Recently I got to spend a couple of weeks in Japan and a few days in Jakarta Indonesia. What a fascinating, different and fun country Japan is! While I was there I got to attend the db Tech Showcase 2017, a database/cloud conference in Akhiabara, Tokyo. In Jakarta I got to run a BigQuery and Google Cloud Training Session for some corporate clients and got to experience that massive country too! I also got to see the socceroos play and lose to the blue Samurai in Saitama, Tokyo. Ever wondered why Japanese sports colours are blue and their soccer team referred to as the Blue Samurai? I found the answer on a visit to the samurai museum in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Whilst there are a staggering array of samurai armour designs and colours, the blue was reserved for only the most powerful samurai of all..
Some observations from the trip.
1) Japanese people are very organised and clean up after themselves. Ok maybe some obvious points there, but actually seeing this first hand makes you realise how important it is. I witnessed Japanese people at a baseball game cleaning up after themselves, myself and everyone else in the stadium. Workers lined up with plastic bags out the front of the stadium, patrons helpfully moving in single file to add any more rubbish to plastic bags. The trains were absolutely spotless, like hospital grade compared to Sydney trains. And on-time, ALWAYS. Train staff (in outlandish uniforms) resolutely managing people onto those trains, being very helpful to foreigners and clearly taking their jobs very seriously and with pride.
2) Japanese and coding. Working in the field of web analytics I was blown away by how advanced some of the machine learning and development work being undertaken over there by Google Staff Developer Advocate, Kazunori Sato. See his example here in youtube using Tensorflow to classify Manhattan based on traffic accident data. What impressed me the most though was Kazunori’s use of both English and Japanese. Firstly – the slide deck was completely in english (great for me to follow along!) but it was presented completely in Japanese for the audience. What was more impressive was the code – it was all in english!!!! I’d never considered this (my bad) but it was then I realised that people all over the world, whether it be France, China, Czech Republic or indeed Japan – program IN ENGLISH. See more explanation on this here.
3) Japanese workers drink – a lot. Way more than Sydney in my opinion. Women and men, office types, are out every night of the week – consuming beer, high balls and saki – usually washing down a few plates of yakitori. It did seem to be a respect thing, the boss and his crew, blazed on beer and bowing profusely. Looked pretty fun to be honest. (Aside: I have heard recently about “Karoshi” where Japanese people are literally working to death and maybe the burning the candle at both ends isnt as fun as it seems. See here for more.
4) Digital society is not just a first world thing – Jakarta. Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first. Indonesia has the worst traffic I have ever seen. It was unbelievable. Gridlock out the front of my hotel. But I saw uber (and competitor) motorbike taxis maneuvering around streets and being followed on people’s phones. Everyday Indonesians constantly updating instagram with selfies, whilst still ensuring they pray 5 times a day. What was most surprising was that in the BigQuery/Google Cloud session I ran – the clients were one of the most sophisticated I have ever dealt with in both Australia and anywhere else. Indonesia has 265 million people. Let that sink in… 10 times the population of Australia.
Until the next trip!