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Hattori writes about technology for Asahi Shimbun, the leading newspaper of Japan. That's how I met him the first time, when he came to the United States in late 1995.

We met in New York; I had dreadlocks and I talked more excitedly about the net. I remember the meeting - it was the first time I had ever had a whole Unagi (sea eel) steak, instead of petite unagi sushis. It seemed like quite a wild deal to me at the time.

He's a smart man with a wry sense of humour. He's got an old world air to him, a sort of patience and dapper smile that is very charming.


In April 2001, I met him at his newspaper, where he is now working as features editor. He gave me a tour of the plant; among the most modern newspapers on the planet. They committed to publishing in Kanji characters, so twenty years ago they developed a custom newspaper Kanji newspaper publishing system with IBM.

I had just come from Tsukiji sushi. We headed out into Ginza for some ramen.

Then we strolled a local garden, over two hundred years old. In twenty years of working two blocks away, he'd never been. It was expansive - the garden unfolded from little moments and small fields into broad pond scapes and vistas of bright yellow flowers. It was a beautiful place - about my only contact with a concerted organizing of plants. I was struck by the barren quality of their grassy areas; in America, most parks would pride themselves on long bladed verdant grasses; here the grass was kept much shorter, like a kind of brisk carpet. And no one seemed to walk on the grass here.

I asked him about the crazy winding streets of Japan, lamenting and somewhat celebrating the quirky layout of the city that makes it somewhat impenetrable. He pointed out that they city had been developed that way on purpose, to stymie attacks and invasion.

Folks | Japan | trip | life

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