Today was the quarterly party for the bowling league. The night was spent drinking and eating nabe amongst the wisps of tobacco fumes while we gossiped and slung stories of bowling and life back and forth. I had the pleasure of sitting next to one of my old team mates. I had either forgotten to ask previously or plum forgot, but he works for JR (Japan Rails) and has been doing so for over 30 years.

Mr. X, surprisingly, has been heavily involved in a project going near to my home and work place. JR is in the process of elevating one of the train lines over about a 10km stretch of track that will alleviate serious congestion found throughout the suburbs of Tokyo. Turns out that my ex-bowling partner is one of the senior members of the office that is taking care of this and other projects. Here is a little of the type of engineering feats that he is up against.

Seeing as he went straight from a craft school into JR (then JNR – Japan National Railway) it seemed fitting to ask a bit about JR culture. Hard to tell if he’s enjoyed his time overall and he would love to quit and moved back to the country if he could, but being involved in these kind of projects looks like fun. He said, however, that, unlike most of Japan, there is a serious lack of senior management in JR and so many young people that his salary keeps going up as they try to keep him around. Quite the opposite of many of the other institutions and companies that I’ve heard about recently. Very interesting talk.