Final post on BoingBoing. Would like to thank Joi Ito for the introduction and to Xeni, Mark and the rest of the BB team for having me. It really has been an honor! The biggest thanks goes out to BB readers for putting up with my ramblings for the past two weeks - hope I have not done too much damage ;-) Many BB readers found my FaceBook and Twitter and I would like to say thanks for the add! If you would like to keep up with life from Japan and subculture without having to look at the loud UI at dannychoo.com, you may want to RSS Subscribe (raw feed here) or get updates in your inbox instead. All my articles are also automatically pushed out to my Flickr account and I update my FaceBook and Twitter with the most significant updates too - feel free to add me ;-) I often hook up with readers so if you are in Tokyo then ping me and hopefully we'll go for some sushi or something. I also host an event called Tokyo CGM Night where the top bloggers and YouTube directors in Japan get together with IT folks in the aim of creating Bodacious Harmonious Awesomeness - if you want to meet other bloggers/IT folk or plug your goods or services to potentially millions of users then drop me a line though my LinkedIn. As for the photo - blog a bit about Mac life too and was recently featured in Japans premiere Mac magazine "MacFan" which you can see in the above photo - pics and other magazine coverage in this article. Do or do not. There is no try. Do it today - not tomorrow.
As a student living back in the UK many moons ago who wanted so badly to live and work in Japan, I know how others in the same position feel like. One of the things I try to do with my blog articles is to give a feel of what life is like in Tokyo and started the A Week in Tokyo series where I document and post extensive photos of my life. Tourist photos are great from time to time but I felt it was important to show the every day stuff too like going to the ward office, going to external meetings, attending events, shopping and what have you. The latest A Week in Tokyo 34 is up and this week includes dinner at the German embassy, live broadcasts, electric costs, recruiting for the fire brigade, Tech Crunch networking meetings and how to make a Mac into a media server for the Playstation 3.
What day of the week do you dislike the most?
I ask folks this question from time to time and more often than not, the reply is usually "Monday."
When asked the reason, most would say "because I have to go back to work or school."
Typical answer yet interesting. If one dislikes Monday because of school or work then why does one continue to go back to work or school? I believe that folks like this are probably in the wrong job or studying the wrong course and probably should look for something that enables them to enjoy Mondays - and every other day for that matter. Those who genuinely enjoy work or school probably wont give "Work or School" as the reasons they dislike Monday.
Quality Not Quantity
I watched an extremely moving documentary about a girl called ashley who had a medical condition called Progeria where her body aged 13 times faster than a normal human being. The condition is said to affect 1 in 8 million newborns. A person with the condition normally dies at the age of 13. She just had her 14th birthday and she knew that she was going to die any day. She said that she was prepared to die and that she had lead a great life up until now - it was all about her experiences, the friends she was able to meet and being happy. Living a longer life was not important. The quality of life over quantity was more important.
Death Is A Reality
We watch the news and see people dying left right and center - people being stabbed, run over or just plain dying in everyday accidents. Many folks who see/read about others dying don't usually think much about it - and the folks who died probably didn't think too much about it either.
I was talking to my estate agent at the time we purchased our house - I asked him how I should go about writing my will - he looked at me as if I started to grow horns and said that people don't usually write their will until they are about 60. I was thinking to myself "apart from being a liar, this estate agent is an idiot too."
This may seem the obvious but the thing is, none of us have been given a guarantee that we are going to live until we are golden. One could live in the "safest" part of the world, be healthy and still have their life cut short by a knife, bullet or drunken driver. None of us know when we are going to die but there is one thing that we do know for sure - we all will die someday - could be in another 30 years time, could be tomorrow morning. Death is a reality that we must all understand - its the final piece of our jigsaw puzzle that we all will collect.
