international travel adventures part 5 – congress begins

Well today is the first day of the 2010 World Congress.  After a few very rainy days in Tokyo it’s rather nice to enjoy the beautiful port city of Osaka.  I slept in this morning and then heading over to the Grand Cube to register for the congress and pick up all the things I would need for the week (itinerary of events, programs, lunch tickets, gala ticket, etc).

En route to the conference centre, I met up with some friends from JCI USA (Alisa Clum, Mike McCarty, and crew)… I didn’t really know where I was going as I was given a map in only Japanese characters so it was nice to see some friendly faces!

JCI WC Registration at Grand Cube, Osaka

I had booked a massage and reflexology at my hotel for the early afternoon – so a quick journey back to the hotel and off to the spa I went.  Fantastic would barely sum up the experience.  The lady spoke absolutely no English but (through hand motions) she explained to me that my legs were ridiculously tight and I (through English ha ha) explained to her that Tokyo and touring around had killed my body. :)

After a few hours at the spa, I headed to my room to get into semi-formal, as World Congress Opening Ceremonies were tonight!  The event was to be held at the Osaka-Jo (Osaka Castle), but the congress would transport us there from the conference centre. I met a wonderful girl named, Feven, from JCI Sweden on the walk to the buses and we became immediate friends.

The logistics of busing thousands of people to a second location is not so much fun.  Opening Ceremonies were started before we got there (Japan runs everything on time!), because the Prince of Japan was at the event – and he was on a schedule!!  Opening Ceremonies consists of speeches from JCI World President, JCI headquarters, and a presentation of all the National Presidents (or Chief Delegates) worldwide.  I was pleased to see that my Polish twin (yes, we met in Africa last year and became instant buddies), Marta Komosa, was on the stage representing Poland! So proud!

My Polish twin, Marta Komosa, on the stage at Opening Ceremonies (far left).

They had a few entertainment activities planned – crazy awesome tap dancers etc, and then we were off to JCI Japan’s Opening Night.  The event was held a short walk away from the Osaka castle, and the only downer – was that it was held outside (and it was freezing cold!!).  They had plenty of food, beverages, and entertainment – but again, it was cold.

JCI Japan Opening Night

I had an opportunity to reunite with my Aussie friends (shout out to Bridgette, Peter R., Mark, and Noel) and be my usual out of control self.  Marta and I had wanted to head out to a local Japanese pub after the event was over so we took a group of people through the streets of Osaka in search of a venue.  This was much harder than it seems… first of all nothing is in English (surprise, surprise)… secondly, the area of Osaka we were in was fairly quiet.  We found a nice little place and about 15 of us spent the next few hours catching up.

It didn’t end up being a late night… I walked back to the hotel with Tobias from JCI Sweden (another great friend I met in Africa last year).  We have a big day tomorrow – although today the congress officially “opened” … tomorrow is when the tradeshow opens, training begins, and networking is taken up 4000x notches.

I think today is November 2nd, but I could be wrong on that point. :)




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