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Dr John Hawkins

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Mount Beer

Posted on 2006/08/06 03:36:51 (August 2006).

[Thursday 3rd August]
Allow me to take this opportunity to publicly apologise for any negative comments I may have made about Japan in recent months. I had clearly forgotten to take into account one hugely important factor: beer gardens.

Tonight was the first night of Chie being away, and so naturally some form of outing was required. As it was a school night though, I didn't want to be too excessive. Luckily I knew just the thing. I'd seen a lot of adverts for a beer garden atop Takaosan - the mountain near Tokyo me and Chie had been to for days out a couple of times before. This sounded fantastic and I'd been itching for an opportunity to go since it had opened at the start of the summer. As it turned out TK also seemed keen to give it a try, and so we had a plan.

We left the office scandalously early - before 5 - although I can't say I felt particularly guilty as this week I'd stayed past 8 more than once already. So we were at Takaosanguchi (the station at the foot of the mountain) just before 6. We took the cable car to the top from there. The sense of anticipation and excitement in the cable car was really palpable - to my delight TK also was visibly excited at the prospect. The cable car run is apparently the steepest in Japan, so this small novelty at the start added to the excitement. TK had a charmingly boyish sense of wonder about him as the cable car climbed up the mountain - and whilst I was trying to act like I'd seen it all before, I probably also had a similar look about me.

The top of the mountain, was, I'm glad to report, by no means an anti-climax. Looking at it clinically the beer garden in itself was probably not significantly different to those you'd find on the roofs of department stores in the centre of Tokyo. Beer is pretty homogenous in Japan (although, I might add, generally quite good if you don't mind the cold lager variety), and the food at these kind of places is never really much to write home about.

However, this place had the obvious major assets of its location. So there were some great views out over the forest covered mountain, and to the city down below. Oh and we also managed to get there in time to see the sunset. Plus the air is much cleaner, and beyond the hub-bub of the beer garden itself, there wasn't the usual background din of traffic you get anywhere in Tokyo.

The combination of the great location, and the special trip you have to made to get there, meant that everyone seemed to be really jubilant - the atmosphere was just great. The fact that it was a bit boroi (Japanese for old and grotty) didn't seem to matter to anyone - they could have served stale warm beer and turds on a stick, and still people would come in their droves.

Like many beer gardens, the place operated a fixed time nomihodai / tabehodai system. So when we entered they stamped the time on our tickets, and the basic fee (a very modest 3150 Yen - about 15 quid) entitled you to eat and drink as much as you wanted for 2 hours. We were a little slack with our time keeping (we were enjoying ourselves, OK?) and so we ended up at more like 2 hours 45 minutes. Luckily there was a very reasonable system in place for dealing with "overtime", and if I recall correctly our 45 minutes of slippage only set us back 1000 Yen (under 5 quid).

We got on the cable car on the way back down just before 9, so it wasn't that crowded. I think the last one was at about 9:45, which I get the impression may have been somewhat less than pleasant, probably being packed to the gills with people a little worse for wear.

The train from Takaosanguchi passes the station where my office is, and to my surprise I found myself getting off there, around 10PM, and certainly not in a fit state to engage in brain surgery. Things are a little busy at work right now, and at the moment I am working very closesly with our offices in America and Europe. Before leaving the office earlier that day I'd set off a job that would take about 3 hours, at the end of which I needed to send off the results to people at the other offices so they could pick up the baton from there. So I only had a small amount of work to do, but had I left it until the morning, we'd have lost a whole working day in the other offices (hope that makes sense - it's a time zone thing). I even managed to fit in a technical chat with one of the engineers in Europe, and thanks to the wonderful level of abstraction you get with Instant Messenger type applications, he probably didn't notice that I was totally pissed.

So I finally got home around midnight, having had a very nice night out, and also feeling very pleased with myself for a job well done at work.

Comment 1

I a sure msn has some kind of drunk-plugin that does a fuzzy logic clean-up of what you type, if not I think you should suggest it at your next 'i've got a great idea' meeting.

Posted by kev at 2006/08/06 11:18:18.

Comment 2

Whenever you do a job search (where I work) and, say, look at Norwich, but a job in Edinburgh comes up, they explain this as "fuzzy logic" in the search algorythm. "Completely Out Of Focus Logic" might be better...:)

Posted by Nigel at 2006/08/08 15:34:29.

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