Tokyo Concussed

Who are you?

Yen Nguyen, Sr. Project Manager, Scrum Master, Mother of Theo.

What did your past week look like?

I went on a relatively spontaneous trip to Tokyo, Japan! On my first full day there walking around, exploring the city, I slipped and fell and hit my head pretty hard on the pavement. I gave myself a concussion! It was pretty scary since I was alone (Kyle was working) and didn’t exactly want to spend any time in a foreign ER. (Don’t worry, I went to ZOOMcare as soon as I landed in the states.)

Since it was a quick trip, I didn’t make it out of the city but the city itself was pretty cool. Buzzing as one would expect. I shopped and ate as much as my concussed brain would allow. So much good food! And that was the primary goal of my trip – to experience as much of the Japanese culinary scene as I could! It did not disappoint!

Wagyu beef :: drool :: Tempura :: dreamy !!


What was it like being in a different country?

It’s exciting! I just love being abroad. If I could live in a different country again, I totally would. Especially now that I have Theo. My dreeaaaaam is to live abroad with him and Kyle in a number of different countries when Theo is old enough to remember the experience.

What was something that surprised you about your trip?

1. I didn’t realize how severe a concussion could really be! Mine was mild, but still really threw me off for a good solid week-plus.

2. I had no idea until I arrived, but did you know that Tokyo is actually the largest city in the world?!? Yet, while walking through Shibuya Crossing (equivalent of NYC’s Time Square), I did not feel rushed or crowded – there were no flying elbows or pushing or shoving – everyone is extremely polite and efficient! They are totally accustomed to queuing up for everything. It’s so orderly and amazing! Mad props to the Japanese people.


Did you have any “moments of truth” while there, that changed your thinking a little bit?

My thinking is constantly being changed and revitalized when I travel, especially to a country as “put together” as Japan. Particularly for a country that was the most hesitant of any now-developed Asian country to become Westernized, the Japanese are known for taking someone else’s idea and making it better. And if it serves the greater good, I totally support that.

What, if any, inspirations are you bringing back to Sockeye?

There’s soooo much design inspiration to be had! The Japanese are so meticulous in everything they do.

Here’s an example…

I went shopping (pre-concussion) on a rainy day. As I was standing in line (which moves quite quickly) to purchase a sweater (on sale for $30), a sales person comes up to take the sweater behind the counter to put it back in its original packaging, handing it back to me before I reach the cashier. Then the cashier rings me up, carefully and quickly places the garment in a perfectly sized paper shopping bag. And since it was raining outside, they then wrap a plastic rain cover (designed specifically for this – with holes for the handle) so that the paper bag doesn’t get wet. I got THREE layers of packaging for my $30 sweater! It’s pretty wasteful, but I won’t lie – I felt pretty well taken care of and comfortable walking around town with my well-wrapped shopping bag! Goes to show, big ideas come in big presentations – just like Pete taught us!


Anything else to add?

A word I learned: Kaizen.