Japan and Japanese people – my first impression

It’s Monday the 7th July at Gatwick Airport. I am waiting for my time to fly to Japan for a Kidney Conference representing Kidney Research Kenya and our partners Kiambu County and Kenyatta University, a consortiums of kidney foundations in Kenya headed by our interim chairman Dr. Antony Were who is the head of Renal Unit at Kenyatta Hospital and Dr Moturi representing association of Kenya Nephrologists, Valentine Imoji of Kidney Foundation of Kenya, Dr Ruth Onyango of Life to Life, Jean Banda of Kenya Lupus and a few others in our quest to solving the Kenya kidney problems.


My first impression of japan came flying over the Korean sea after over 16 hours flight through Istanbul in Turkey is that Japan was far tiring, confusing in terms of my body clock and exiting as we are the only ‘dark faces’ in this 777 – 300 Boeing setter plane.


From the air, I can see the many factories and signs of overpopulation, green lands on the eastern cities of Japan and finally a safe landing in the evening surrounded by cool green and somehow wild (so it looked) located – Narita Airport.


This Airport is different from all the airports I have been in Europe, Middle East Africa or even America.  It’s cleanliness looks almost artificial and its operation almost unbelievable quick yet very bureaucratic.


Our first encounter with Japanese is good. Respectful, helpful and willing to listen with a totally different attitude – ‘I am here to help.’ There was no problem at the airport and Dr Wafula and I are in for an hour’s travel between Narita and Tokyo Central Station; except we forgot our £400 worth Japanese railway ticket vouchers designed for tourists and therefore we have to repay for new replacement tickets. Japan is expensive.


The trains leave on time and without delay yet the only foreigners in this train are Europeans – they were the closest cousins in immigrants we feel. At Tokyo Central  station we cannot  not work out where to find our underground station to our hotel and despite our decisions to travel light – one bag each we decide to take a taxi – a black Toyota Crown as it’s the traditional car service to our hotel. The cars are clean, well looked after – passage doors are automated and fully loaded with electronic gadgets to our comfort. The beauty is everyone speaks few words of English and therefore you are never completely lost.


It costs us 2340 Yen to the hotel. The hotel reception looks a size smaller that ‘normal’ and everything looks slightly miniaturized. We are shown our rooms and being  well past midnight its time to sleep – spend our first night in Japan and  and face a confident Wednesday the 8th  – our first daylight in Japan.

By Macharia Gakuru – Akasaka Tokyo Japan

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