The morning on the last day of the Davos Meeting 2012. The sky was clear. On the previous day, Japanese Ministers Yukio Edano and Motohisa Furukawa had been forced to leave Davos overland because of the weather condition . There seemed to be no such problem on this day. I had to fly out on a helicopter to catch an international flight from Zurich at 1 p.m. as I was scheduled to speak at a morning session. Having packed up my belongings and checked out of my hotel, I left for the main conference hall.

All breakout sessions on the last day at the Davos were summary meetings entitled the Davos Debriefs. The role assigned to me was to sum up Davos discussions on leadership. The world is going through such dramatic changes that there has never been a time when leadership is needed more. Why are old, established models not functioning anymore? What kind of change is taking place now? What should be the new forms pf leadership? I argued these points passionately in my presentation based mainly on our work at the Global Agenda Council (GAC). Not many people came to this debrief, but judging from their reactions, my presentation was a success.

After the session, I exchanged greetings with other participants. Then I left the main conference hall and went back to my hotel. The sky was blue as I looked up. I felt refreshed. I had the feeling that I had completed everything I set out to do. I travelled from the hotel to the heliport by car. Snow had been forecast for the area until the day before. I was worried about the weather for this last day because the helicopter company had advised me to make arrangements for land transportation in case they were unable to fly. But the sun was out when I looked up to the sky.

I looked out the window. Outside, the beautiful streets of Switzerland surrounded by the Alps extended into the vast expanses of the silvery world. While admiring this sight, I felt as if I was relaxing for the first time on this visit. Skiers were walking down the streets. Davos would once again be an ordinary ski resort today, I thought.

(The following are tweets I made in real time on my way back from Davos.)
I have arrived at the heliport just now. There is snow as far as the eye can see. I’m about to fly over the mountains to Zurich.

It’s 10:30 a.m. local time. Taking a helicopter is the only way for me to catch my flight scheduled to depart at 1 p.m. I’m going to board the helicopter right now.

On the helicopter. It took off immediately and I’m already flying. The copter made a half-turn. Off to Zurich now.

I am using headsets to communicate with the pilot. The first thing he told me was, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Two military helicopters flew by us. Our helicopter is advancing over low-level clouds.

We have reached the same altitude as the peaks of the mountains that surround a valley. The pilot kindly asked me if I was cold.

I see a ski resort. There were peaks in the 3,000-meter range on my right. The pilot told me the mountains are the Swiss border with Austria. It reminded me of the movie, The Sound of Music.

The copter is flying at low altitude because of a fog. I can see a little river down below. The pilot tells me it is the Rhine. It’s that great river which travels all the way to the North Sea by way of Bonn.

Farmland and houses are on a level ground. I see houses in the mountains, too. There are ski resorts at higher levels of the mountains. Swiss people are obviously good at using their space.

I’m flying over a lake now. A road runs along the shore of this lake, which swallows the entire flatland. The road has cliffs on both sides.

The lake is dark-green. It matches the green of the mountains. The helicopter flew into a flat area. There is no snow here. Farms spread out in all directions, as far as the eye could see. The pilot tells me the farms in the area produce dairy foods such as cheese and milk.

Lake Zurich has come into view. The airport is on the other side of the lake. The helicopter should reach there in 15 minutes or so.

The fog is dense now. The helicopter might have not taken off at all had my flight time was scheduled a little later.

We flew across Lake Zurich, which is long and narrow in shape. We have only a little more distance to travel, but our helicopter began to jolt heavily. Our tension builds up. I talked less and less with the pilot. The helicopter flew over the central station in Zurich on its way to the airport.

Our helicopter has begun to circle just before the airport. The pilot seems to be waiting for permission to land.

After talking to an airport official in German, the pilot started to speed up and fly straight on. I catch sight of the airport at long last.

Our helicopter is about to land. It has touched the ground safely just now.

A black limousine comes alongside the helicopter. Guided by the pilot, I disembark and slide into the limousine’s back seat. There are many private jets parked at this airport. I heard hundreds of private planes use this airport during the Davos Meeting. Amazing. Before boarding my flight to Narita, I took off my tie and changed into a casual shirt and a pair of jeans at the airport’s restroom. I thought about drinking champagne on the flight, but I need to write my columns. After some thoughts on what to do, I made up my mind to take things easy for a while.

I have slept like a log on this flight. My columns are half finished. The airplane began to descend into Narita. I looked out a window. The plane seems to be in the skies over Ibaraki Prefecture. Mt. Fuji appears majestically in the distance. I join my hands in prayer in my seat. I catch sight of Mt. Tsukuba, Lake Kasumigaura, and the Tone River. Yes, I’m flying over Ibaraki, my home prefecture.

The airplane has landed at Narita. I head for Tokyo after saying goodbye to other members of the Japanese delegation to Davos at the Narita airport. The weather in Japan is fair and clear. A cloudless blue sky is overhead. I feel terrific. I have completed my fifth trip to the Davos Meeting.

For the first time in many days, all seven members of my family sat around our dining table for dinner. After a silent prayer, I told them about my experience at this year’s Davos Meeting. “It made me reaffirm the importance of sending out messages to people in the rest of the world,” I told them. Laughter continued around the table throughout the lively family dinner. It was a heartwarming moment.

After dinner, I took my children to a swimming pool at a neighborhood elementary school for my first swim in a long time. As I had planned, I swam 1,200 meters at a slow pace to recondition my body. Then, I decided to prepare for my work from tomorrow. The weather in Tokyo was as cold as in Davos.

February 1, 2012
Yoshito Hori
Written in my house in Ichibancho