First time in Japan, visiting netconf 2006

I've just arrived in Japan for netconf 2006. It's quite a pity that I'll only stay one week, but my current business-related schedule doesn't allow for anything more (actually, it wouldn't even allow for netconf, but some events are just too important...).

So here's my report on the first couple of impressions:

  • Everywhere (airport, train stations, inside trains, ...) it is extremely quiet. Almost nobody talks - and if, then very silently. This is extremely convenient, and I would love to see this to a similar degree in other places...
  • At the airport, there was somebody "defragmenting" the luggage on the conveyor belt, i.e. assuring that the maximum number of suitcases fit onto it, rather than causing a queue of incoming luggage because of an apparent "full" belt.
  • At the immigration, an extremely long queue formed. At some point a baby started crying. Immediately one of the immigration officers left his booth, made his way through the queue to escort father + baby (mom was not in the queue) directly to his booth, giving them preference. I'm impressed.
  • At the airport train station, a ticket vending machine ate my 1000 Yen bill and responded with some buzzing and the very descriptive "Not Ready" error message. While I was still undecided whether that is a malfunction, or the machine is just checking that bill very thoroughly, some JR staff member was running towards me, apologised, and disappeared in some small service room. Two minutes later, he opened a small window next to the ticket vending machine, where he handed me back the bill. I'm even more impressed!
  • Japan seems to be the only place (at least as far as I can tell) where "The Coca-Cola Company" has managed to produce soft-drinks that do not contain ridiculous amounts of sugar or artificial sweetener. (and I don't even know how it's called because there is only a Japanese name on it)
  • At the airport I used WiFi. This is the first time that I used a public hotspot that did actually use stateless IPv6 auto-configuration to give you a valid IPv6 address. I praise those responsible for that... stunning!
  • The only negative aspect so far is the lack of a GSM network here. Too sad...