Visiting Hong Kong

A few weeks ago I visited Hong Kong to deposit part of my fixed amount savings, deposited in Japan's post office and matured last month, in HSBC Hong Kong where I've had my bank account for 13 years, and to buy some gold which was a bit inexpensive than what you buy in Japan. Since nobody can predict what will happen to Japan and its economy in the future, I think it is reasonable to diversify assets both nationally and internationally to reduce risks of the loss due to possible economic confusion.

 

I found out two notable things through this trip. One is that Kagoshima is in fact one of important gateways of Japan for some foreign travelers. From Tokyoite's point of view Kagoshima looks the southernmost far end of Japan, but for some people it is not. I heard that a sales clerk of Chou Sang Sang's Central store who sold a gold necklace to me saying that she had ever been to Japan for leisure, entering Japan at Kagoshima Airport and then moved east to Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo, where she departed. She also said that it was a golden route for travelers from China and Hong Kong. Those facts suggest that cities like Kagoshima, Nagasaki and Fukuoka should look at Asian countries rather than Tokyo to survive in the future.

The other thing is my lacking ability of English conversation. When I talked to the sales clerk or any other people in Hong Kong, all I could say to those people were one-to-two-word sentences like "Yeah," "No," "Thank you," "Oh really?" or something like that. Response speed to English was apparently slower than that of a few years ago. It is clearly because I haven't used English so much for years as it is now irrelevant to me in the workplace. All I can do (and need to do) would be to have at least my home Englishized to get accustomed to English environment and help live in an English way.

The end of globalisation

When I started my career in the late 1990s, my employer encouraged us to have a global mind to cope with Japan’s recession so-called “the lost decade”. By 2000, the words “global” and “globalisation” were used as the keywords — and sometimes buzzwords — for surviving the upcoming new millennium, followed by the dot-com bubble. My coworkers and I were pressured to raise TOEIC scores, to learn SWOT analysis, MECE, and other terms of logical thinking, to abandon obsolete Japanese work style and get accustomed to global — in many cases American — way of thinking. 

In 2006, those ideas were changed. Seeing the Livedoor scandals and accompanying downfall of dot-com millionaires, Japanese people found out that the American way did not work. Instead, they began taking a second look at their own country and reviewing the good things of it. The company I worked for focused on the products for domestic customers rather than overseas ones, with “the Japan quality” as its corporate philosophy.

Starting 2010s, people’s inward-oriented views were changing into global again. Japanese enterprises were going out overseas, not only to the United States at that time but to the Third World such as India, China, Russia, Brazil and Southeast Asian and African countries. I had more and more opportunities to get involved in the services offered to such customers going to those countries in order to meet their needs and demands.

The first half of 2010s was the years of transportation. Low cost carriers helped people fly abroad at low air fares. Everywhere you can see people travelling to and from all over the world on a regular basis.

Yet you see that people’s favour of the global-oriented mind or the local-oriented one swings from side to side every five or six years. That being the case, such a globalised world will come to an end shortly. The event that happened this week in the United Kingdom showed that the most symbolically. The referendum determined the UK to leave the European Union it had joined in 1973. Other European countries like France, Italy and Spain begin the preparation of such referendum whether they should leave or remain the EU by some people tired of enormous numbers of immigrants from the Middle East and accompanying terrorist attacks occurring inside Europe. 

Likewise, in the United States, Donald Trump, saying that a wall should be built on the border to shut out Mexicans and Muslims, has the enthusiastic support by the conservative and relatively poor American population. Even Hillary Clinton, one of the rival candidates of Trump, says that she is against the US to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In Japan, some nationalistic extremists carrying patriotic flags with them are making a hate speech on the street, saying that the people from neighbouring countries should get out of Japan and go back to their own country.

I think that now is the turning point of the era and there will be no more “globalised World” from now on. People of each country will pay attention only inside their own country. A dispute or, in some cases, an armed clash may begin between some countries. Such an era will last five or six years, at least Trump or Clinton’s presidential term. What we can do right now might be to look on such the World and to have as many options as possible to be able to cope with the future fluctuation of circumstances.

Visiting Maine

I think it's too late to write this entry, but I visited Portland and Boothbay Harbor, Maine in this September. I watched a musical play Carousel at Kokugakuin Tochigi High School performed by its musical club a few weeks before. Carousel is a musical that features a love story of a young girl and a barker in Maine, filmed in 1956. That inspired me to visit this state and, if I could, eat some lobsters and clambakes.

There were no direct flights from Tokyo to Maine, so I chose flights from Tokyo (Narita) to New York (JFK), and from LaGuardia to Portland (Maine's largest city). All flights were Delta Airlines.

