In December, we launched our partnership with Kozo Keikaku Engineering in Japan. In February, Brandon and I ventured back across the Pacific to visit our friends and jumpstart our involvement with the Tokyo developer community. It was such an amazing experience, I deemed it worthy of some real estate on the blog. Hopefully you’ll find the story as enjoyable as our trip.

Hacking across Tokyo

Music Hackday Tokyo

Once again we joined the MHD crew for a weekend of hacking, which is always music to our ears. It was a packed house with around 200 people in attendance for the opening reception and approximately 150 developers building apps throughout the weekend. Since our friend, Mager already wrote up a nice review of the event and some of the hacks that were created, I’ll let you check out his recap on the Spotify developer blog.

Photo Hackday Tokyo

While we’ve participated in plenty of Music Hackdays, we’d never tried our hand at Photo Hackday – until now, that is. The PHD franchise made its first appearance in Japan, and it was greeted by a wonderful bunch of hackers – with about 100 on hand for the event. Yet another awesomely creative collection of apps were built using tools from Aviary, 500 Pixels, Leap Motion and more. Check out a full recap on Aviary’s blog, including a list of the winners.

Photo Hackday was extra special, as it involved a rather fun achievement – the first time the SendGrid API has been demoed in Japanese. Kansuke delivered a great presentation – see it for yourself on our YouTube channel!

SendGrid Night Episode 2

Last year, our colleague Ken Apple treated the Tokyo community to the first episode of SendGrid Night. So, Brandon and I did our best to live up to the high standards he established and deliver a new and exciting message to the Tokyo developer community during Episode 2.

After an introduction and updates from Kansuke and his colleague Noriko, Brandon and I took the stage to deliver [translated] talks on Documentation & Open Source Projects and Hackathons and Developer Evangelism respectively. Following our talks, we had two presentations from community members who highlighted projects that they’re working on and their experience integrating the SendGrid API and webhooks.

Getting Cultured

We would’ve been remiss to not spend time getting acquainted with Japanese culture. Luckily, a big part of that culture is an amazing aptitude toward being gracious hosts. The KKE team treated us like family throughout our visit. We ate amazing food, we saw stunning sights, and we met wonderful people.

The highlight was likely our trip to the beautiful Nagano prefecture. We took the bullet train north from Tokyo and soon found ourselves in the midst of the mountains in which the 1998 Winter Olympics took place. We felt right at home, given our Colorado roots, but following a 1.5km hike up a snowy path, we found something much less common in the Rockies – you guessed it: SNOW MONKEYS! Next we settled into our hotel, which was conveniently located above the Shibu Onsen hot springs, and enjoyed an incredible, traditional Japanese meal.

I think I can speak for Brandon and myself and confidently say that the trip to Nagano was one of the most unique and memorable 24-hour experiences of my life. How lucky we are…

SendGrid in Japan

Most importantly, we departed Tokyo Narita airport with a strong confidence that our time there was well spent.

We strengthened our relationship with the KKE team members, we gained an even better understanding of the Japanese market, we officially launched SendGrid into the hackathon scene and thus the developer community, and we gathered tons of actionable information to bring back to the states  to both help tighten our partnership and create an increasingly awesome email experience for companies throughout Japan.

The experience of launching and growing a partnership in Asia has been full of learning. If your business is thinking of doing the same, and you’d like to chat about it, let us know! We’re always willing to help others by sharing the things we learn along our journey.

Director, Developer Relations at @SendGrid. Passionate about bringing people together around things they love. I tweet at @TimFalls.