Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Home Sweet Home


After much packing, many farewells, a taxi ride, an express train, two flights and 4 movies, I made it back to bonnie Scotland! Even though I've been home since Sunday night, it still feels really strange not to hear cicadas screeching or see any Japanese people walking about... It's also absolutely freezing.

Anyway, it's been a while since I updated this blog, so let me give you a quick rundown of what I got up to during my last week in Tokyo. I went out for dinner with two of the interns from last year, their family and friends and my guarantor on Wednesday night, which was lovely. But it meant I had to start saying goodbye to people and think about going home, which I didn't want to do! On Thursday and Friday I was with the Japanese sakes desk - these guys sell european products to Japanese clients. On Thursday night, I headed out for a do-it-yourself BBQ dinner at the Sheraton Miyako Hotel with the CDS desk. This was very delicious and, of course, the evening was finished off by heading out for some karaoke - my last time! :(

My last day at work was no different from any other. At the end of the day, I handed out some wee presents that I had brought from home to all the people I had worked with - the Old Course golf balls were definitely the most popular!

I spent my last day in Tokyo picking up some last minute souvenirs, visiting some new areas and revisiting some of my favourite haunts. After doing some final packing, I headed over to Asakusa to grab a few bits and bobs from the many stalls and shops, and also to sample some green tea ice cream (a bit weird, but tasty). I then walked west, towards Kappabashi Dori. This street has become Tokyo's 'kitchenware district' and also an unconventional (yet quite popular) tourist attraction. The entrance to one end of the street is marked by this giant chef and building with huge teacups:

All of the shops specialise in a particular part of the catering industry - some sell shops signs and lanterns, others are filled with different utensils and pots, and many have every type of meal for sale in plastic model form. If you ever wanted to open a restaurant and were starting from scratch, this is the street to come to.

I then walked over to Ueno and hopped on the train to Harajuku. I spent the rest of the day wandering in and out of shops and watching the outlandishly-dressed Harajuku boys and girls, before winding my way towards Shibuya, where I grabbed some cha-shu ramen and then hit Shibuya 109 for the last time... I spent far too long in there, soaking it all in and eyeing up the latest trends before getting the undergound train home and trying to catch an early night's sleep.

It was pretty much a perfect way to end my two-month stay in the city that really never sleeps.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Giving up already...

Flight bag regulations:
JAL - 23kg hold luggage, 10kg hand luggage plus handbag
BMI - 20kg hold luggage, 10kg hand luggage plus handbag (I'm hoping my bag gets checked right through from Narita...)

Results of packing so far:
25kg hold luggage
7kg box of stuff to be shipped
(?)kg hand luggage that's not packed (but there's no way my laptop, camera and sunglasses weigh 10kg altogether)
And one very tired intern who can't be bothered


Saltire blog part 7

You've guessed it: part seven of my Saltire blog is up and running.

Catch up

My week in the bank was very different to the front office - it was so quiet! The office is a lot smaller and there are fewer people, monitors or phones around, which made it uncomfortably silent at times. I spent my time there learning about what the portfolio managers and real estate guys do, which seemed to me to be a mix of corporate finace and accountancy. For the last three days, I analysed companies' financial reports (so their balance sheets, income statements and cash flows) and wrote a wee report about how well Marubeni is doing, based on the info they published for the 2009 financial year.

This week I'm back in the (more exciting) front office, this time with one of the sales desks - the people who sell yen denominated products to mainly non-Japanese clients. It feels good to be back where the action is! Today there was one of the monthly JGB (Japanese government bond) auctions. Over two billion yen's worth of 10 year bonds were auctioned off and RBS were pretty successful (not acutally sure if I'm allowed to say how successful...). It was an interesting auction to witness as these were the first set of bonds to be released by the new government. As many of you may be aware, Japan had its general elections this weekend and, for the first time in over 50 years, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) defeated the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). This landmark election obviously affected the markets, in particular bumping up the value of the yen (not so great for me, who is still spending sterling!) and was also expected to have an impact on today's auction. To be honest, it didn't seem to alter anything by much, but it was still a good learning experience for me to be involved in a fairly ordinary auction session.

I had a fantatic week acting as a tour guide for my friend, but she has now headed back home. Sadly, I'll be heading back soon, too. But firstly, I've got to work out how on earth to pack all my stuff! I was 2kg over the weight limit on the way out here and have been indulging in a considerable amount of retail therapy, so packing is not going to be fun...