A Week in Tokyo 37

POSTED BY DANNY CHOO On Thu 2009/04/16 13:26 JST in A Week in Tokyo

Late again with this weeks A Week in Tokyo so this one covers the past few weeks.

First up is my talk at Pecha Kucha Night where I talked over 20 slides (each slide 20 seconds) about the Tokyo Stormtrooper to a room of about 300.

So what is Pecha Kucha Night then? Following description taken from the Pecha Kucha Night site. Pecha Kucha Night, devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham (Klein Dytham architecture), was conceived in 2003 as a place for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public.

But as we all know, give a mike to a designer (especially an architect) and you’ll be trapped for hours. The key to Pecha Kucha Night is its patented system for avoiding this fate. Each presenter is allowed 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds each – giving 6 minutes 40 seconds of fame before the next presenter is up. This keeps presentations concise, the interest level up, and gives more people the chance to show.

Pecha Kucha (which is Japanese for the sound of conversation) has tapped into a demand for a forum in which creative work can be easily and informally shown, without having to rent a gallery or chat up a magazine editor. Had a great time and would like to thank Astrid and Mark for having me and Tokyo charisma blogger Jean Snow for arranging everything - t'was an honor!

Pecha Kucha Night was held at Super Deluxe in Roppongi which is where Tokyo CGM Night episode 4 will be held.

Dollfie clothes starting to gain critical mass - need a wardrobe for my daughters.

Many university students recently graduated. While folks in the west wear square hats, folks in Japan traditionally wear something called Hakama .

My mum was sorely disappointed that I didn't go to rent a graduation cloak n hat to take pics. I passed with first class honors - only a couple of us managed to pass out of a group of 30-ish and I was over the moon.

However, graduation was just one piece of the jigsaw puzzle that I was collecting in order to get me closer to Japan and wearing graduation gear didn't seem important nor desired. Did you or do you plan to wear graduation kit when the time comes?

Some lovely girls in Hakama graduation kit below.

Its times like this when I say to myself "I love Japan!"
Japan Post has a service called Shuka where they come to your house/office and collect any packages that you want to send to either domestic or international destinations. All I do is make one call and a man comes along in his van with a set of scales. He then weighs the packages and you pay him there and then.

Even if you are sending one shoebox sized package that costs the minimum of 600 yen, they will still come and don't charge extra on top. This saves me from going to the post office to queue up and waste time. Thanks to Tokyo Hunter for telling me about this incredible service. Any services like this in your neck of the woods?

The Gateway had a huge facelift which I needed to do to increase conversion of new visitors to regular users - and hopefully make it more user friendly for current readers too.

If you hover over links in the header/footer and various places around the site, you will notice a #ref_catfish at the end of the link. This enables me to know whether people clicked on the catfish menu, header menu etc to get to /profile/eng/ for example.
Without the ref tags (which we used at Amazon), I would have no idea how users got to that profile page which means that I don't have an understanding of what parts of the UI need to change/be removed in order improve the user experience and thus increase conversion.

Am really pleased with the changes and have been able to increase the conversion rate over the past few weeks. Welcome to all new readers!

And it looks like we have quite a few Korean readers have joined us too. I used to write dannychoo.com in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and English but scaled down to JP and EN due to time constraints. While I don't write articles in Korean at dannychoo.com, I do tweet at my Twitter and reply to comments in Korean occasionally.

I still cant touch type but do type relatively fast while looking at the keyboard - which means I need a Korean keyboard too. Apple make Japanese but not Korean keyboards so I need to use these Korean stickers. I usually pick up a bunch of these at the huge book store in Seoul called Kyobo Mungo.

Korean and Chinese content will start to appear over time at dannychoo.com.

Pasta n Focaccia for lunch with Index-tan.

Chuka set with Kagami.

The top folks from Softonic were in Japan recently and we spent a few days with them. Softonic are one of the biggest downloading services in za warudo.

The latest trend it seems - more and more sushi places can be found with the head of a Maguro placed outside. This photo is in serious need of a caption ^^;

The Iron man came with a dud arm - looks like glue was where it wasn't supposed to be which meant restricted movement. Opened up and managed to chip away at the glue.

There is a Mr Donuts thats been in our neibourhood for years but have never really tried it. Went in one day to try their Pon De Ring and got hooked immediately!

