There were a total of seven members travelling together on this year's Tucson trip.
From KAJITA Co., there were four of us: namely Mr. Kizuka, a veteran buyer with 50 years of experience in purchasing coloured gemstones, Chairman Mr. Kajita, Ms. Kato, the manager of KAJITA’s Product Department, and myself.
Along with us on this trip, we also have Mr. Fujimori, the representative from FUJIMORI Co., who co-manages the business in Singapore with myself, and Ms. Shoda, the brand director of filum.
Last but not least, we also have Annabelle, the brand manager of FUJIMORI KAJITA from Singapore with us.
It is truly a spectacular sight to see seven people of different nationalities, ages, and genders all gathered in Tucson, Arizona, USA.
In recent years, we have been renting large Airbnb houses as our accommodation for business trips to Tucson, where we can all rest under the same roof together.
I used to stay in hotels in the past, but I have long concluded that Airbnb is the best way to go for bigger groups.
American hotels are really slummy. Their rooms are dusty, they provide little to no amenities, and they serve greasy hash browns and coffee that tastes like boiled down newspaper for breakfast. It is really much more fun to stay in a house where you can cook breakfast together and spend the night with drinks in hand.
This business trip, I spent a lot of time cooking at our Airbnb home with ingredients purchased from WHOLE FOODS. We also had a meaningful dining experience hosted by Mr. Fujimori, who has a professional-level in cooking and with some of us agreeing he is born with a chef's face.
For a team of seven, there is quite a lot of food to shop for. A complete 180 degree change in atmosphere for groceries are what we looked upon to purchase after a long day at the gem show.
Thankfully, the Airbnb was well-equipped with kitchenware, and there were plenty of pots, pans and cutlery for us to use. It’s indeed a typical American household where we can invite people over and have barbecues in our backyard.
Look how everyone is smiling brightly over a local crafted beer or a glass of California wine.
One of the must-haves when dining out in Tucson is their American beefsteak. We had a T-bone steak, the specialty of our long-time favourite restaurant.
Pinnacle Peak Steak Tucson, AZ.
This palm-sized BIG COWBOY steak weighs about 550 grams. Modelled after the Wild West, this restaurant is a depiction of real life Wild West where a cowboy will cut off your tie if you enter the restaurant wearing one.
Not to be forgotten, one of America's favourite fast food chains: the IN-N-OUT hamburger. We had a great time here and got ourselves each a juicy hamburger to savour in. This popular hamburger chain has no freezers in their kitchen and uses only fresh ingredients to create its hamburgers.
IN-N-OUT BURGER, Tucson
The reason why I am writing and sharing so much about food is that our meals play a very important part in our gemstone-purchase trip to Tucson.
Once the event venue opens, I will typically spend 8 hours from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, facing all sorts of gemstones and jewellery. The lunch break we have is usually less than an hour. We will take a quick lunch in the car or at the parking lot and then return to the fair immediately.
This is why meal times (especially dinner), when we can all gather together, are viewed as more important than anything else. During this time, we will each share what we have seen and heard in the day, such as the characteristics of the gems, information from our usual dealers, market price trends, and so on. Of course, it's not all serious talk only; we’ll also have discussions on some trivial and lighthearted topics.
When you mix English- and Japanese-speaking members together, time spent at the dinner table seems to pass so quickly. You hear laughter through the night and these moments are irreplaceable and hard to come by.
Thereafter, everyone will get another round of good night's sleep and prepare for another day of gemstone buying.
We'll host our Annual Designer & Gemologist to showcase the gemstones bought from this year's Tucson Trip. Please stay tuned for more information.