Travel diary Kyoto, Japan

Matthias Lürkens, head of development at Gesytec, recently visited the Japanese city of Kyoto to attend the LonMark International Board Meeting. In a travel diary, he jokingly tells us about his experiences with Japanese culture, the peculiarities you face as a European, the extraordinary architecture and culture, and the business meeting that took place. In addition to its world-famous cuisine, temples and educational institutions, Japan has many surprises in store for our development manager.


At 7:45 am I leave for the airport a little earlier than planned. Because I’m stuck in traffic jams for half an hour before I arrive Düsseldorf, this turns out to be a good decision. I hand in my luggage, the security check is also no problem for the experienced passenger and so there is enough time to read the daily newspaper and to dink a cup of coffee before departure. With a half ballistic flight I fly from Düsseldorf to Amsterdam and after a short time I am on my way to Kyoto in the Dreamliner. I have booked a seat (30C) at the emergency exits, because now I have two meters of legroom. Lunch is served, then the cabin lights are turned off and all passengers shall sleep. With a mask and earplugs I’m more or less successful. After a little more than eleven hours and a breakfast on board, I arrive at Kansai Airport – an artificial island – in Japan. For the first time I put my feet on Japanese soil.


I get Yen, a data sim card and a ticket to Osaka. As usual in Japan, riding the train is a pleasure and shortly afterwards I arrive at MegaChips in Osaka, a little tired and not quite respectable any more. I get to know the department head and we make a few arrangements for our current developments. I unwrap the Printen from Aachen as a small gift for guests. The first meeting with a Japanese toilet takes place, pre-warmed and with more buttons than my old Opel had. But I am prepared and have a translation in my pocket. Later Kengo will help me find the right train to Kyoto and – because that’s as complicated in Japan as it is in Germany – buy the right ticket. After about 30 minutes I’m in Kyoto and take a taxi to the hotel. A shower later I circumnavigate the hotel and the shopping area and fall into bed early in the evening.


I wake up half an hour before the alarm clock, so at 5:30 am. Bad luck, so I shower, check and answer emails, the breakfast is only available from 7:00 am. I am on time for breakfast and there is also toast, scrambled eggs, EasyOver or SunnySideUp. The day is halfway saved. At 08:00 am I go with Rich from Echelon and his wife to the Nikko Hotel, where we meet the rest of the LonMark International Board. We wonder at the narrow streets, but in Japan everything seems to be a bit smaller, even the hotel room. We take a taxi to train station, from there by train to MSYSTEM, a member of the LonMark Japan. We enter the building and exchange our shoes for ESD slippers. After a performance we take a group photo in front of the building in bright sunshine. Than we go back in, which means we change shoes again. We have to do this twice during the sightseeing tour. After a good, traditional Japanese lunch, we have some time for sightseeing and visit the Todajii Temple complex in Nara with the large bronze Buddha. We admire the complex from the 7th century. The free-running deer beg us for food. Then it’s already time to go back to Kyoto. Ron Bernstein and I meet with the HD-PLC alliance, we discuss joint marketing. In the evening we will have dinner together with the LMI Board, LonMark Japan and the HD-PLC alliance. Afterwards we visit a nearby temple complex and admire the beautifully illuminated garden. Unfortunately, the facility closes at 10:00 pm, so we go back to the hotel by taxi. I check emails again and because of the time difference I only now have the daily newspaper on my iPad.


I’m awake at 5:30 am. Emails will be answered and we will walk to the meeting point again. From there we go by taxi to the Kyoto University of Applied Sciences – which has already produced a few Nobel Prize winners – and is our conference venue. Now it goes behind closed doors into the board meeting. The Printen from Aachen are also very popular here. During the day we give a lecture to professors and students, our lunch takes place in the cafeteria. As also usual in Europe, students are mainly supposed to learn something here. In the evening the university gives us a small reception, but we are back in the hotel a little earlier than expected: So I check emails again and read the daily newspaper. And in addition, I create an abstract for an article in LonMark magazine.


Today the alarm clock has to go off. Again we take a taxi – as usual, the driver wears white gloves and crocheted covers over the backrests – to the university and in casual Friday outfits we work off the second part of our agenda. It is noticeable that I am twittering diligently, because my tweets automatically land on the news page of LonMark International. At noon we are in a tiny street restaurant, in which there is no one but us. At about 5 pm we are done and we go to the hotel to freshen up, because at 7 pm we meet in a Teppanyaki restaurant, which we fill out again completely. The food is prepared in front of us and after a few hours and several courses further on we are well saturated. We walk through the Gion Quarter, where we see some geishas. Quite unjapanese we go to a bar and have another nightcap. Back in the hotel as usual: a) Email, b) Daily newspaper.


Since it’s Saturday, I can sleep late. My sense of time is disturbed, sleeping late means 6:30 am for my inner clock. I’m working on the cash report for LonMark Germany and other things, interrupted by breakfast. At 10:00 am I meet Ron Bernstein and we are preparing a lecture, because it is raining anyway. Why was the weather so nice in the days before? In the afternoon it is dry and we visit the Nijo Palace, a World Heritage Site. We admire the paintings and the gardens. We have lunch in the teahouse of the facility; five over 50 year olds take a seat on flat cushions and try to get back on their feet after traditional moodles. We finish the sightseeing with a shopping tour, I have some business talks. As we have eaten enough in the last days, a small snack at the hotel bar is enough and this time we leave early. I’ve got some packing to do.


It’s 5:00 am and I’m out of bed because I have to get back to Osaka by taxi and train. I have to cancel Breakfast, but the taxi driver speaks a few sentences of German. After 90 minutes by train I arrive at Kansai Airport. I hand in my suitcase, pass through security check and exit control, now I have 45 minutes to board. For my dear wife I buy a present, because last Wednesday was her birthday. I have a little breakfast and then I go to a Dreamliner again, neatly divided into boarding zones. As its heading west now, I’ll stay awake. After dinner I do some homework and spend my time reading and watching two movies. I arrive in Amsterdam on time; I spend the layover time in coffee and writing visit reports. I call home to say that I’m in Europe again. A Cityhopper takes me back to Düsseldorf. The suitcase appears astonishingly fast on the belt and since I remembered the parking lot number by mobile phone photo, I also find the car again. Now it’s 60 minutes to go home. I’m not hungry, because the inner clock is on night sleep. The scale says I lost 2 kilos. I’m ready for the bed. After 6 days I’m back in my own bed, tomorrow the colleagues will see me again.