Travel leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." — Ibn Battuta
It was just three weeks after the Fukushima reactor meltdown, which occurred a few days after the Tsunami. Our client had placed a hold on all travel to Japan, but as a vendor we did not fall under the moratorium. Taking into consideration the wide range of reports, opinions, and suggestions, we decided to continue with research as scheduled.
So I boarded a 747 with only 112 other brave souls headed to Narita Airport. Checked into my hotel, and on the way up to my room, noticed that all even number floors had a black sticker on them so it appeared that only odd floors were an option.
Rumor had it that the water system had been contaminated, so bottled water and very fast showers were the norm for three days. Research went as if nothing had happened. Respondents showed up on time and nobody even mentioned our potentially disastrous situation.
The evening of my third night, I was discussing the findings of the research with a colleague. I was standing in my hotel room, 17 floors up, talking via Skype, when a rumble began. It sounded like someone rolling a heavy cart down the hallway. Then the vibrations began pulsing through the floor. It was loud enough that my colleague heard it and inquired about its source. Eventually my hotel was swaying so severely that the drapes were literally slamming into the window. It was an unforgettable feeling of awe and helplessness, resulting in an astonishing calm. Calm… because what else was I going to do 17 floors up? Turns out it was a 7.4 on the Richter scale. I don’t stay at any other hotel when I go to Tokyo, now that I know which one will definitely hold up to anything.
Research continues in Japan despite natural disaster
Research consultant Jason Shockey meets a new friend during a recent research project.
Matt-San, you taught me to be brave in my profession, to dig and probe and not get distracted — but most of all, to respectfully challenge my doctors and realize that I CAN ask those questions, look them straight in the eye and expect them to work with me. That has made me a better moderator and I thank you for that.
My greatest reward happened just a few weeks ago in Osaka, a delightful moderator, who
I’d not worked with in a few years, happened to be at the same facility. She said to me:
I always miss my family when I travel for a project, but I truly love experiencing new cities and cultures.