Danny Choo


A Years Worth Of Japanese Food

Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture - he also works part time for the empire.
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For folks who are wondering what your diet would look like if you lived in Japan for a year. A collection of 365 photos taken during my brekkie, runch and dinner time in Japan - stuffed in the video below for your viewing pleasure. All photos taken from my weekly series A Week in Tokyo where I post loads of photos of my life and work in Tokyo which includes visiting embassies, hosting Internet related networking events and also my work in the anime, entertainment and internet field. The latest A Week in Tokyo write up is here.


If you can't see the video above for any reason then the low res is at YouTube.

Back to the subject of food, many Japanese folks who have visited the UK tell me that the food was horrible - I love the food back in the UK! Nothing beats some fresh chips n savaloy! Music in video used with permission from Beings.

Poll: Japanese food in your region tastes... -Great -Average -Pile o steaming camel poop

American Former Gay Pr0n Star Is Big In Japan

Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture - he also works part time for the empire.
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Billy Herrington (born July 14, 1969, Long Island, New York) is a bisexual American actor best known for his work in gay pornography. Herrington began his erotic career when a friend surreptitiously submitted his nude pictures to Playgirl magazine. The photographs won him a "Real Men of the Month" contest and a $500 prize. His appearance in the magazine caught the eye of famed photographer Jim French but it would be two years before Herrington would shoot his first Colt calendars for French. Soon after that he would be shooting hardcore gay pornography for All Worlds Video. Herrington became one of the more well-known gay porn stars of the late 1990s, even appearing on mainstream talk-show "Ricki Lake."
And why is Billy so immensely popular with the Japanese folks and why has he been made into a Japanese action figure too?
Herrington has also become an internet meme among the Japanese community after a clip from one of his videos 'Workout' was posted on Nico Nico Douga, a Japanese video sharing website. Over 3000 parody videos of him have been made, many of which utilizes deliberate mishearings of his lines in the porn flick. He is affectionately called "Big Brother" among the Nico Nico Douga community, and most of his videos are deliberately tagged with "Forest Fairy", "Philosophy" or both.
Photo taken last night where I provided the translations for Billy's first ever live internet broadcast in Japan - see more photos and videos from behind-the-scenes. An example of one of those parody videos below - you cant really see any dolphin waxing so it should be safe for work. Blockquotes from Wikipedia.

Reactions to Shootings and Stabbings

Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture - he also works part time for the empire.
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What would happen if you went around your local neighborhood pretending to shoot or stab somebody? Would they shoot you back with a real gun? Slap you in the face with the nearest wet dog?
Or just pretend to be shot or stabbed?

Watch how folks in the Japanese city of Osaka pretend to be shot/sliced by an imaginary gun/samurai sword by a complete stranger...


Photo from Osaka Photos.

Free Lodgings at McDonald's

Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture - he also works part time for the empire.



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Not only is McDonald's Japan a place for great health food, its also a great place to take a nap when you are plastered from a late nights work wrestling with your boss. There always seems to be folks sleeping in McDonald's over here.

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And what do folks do over here when they don't have a Mc Dees handy? They sleep *anywhere* and *everywhere*...

Poll: Do you find people sleeping out n about where you live?
-Always
-Sometimes
-Never

Larger photos in my previous McDonald's Japan article.

Japanese Architecture

Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture - he also works part time for the empire.
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A nice photo collection of Japanese architecture - of both the old and new can be found at Kirainet. And if you are thinking of buying some property in Japan, you can read about the interesting regulations including having your roof sloped at a certain angle so that the neighboring house gets enough hours of sunlight per day.

Costs of Education in Japan

Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture - he also works part time for the empire.
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When I first started to follow Japanese culture back in the UK, I saw these bags in anime (Japanese cartoons), manga (comics) and in magazines. I then came over to Japan and started to wonder why all the kids had one and why there were all the same shape n size.

These bags are known as "Randoseru" which is the Japanese pronunciation of the Dutch word "Ransel" meaning "Backpack" and are used by elementary school children in Japan.

They were first introduced into Japan as a backpack for commissioned officers in the imperial army during the Meiji period and then used in governmental schools as the standard commuting bag.

A randoseru is a compulsory school item that ones grandparents usually buy for their grandchildren and usually cost 2 kidneys and a bladder - the most expensive one in this store cost 628 USD! The most expensive randoseru that I've been able to find online costs 1805 USD from Rakuten. Some modern schools these days don't enforce use of the randoseru but those are still the minority. An ad for randoseru below.


So now we know how much it costs to buy a randoseru for elementary school children, I thought we'd look at how much more it costs to send children to school in Japan - costs converted to USD.

