Today's Notables

Shanghai Business Travel Log (Part 1)

May 2002
Hisashi Furuichi
President and C.E.O.

After visiting Ross in February, I was off to Shanghai beginning April 14th for 6 days. I went with Mr. Takamura, Executive Managing Director, who was going there for the first time and a little unsure of what to expect. However, there are several Tokushu Kika affiliated companies around Shanghai. The purpose of our trip this time was to pay several visits to customers.

The first time in a foreign country, you always feel a little bit uneasy about the unknown but have set expectations based on previous information as well. I originally planned on going in March for only 3 days but my father, Minoru Furuichi, Chairman of TK, suggested that we go to the US at the same so my plans changed.

During my 5 years living in the US, it became second nature to go to any airport, rent a car and head to my destination. Now with the internet, you can just plug in an address from your beginning location to your destination and get driving directions in Yahoo Maps somewhat like car navigation in Japan. When I went to Europe in 2000, I did not necessarily have a problem because most people understand English. My father said that he started feeling like he was kind of behind the times. Japanese have a tendency to know only the Japanese pronunciation so we have difficulty in knowing where to go when a place is pronounced in English or Chinese. So we revised our travel plans to take advantage of a full 6 days. The 2-hour, 15-minute trip from Narita to Shanghai (Hongqiao Airport) goes quite quickly. Because it is an international flight, there is more time than just travel time, but in this case, travel time is actually shorter than a trip from Tokyo to Osaka on the Nozomi.

It seems like whenever you travel to a different country the first thing you notice is a different smell. It is hard to describe, but each country is unique. Then we you return to your home country, most people feel the familiarity, which is mostly likely the smell of home.

Hongqiao airport opened just short of a year ago, and is among the nicest and most modern around the world with hardly a difference between Europe or the US. There is still little air traffic or activity. However, all major international airlines are planning on adding flights to Hongqiao within the year. We arrived at 9pm and were taken to our hotel by our driver. The freeway from the airport to the hotel is 4 lanes in one direction only. Even after exiting the freeway, it was hard to tell that there was any difference because the roads looked so similar. Our accommodations were not right in the city but just outside toward the airport in a quiet area. The hotel was a franchise of JAL hotels and was as luxurious as Hotel Nikko Pudong Shanghai but only cost 9000 yen a night. The room was equipped with a LAN connection, making access to the internet totally free. Even when I went to the Japan Food Service Equipment Convention in Okinawa, I still had to pay a roaming service to Nagasaki to get a connection. Japan still has a way to go in some places.

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