Yesterday Ken and I went up to Kyoto for editorial work and I got a chance to experience the cooperative work spirit of which the Japanese are so proud. Ken is the executive editor of a journal in our field that comes out once a year, and we went up to meet with the editor, Michio, and go over the page proofs for this year's book.
Michio's university is located in the foothills to the north of Kyoto in a beautiful countryside area that's charming but difficult to reach. We first met in his personal office (appropriately called a research room in Japanese, kennkyuu-shitsu, 研究室), which was actually a small library with a desk in the middle surrounded but the internal, free-standing bookshelves.
Since Michio is the head of his department, we then went to his other office (gakka-chou-shitsu, 学科長室), which was just a big empty room with one desk and a conference table. Myself, two professors, another postdoc, and a graduate student sat around the conference table proofreading, while Michio sat at the desk, working on his computer and talking to everyone. We read for hours and then took a long lunch. For some reason, it was decided that I wasn't needed for another hour, so I went into Kyoto to go to a bike shop Simon had told about.
Apparently, the guy who owns the shop was up in Tokyo at the time and it was closed, but I still got to wander around for a bit. Kyoto really does feel like old Japan, and it's full of universities, so everywhere you go, you see people studying. It seems like in every cafe people are reading journal articles.
When I got back to campus, there was of course more work to be done, and we stayed in that room, working around the table until about 7.