’Tokyo is very surprising,’ says Janet Fitzpatrick, CEO of
MindShare Japan. ’It’s not architecturally beautiful and it’s largely
low rise as it’s an earthquake zone. But there are parks and in spring
the cherry blossom is gorgeous.
’Essentially, Tokyo is a string of villages with separate
I’ve been here four years and spent the previous five in Hong Kong, so I
don’t find it as frenetic as some people might.
’It’s a tough business environment as it’s a conservative and opaque
market. Issues are carefully considered before decisions are made so
there’s no instant gratification. But if you try to fight the system it
will defeat you.
’The western preconception of extreme formality is not accurate.
Politeness and respect are important, but people can be very warm. I
haven’t found being a foreign woman a disadvantage. If anything it’s a
slight advantage as you are something of a novelty and hard to
’I live 15 minutes from the office as I didn’t want to commute and was
determined not to use the subway, which is incredibly clean and
efficient but very crowded. I take a taxi to work daily. The drivers are
polite and immaculate in suits and white gloves.
’I love the elegance of Tokyo, the politeness and the sense of harmony.
It’s also the safest place I have ever known. You can walk through the
nightlife district at 3am without any risk.’