Taking Stock of Japan


Barry at the Tokyo Stock Exchange

I just returned from an absolutely amazing trip to the beautiful country of Japan.

If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it.

It’s a beautiful country with beautiful people.

My family and I were fortunate to enjoy 15 days there traveling around the country seeing the ancient Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, Hiroshima (a must stop for everyone), the big cities, the engaging countryside, and of course, the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

I came away from the country with many impressions.

First, there is much less crime than the US. We could walk through downtown Tokyo at midnight with our children and never feel threatened.

Second, even the big cities are virtually litter free … yet they have no public trash cans! What a contrast to the US where we have trash cans on every block, yet the streets are burdened with litter.

Third, they are a very, very polite people. We only encountered one rude person, and after that experience, another Japanese man immediately came up to us and apologized on behalf of the country! Actually that one encounter occurred on the plane while we were still on American soil.

Fourth, the Japanese people are very, very hard working – and even when they have fulfilled their obligation, they are looking for what more they can do. The service we received was the best we’ve had anywhere … and yet they won’t accept tips!

Fifth, the culture is very much enamoured with anything “cute.” They love everything from Hello Kitty to my favorite: “Happy Monkey Babies.”

It’s such a wonderful country, and we met so many fantastic people there, that I miss it already.

As mentioned, we also visited the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE).

Tokyo Stock Exchange CircleThe TSE is one of the 3 largest stock markets, on par with New York and London. Trillions of of yen are traded every day.

Don’t go there expecting to witness the frenzy of floor traders you’ll find in New York or Chicago. The TSE was one of the first stock exchanges in the world to computerize trading, which it began in 1982 and moved to full computerization in 1999. Like most things technological, Japan is ahead of us and we’re playing a bit of catch up.

Not only does it trade stocks, but the TSE also trades options and futures.

Tokyo Stock ExchangeWalking into the TSE is akin to walking into an library. There are very few people and it’s so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

There’s an almost haunting absence of human presence in the vast open spaces now that computers have taken over most of the work. Even the slightest whisper bounces off the walls and makes your conversation public.

The main floor houses a huge glass wall circle, inside of which are a small group of people sitting in front of their computers.

Hello Kitty Stock CertificateOff to the side are broadcast booths to televise the events of the day.

It is run like everything in Japan – with pride in it’s methodical and precise operation. Very, very impressive indeed.

We didn’t get any souvenirs while we were there (I hoped they might give out free stock to visitors, but no such luck), but we did get to see an original stock certificate of the company that markets the famous Hello Kitty, so that alone was worth the trip.

TSE MascotSpeaking of Japan’s enjoyment of everything cute, even the TSE has it’s own mascot (see the picture in this post) which was my daughter’s favorite part of the visit to the exchange.

Feel free to click on the pictures to enlarge them and get a better view.



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