There are a great variety of vending machines in Japan - most of them fully functional and due to Japan being relatively low in terms of crime, the machines don't have to be like the ones back in the UK.

When I was in the UK last, the vending machines had no windows, were huge and looked like they weighed 20 tonnes - presumably to prevent people taking the whole machine home or vandalizing it. Did come across many out-of-order ones. When I stick money in a UK vending machine, its like a gamble not knowing whether something is going to come out.

Vending machine tampering does occasionally happen over here however and this sign on the machine is says the owner wont tolerate it and that this machine is being monitored by a camera.

Shirasu Pizza - the white stuff is small fish. Cant remember what the green balls where but they look like rabbits droppings.

A load of development going on at both stations near our place.

The train track used to run through here but is now underground. I heard they were going to originally build a highway through this area.

Somebody moving into a new place nearby. The moving services over here are brilliant. We previously used Ari-san mark twice and completely recommend them.

At the newly discovered Chinese restaurant for lunch.

Mabo Tofu lunch set. 770 yen.

At the shotengai shopping for groceries.

Cheese chicken katsu rolls - so cute you cant bare to eat them.

A visitor from Canada brought some maple tea for us and I got hooked. I was thinking "So this is what Canadians drink every day!"
Tastes lovely. Ran out and managed to find some at Kaldi - cost 800 yen for twenty packs. Didn't taste as good as the ones I was originally given though. Will pick up a load during my Canada trip later this year.

Taiga visits The House at the checkout. Who do you want to see here next?

Luna and Taiga want some sweet n sour pork - called Su Buta .

Back at Mr Donuts again.

In the lounge at 10pm. Gaia no Yoake is probably my most fave program on Japanese TV. Its a business documentary program which talks about things like new business trends, how business survive in tough climates etc.

This week they talked about foreign capital luxury hotels and how local hotels are competing with them.
Crackle.com has a whole episode which I watched last year about how consumers are not buying but instead sharing. Sharing is an idea that I would like to explore. So for example, the Classifieds section mainly lists things for sale but could also be used for folks who want to swap their figures too.

Index-tan and some Gyoza.

Index-tan and some ramen lunch. 600 yen.

Mr Donuts Pon De Ring!

At the monthly blog dinner in Gotanda. This dinner meeting for bloggers and IT folks has been going on for years and I owe a lot to it and thank the organizer Drikin for having me. Also thank top marketing man at Mozilla Japan Gen kanai for introducing me as a member. T'was through Blog Dinner that I first met Good Smile Company too.

The folks from Skype Japan were there too giving out 1GB USB memory sticks to everybody.

The Bomberman tin was the container for the Gameboy version back in 1996. I always use this tin during networking events as it holds well over 100 business cards.
Cant find a clip of Bomberman 3 but it was probably something like this...

The place is held at a curry house meaning its the same dish every month.

Bloggers and IT folks who attend showcase what they have been up to every month.

Some veggies stuffed with meat for lunch with Kagami.

A load of pastries from Costco for 890 yen. Recommended if you have not been yet as they got a load of good cheap stuff.

Got a bit of wood to prevent a saggy Mirai-chan...

And this is what you do - the wood simply goes in the dakimakura and is held up by clips - no more saggy young pichi pichi Mirai-chan.

Was on the top page of Hatena which is like a digg.com. Brought in a ton of traffic from Japanese users all over - many who are bloggers and became regular readers too. Of late they have been picking up on my other posts in Japanese too which is why I've been putting a lot of effort in to the Japanese version of dannychoo.com.

If you are learning Japanese, I recommend that you consider writing your blog in Japanese too as it will do wonders for your learning.
Speaking of blogs - been wondering how many of you have one?
Will write an article soon about what dannychoo.com has done for my life and how it can help to enhance and support yours too. I would not be where I am without its existence. It helps me communicate with others, learn new technologies, share my life, meet new comrades online, bring in new clients, travel the world to give talks, makes a modest amount of money and even helped me get jobs at Amazon and Microsoft. And most importantly - free figures and other merchandise ^^;

Pasta lunch with kagami again.

Before the office layout change - some SAFS arrivals.

Sour ramen for lunch with Seto-sun.

After dinner evening stroll - more development going on at the other station.

For folks who don't want to wear surgical masks - Pit Stopper are plugs which go up and act as a filter in yer nostrils.

