Day-by-day minutes of the trip
Trip to Japan
Day 1: Arrived 6am, check in at 12, 6 hours to kill. Visited the imperial palace and saw some pine trees and cherry blossoms (sakura). Beautiful. Ginza was the place with the higher end stores, Kuwaitis would love it. Saw Gundam at Odaiba, then finally went home at 1pm and hit the sack.
Day 2: Went to JICE headquarters. Met with the directors and 3 potential directors (lol). Met also with Dr Fujimoto (ER) who gave us a talk on health care in Japan and their health insurance policy. Govt vs Private. Salaries, and general facts and figures. Epidemiology, go figure.
Day 3: Tokyo, Kitahara life Support hospital Private hospital, mainly neurosurgical and rehabilitation. Has an ER department, sees around 300 patients per month (10 per day!). 2 resus beds and 3 observation. Resort like.
Day 4: Aizawa hospital Private hospital. Specialised mostly in nuclear medicine etc. Has an ER that accepts all cases. Red cases should be diverted to shinsu. Shinsu university hospital Amazing ER. Advanced ER. Monocyte immunotherapy center available. Adjuvant to common standard for cancer treatment (surgery, radio, chemdo). Has a cell processing center which rocks. Nursing home Almost like a hotel. Geriatrics of course. Private though not government funded.
Day 5: Bullet train back to Tokyo (3 hours) then bus to Shonan Kamakura General Hospital (2 hours). My bum hurt from all the sitting. Met up with guys in suits. Admin staff, wish our guys can take leaf outta their books. Knew everything about the hospital, fantastic. Had a huge ER, complete triage system, hospital was rebuilt to accommodate modern system. Old hospital demolished (resembles Kuwaits hospitals, the old one). Met Dr Shigeru Saito, top interventional cardiologist. Sent 5 japanese residents to train under Dr Ibrahim Al-Rashdan.
Day 6: Tokyo Women’s Medical University. Nuclear med Toshiba factory.
Day 7: FREE! Rappongi hills and Shibuya. Then Rappongi again at night.
Day 8: Went to Hakone to ride a pirate ship and see Mt Fuji. Rained cancelled that, managed to get super drenched while shopping for souvenirs. Ended up going to Ginza, high end street place. As in, Dior Building, Chanel building, gucci building, Cartier building, you name the brand, the store is a whole building.
Day 9: Late start 11:45am. time to check out Square Enix HQ. Just my luck, Square Enix HQ relocated to Higashishinjuku. Headed there regardless. Checked out the national disaster centre. State of the fucking art place. Its like a dream come true for any emergency physician. Rock stars. Went mental in Ginza today. Think tokyo has so many cool things its ridiculous.. Video game geeks, rejoice. Its heaven.
Day 10: NIRS Heavy Ion Cancer Therapy. Saw how people use big machines (I mean, building size) to cure crazy diseases. Quite a bit out of my depth, but interesting nonetheless.
Day 11: Gundam University. Well, Gunma actually. Basically a smaller version of day 10. Boring.
Day 12: JICE certificates day. Wohoo.
As usual, any preparation by the CSC in Kuwait was beyond terrible. I was called at 1pm to attend a meeting at 1:45pm (which I promptly declined). I was this close (doing the whole finger to thumb thing) to quitting. Not to mention the little dance I was made to do with the paper work while I was at the CSC (go to the 5th floor, then 7th, then 6th, then back to 7th, then 5th..)
The flight to Tokyo was longer than I thought, and gave us more than a few jiggles on the way. What I really wanna say is
OMG I ALMOST DIED!
But anyway. The trip was mainly meant for us to learn about their technology, and Japan as a whole.
Boy, did we learn.
Simply touching down in Naritta airport in Tokyo was a sign of things to come. All the immigration / passport check posts were manned, and all the staff manning them were standing up, regardless if no one was at their post or not, awaiting incoming people, with a smile.
Compare that with Kuwait when you arrive? Yeh, quite difference Id say.
Im not going to be going into detail about the whole trip, that clickable drop-down box in the beginning of the article has the minutes of everyday of the trip, read at your leisure, even though I know 70% of you wont be assed (neither would I to be honest).
