Last Thursday and Friday I had a bunch of meetings with people in Tokyo and Chiba and thus there are stories and pictures.

Tomihisa Fuon, Kazuhiro Toda, Kumi Narita

Office · These three people between them represent four different trade publications: Tomihisa Fuon (Software Design and Web Site Expert) Kazuhiro Toda (Web+DB Press), and Kumi Narita (Java Press). In Japan, the computer trade mags are still great big thick glossy productions. They were terrifically young and eager and full of smart questions. We had an excellent interpreter; there were moments of amusement when there would be a question along the lines of (where “XXX” represents a Japanese word) “XXX XXX AJAX XXX XXX Firefox XXX XXX HttpRequest XXX XXX?” and the interpreter, who wasn’t a web geek, would be struggling a little but that was OK, I knew where they were going.

Check out the graph behind Ms Narita’s head.

Yoshikatsu Kida, Pina Hirano, Ms Ogawa

Above we see Pino Hirano in the middle, flanked by Yoshikatsu Kida of ITmedia Enterprise, another big glossy trade publication, and Ms Ogawa of Infoteria. Hirano-san and I have met before, we had dinner together with Murata Makoto a few years back in a drop-dead-cool little joint just off Shibuya where they specialized in a huge sake list and we tried a whole bunch of ’em; Hirano is a general-purpose entrepreneur and consultant and researcher and all-around Real Smart Guy. Currently he’s running both Infoteria and the Japanese XML Consortium, which does certification, among other things.

Pina showed me a remarkable data graphic he created that shows, for a bunch of different technologies, how many people want to get certified and how many already are; he’s promised to make an English-labeled version and I’ll point to it when he does.

By the way, in both those shots (the Sun office in central Tokyo) the backdrop is approximately the coolest whiteboard in the world only it’s yellowish and the surface is glass not that boring paint, my scribbles looked ever so much smarter, I’m buying the first one I see.

Yasuda, Daiji Hirata, Masashi Yoshitake, Horishi Ogawa

This last office picture was the blogging session, did I ever feel like a doofus. They asked me if I could work up a little talk on blogging, well I have a few of those and stupidly thought it should be at an introductory level. It turns out that Daiji Hirata, second from left, is Vice President, Technology of Six Apart and runs his own ping server just for fun. The other guys, left to right, are Yasuda-san, Masashi Yoshitake, and Hiroshi Ogawa of Cybozu, a successful indigenous Japanese software company who are installed at a whole lot of companies and understand the need for a blogging dimension. The whole gang was full of opinions and questions about client trends and publishing APIs and internal/external blog dynamics.

So I shuffled the slides aside, but that was fine because we got to do the whole discussion around that ultra-cool yellow whiteboard, did I say I wanted one? I think I learned way more than they did.

Dinner at Imaiya

Dinner · After a hard day’s pontificating and prognosticating, the Sun guys and I went out for dinner along with Anne Anderson, visiting from Sun Labs. It is my considered opinion that Tokyo has the highest average standard of restaurant quality in the world; this one is Imaiya, and it is sufficiently out of the ordinary to deserve its own write-up.

The folks in the picture, from left to right, skipping me, are Takashi Ito (a recent acquisition from BEA), Toru Takahashi, Akihito Fujii, and Takashi Shitamichi. A big Thank You! to those last two, and also to Sugimoto-san and Ishihara-san for pulling all these meetings together, and for that outstanding dinner.

Yahootinis! · Friday night I was determined to go to the Chiba Marines baseball game since their stadium is right there in Makuhari on Tokyo Bay, but towards game time it was like 11°C with a nasty brisk wind, it would have been the Japanese equivalent of freezing your ass off watching the Giants on San Francisco Bay which I’ve done often enough thank you. So when Tim Converse invited me to the Yahoo! bash I went, and I was glad because the food was very decent and there were lots of interesting people to gossip with. I finally got to talk to Eric Meyer, who’s been one of my heroes for the longest time, and had some amusing arguments with the hosts about Yahoo!’s market share and Sun’s management style.

What a Yahootini is I don’t know, but it comes in a martini glass and is pretty darn tasty and five or six of them cause animation in even the most reserved web geeks, it turns out.

Tantek Çelik is a vegetarian, which is kind of tough in Japan, but he seemed to be enjoying his plateful of carrot sashimi.

Tantek Çelik

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May 14, 2005
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