I recently travelled to Japan with Emma, our International Rights Manager, to meet some of the publishers who publish our books in Japanese. We spent 18 hours travelling away from the snow and ice of London, only to arrive in the snow and ice of Tokyo! This is the politest country I have ever been to, so calm and efficient for such a big city. There were coffee shops, neat trimmed trees, square looking trucks and cars, spectacular trains and a feeling of calm everywhere we went. The roads are not crazy like London, everybody seems to respect your space, and it is very safe.
The publishing agents and publishers that we met could not have been nicer and took so much time to look at our books. The publishing world seems a lot more straightforward in Japan – the books are only sold in bookshops for a start. Although the language barrier is tough, the Japanese remind me of the British – living on a small island on the edge of a large continent, used to travelling the world for commerce but fiercely proud of their independence.
We sampled sushi made by two seventy-year-old grand sushi masters, including eel, fish eggs the size of peas and sea urchin, which was was a bit of a struggle to get down (Emma sensibly declined); the oldest (and slowest) taxi drivers in the world; heated toilet seats and a minor earthquake whilst we were in Tokyo. I would love to go back for a holiday just to have a go on one of their trains.
Here are a few of their wonderful inventions to make life easier…
The controls for their famous heated toilets, that come with all manner of water jets. I have to be honest, I did try a couple of the buttons but sadly I didn’t try the button on the right – I was too scared.
This strange machine massaged your feet, I think, but I wasn’t going to put my feet into anything that has the words ‘Monster Gear’ and ‘Thrive’ on it.
And this is a very clever Japanese coffee dispenser – it pops open and is placed on your cup for you to pour the water through. Unfortunately this not-so-clever Englishman kept opening it upside down – I couldn’t read the Japanese instructions – resulting in coffee grains all over my feet…wait a minute, maybe that is why I had the foot cleaning machine in my room – for idiot travellers!