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Been living in Japan for about 10 years now and love it. I'm surrounded by culture that I've been passionate about since a wee lad and despite the recession that we're supposed to be in, business for my start up is booming - couldn't ask for more. Apart from the smoking, there used to (but not anymore) be something that used to get on my nut - the fun and games of looking for an apartment. Upfront costs The upfront costs of renting an apartment is honestly not amusing at all. First up there exists something called "gratuity fee" or Reikin. Since the dark ages, citizens have been paying the landlord a gratuity fee for letting them live in the landlords apartment. This gratuity fee can be up to 2.5 times the monthly rent and to make the situation even more amusing - you don't get this money back - none of it, Sweet FA, absolute squat. Then there is key money known as Shikikin. Key money can be up to 3 times the monthly rent and is used as a deposit which the landlord uses to clean up the place when you leave. S/he usually tries to use as much of it as possible so when you move out so its like "thanks for staying with us for the years, here is a slap in the face and get out of here you stinking rat." Apart from the gratuity fee and key money, one has to not only pay the landlord an average of 2 months rent upfront, one also has to pay the estate agent up to a months rent for introducing the place too. So an average case recap on the costs presuming that the monthly rent for a cozy apartment is 200,000 yen or roughly 2000 USD. Gratuity fee: 4000 USD Key money: 4000 USD Upfront rent: 4000 USD Estate agent fee: 2000 USD Initial cost: 14,000 USD No foreigners or pets (more after the jump)
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Apart from blogging about life in Tokyo, I also extensively cover Japanese subculture and give talks about this subject at conferences around the world. The first thing to learn are the definitions of a "3D Woman" (on the left of the screen) and a "2D Woman" (the two ladies on the right of the screen). As you can see, "3D" refers to humans while "2D" refers to 2 dimensional illustrations. While there are many folks who prefer warm blooded humans, some just prefer the 2 dimensional - so much in fact that they would rather marry one. A petition will be submitted to the Japanese government upon the collection of one million signatures asking for law to be passed making it legal to marry a 2 dimensional character. The petition is filled under Human Rights and can be seen online here. The online petition comes with the following blurb:-
We don't have interest in the 3D world. If possible, I want to become the husband of a 2D character. Does not look like this matter can be solved with today's science and technology so at least make it legal to marry a 2D character. If this law is passed then I want to marry Asahina Mikuru.There are currently 41,000 blogs and sites that have covered this news but only 3,170 people have signed the petition... As for the 2 dimensional ladies on the screen - photo taken at one of the subculture or "otaku" events in Tokyo and you can see all previous event coverage in the Events category. And for folks wondering about the 3 dimensional lady - her name is Hiromi and you can see more photos that I took of her last year in the Japanese Idols category.
Why is the iPod in grave danger? Because you cant stick Lego men on top of it.
During the Nuremberg Toy Fair I spotted the new version of the uber geek Lego Mindstorms NXT22 and some danish bricks gadgets like the Lego Camcorder, a colorful photo camera and this MP3 player. The cam and the photo camera seems ready to be marketed but seem that the Lego designers still got a lot of work to do on the MP3 player and its speakers…Via Modellismo Hobby Media
Photo of a netted golf practice ground discovered in yet another uncharted evening after-dinner walk. Golf is a popular and yet expensive sport to play in Japan - I'm guessing that its due to popular demand that one has to pay a bladder and a spleen to get membership to a golf club. Meiji Golf is a site dedicated to the buying and selling of golf club memberships. They list a price of 65,000,000 yen (about 698,586 USD ) to be a member of the Koganei Country golf club. Folks who have just laughed at the piffling 65,000,000 yen should check the requirements before laughing - no women or foreigners allowed - only Japanese males over the age of 35. Folks here are so keen on the sport that you often see them practicing in public. You may want to read the rest of this article which has more photos and shows how balls get back to the vending machine in my Golf in Japan article.
So, you've been getting along well with your new Japanese business client but suddenly get told that they are not interested in doing business with you after meeting them on your arrival in Japan.
Well it could have been due to many a reason. One of the reasons could be that you started to eye up your clients lover secretary. It could also have been because you stepped in poo and didn't wipe off before leaving steaming skid marks all over your clients office carpet. Another reason could be because you slipped and stabbed a pencil in your clients left knee.
The most likely reason however is because you didn't hand over your business card properly and to do business in the land of the rising sun, you just need to know how this is done. Luckily, there is being a tutorial floating around the Tubes which you can see below.
Do also remember that you need to learn how to bow properly too - this flash tutorial (click on the thumbs at the bottom) will help you - I've seen people bow down to 90 degrees but 45 degrees for gratitude and apologies is acceptable. The photo is a collection of some business cards collected during my work in Japan - see more designs of Japanese business cards in my previous "Meishi" article.
Ladies and Gentlemen, are you fed up with the side effects of breast enlargement medication? Does that third eye that sprouted up on your left knee really bug you after taking your latest prescription? Well we has some good news for you. Watch the video below (is in English with Japanese subs) to learn how Dr Tomobechi managed to enlarge a woman's bust size by 3 centimeters just by getting her to listen to particular ring tones over the period of 10 days - was on the Discovery Channel so it must be true.
