2 Oct 2013
Another photo from that rediscovered box from my garage-see previous post.For me this is a wonderful evocative photo.It reminds me of so many negotiations with Japanese suppliers through the 70's and 80's.It was taken on that 1979 visit-see post below-in a meeting room at a major company's Head Office in Tokyo.
The meeting rooms were always tired and in need of a freshen up.There was always the mandatory flags on the table.The interpreter was always a young graduate in a very dark suit with the same haircut.He always arrrived just on time to pick you up at the hotel in the morning and delivered you back in the evening.We found out that this one lived over an hour out of the centre of Tokyo by train although he may have left us late in the evening but he turned up bright eyed and bushy tailed on time early the next morning.And the interpreters very rarely let their guard down.Even when just with the westerners over a few beers.They were always inscrutable.And they travelled with virtually nothing.Even when a trip to a distant factory and an overnight stay was involved they only brought along a very small briefcase.Japanese hotels usually provide toothbrushes and disposable razors in the rooms-what else do you need for an overnight stay? Well maybe the briefcase lived upto its name and just held a tightly rolled up pair of fresh underpants -- let's hope so.
Actually the company men never stayed in hotels they always went off to the company boarding hostel.
The furniture in the meeting rooms was always the same-heavy Japanese Imperial style.There was always the big circular ashtray placed in front of the head company man.And the head men always looked the same- bored and detached and dragging on a cigarette,hair Brylcreemed back in Japanese senior management haircut style .And always wearing the workwear boilersuit with a white shirt and tie and a few pens in the boilersuit breast pocket.
A pall of stale smoke hung over the meetings from those damn cigarettes.In summer it was much worse as Tokyo in summer is very hot and oppressive and the room's airconditioning was invairably confined to a small unit ineffectually throbbing away in one corner.
So evocative.I wonder if it's changed now.
Photo by me Olympus OM2 photo on Ilford HPS film.