After a late night of karaoke that saw us back to our rented apartment late (or, rather, early in the wee hours of the morning), I got up early so that I could visit the Tokyo office of the company I work for. Two of my three companions also work for the same company (it’s how we met years ago) so they joined me on my trek to Tokyo Station and the office.
My teammates based in San Francisco and I have been privileged to work with some truly phenomenal people from the Tokyo office but none of us had ever met them face to face. So, with some small San Francisco-themed gifts from our team in tow, we headed for the Yamanote line (JR Train) to take us from Shibuya Station to Tokyo Station. The office is across the street from the station so it was easy to get to. Here is a shot of the 100-year-old restored station with the office building I visited in the background.
With this information, it won’t take a lot to figure out that I work for salesforce.com. I’ve been there for a number of years and even came back after leaving for a year to work for another top-tier tech company. Working at another company was great but I really missed how well salesforce.com treated me and how work-life balance was a priority so I jumped at the chance to come back and they welcomed me with open arms (I’m pretty lucky alright!). I’ll write another post about my career and things I’ve learned but for now I’ll just say that I don’t plan on going anywhere else any time soon. 🙂
I was met in the lobby by one of my colleagues with whom I had only ever conversed via e-mail and Chatter and he could not have been more welcoming and gracious to me and my friends. The office is comfortable and has a killer view of the city. Everyone I met was so welcoming – I’m very grateful to have had the chance to meet the people that take such good care of our customers and my team!
The offices were designed with similar layouts and colors to what we have back in San Francisco so we felt right at home. My friends felt so at home there that they were prepared to move in (seriously!) and spent much of our time there sampling all of the snacks in the kitchens, including rice balls, coffee, tea, gummies, and even soups. The office even has ice cream, which we don’t in my building in SF.
I admit that I, too, was fascinated by the vending machines, much to the amusement of my host at the office. We software engineers clearly have our priorities straight. 😉
After eating the salesforce.com Tokyo office out of house and home, we decided to walk to the Imperial Palace while we were in Chiyoda. The juxtaposition of old and new architecture drew our attention.
This is really a lovely area and clearly high end. I admit I felt a bit out of place not wearing a suit but at least I did wear heels…even if they did cause me quite a bit of pain. 😉
We finally made our way out of the high rises and into the parklands surrounding the palace where we could enjoy a nice view of the city.
Unfortunately, we were only able to get as close as the perimeter of the palace but we were able to get a sense for the scale and architecture at least.
The waterways/moats around the palace were truly impressive.
These water barriers continued around the perimeter of the palace and helped give the impression of a fortress castle rather than a palace alone.
Keep in mind that the palace area is in the middle of the city. Here is a shot of the same building as above taken from a different angle.
Here is a view of the city skyscrapers from the palace grounds. There is a good amount of space between the city and the palace area for the most part.
After our excursion to Chiyoda, my high-heeled feet were in dire need of getting back into my trail runners so we headed back to Shibuya for me to change into trail runners (ahhh happy feet) and to collect our other traveling companion.
Of course, we needed a coffee break and stopped at our local Starbucks on the way. The coffee served here has been consistently good and the baristas already know us! This time, our barista wrote messages for each of us on the cup sleeves. Here is mine (and, yes, this Japanese barista has better handwriting than I do!).
After a bit of rest for which my feet were very grateful, we ventured out into Shibuya again with the goal of finding a place from which we could watch the Shibuya scramble crossing from above. Restaurants appeared full so we headed to the Starbucks there (surprise!) since that store has a second level where one can sip his coffee and look out across the intersection.
We were fortunate enough to get seats along the window and spent time enjoying our coffee and people watching. We even saw a frog mascot join in the fun.
I have no idea what he/she is a mascot for but people seemed to recognize him/her. It was fun taking some time to watch before meeting up with the friend we saw the previous night to explore a bit more.
We made our way to Harajuku and wandered down Jingumae to see the storefronts of the high-end shops there.
That’s it for Day 3. Stay tuned for Day 4 coming right up.