We felt the magnitude of what we had lost - Japan, with its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and treasured friendships, not to mention the immense power of professional and business connections that had once flourished. So, when we received an invitation to visit the Island in January 2023, we didn't hesitate. Our two-week journey was filled with incredible experiences that we'll never forget. Our hearts are overflowing with joy, and we can't wait to return.
We stitched together a tapestry of unique experiences during our trip, starting with some notable institutional milestones. We had the privilege of visiting the prestigious Rotary Club of Tokyo, and then went on to attend confidential meetings with key players in both the thriving Japanese tech market and with European and US operators looking to break into the Japan import market.
Our journey also brought us into contact with visionary designers and engineers who were focused on pushing the boundaries of immersive, experiential data presentation. We were fortunate enough to visit two standout companies in this field - Teamlab and Metro Commerce Co., Ltd. Their innovative approaches left us spellbound and gave us a glimpse into the future of interactive technology.
Of course, no trip to Japan would be complete without reconnecting with old friends in the Tokyo area and indulging in some of the greatest local food together. We also had the pleasure of making new foodie friends from Italy - Maurizio Tentella and his partner in food and fashion crime, Cece Fox. Our shared love for amazing food and beverage led us on a delicious journey of discovery. Our food explorations also took on a street-style vibe as we immersed ourselves in the vibrant subculture of Shibuya and Harajuku now heading the global hype with directors taking over Kenzo and – in a few days from our visit – Louis Vuitton.
With boundless energy, we also organized a light fashion shoot, taking in some of the hottest spots around Tokyo. We were fortunate enough to work with a talented team of professionals, who quickly became our friends. We are grateful for the fun, joy, and impressive results that we were able to create together during this unexpected adventure.
And how could we resist the chance for a short detour to visit a traditional ryokan? We certainly couldn't. So we hopped on an amazing Shinkansen and made our way to Takegawara Onsen. The weekend felt like an immersive dream in a traditional Japanese winter wonderland, complete with all the cozy comforts and serene relaxation of a ryokan.
One of the most memorable moments of our trip was when we emerged at 5 am in the morning to a frigid outside temperature of -10 degrees. As we walked through the quiet woods alone, we were enveloped by the soft sounds of the nearby river, the occasional flutter of snowflakes falling from the trees, and the distant echoes of animal sounds coming from the mountains. We carried sticks with rattles to deter any potential bear encounters.
But the true highlight of our adventure was soaking in the onsen's 40-degree water, which was surrounded by a beautifully paved stone exterior. As snowflakes gently fell around us, we were able to experience the sensation of a little freshness when they touched our skin. It was an immersive sensory dream come to life, and a moment we'll never forget.
We can only hope to return soon, cherishing the memories of the amazing people we met, both old and new friends. We look forward to keeping in touch and continuing to build on the incredible experiences we shared.