Neil Day

Neil DayOccupation:
Senior Software Research Engineer

Time in Japan:
13 years

Where are you from?
Dublin, Ireland.

What brought you to Japan?
I came in 1987. I was interviewed in Dublin by my current employer, Ricoh, through an Irish government agency program. The objective is to have Irish graduates gain technical experience in an international environment and then hopefully take it back to Ireland. For Japanese companies it represents an opportunity to internationalize their work forces.

What do you do now?
I work in Ricoh' Software Research Center. I handle collaboration with other company teams around the world on a new international technical standard called MPEG-7 (Moving Pictures Experts Group-7). The audio format (MPEG-3, from the same standards organization) is very popular for downloading music from the Internet but it doesn't adequately protect copyrights for artists. MPEG-7, which debuts in October 2001, will ensure the protection of copyrights but it will have other powerful functions, namely, the representation of multimedia data on the Internet so that it can be archived and retrieved efficiently and effectively. For example, if we forget the name of a song, we can whistle the tune into a computer and after a search, the name of that tune is retrieved. If you want a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger's motorbike from the movie T2, I can search a movie database by making a high-level query such as, "find me the motorbike that was used by Arnold Schwarzenegger in T2."

Tell us about your involvement with the Irish community in Japan.
I've been directly involved since 1988 when I became a member of the Irish Network Japan (INJ) committee. We organized events and a monthly newsletter for which I was the editor. The biggest events were and still are the INJ annual ball, held in autumn, and of course, St Patrick's Day parade, held in March on Omotesando. The events are not just for the Irish but for all those with an interest in Ireland. Of course, pints of Guinness play their part in this process! Additionally, I helped set up Celtic Festival Japan (webpage: in 1991 and we have had six festivals to date. There is a very strong interest in Celtic culture today with quite a few Japanese musicians playing the fiddle, harp and bodhran (Irish drum).

Are there any big events this year?
We're making progress towards a millennium Celtic festival in October. Announcements will be posted on our webpage or information can be obtained by sending requests to

What was the weirdest experience you've had here?
When I arrived in October of '87 and was baptized by a Japanese Christian church. A woman at Shinjuku station poked me and said, 'Do you wanna go to church?' What I'd normally say in Ireland would be no, but I agreed with reservation. To my amazement, at the church a priestess started screaming at the top of her lungs into my ear! She eventually asked if I had grandparents who had passed away and I told her that yes, there were three. They brought in a huge guy who didn't look too friendly and he said, 'You have to come to the back of the church'. Though I tried to resist, I felt intimidated. There was a pool of water in the back which they asked me to get into; it was bloody freezing! The priestess then suddenly pushed me and I was completely submerged and ducked three times. It was terrifying! I got home eventually and told my friend and he laughed his head off. I laugh about it now but the lesson I learned was, be yourself all the time, and don't flex or bend to be like the Japanese or change dramatically who you are as a person. Customs sure are different.

What's your favorite thing about Japan?
Opportunities to try new things. Here there's no barrier to trying new ideas and events. I even acted on stage, sang with a Japanese rock band and played Australian rules football! It's been a very international experience.

What's your recipe for a happy life in Japan?
Get actively involved in one or two events outside of work and take two to three good breaks a year to get away from it all!

Neil Day spoke to Maki Nibayashi.

Do you know an interesting person in Tokyo? If so, email us at

360: Gustavo Marchesi
Professional tango dancer
355: Alec McAulay
352/3: Mary Frenzel
Professional singer / songwriter, bandleader & voice instructor
350: Kate Smurthwaite
Bond analyst and aspiring novelist
349: Tim Spangler
Recreational Equipment, Inc.
348: Robin Rozzell
Tribal Nation Security
347: Marco Invernizzi
Bonsai artist
346: Charles E McJilton
345: Chris Chavez
344: Donna Burke
Singer and narrator
343: Dennis Sun
Artist, freelance graphic design and illustrator
342: Martin Hope Berry
Natural food shop owner
341: Donald James Berry
Technical Adviser
340: Amy Jorrisch
Tokyo International Players
339: Anthony Al-Jamie Ph.D.
Education consultant and journalist
338: Joel Silverstein
President of Outback Steakhouse Japan
337: Neal Dauber
Termite and Pest Control Operator
336: Marcus Spurrell
CEO of No Mass Media, Internet Co.
335: Stefan Fanselow
Flight Instructor
334: Colleen Lanki
Theater Artist
333: Ben Leibson
Scuba Diver
332: Bernard Yu
Executive Director of TELL
331: Hayden "Hay-chan" Majajas
Informations Systems Manager
330: Alistair McLachlan
BootsMC Finance manager
329: Ronald Lee Davis
Missionary / Teacher
328: Ed Durbrow
327: Isabelle Maranda
Marketing Coordinator
326: Brian Marcus
Food & Beverage Director at Tokyo American Club
325: David Baran
Managing Partner, Compass Partners
324: Murali Kupusami
Furla Tea & Coffee Owner/Model
323: Angela Jones
Fire Dancer
322: Tim Tsang
Coordinator for International Relations (CIR)
321: Chris Monnier
320: David Snyder
President of Rising Crane Sports Consultants, Inc.
319: Juliet Hindell
BBC's Tokyo Correspondent
318: Sid Lloyd
Football team captain
317: Niels Frederik Walther
Chef for the Danish Ambassador
316: Jonathan Katz
Jazz musician and composer
315: Yoichi Hayase
President, True Travel, K.K.
314: Ira Bolden
Program Manager
313: Benjamin Gurnsey
Corporate Communications at Sony Computer
312: Dr Jonna D. Douglass, PhD
Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist
311: Roy Kilner
Izakaya Manager
310: Neil Day
Senior Software Research Engineer
309: Stuart Ablett
Sakaya Operator
308: Maggie Tai Tucker
Animal Trainer
307: Carmine Cozzoline
Restaurant Owner/Chef
306: Alison Noonan
305: Kevin Meyerson
Rainbow Japan Inc. President
304: Randy McGraw
DirecTV Marketing Manager
303: Roy Ron
302: Antonio Plozay-Liberatore
Economist/TV Talent
300: Miguel Angel

Issues 300-360
Issues 250-299

Issues 150-199
Issues 138-149