-Kindergarten (3 years - public): 7,943 USD
-Kindergarten (3 years - private): 17,536 USD
-Elementary (6 years - public): 21,798 USD
-Elementary (6 years - private): 89,675 USD
-Junior High (3 years - public): 15,392 USD
-Junior High (3 years - private): 41,360 USD
-High School (3 years - public): 16, 995 USD
-High school (3 years - private): 34,078 USD
-Total for all public (15 years): 62,130 USD
-Total for all private (15 years): 182,651 USD

University is not compulsory but for those wishing to go would spend an average of 54,412 USD for the 4 years.

Schooling free or cost a few limbs in your neck of the woods? More photos and sources of figures in the Randoseru article.

Fresh Juicy Tomatoes

Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture - he also works part time for the empire.

Don't you just lurve the taste of fresh juicy tomatoes with yer burger?
A cross section of a Tomato from a Japanese perspective...
Living Tomato.

Japanese Surgical Mask Culture

Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture - he also works part time for the empire.


When I first came to Japan, I was shocked to see people wearing surgical masks in public. The first time was when I was on a train. I looked around to see if anybody was looking at the masked middle aged woman but spotted nobody. The only conclusion I came to was that she was a doctor - but she didn't look like a doctor and even if she was - why on earth was she wearing a surgical mask on the train?!

I soon learned that folks in Japan wear masks for a few reasons...

* They are sick and don't want their evil germs to infect others.
* They have hay fever and don't want the evil pollen to affect them.
* They are not sick but don't want to catch any evil germs from others.
* They have a tooth missing and want to cover it up.
* Their breath smells like a fart and want to diffuse the smell.
* They have no mouth and don't want people to know that they are from Mars.

The main reason however is the first one - to prevent others from being infected with ones germs. This poor chap in the photo above is being a good citizen and wants to keep his germs to himself - he wears the mask all day until he gets home. And for those who don't like masks - they choose something like the product below to plug up their nostrils.


I've only seen folks wearing masks in Japan - anybody wear surgical masks in your region out n about in public?

Photo taken during my times at Microsoft Japan with more Japanism cultural shenanigans at the Japan Portal.

Lurve Bug

Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture - he also works part time for the empire.

Still thinking about what sort of chocolates to get for your loved for Valentines day? How about something really special, really different - chocolates in the shape of beetles...

Celebrate Valentines Day the Japanese way: with chocolates shaped like kabuto-mushi beetles! Dating an entomologist? Trying to introduce a little entomophagy into your relationship? Namco's Namja Land in Ikebukuro has your back. 4,500 yen (49 USD) for a set of four: one Hercules beetle, one stag beetle, one male rhinocerous beetle, and one female rhinocerous beetle.
Text and photo from Matt Alt.

Amazon Sells Rape Simulation Game

Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture. He also works part time for the empire.

Looks like Amazon is in toraburu for selling Japanese rape simulation games. Excerpt from Belfast Telegraph article:
The shocking 'rape simulator', Rapelay, is set in Japan and carries a sickening game description on the Amazon website. An MP said last night that he plans to raise the issue in Parliament.

Reviews by gaming websites have expressed horror at the basis for the game.

One website review describes "tears glistening in the young girl's eyes" as she is attacked in graphic detail.

Players begin the game by stalking a mother on a subway station before violently raping her. They then move on to attack her two daughters described as virgin schoolgirls.

Players are also allowed to enter 'freeform mode' where they can rape any woman and get other male game characters to join the attacks.

Read the article in entirety, with screengrabs of gameplay: "Amazon selling rape simulation game" (Belfast Telegraph via Games Park). Some gaming "action" from the game in question below.

Poll: Folks who play these games are...
- Dangerous
- Harmless

Obama sells iPhone in Japan


Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture - he also works part time for the empire.



To folks in the US - how is your new president doing? Well in Japan, hes doing quite well as you can see from this photo taken yesterday. Softbank is the exclusive carrier for the iPhone in Japan and it looks like Obama-san has a part time job helping them sell mobile phones. The tag line in the poster is:- "Yes We Kau!" - "Kau" meaning "to buy" in Japanese.

Obama-san also performs magic on Japanese TV as you can see from the video below.


And for you fact fans out there - there is even a town in Japan called Obama were residents celebrated the new presidents victory.

Video from Japan Probe, photo stolen from dannychoo.com

Au revoir, mes amis de boingboing

Ed Note: one of Boingboing's three current guest bloggers, Steven Johnson is the author of six books, most recently The Invention Of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution and the Birth Of America. (You can see a video interview introducing the book here.) He's also the co-founder of the hyperlocal community site outside.in.