DL172 to JFK

Continue reading “Visiting Maine”

Becoming an e-Estonian

Estonia, one of Baltic countries becoming independent of the Soviet Union along with Latvia and Lithania in early 1990s, is one of IT conscious countries with significant numbers of IT-related startups including Skype. Estonian government is making its best efforts to make a "digital country" by inviting IT engineers to a number of offshore development sites in Europe's IT market. 

The government issues Estonian citizens an ID card, just similar to a Social Security Card in the United States, which enables holders to offer one-stop services including taxation, online banking, issuing medical prescriptions, and more. In addition to offering an ID card for real residents, it started the e-Residency scheme, which is available for not only residents within Estonia but people who don't really live in Estonia. In this scheme, an "e-Residency Card" is issued to the "e-Residents" of Estonia and similar services to those for real residents are offered "electronically" with the card via their computers.

e-Residency card

Application for an e-Residency Card is easy. First you have to visit the application page of the e-Estonia website at https://apply.e-estonia.com/. And then you can apply for the card by filling in necessary information in the form of the web page and paying €50.99 online by credit card. You can make the card to be sent to any Estonian Embassy outside Estonia so that you can pick it up at the nearest Embassy without flying to Estonia. About one month from the online application the card will be ready, when you will receive notification by email.

Continue reading “Becoming an e-Estonian”

My second visit to England

I visited the UK again in September as my first visit there in February was very nice. This time I went to Folkestone, Kent, where it was taken place by the musical “Half A Sixpence” I watched at Kokugakuin Tochigi High School, via Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Hastings, Rye and New Romney.
I flew Aeroflot to Moscow, where I changed the plane to London. At Heathrow Airport, I had usual strict inspection at the immigration counter. Being asked why I was going to Folkestone, I answered the plain truth that I had been impressed by “Half A Sixpence” I had watched several weeks before and it had encouraged me to visit there. I told the cab driver who took me to the hotel from the airport the same thing, and he said, “Oh really. Enjoy your trip to Folkestone.”

Continue reading “My second visit to England”

Half a Sixpence again

I visited Kokugakuin Tochigi High School where a friend of mine taught dancing and choreography to the student of the Musical Club as an instructor. There was a cultural festival of this school, and the Musical Club members performed Half A Sixpence. It was the second time to see this show since I saw it ten years before at just the same place.

That motivated me to visit Folkestone, England where it took place in.

A walk in London

(Continued from A stroll in Haworth)
On the third day I checked out of the Heathfield B&B in the rainy morning. Since it was a weekday, Keighley Worth & Valley Railway was out of service. The mistress took me to the nearest bus stop on Rawdon Road and told me to wait there for the bus for Keighley.
While waiting for the bus, an old lady talked to me. She asked me where I was going. I answered that I was going to London. Another lady joined us, and they and I talked a bit until the bus was coming.
In the bus I sit on the upper front seat and the ladies stayed downstairs. Arriving at Keighley bus terminus, I got out of the bus. The train station was a bit distant from the terminus, so I didn’t know how to get there. Then the lady who had talked to me first at the Rawdon Road bus stop found me standing there, and told me to follow her to the train station as she was just going for shopping near there. How kind of her! With her help I could get to the Keighley train station.
Waiting room of Keighley station Lunch
Continue reading “A walk in London”

A stroll in Haworth

English breakfast
(Continued from A trip to real England)
Breakfast served at Heathfield Bed & Breakfast was really British-style, with a fried egg, fried potatoes and mushrooms, a fried tomato cut in half, two slices of bacon and two sausages as well as cereals, slices of bread, a glass of orange juice and a cup of tea. I have a good appetite for breakfast in England, because when it’s a breakfast time in England it’s the time to have dinner in Japan where it’s nine hours ahead.
Continue reading “A stroll in Haworth”

A trip to real England

Town in Haworth
Although it was a bit while ago, I made a private trip the United Kingdom. It was not the British Hills, not an English village, not a British-style cottage in Tochigi Prefecture, not any other “fake Britain” in Japan. It was the real England, where I had wanted to visit before I died. I visited London and Haworth, West Yorkshire. Both of those places were introduced in a Japanese manga, Emma, by Kaoru Mori, which was one of my favourite comics I’d ever read.
Continue reading “A trip to real England”

Paju English Village

Market Street
Visiting England is one of the things I want to do in the future. I planned a trip there in the middle of September. I purchased air tickets to and from London, and booked hotels there. To my sorrow, however, I was forced to cancel all of the reservations because of hectic work I had for almost two years. The British Hills is one of its alternatives, but I get tired of it as I visited there many times. One day I heard that there was such a place in South Korea mocking English streets. That’s why I visited South Korea this month, though I don’t understand Korean at all.
Continue reading “Paju English Village”