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90 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2019 and attentive company I have ever flown with- in the economy cabin. We landed, collected our luggage, and headed for the railway station to catch the bullet train to Osaka city. Reality hit me at this point; this was the first time I had been to a country that did not use a stan- dard alphabet, which meant it was difficult to read the signs directing us to the ticket office. The situation became even more difficult when I reached the front of the ticket queue and asked for two tickets to Osaka City in my best English. To say the guy at the other side of the desk looked a little blank was probably an understatement; he almost looked upset. I realise now that this is how importantly most peo- ple in Japan view their jobs, and the fact that he was not able to help me was probably a low point in his day. It is also typical of the excellent Japanese railway system that within a short time, they had managed to find an English- speaking member of staff to help me. Lessons one and two were pretty swift—don't assume it is going to be easy to read the signs, and don't expect to be able to speak to the locals when you travel long haul. For a short while, I stood and considered the painted lines on the station platform. There were loads of coloured letters and numbers. After a minute, when orderly lines started to form, the penny dropped; the markings were to show you where to stand to get on the train through the most convenient door for your assigned seat. Super- efficient! The train stopped, inched towards the perfect for position, and pulled away at the cor - rect time almost to the second. If you have ever travelled on British Rail, you understand what a revelation this was for me. We made it to the hotel and headed for our room where I promptly lay down on the bed and fell asleep (we had been travelling for 24 hours since leaving home, and I had been awake for the whole time so far). Linda nudged me and suggested this was not the best plan, as it was only 4:00 p.m. and I should really try to get in line with the local clock. I napped for a while, managed to raise myself, and headed for the hotel restaurant located on the 20 th floor overlooking the neon lights of the city of Osa- ka. The meal experience is a special memory for me. The waiters would quite literally run to the table to pour your glass of wine before you were able to touch the bottle yourself. The view was superb with trains far below coming from different directions on multiple levels. It felt like we were on the set of a Hollywood film. It was definitely an experience above my paygrade! The following day, Linda and I headed for Okayama where the test machines were being manufactured. We were met at the station by Hiromi—one of the women from the factory— and taken to the factory apartment where we would be staying. My wife rested, and I headed to work. Hiromi asked what my wife would be doing for the week while I was in Okayama. I realised that perhaps I should have thought about this before issuing the invitation. The working days at the factory could be quite long, and it did not seem like much fun being left in a business apartment on your own. I should not have been too concerned because the women from the factory had it covered. Each day when they picked me up, they brought a set of in - structions for a day out and handed my wife a Japanese cellphone to use in case of problems. Linda had some adventures! I take my hat off to her; she definitely entered into the Jap- anese experience wholeheartedly and had a great time. Even nearly missing her stop on the train, which would have taken her non-stop to Hiroshima, didn't phase her. The recurring problem with not being able to read the local language was recognising station names and trying to use automated ticket machines.

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