This is a picture of a typical Japanese graveyard. The norm is that a family buys some land and then builds a tomb to fit the rest of the family. G'ma, G'pa, mom, pop and yourself get to spend the rest of eternity together - at a cost. The most expensive tombs I've been able to find costs 109,908 USD at the Aoyama cemetery. That 109,908 USD gets you about 3.4 square meters. The funeral will cost a bomb too and the most expensive I've been able to find is 23,408 USD at kakaku.com - but you get great drinks and enough food for up to 30 family members and 70 guests who come to pay their respects. I guess there are ways to make (lots of) money even from dead folks. In general, families have the choice of burning or burying their members. When you die, how would you like to go? My wife and I have decided to donate our organs and folks in Japan can register here if you want to do so too. Photo plucked from my weekly A Week in Tokyo series.
As you may already know from yesterdays announcement over at BoingBoing Gadgets, the Nintendo DSi is set for a US release on April 5th. Got mine back on the day of release on Nov 1st and can tell you that its a bit more than just a few upgrades. It comes with an SD card slot where you can save photos taken from the two cameras mounted on the DSi - one on the cover and one facing the player. You can also save bootable ISO images of Windows 95 and OSX on the SD card too which will be ignored by the DSi. Both screens are bigger too - not a whole lot bigger but now big enough to rest your coffee cup on. The DSi also comes with a new matte casing which will only break if ran over by a stampeding heard of wild baboons. The stylus is now a little bit longer too for those who have deep nostrils. The best bit about the new DSi is that its now longer in size than the original DS meaning that you will be able to see further when standing on it during those bird watching evenings. Full review and photos in my previous DSi review plucked from the gadgets section. The latest Japanese DSi commercial below. Anybody plan on getting the DSi when its out in your region?
While Tokyo does have more greenery than other areas in Japan, it still could do with even more green - would be awesome if Tokyo looked like this. Probably not practical but would be very nice to walk on barefooted on a warm spring day. More pics of green Tokyo at Green Island who are raising awareness of the need for more green stuff in Japan. The image in this post is of Shibuya - home to Hachiko crossing - one of the most busiest crossings in the world where about 2.4 million people cross everyday. Some photos of Hachiko crossing without the green stuff here. And speaking of Shibuya - its also where I make most of my vids - mainly because its close to where I live. You may want to use the video below when you want to Rickroll somebody. Via CScout.
Tokyo University professor and world-renowned CG artist Yoichiro Kawaguchi had this amazing exhibition at Yushima Seido, a temple in Ochanomizu, which ended yesterday. Lucky me, I was in the 'hood and caught the last bit of it, including a small closing event held by Kawaguchi himself. I wrote an article about him in Wired several years ago, so we had a little chat. He created these ultra super modern sea animal prototypes and planted them in front of the temple's architecture, creating this stark contrast between old and new that somehow perfectly depicted what Japan is today.You can also see more pics n videos at Mitaimon - in Japanese but the photos and videos should give you a feel of the wonderful objects that were on display - one of the videos pasted below. While I enjoy this type of art, I also appreciate the sculpting that goes into the work of anime figurines. Many folks see them as being perverted but I'm finding difficulty in understanding how the nekkid bronze statues on display *in public* (with bewbs and pack lunches hanging out) are not? And if you are interested in how anime figurines are sculpted, you can see the process in my previous tour of the Good Smile Company offices. Blockquote from Tokyo Mango.
Today I'd like to talk about 'haters'. I've encountered quite a few in my time and you may have too.
Haters are folks who hate your very existence for no apparent reason. There you are just minding your own business when a hater appears and starts to do or say things that get on your nut. I used to get depressed by these folks for a while until I realized that they all were a piece of the jigsaw puzzle that was needed to get me to where I am now. We actually need haters.
I'm going to talk about two particular haters and how they indirectly helped me.
One was a half Korean/Japanese classmate at university who was native-ish Japanese but didn't learn Korean as a child.
During class I spoke to him as a friend but learned from others how he would suddenly bring up the subject of "Hey you know that Danny? He's such an idiot. Why does he need to learn Korean?" I was surprised to learn how much he hated me!
One day in class, while I was struggling reading some Korean text, he suddenly stood up in class and shouted (in Japanese) "Look! Why don't you just study more! You are keeping the whole class behind!"
The experience left me embarrassed and shaking with anger. It's an experience that I don't purposely choose to remember but can recall it like it was yesterday. I read somewhere that emotional experiences can be easily recalled because when one is emotional, some sort of hormone is released which makes it easier to remember experiences and fixes that time and space in memory - this is the reason why most of your emotional memories (sorrow, happiness, anger) can be replayed clearly. Me not an expert on the subject or terminology though.
Was depressed about the experience but the sadness and anger wasn't doing me any good. I decided to use that energy instead to focus on improving my Korean just as the guy suggested. Spent every ounce of my time learning new grammar patterns and absorbing myself in the language just like I did when learning Japanese. A few weeks after the experience, my effort was beginning to pay off.
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