The things that really stood out for me would definitely be the following (clicking will skip down the page to that section):
Easily 70 years ahead of us. I mean, this one time (in band camp) we went to one of the dodgiest areas in Tokyo, by accident I assure you, and we decided we were hungry. That dodgy restaurant in that dodgy area was actually miles more advanced technologically than some of our decent restaurants in Kuwait!
It was sushi obviously, but all we needed to do was sit down, tap the touch screen menu to our side (which was available on every table), pick out the food we wanted, portion size and all, and boom, it was brought to our table. We had the option of swiping our credit cards, or simply waiting to pay by cash on exit.
Wifi was in abundance of course. In the subway, JR, hotels, streets, restaurants, you name it. Some were password protected, but people who protect their wifi with passwords should be shot anyway.
Vending machines! Cant get over them, I mean, we wall know the whole 100 fils gets you a coke or 7up in our countries, condoms in the western world, but ever had the choice of choosing warm vs cold drinks? A red button indicates a hot drink, and you have a whole load to choose from. Coffee, coffee with milk, latte, cappuccino, tea, maybe with milk, green tea with peppermint. Seriously cool stuff.
Infrastructure was magnificent. Walking around town was never so easy. You dont wanna walk around buildings to get to a certain block? No problem, you can walk right through them. They have walkways above ground level, interlinking between sky rises, allowing you the ability to take on the city by foot. The walkways are a great way to get across town, especially if you dont want to walk down alleyways and the such.
Railways are divided into 4: The subway (below ground), The JR (above ground), The bullet train (350km/hour) and the airport express.
You’ll never come across more efficient people. Very minimal space is wasted. Every business we visited, regardless of what they did, had clearly defined areas that people adhered to. This included their hospitals. Have you visited the Amiri Extension in Mubarak Al Kabir hospital? Or the entrance to Adan Hospital Emergency dept? You’d think all that empty space was being utilised.
When we request a patients files, we literally wait for some dude to bring em. What these guys had was some sort of rail system connected throughout the hospital delivering their files across em.
Ive never seen cherry blossoms before this trip. I mean real live cherry blossoms in full bloom. End of March, early April is their season. They call them “Sakura” in Japan, and they are simply wonderful to look at. If you still dont know what they are, they’re those gorgeous pink leaved trees you tend to see in some of the Japanese-style movies (Kill Bill etc.), and in all fairness those movies do not do them justice.
Now this must be the standout section of the whole trip. You know that time when you order a Big Mac Meal with extra fries, and the dude in front of you orders a salad? Ever have that feeling of “shit, im a walking garbage can”? Well, thats what the Japanese people make you feel like whenever you meet / greet them. Im not talking about that one person who went out of his way to help us, im talking about almost everyone we met!
CEO’s, Presidents of companies, admin staff, corporate VP’s, random strangers, elderly or young all treated us the same way – Politely. From guiding us from A to B, providing us with umbrellas if it started raining, I really dont know where to start in order to do them justice. I also found that thats how they treat each other as well.
As a sign of respect, they never hand over anything with one hand, its always traded with two hands and a small bow. Paying is never an “exchange”. You place your cash on the tray they provide, and they give you back your cash the same way, no hand to hand stuff. The lower the bow, the higher the level of respect, thats not just what you see in the movies.
Bushido man, what a way of life.
In contrast, how many times have you stood in a queue in Kuwait and have the guy in front of you start smoking, blowing smoke in your face? Or that dude staring at you cuz you happen to be walking like any human being in the world does. Don’t even get me started on traffic and the attitude people have in our country, there really is no ground to start comparing on.
Live like a tourist, and you’ll pay the price. Live like a local, and my lord does life get cheap. I mean, cheap cheap, not “a little bit cheap” cheap.
Point A to B by taxi cost 9KD (£20 / $31), but my rail it cost a measly 500fils, if not less.
You wanna eat in a Michelin starred restaurant? Be my guest, but get ready to shell out roughly 500Kd for that meal.
Sushi on the other hand costs roughly 1-2kd for a full meal.
Ginza is the most well known high end street in Tokyo, with full scale buildings of luxury brands. Its unlike something ive seen before. 12 floors of Cartier? Come on buddy!
Real estate on the other hand may be another issue, but hey, Kuwaitis live on the most expensive property per metre squared in the world, so who’s complaining?
Heaven. The country, its people, the cleanliness, the technology, far outweigh anything it may offer in terms of disadvantages.
Definitely recommend a visit.