The two most common--and frustrating--complaints I hear about the web and the blogosphere are 1) that they're filled with mean-spirited snark; and 2) that they've been divided up into predictable, Daily Me filters where you're only told stuff you already know. I've been hearing this for years, and every time I hear it I respond by pointing people to the success of boingboing, which I think most of us would agree is as true to the core values of the web as anything out here. First, our hosts are so generous and open--and largely snark-free--in just about everything they post. The default tone is here is always: "Hey, check out this amazing thing I found." And those things are far more eclectic and diverse than anything you would have encountered in the heyday of big media. Only at boingboing could a guy post about Candy Land, aviation safety, Lost, and the Obama IT plan in one week and feel like he's the boring, predictable one. If this turns out to be what the DailyMe looks like, I think we're all going to be just fine.

So it was an honor and a complete blast to hang out here for the past two weeks. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured by any of my posts. I hope you'll get a chance to check out The Invention of Air, but either way I look forward to continuing the conversation here and elsewhere.

New tools for the street: outside.in Radar for the iPhone

Ed Note: one of Boingboing's three current guest bloggers, Steven Johnson is the author of six books, most recently The Invention Of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution and the Birth Of America. (You can see a video interview introducing the book here.) He's also the co-founder of the hyperlocal community site outside.in.

I've been so busy posting about Lost and Candy Land, that I haven't had a chance to say anything about what we're working on at outside.in, which in many ways has been the most exciting project of all for me over the past few years.

When John Geraci and I first started tossing around ideas for the site, our common passion and interest had been this notion that geographic space--and particularly urban space--had an invisible layer of data flowing through it that was tantalizingly close to you as you explored a neighborhood, but that was generally inaccessible other than through the chains of face-to-face, word-of-mouth conversation. Not only were there a million stories in the big city, there were a million in every neighborhood, and a thousand on every block: the overpriced condo that sold last week; the new bar that just got denied a liquor license; the mugging that took place a few months ago; the school principal that everyone's thrilled with. (This is what Dan Hill wonderfully describes in The Street As Platform.) All this data was out there in people's heads -- and increasingly in local placeblogger sites -- but there was no easy way to discover it geographically. There was no easy way to say: I'm standing on this corner in this town -- what are the locals talking about right now?

So we started outside.in as an attempt to answer that question. The Radar service we launched last year was our first interface that really tried to give you that micro-local perspective. But one of the things that's become clear to us is that question--what's happening around me right now--is even more compelling and fascinating when you're asking it via a mobile device standing on a street corner. And so I'm just incredibly excited about the application we've just released for the iPhone, Outside.in Radar. You load it up, let it geo-locate you, and then you'll see all the blog posts, news stories, Tweets, and discussion threads that involve places within 1,000 feet of where you're standing. If one of those places sounds interesting, you can go check out a dedicated place that shows you all the stories we've tracked that are associated with that place. You can also zoom out to see all the stories in the neighborhood you're currently occupying, or the wider city.

There are a hundred iPhone apps that let you find a nearby Italian restaurant. And that's great -- finding a nearby restaurant is a useful function. But I think a lot of us want something more out of the geo-web; we want the grain and the serendipity of human conversations and gossip to help us explore physical space. I think this app is a big first step in that direction. A couple of caveats, though. For now, it's U.S. only. And while it will sometimes find content outside of the top 100 or so urban areas in the U.S., there's much more data in the mid-sized to big cities. We're also actively working to speed up the load times--this first version is a little slow to fill up with data. (There will be a free upgrade that's faster shortly.) But if you walk around a few neighborhoods with it for a couple days, I think you'll find there's something genuinely new about the experience--it's like exploring a community with a neighborhood maven one tap away on your phone. And I know you'll immediately start thinking of other ways of using the data we've assembled over the past two years; the possibilities for new geo-interfaces are really extraordinary right now, and I'd love to hear any thoughts for v2 and beyond.

Outside.in Radar for the iPhone

DIY: How to write a book

Ed Note: one of Boingboing's three current guest bloggers, Steven Johnson is the author of six books, most recently The Invention Of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution and the Birth Of America. (You can see a video interview introducing the book here.) He's also the co-founder of the hyperlocal community site outside.in.

In part because my books have had a habit of weaving multiple disciplines together, and in part because I've written quite a bit about technology, I'm often asked about the tools I use to research and write my books. Given that Boingboing has its own wonderful multi-disciplinary sensibility, and of course a major obsession with DIY movements, I thought it might be fun to say a few words about the writing system I've developed over the past few books.

