speaking of science fiction, I wouldn't say it was a major influence, but I was certainly reminded of Maneki Neko when I saw the same cats in real life.


  See Also

  Visit to Japan, A

@ October (2001)