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Getting There, Avoiding Disaster & Having Fun At The Same Time

(MW Tokyo) Notes From The Henna Gaijin - Getting There, Avoiding Disaster & Having Fun At The Same Time

by , 9:00 AM EST, January 31st, 2001

Notes From The Henna Gaijin comes to us courtesy of where this series is being written by Lynn Fredricks, the President of Proactive International. Lynn is the former International Sales Manager for Now Software, one-time makers of Now Up-to-Date and Contact and Now Utilities (both since acquired by PowerOn Software), and later at Qualcomm's Eudora division.. You can find more information on the Henna Gaijin at Japanware Web site.

Welcome back to Notes from the Henna Gaijin!

This is the second article on how to travel to MACWORLD Conference & Expo/Tokyo 2001 for about the same cost as going to MACWORLD Expo San Francisco, and having a great time doing it. In this issue, we will cover getting to your hotel, an introduction to what you might see and who you might meet at the show, and some serious comfort matters for making your stay in Japan as easy as possible.

Hey, I noticed they have changed the English name of the show to something else, MACWORLD Conference & Expo/Tokyo 2001. Doesn't that sound easier to remember? I make no guarantees that we will be changing our graphics to match.

January 26, 2001

Narita Airport to Your Hotel

You will most likely arrive at Narita Airport. Most international flights use Narita. You'll need to pass through customs and show them your passport. They often will ask you your hotel and length of stay, especially if you are coming in from the continent (the Asian continent).

Those customs guys look grim, but that is because they have to work very hard and long hours and they are not always the best English speakers. Don't do anything to make them think you are bringing anything you shouldn't into the country.

After you get your bags, you'll have to go through a "search table" on your way out. Again, if you are looking fairly conservative, they will just wave you through. I always bring one really huge bag and without waiting for them to ask, start hauling it up on the counter. I have NEVER been searched in over 12 years of coming in and going out of Japan.

Save on Your Transportation

My recommendation if you are staying at New Otani or Prince Makuhari hotels (as I recommended last article) is to locate a hotel limo bus. It will cost you around $20-22, and it will drop you off directly at your hotel. Do not be tempted to jump into a cab unless you don't mind spending over $150 on a taxi ride! The place to buy tickets for this is right outside of the customs area.

Mac Gadgets on the Floor

So what are you going to see at MACWORLD that is different than the San Francisco show in January? You already know that Japan is the land of small and cool electronics. So I guarantee you will see some very broad variations on Mac peripherals, including ones that integrate computers with phones. Since the Palm Pilot has enjoyed quite a bit of success (but not unseated the reigning Japanese PDA king, the Sharp Zaurus), you'll also find some unusual cases and devices for your Pilot. REAL Software's CEO Geoff Perlman and his wife accompanied me last year, and Geoff could not resist a shiny new Japanese Pilot case. If you carry a PDA, come ready to buy.

If you are a collector of odd Apple-branded items, you will find a huge selection of multicolored thingies just not available elsewhere.

Expect to see some very well crafted peripherals and accessories. One of my favorites from the 2000 show was a robotic arm that was controlled with an iMac and a Macromedia Director interface.

Much like the expansive Developer Depot sponsored portion of the US shows, you will also find many smaller Japanese companies showing off their own software and hardware products. You will not want to miss them. Some of these will never make it to the US, for one reason or the other, even though many are fascinating.

All the usual suspects like Apple, Adobe, Macromedia, Epson and Japanese hardware companies will be on the floor. Most of the software you would buy from the original vendor in the US is distributed or republished in Japan by a local partner (this is what my company does). There are also many original software companies based in Japan, but unless you plan on running the Japanese version of the MacOS on your own Mac, you are going to have a hard time using this software.

Apple usually announces some new hardware at MACWORLD Expo Tokyo. I was surprised they announced the Titanium PowerBooks in San Francisco (well, they could have used some good news at that show) because PowerBook announcements usually fly at the Tokyo show. I am speculating that the hardware announcement will be the next generation of iMacs, since the iBook hasn't been a big seller in Japan.

I will delve more into some more unusual Japan-only items in the next update to Notes from a Henna Gaijin.

Apple User Groups : Ringo Macintosh Users Group

Over in the Apple User Group section of the show you'll find Ringo User's Group, the largest English speaking Macintosh user group in Japan. Jef Fisher, a long time member invites you to stop on by for a visit. In fact, if you want to get some specific information, you can go ahead and e-mail Ringo at

Jef's message to you: "Reading your tips on Makuhari made me think that we could offer more information/support to those who may come to Japan for the Expo if they want to see more of Tokyo. We have lots of resources and volunteers through the club who could help."

Several of the Apple User Group's have been around for years and you may find many of them speak English.

Mentioning the Unmentionable

Remember I said one of my goals was to make your trip a much more pleasurable one. And for this reason I have to delve into some less nice topics. Be forewarned that these are practical matters you will have a hard time avoiding in Japan.

The Bathroom Vs. The Toilet

In Japan, the bath is in the bath room and the toilet is in the...toilet. Japanese use the bath for relaxation, so you soap up and rinse off before entering the bath. Japanese families often bathe together, and a small family can usually fit into a home bath. The Japanese onsen or hot spring bath is very famous, a great place to get away, have a little sake and look at the sky. The toilet though has only one purpose.

The traditional Japanese toilet consists of a slot on the floor, through which water flows when flushed. Other Henna Gaijins I have known call these "squatties" for obvious reasons. If you have never used this kind of toilet before, I recommend this simple test: assume a squatting position for three minutes. If you cannot keep balanced, then you are going to want to read VERY carefully.

The unrepentant Yuuji Hayashi, deeply offended at the state of Japanese public restrooms, has a Web site devoted entirely to located a nice, clean public toilet in Tokyo (the Japanese language version is VERY complete). It even has instructions in Flash format how to use the infamous squatty. Be forewarned, his site earned a "Harsh Site of the Week" award because of the bold topic and his very direct language. I encourage you to send him a thank you.

Public restrooms in the train and subway stations often only have squatties, but take care to look for a sign that says "western." Or better yet, check the stall on the farthest end from the door. You may well get lucky and find a western style toilet. Good news! Department stores, modern hotels, restaurants, and other privately owned facilities will have at least one, if not all western toilets.

Something you are burning to know about MACWORLD Conference & Expo/Tokyo 2001 or traveling there? Let me know at and I'll put it into the next update.

If you have something to contribute, hey, send me a note. We have plenty of space bar just for you :)

Other Columns From This Series

(MW Tokyo) Notes From The Henna Gaijin - Final Notes Before The Show
February 19th

Notes From The Henna Gaijin - More Travel Guide & Advance MACWORLD Tokyo Product Announcements
February 8th

Notes From The Henna Gaijin - Getting Around Electric Town & Unique Japanese Software.
February 1st

Notes From The Henna Gaijin - Getting There, Avoiding Disaster & Having Fun At The Same Time.
January 31st

Notes From The Henna Gaijin - MACWORLD Tokyo Basics
Janaury 30th

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