Many of the icons, buttons, borders, etc on NileGuide were created by Rei Okizaki, one of the early contributors to the The Nile Project. In addition to being an excellent web designer, Rei kept the company bright with her smiles, laughs, and brilliant sense of fashion. She has since returned to her home country of Japan, where she is now creating web pages for a design firm.
I’m writing this from Japan, where we are visiting with my wife’s family for the holidays. A couple days ago, Saki (my wife) and I got to visit with Rei! She was just as smiley and fashionable as I remember, and we had a blast reminiscing on some of the earlier days at Nile. It also made me realize how much has changed at the company since she left! She was shocked to hear about all the new employees, and the new developments happening at NileGuide.
We first met up in Shibuya, in front of the Hachiko statue, a popular meeting spot. We then had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Japan, Ootoya. Full of yummy fish and beer, we then walked to Yoyogi Park, where you’ll find lots of outdoor enthusiasts playing frisbee, jump rope, etc, and all sorts of self-expression from the Lolita Goth to the Rockabilly Dancers. We then walked to Harajuku, where we carefully navigated through the hoards of young shoppers, and ate crepes for an afternoon treat. After a bit of window shopping, we took the Yamanote line to Ebisu, where we strolled through the beautiful Ebisu gardens and took a tour through the Yebisu Beer Museum. At the end of the tour, we took advantage of the 500 Yen Yebisu beer sampler. We then went up to the Top of Ebisu, for a beautiful view of Tokyo, with the sun setting behind Mt. Fuji in the distant background.
When we realized that we had all forgotten our cameras, Rei took us into a Japanese arcade, where we stepped into a big, automated photo booth, known as a “purikura”. I had heard of these before, but this was my first encounter. It cost 400 Yen (around 4 USD), and it took several pictures of us, each with a different background. Afterward, there was a screen with 2 light pens, and an outrageous user interface which we used to make all sorts of edits to the photos. We changed our hair color, added little cartoon characters… Rei even painted my cheeks with make-up in one picture! Slightly embarrassing, but totally hilarious.
Overall, it was a total blast! Rei is missed at NileGuide, and I feel lucky to have gotten a chance to catch up with her!