Visiting the Tokyo Stock Exchange

Took a trip to the TSE with my "Japan's Monetary Integration into the World Economy" class. The teacher is a crazy Hungarian woman, fond of cutting students off mid-sentence, getting openly frustrated with ESL kids, and insisting that Japan is as fascist as it was in WWII. On the other hand, everything she's said (with regards to the latter point) has been backed up and/or fit in perfectly with everything I've read and experienced here, so she's really growing on me.

Our tour started with an educational video. Unfortunately, we were stuck with the English tour program, a combination of a fairly functional tour guide and a giddily-narrated, kindergarten level, absolutely bizarre movie about stock trading in general, and the TSE in particular. For some reason, it was done with live actors against a papercraft set, to a bouncing techno/smooth jazz soundtrack. I really wish I had good photos or a video; this is the best I got:

Best Financial Education Video Ever

The gist of the current analogy is that, like a sumo wrestler, companies wishing to trade on the TSE need to pass all sorts of tests. I guess this would work, if they just left it at that, but no- they had to go and overlay the various listing requirements against a bediapered sumo wrestler weighing himself, checking his height, and doing other sumo-checky things.

Other things learned from the video:
-Trades happen because housewives read about companies offering IPOs in the newspaper, and because stockholders randomly decide to sell their shares, out loud, while cheerfully walking down the street.

-The trading floor is computerized, which means that it's a giant neon staircase suspended in space. Trades happen when pink dancing sellers on one step do the charleston with blue dancing sellers on a step down. That's what an economy is.

After the video, we got to tour the floor, which was pretty cool. A few presentation spaces, the "trading floor" (all computers these days, but with a cool rotating ticker), and all sorts of TV's displaying the goings-on (ie plummeting Nikkei) in the market.

TSE Floor
The whirling red banner adjusts its speed to the current trade volume. TOPIX is a price index, similar to the Nikkei or Dow Jones.

Reporting from the floor
One of the several news agencies reporting from the floor. I love that the magic in my camera lets me handhold consistently at 1/20 of a second.

A clearer view of the ticker. 東セロ appears to be trading at 328, down 2 from the last update.