Everything works in Japan

Tomi Ruusulaakso and Mika Anttila, the commissioning engineers of UPCAST OY, spent almost a month in Japan last winter. What they remember the most are the skilled workers, polite people and good food.

The moment when the plane landed at Narita Airport in Japan, the bustle of the huge city of Tokyo made a big impression. There were people everywhere and traffic moving on several levels.

– I come from a small town and have not travelled as much as Mika, and everything around me was new and amazing, says Site Manager Tomi Ruusulaakso.

 On the way to their destination

Part of the deal when travelling to new sites is that the customer arranges the pick-up from the airport, and at Narita Tomi and Mika understood the value of this. They were sent instructions regarding the meeting point in advance.

– The instructions were excellent and very detailed. If we had had to find the destination on our own by using different kinds of transportation it would have been extremely challenging, thinks Electrical Engineer Mika Anttila.

The journey to the customer’s site took a few hours and included transfers from train to bus. We passed through many suburbs, and it was very peaceful in the train because speaking out loud is considered rude in Japan.

– We paid attention to the fact that there were no litter bins anywhere. This was due to the attack in Tokyo’s metro some time ago when the bomb was left in a bin. In the absence of the bins, people carried their rubbish with them and it was so neat and clean everywhere, Mika continues.

Different coffee from vending machines

The working days at the factory were normally from nine to five and the men learnt very quickly how skilled and professional the workers were.

– Everything was always well prepared when we arrived and that way we were able to proceed with our commissioning work.

Every morning the workers got together for a briefing for the working plan of that day. And the work was always done on schedule as planned, sometimes even a bit faster.

Tomi and Mika noticed how the forklifts always played happy melodies when moving from one place to another. The Japanese were also very careful when walking over the crossings in the factory area: it was like it had its own choreography with hand signals.

– In Japan, safety is really a top priority in many things. We took a safety course before staring our job, and you had to always wear helmets and safety glasses at the factory.

There were no specific coffee breaks; you had to drink your coffee while working. Coffee was available in a can from a vending machine – either cold or hot.

– At the end of the day all the work places were carefully cleaned. It was very nice to come to work in the morning in such a neat and clean environment.

In Japan the safety is really top priority in many things.

Excellent supper

After working hours, the men explored the city and the nature nearby on foot. In December, the satsuma trees were bearing their fruit and you were able to pick them when walking by. Tomi and Mika tried always to eat supper in different places.

– The customer took us out for dinner many times, which was very nice. We had an excellent meat in a restaurant where the barbeque was in the middle of the table and the meat was grilled there during the dinner, they say.

Normally there were pictures of the meals, which was very helpful when ordering since the local people did not necessarily speak much English. Once, however, they brought a whole raw chicken to the table!

– That meal did not go as planned! I had no idea that the chicken would be served raw, but I ended up eating it anyway. Otherwise on this trip we enjoyed very good food, compliments Tomi.

Karaoke in tiny rooms

One evening Mika and Tomi visited a karaoke bar where the group was given a private karaoke room.

– I do not go to karaoke bars in Finland but here I decided to sing a couple of songs. While I was singing I thought that it might be that the system was correcting my singing when it was out of tune. It’s very difficult to sing when you no longer recognize your own voice, Tomi laughs.

During the time they were there, the commissioning engineers had time to make a day-trip to Tokyo, where again there was a customer representative to meet them. They had the chance to view the city from a 300-metre-high tower and visit a beautiful temple.

What is also worth mentioning is the fact that nobody paid any special attention to us, even though we certainly stood out from the crowd due to our appearance. We felt like we were invisible. It was kind of funny. The local people treated us very well and made us feel welcome, the pair say, with gratitude. •