Thursday, 23 July 2009

Och Aye

Yesterday was so surreal. Unfortunately, it absolutely poured with rain all morning and afternoon, so we couldn't see the eclipse at all. And because it was only a partial eclipse in Tokyo, it didn't even get any darker than it already was. Sad face...

John Swinney (the Cabinet Secretary for finance and sustainable growth, in the Scottish Parliament) and his entourage tipped up at the office just after 12.00. My line manager, the main boss and myself chatted with them all for a bit and posed for numerous photos infront of RBS logos. They were a really nice bunch! I was mainly answering questions like, "How did you end up working in Tokyo?", and, "How are you enjoying it so far?", so it was a good opportunity to big up the SaltireFoundation - the other, secret aim of my internship. They then went off to lunch and I went back to work.

After work, I headed straight for the British Embassy, which is on the other side of the Imperial Palace Gardens. I actually walked the whole way around the back of the embassy, thinking that it was the park - it is huge and has massive gardens. The site is so big that there are houses inside for the ambassadors. It was really weird walking in as it really is a little Britain in the centre of Tokyo - all the buildings are Georgian, there are roses in the gardens and Land Rovers parked in the driveways. The reception itself was actually held in one of the houses, rather than the main embassy building. John Swinney gave a nice wee speech (he said "alliance" an awful lot though...), as did Stephen Baker (my guarantor) and one of the Japanese heads of Suntory.

It was after the speeches that the networking really kicked-off. I made some brilliant contacts, including one guy from the British Chamber of Commerce, who promised to help me find work if I decided to move to Tokyo in the future! Result. I also realised just how small the world is. One guy I was talking to had sent his daughter to Mary Erskine's (my old school!) while they were living in Edinburgh for a bit. I was later introduced to a girl who had graduated from St Andrews in 2006 (international relations) and then gone on to work in the embassy here. Then, someone dragged over this unsuspecting Japanese man as it turned out that his daughter has just finished her first year of physics at St Andrews - crazy!

It was a lovely evening, full of surprises, and I've now been invited back to the embassy for a barbeque and ceilidh on Saturday. Hopefully this will give me a chance to meet even more people who live in Tokyo and make some more friends - most evenings I feel like a bit of a norman! There acually seem to be more 'Scottish' events here in Tokyo than at home! The St Andrews Society runs bbqs, ceilidhs, Burns suppers, Highland games and other events all year - last year 1500 people turned up for the summer Highland games and 500 went to the Burns supper. I don't think I've ever even been to a Burns supper... The Japanese people who attended probably know a lot more about Rabbie Burns than I do! How strange to encounter all this thousands of miles away from Bonnie Scotland.

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