Japan Travel

Sayonara Japan

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Today CM leaves Japan after 20 years. This was the first time I’d actively seen passport control beg me to keep my permanent residency. For 5 minutes she painstakingly asked her senior colleagues and tried to reason with me. My comment to her was “don’t worry, I’m not drunk” after repeatedly checking whether I was sure about the decision. She asked what were the reasons. “Where do I start?”

First of all I want to thank the Japanese for their custom, politeness and privilege to stay in their country. It has been truly amazing and life changing.

Sure the honest service drives one batty with its inflexibility but to those who whine about it can always choose to live somewhere else. Respecting a culture is true of any land one visits. Note to Western civilizations. It’s up to others to fit in with the host, not the other way around. Japan has this nailed.

What was the lasting memory of Japan? Simple really. The earthquake, nuke explosion  and tsunami of 2011. What it allowed was a clear cut look at a society that is so well bonded. People didn’t loot. Nor did they greedily hoard essentials. People just took what they needed. Had this been HK or anywhere else it would have been pandemonium. Keep calm and carry on typified Japan.

The lasting photo memory was during a motorcycle trip to MinamiSanriku. This image of a tsunami darkened Minnie Mouse sent chills down my spine. Staring up at the trees on the hillside, the leaves had turned purple because of the sea water which had risen almost 20 metres high. Car wrecks ragdolled in the rip. Windows smashed out of all levels of a 5 storey apartment block. Mother Nature was angry.

When my kids begged to go to Hawaii, they protested about my suggestion to see the devastation first hand. To see with their own eyes. Video and pictures do no justice, I told them. It turns out they appreciated the experience. I gave my younger daughter – then 7 years old – my camera because I wanted to capture images through her eyes. Amazing results.

There is too much to write about with 20 years under the belt.

As the sun sets in the land of the rising sun for me personally journey it shines brightly 9,000km south.

The next stage was a no brainer. So much for dealing with alpha types in finance, many of who’d sell their grandmother given half a chance. I’m overwhelmed with excitement about the prospects of saving the lives of people who know sacrifice and have protected our freedoms. The small team I will work with are as dedicated, hungry and inspired as I am.

My life needed a reboot. Sometimes there is a touch of Tom Cruise in Risky Business in our lives where we must make hard decisions and simply say, “what the f”

Writing this novel about my grandfather’s experiences in WW2 has inspired me to think of living life to the full. How most of us have got it so easy even though some pretend we’ve never had it so bad.

I will always have a soft spot for Japan. Handing back a permanent residency might seem mad in the overall scheme of things but it was the right decision. You can’t make a new start holding onto the past.

Sayonara Japan.

Japan – where wine is half the price of the coffee

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Japan – where wine is half the price of coffee. The wine wasn’t out of this world but then again neither was the coffee. Fuzzy logic or gouging young mothers with children in Omotesando? Probably the latter. Smart.

The results are in – 秋味 is still king

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Like pretty much everything in life, the original is always the best. Going left to right. Kirin Akiaji (秋味) has the best flavor of the autumnal beers. Sapporo second. Not much difference to an Ebisu. Suntory added a hint of fruit into their standard pale ale and Asahi’s effort is as shocking as SuperDry. There is a place reserved in Hell for the person that signed off on that. So there you have it.

Beta testing Autumnal beers

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Kirin led the charge some while back to introduce autumnal beers. Now Sapporo, Suntory and Asahi have hit back. Time for some beta testing to see if Kirin’s “Aki-aji” will be overthrown. CM is betting on Sapporo “Baisen” (far left) to dethrone it if possible.

Harley-Davidson Shinjuku declares bankruptcy after revenues fall 85%. Changes ownership.

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Yahoo Japan reports Harley-Davidson Shinjuku, a central Tokyo dealer for the motorcycle brand has gone out of business after almost 70 years in the trade.  Established in August 1953 before Harley Davidson Japan became the domestic agency, it ran a parallel imports business of the iconic brand. In the fiscal year ended July 1992, the annual turnover was estimated to be about 2,426 million yen. However, as the motorcycle market contracted, annual sales in the fiscal year ended July 2017 fell 85% to about 376 million yen. Even after closing the Yokohama, Hachioji stores, losses continued every year.

Debt is approximately 146 million yen as of the end of July 2017. “Harley Davidson Shinjuku” was closed on July 11.

It has since reopened under new ownership. Customers of the dealership have been informed of the ownership change according to HD Japan. Harley had peak sales of 16,000 units in Japan and is likely to do around 9,500 units in 2018.

85-yo shoe shiner endorses RM Williams

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85yo Kin-chan has been shining shoes at the Imperial Hotel Tokyo for over 50 years. He first started out in his trade polishing GI boots after the war in Fukuoka as an 18yo. He forgets how many pairs he’s polished but noticed my 18 year old  pair of RM Williams, the boots almost every Aussie has.  He says the quality of the leather is superior to pretty much every other shoe brand out there which is a pretty decent endorsement. No plans to retire. Talk about dedication to a job.

Sinto Beer

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On a business trip to Mie Predecture. This is the local lager. Japanese rarely do bad beer. This is a fruity type lager. Well worth a try. The other thing well worth a try is Amanemu Resort.