In July 1999, I went to Japan for the first time, to speak at the RIKEN Institute near Tokyo. At the end of the week, I had a free day, and a friend suggested that I go to Nikko National Park. From the tour boat on Lake Chuzenji, I was loving the look of the hills and sky, but it wasn’t quite a photo until the fisherman showed up. All the men who were out fishing that afternoon had brightly colored umbrellas to protect them from the sun.
In the train station on the way home, I had trouble finding the correct platform. As I stood there trying to match my notes to the characters on the signs, a guy who described himself as a salaryman offered to help locate my train. Of course I ended up riding back with him. His English was rudimentary, so I tried to stick to small words when he asked me what I did for a living. Despite my convoluted attempt to describe scientific editing at the fourth grade level, he immediately understood: “Ah, Nature!” And he meant the journal, which is apparently famous in Japan. I can’t imagine having that happen on an American train.