Japan couldn't exactly be said to be on the way to anywhere. Sitting at the top left-hand corner of The Pacific, traffic to China is direct these days, Europe to Australia is via Singapore or Hong Kong and Dubai is now a hub for almost anywhere. If you land in Japan it's because you wanted to be there. So the chances of an old friend just passing through and stopping off to say hello are slim to nothing at best.
And so one of the greatest pleasures of life is when an old friend is in town, for whatever reason, and takes the time to look you up. I once made a life changing mistake of not taking the chance to meet a friend from Tokyo as I passed through London on business. A few weeks later we lost him to a small piece of cholesterol that lodged in his heart and I'll never forget those missed moments we could have spent, beers in hand, laughing about our lives in Japan. I'll never make that mistake again; but I can't take it back.
And so when your phone rings, and there's a country code on display, you know it's something special. Rain, shine, bubonic plague, you move heaven and earth to be able to meet, even if it's just for a twenty minute coffee that has taken you an hour or more of trains and taxis to make. Friends are important and in the transient life of a global metropolis they are rarely just around the corner. But when you do sit down together, it feels like only yesterday. And that's important in a sometimes lonely country with no passing traffic.