Lost in translation

Posted by Brice Salmon on

Roppongi, Ginza, The Shinkansen, Omote-sando, konbanwa! … Well… I had never heard those words before and above all, I didn’t even expect to have to learn and use them in real life one day.

Two months ago, We’ve been awarded a grant to participate in a world congress in Kanazawa, Japan (The JCI). YEAH!

Surprise #1
The event took place pretty much one month later than we had previously been informed. No drama here, who doesn’t love that kind of surprises? :)

Surprise #2
The week prior to the Congress was the Tokyo Designers' week. OMG… I was so excited, and definitely thought this was“the cherry on the sundae”.

Despite a terrible work overload, Melanie decided to join me as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover Japanese culture.

Did we do right?
Actually, it was a very tough decision: we to manage already imploding schedule, delivery management, newly hired people, markets season opening, finishing new products, projects launches... Well, our response was simply “YOLO”!  Through the highs and lows, we managed to spend our 11 days there working just a couple of hours a night and keep our momentum.


The 14 hours time difference didn’t prevent us from storming through Tokyo. This city is so huge: 32 million habitants. Each metro station reveals a new city center bigger than the previous one. Lights everywhere, electronic noises, consistent crowd but also never-seen peaceful places seconds away only from main paths. Also, everything is so clean, tidy and beautiful that the contrast is absolutely breathtaking.

We had here a fabulous opportunity to visit different districts, many attractions and numerous local stationery shops! Japan is a country both traditional and very modern.

Its ancient culture transpires in every aspect of Japanese lifestyle: Codes are unique and the way communication is approached is as intriguing as interesting. For instance, there are paper items for nearly everything: want to stick a word on a friend’s coffee cup? Want to keep a record of your daily housework?... Stickers, notebooks, and many other products are made specifically for that.

There, we’ve learned a lot about letting go, open-mindedness and respect.

To conclude, here is my top 5 in Japan

  1. Food - ANY dish is nothing but stunning.

  2. Onsens - Those common traditional baths you can find anywhere and where you can relax and chat respectfully.

  3. Cleanliness - Whether it’s in public or private places, you could “eat on the ground” everywhere. People are neat and very respectful of their belongings.

  4. Respect - Towards generations, tourists, neighbors, coworkers, citizens… respect is truly part of the Japanese culture. I LOVED it.

  5. Beauty - Japanese people are in constant search of beauty in everything they do: Architecture, food, design, transportation, urban and nature management… Often just mind-blowing for foreigners like us.

If you’ve already been in Japan or if you plan to go there, let’s keep in touch! We’d love to chat and exchange together :)

*note added by Mélanie: THEY GAVE US ICE CREAM ON THE PLANE! 

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