Robert Crane's site

My little place on the Interweb

Japan

In 1984, I was asked to go to Japan to attend a training course on a new computer system BTI (British Telecom International) were going to be running in London on behalf of Toshiba.

 

My fellow travellers from London were Keith Constantine and Jon Batson although Jon travelled separately from Keith & I. Due to snow in Tokyo, our flights from London were changed at the last minute causing a panic and mad rush to get to Heathrow. At one point, we even believed it to be a wind-up by our managers, Steve O'Gorman and Dennis Gardner, trying to get us to the airport far too early. It wasn't and I still remember almost running to Warren street station wearing my rucksack and carrying a briefcase!

 

The flight took quite a while. We were flying with British Airways although our original flight had been scheduled with JAL but they had cancelled because of snow in Tokyo! What did they know that BA didn't??

In those days, we flew Business or 'club' class and had a stopover in Anchorage, Alaska. Yes, we saw the famous Polar Bear in glass case!

 

When we eventually arrived at Narita airport, the bus network was severely disrupted so the hotel shuttle buses weren't running. We considered a taxi but that would have costed us around 40,000 Yen. We only had about 40,000 each so we decided to try the rail system. Interesting...

But we managed it and arrived safely at Shinjuku station in the centre of Tokyo. With about a dozen exits to choose from, we had to try to find someone that could direct us to the closest exit to the Keio Plaza hotel whic, from memory, we asked a shoe-shiner or newspaper vendor using sign language to point to the exit signs and saying 'Keio Plaza', probably very loudly as most Brits do when they are talking to a foreign person!

 

In Tokyo we met with our partners from New York - Bob (Robert) Fitzmaurice, Ed (eligio) Briones and Irv Cohen - and from Australia Warren Paton.

 

We had all been booked into the Keio Plaza hotel in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo for the 5-weeks of training. Each day we travelled to Toyoda, where the Toshiba factory was, using the Chuo line from Shinjuku station.

Outside Toyoda station, we queued with the rest of the Toshiba employees for the shuttle bus to the factory.