It was in July 1983 that I first went to Hamamatsu, in Japan. Since then, I have been going there thrice a year. Trips to the city usually last for a few days and are packed with meetings at the Suzuki plant. We work on products that the company plans to launch in India over the next few years. I have seen how Hamamatsu has changed over three decades. These changes are similar to what I see around me in Gurgaon.
Japan’s excellent transport infrastructure makes it easy to reach Hamamatsu. My regular is an Air India or JAL direct flight to Tokyo. From there I hop on to a train to Tokyo station and catch the Shinkansen (bullet train) service to Hamamtsu, which I reach by mid-day.
I have realised that staying at Crowne Palais works best for me. It is close to the station and I can get there without hailing a taxi. Hotels in Japan are a standard fare and I prefer this one because of its location. It also allows me to get to work on the day I reach. I stayed at the Grand Hotel a couple of times but don’t find it convenient.
Hamamatsu has plenty of options to eat out. The Japanese love karaoke and business dinners are often followed with a karaoke session. For me, dining usually depends on the company. I prefer tempura restaurants. There is also an Indian restaurant called Kumars.
In 1983, I bought a Canon camera and have followed it up by shopping for a lot of electronics. Japan is not as attractive as it used to be because of the conversion rate and because a larger variety of goods are now available in India.
However, it will still take some time for India to beat their quality. I have also bought a lot of ceramic ware from the city malls.
For first time visitors, there are a few attractions to visit. Try the zoo, the many parks around the place, the limestone caves and the air force museum. If you can help it, make sure you don’t visit during January. The icy winds make the present cold wave in Delhi very pale in comparison.
I.V. Rao is managing executive officer, engineering, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.
(As told to Samar Srivastava)