I’m a bit behind on these posts due to imperfect hotel internet connections.
On April 9th, QCon Tokyo began. But first a few initial observations:
- ATMs: hard to get cash, as most only work with Japanese cards, and many stores don’t take American credit cards. It also helps if you try to withdraw $300 instead of $3,000 when making the conversion from dollars to Yen.
- Train stations, bridges, and multi-levels: Tokyo has tremendous infrastructure around pedestrian overpasses, expansive train stations, and effective use of multiple levels of tall buildings rather than just the bottom level or two for retail or restaurants.
- Candy and beverages: the selection is an eclectic mix of Japanese, American and worldwide candy, and even some American brands I’ve never seen in the US. For bottled water, Tokyo seems obsessed with French sources.
QCon Tokyo was an excellent conference at an outstanding facility. When I first arrived, the team knew exactly who I was and had my badge ready before I arrived at the badge counter. I immediately ate an exquisite bento box before meeting with the translators to review my talk so they would understand the content in greater detail.
I then immediately proceeded to deliver my talk, and it was a better delivery of the talk than in Beijing, perhaps because I had a better sense from the translators about which expressions and slang would be acceptable with the locals.
After the talk, I chatted with a few Dojo users, and received a traditional Japanese pen as a gift. I gave our a few Dojo shirts and stickers as usual.
On the way back to the hotel, I found a great bakery which, like all places in Tokyo it seems, took an amazingly detailed approach to the dessert I was going to eat:
It was also interesting to learn that because Tokyo and Japan in general have such amazing digital and mobile networks, that wifi has not really become popular at all.
The conference hosted an evening reception which was well attended and which led to meeting a number of the conference attendees.
I then found a cab and went to Amazon Japan near Shibuya for an Amazon Web Services event with Jeff Barr being the primary speaker. The talks where great, including a lightning talk about “AIR Yakiniku”. What was really interesting to me was that each of the Japanese talks followed a very similar format.
After the talks, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a nomikai event, which was a lot of fun, featured syabu syabu, sushi, a raw egg as the condiment for the meat, and less conventional options such as french fries and thin pizza bread.
I also had the opportunity to have conversations with a number of ex-pats from Europe and North America which was really interesting. I’m always surprised by the number of people that go and live in cities like Tokyo indefinitely.
Finally, no first day would be complete without a subway ride, though I technically took the competing JR above ground line from Shibuya to Shinagawa Station and back to my hotel.