Picking up some snacks for the office. Love the white chocolate Meiji Almond ones. Check out a retro CM below. And one from last year below.

Some sakura still blossoming. Previous photos in the Tokyo Cherry Blossom photo article.

BLT Sando with Figma Haruhi. How many of you was able to get hold of this limited edition figma?

Cheerleader Mikuru-chan with some black pepper prawns for lunch.

Arriving at Ikebukuro for a meeting.

London Pub Railway Tavern. Some pubs here do decent fish n chips but no matter how hard you look, one never comes across folks who do saveloy. The first thing I want to eat when I travel back to London is saveloy n chips.

Used to work at Ikebukuro for a while. Nostalgic exploring bits that I used to walk by every day.

Tokyo is gorgeous on a warm sunny day.

This was the day before I decided to pick up my 100 yen Dell Mini 9. All of these cost 100 yen each if you take out an E Mobile contract for wireless roaming high speed (7.2Mbps) internet access.

On the way to the Digicraft offices with Hector to show them progress on the Mirai Gaia Order Pipeline.

Digicraft do most of the packaging for eroge companies which is a very very good thing for reasons to be disclosed soon.

At lunch with some folks at Digicraft. We also discussed production of the Mirai Merchandise. Apart from the dakimakura cover, bed sheet and oppai mousepad, we are going to make some shower posters too.

Chicken Katsu lunch set.

Ikebukuro has a load of otaku related shops. This is a branch of Animate who sells a load of costumes ready to wear. Unfortunately photos not allowed inside.

There is also a Volks store in Ikebukuro too. I has a look through the Dollfie stuff and pick up a few bits n pieces.

At Bic Camera browsing around. Need to get more HDDs for backups. I saw a few members on DC who recently had HDD crashes. Do consider backing up your content. There is obviously an initial cost involved but imagine this - you lost your precious data (family photos/healthcare material/eroge) etc - you probably could not put a price on getting back that stuff - especially the family photos I mean. If only you paid 100 USD to back up your stuff in the beginning.

All HDDs will die - its just a matter of when - just like us humans.

I think this was the West(?) exit at Ikebukuro JR station. Gorgeous blue skies.

Most of the folks in black suits in this photo are a years away from graduating. Its recruitment season in Japan where university students go out looking for jobs. A few interesting facts:-
-Most students look for a job a year before graduating.
-Students who are interviewing or joining a company on the first day have to wear something called Recruit Suits - usually a black suit and at this time of year you will often see hoards of students like this (photo source).
-Because there are so many students applying to get into any one company, entrance examinations are usually held where the main purpose is to filter the numbers down.

The lovely Aibu Saki (Zettai Kareshi) does a commercial below for Aoyama who do a load of recruit suits. Anybody out n about job hunting too?

Another fave dish of mine - Kaisen Yakisoba.

I have two optic fiber connections coming into the house. I changed one of the providers to LiveDoor who are charging only 1500 yen per month - they also give you a fixed IP for that price. For my other optic line, I'm paying over 3000 yen just for the fixed IP! Going to use Livedoor for a bit longer before I completely switch over to them.

This screenshot is a measure of my actual speeds with Livedoor. 58.71Mbps down and 51.16Mbps up.
For those who missed it, you can see how my latest optic fibre installation went.

At Book Off checking out the manga.

One of my fave drinks of the moment Goma Mugi Tea. Check out the most interesting commercial ^^;

Upgrading hardware on the Dell Mini 9 - SSD from 8GB to 32GB and Memory from 1GB to 2GB. Its about the same speed as a MacBook Air now ^^; The next photo article will be the full installation guide of leopard OSX on this lovely machine.

For busy or elderly folks, getting groceries delivered to your doorstep is most convenient. Coop provide a service where you can order groceries online or by phone and they will deliver to you. Everything from veggies, fresh fish, milk and what have you. You need to order over a certain amount for the truck to come to your house so we share an account with our neighbor. Do you have similar services in your neck of the woods?

Pizza lunch with the Dell Mini 9 running OSX Leopard connected to the Internets with the 7.2Mbps E mobile data card. Rather happy about this ^^; Now I can get away the house more often on the weekends. You may find me blogging from the mountains or by the beach very soon ^^;

Aoi-chan looks after the data stick from time to time.

Loving the new office layout.