My word processors have varied over the years: I swore off MS Word after Mind Wide Open, and used Nisus Writer for Everything Bad and Ghost Map; had a quick dalliance with Pages, and then actually returned to the latest version of Word for Invention. But the one constant for the past four books has been an ingenious piece of software called Devonthink, which is basically a free-form database that accepts many different document types (PDFs, text snippets, web pages, images, etc). It has a very elegant semantic algorithm that can detect relationships between short excerpts of text, so you can use the software as a kind of connection machine, a supplement to your own memory. I wrote about this several years ago for the Times Book Review, and I still get emails from people every couple of weeks asking about the software. (The Devonthink guys should put me in an infomercial.)

Since I wrote that essay, I've developed a new approach to using Devonthink that was enormously helpful in writing Ghost Map and Invention. The first stage, which is crucial, is a completely disorganized capture of every little snippet of text that seems vaguely interesting. I grab paragraphs from web pages, from digital books, and transcribe pages from printed text -- and each little snippet I just drop into Devonthink with no organization other than a citation of where it came from. This goes on for months and months; I read in a completely unplanned and exploratory way (increasingly online, thanks to Google Books and other sources) and just drag anything that seems at all interesting into Devonthink.

When it comes time to actually write the book, I usually have a pretty clear sense of how the chapters are going to be divided up. With Ghost Map, for instance, there's a cool little trick I figured out before I started writing where each chapter maps to a single day in the epidemic, but also connects to one of the themes of the book: the shit and scavengers, miasma, the map. (No one seemed to notice this in any of the reviews, but it's one of the things that I'm most proud of with that book.) And so in the last stage before I actually start writing, I create a little folder in Devonthink for each of the chapters. And then I sit down and read through every single little snippet that I've uncovered over the past year or so of research. And as I'm reading them on the screen, I just drag them into the chapter folder where I think they will be most useful. Some snippets get dragged to multiple folders; most don't make it into any folder. But I read through them all, and in reading through them all, I have a completely new contextual experience of them, because I'm at the end of the research cycle, not at the beginning. They feel like pieces of a puzzle that's coming together, instead of hints or hunches.

And the added bonus here is that Devonthink has a wonderful feature where you can take the entire contents of a folder and condense it down into a single text document. So that's how I launch myself into the actual writing of the book. I grab the first chapter folder and export it as a single text document, open it up in my word processor, and start writing. Instead of confronting a terrifying blank page, I'm looking at a document filled with quotes: from letters, from primary sources, from scholarly papers, sometimes even my own notes. It's a great technique for warding off the siren song of procrastination. Before I hit on this approach, I used to lose weeks stalling before each new chapter, because it was just a big empty sea of nothingness. Now each chapter starts life as a kind of archipelago of inspiring quotes, which makes it seem far less daunting. All I have to do is build bridges between the islands.

The case against Candy Land

Ed Note: Boingboing's current guest blogger Steven Johnson is the author of six books, most recently The Invention Of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution and the Birth Of America, for which he is currently on book tour. He's also the co-founder of the hyperlocal community site outside.in.

Anyone with children over a certain age will tell you that one of the best things about being a parent is how much time you get to spend playing games with your kids. In my case--I have three boys, aged 2 to 7--the experience has always had a split-screen quality to it: half belonging to the 21st century, the other belonging to my childhood in the mid-seventies. We spend a ton of time together playing Little Big Planet on the PS3--or more accurately, we spend a ton of time with me marveling at their skills at Little Big Planet and woefully attempting to keep up with them. But there’s also the parallel track, where I get to revisit the games that I played as a child. Just last week it was Battleship. Before that it was Sorry, Bingo, Go Fish, Candy Land, and so on.

There’s a consistent theme to all these old-school game introductions: almost without exception, I have been mortified by the pathetic game that I’ve excitedly brought to the kids. Not because they’re made out of cardboard and plastic, instead of 1080p HDMI graphics. (My boys still spend just as many happy hours with Lego as they do the PS3.) What’s irritating about the games is that they are exercises in sheer randomness. It’s not that they fail to sharpen any useful skills; it’s that they make it literally impossible for a player to acquire any skills at all.

Take Battleship. I spend thirty minutes setting up the game, explaining the dual grids and how one represents their fleet, and the other represents their opponents’. I have to explain the pegs, and the x/y coordinates of the grid, and the placement of the ships themselves. And then when we’re finally ready to go, I explain how the actual game is played.

“So pick a random point on the grid,” I explain, “and see if he’s got a ship there.”

“Nothing? Okay, now you pick a random point on the grid.”

“Nothing? Okay, let’s do it again…”

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