Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Water Anyone?

Wednesday, January 30

Water anyone?

Today, we were not able to sleep in.  Matt, Jessie and I were on assignment to follow Pedro and Rosa of Aquaphytex to a water conference at the Tokyo Big Sight conference center.

We began our day at 7:00am and went for a Family Mart breakfast.  Family Mart is the Japanese equivalent of a convenience store.  They actually have 7-11’s here which they call 7-11’s.  The only thing you can’t get there are Slurpee’s.  We found what looked like a Canadian bacon pizza (which was actually smoked fish on mayonnaise on white bread), a chocolate chip scone (which was actually card board with brown-flavored chunks of wax) and dried tomatoes (which was actually candied pieces of tomato that shouldn’t have been sweet).

We found our way via subways and trains to the conference center.  The architecture of that place was very impressive.  It’s like a big upside down pyramid on top of four towers.  It was very massive and glamorous.  So much glass and every inch of any piece of glass was spotless.

The biggest thing I noticed about Tokyo is how clean it is.  People are clean and quiet and calm and there is an order to everything.  It’s like the entire city is designed like clockwork, and people are on the same frequency.  The world just works.  People don’t run into each other, and the organized chaos of the subways made us feel like clunky gorillas in a glass factory.  (Okay…that might not make sense, but if you were here, you’d be like…”yeah, I could see that.”)

We met Rosa and Pedro at the entrance and headed in to the water conference.  We were registered online, but they couldn’t find our reservations, so Pedro made up a story about why we had cameras and got us in on “research and development” passes.  He’s a smooth-talker, that Pedro.

We had a bit of a gear mishap, and had forgotten a way to power the microphone that Jessie brought.  We had to think quick and rigged up our Zoom recorder on her pistol grip, but still didn’t have a way to block the wind noise.  Medical masks, like the ones doctors wear that goes over their face and around their ears, are pretty big in Tokyo.  It was explained to us that they are so socially accepted that people use them if they are sick as a courtesy to not get other sick, but also if they have forgotten to put on make-up or forget to shave, they just wear a mask.  It was weird at first to see them all over, but we’ve slowly gotten used to them.

That said, we had bought a few of them as a joke since Pedro had a cold, and thought it would be funny to have him wear it around.   With our wind-screen deficiency, we found that the little surgical masks worked perfectly.  So, our home-made Zoom holder got itself a face mask.  We had some stares and there were multiple Japanese pictures who took a photo of us.

Thought the conference, we acted like students and made Pedro look like an extremely important person as we interviewed him with every booth that he visited.  The booths were full of unique water-purifying innovations that people around Asia have created and were showing off.  We saw a poop conveyer machine, a rainbow-bead filter and a water filter set up like an undulating coffee table complete with a flower arrangement on top.  It was quite the experience.  We didn’t fit there at all, but we had a good time.

We had some noodles out in the food court area for lunch, and then headed to the bullet train to go from Yokohama over to Kyoto where the final Unreasonable event was taking place in Japan.

The bullet trains are really fun!  They’re so smooth and sooooo fast, and you get an awesome tour of rural Japan.  We happened to head out right during sunset, so it was a magical two hours through beautiful mountains and small towns.  At one point, we went close by Mt. Fuji which was an amazing site with the green mountains in front of it’s white, snow-covered body.
By bus, it takes ten hours to get from Tokyo to Kyoto, but our bullet train only took two hours and 20 minutes.

We got to Kyoto and found our way to the event, but since we were following entrepreneurs on a “business detour,” we missed the event and just arrived for the dinner reception.

This is the life.