Monday, December 6, 2010

Medidata Japan Visit; Night on the town in Tokyo

The following day I had plans to meet Bernie, Hiroshi, and Tong, coworkers from my company who were living in Japan. As it turned out, Bernie and Hiroshi had just recently moved to Japan, after living in the States for years. Hiro had a lunch with his coworkers also, so after a quick breakfast, we did our own thing. Of note at breakfast, I had a "Coffee Jelly" Starbucks Frappucino, which isn't available in the states. In Japan, many foods come in Jelly form, from sweet and sour candy jellies to delicate potato appetizer jellies to coffee jellies inside a frappucino. It was actually quite good - the gelatinous texture adding something different to the frappucino, and it added a nice taste to go with it.

I met Bernie one JR station away, and we walked to the office. There's around 35 or 40 people there, and space for more! I didn't realize how large our Japan office was.

Hello Medidata Japan!

I met Hiroshi and Tong there; all of the R&D people were sitting in the same section of the office. Unlike our development office near Union Square in NY, the office here was quite corporate, and destined for quiet, as the desks were quite low, and anyone speaking even moderately loudly could be heard by anyone else. One plus was that the Japan office had pretty, spacious conference rooms, though I'm definitely not one for unending meetings.

Bernie, Tong, and Hiroshi

Bernie, Tong and me

We went out to lunch and talked about life in Japan and a little about news at work, then we left. I said hello to a few other coworkers in the office and told them about my happy travels in Japan before Bernie walked me back to the train. More power to him - he said his Japanese is not the greatest, but he's getting by. The safety and security of the place is one big reason why he decided to move with his family from their former home in New Jersey.

Later, I met up with Hiro and his old friend Mash for dinner and drinks. Mash was a friend of Hiro's from high school; we'd be meeting up with other high school friends of his later. Mash pulled out all the stops in planning for the evening, and it was much appreciated. We had all sorts of small dishes for dinner at a fancy place - from mushrooms called Eringi to squid with Perilla, aka Japanese Basil, to sirloin and filet mignon. No holding back on the beer and sake too, of course!

As dinner ended, another old friend joined - a girl named Chako. Our next destination was a very impressive placed called Planetarium. It's a small, cozy bar with snazzy drinks (including a signature drink with a peach flavor made over dry ice), and true to its name, a fairly large digital projector that creates an image of the night sky on a domed roof above. Constellations are clearly visible, and it also has a "trip" mode where fantastical abstract patterns appear, giving it a very romantic feel. Nothing like being in awe of the universe and, perhaps, your date as well!

I couldn't get a picture of the night sky view, but I did get a picture of Hiro and Chako with a flash, though they were a bit surprised by the light:


After that, we met up with another of Hiro's old friends, Kuma, at another nice bar. We had the downstairs to ourselves, and ordered some appetizers and many more drinks. It was a pleasure to meet Chako, Kuma, and Mash, and we had a good time there as well.

Chako, Kuma, and Hiro at our second bar

Hiro, Kuma, Mash and I happy after many drinks

Around 1 or 2 in the morning, we finally headed back to our hotel. There was only one more day left in Japan! I would have to do what I could to make the most of it...

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