Tuesday, 21 January 2014

#1 Question About Travelling to Japan?

I'm doing some research for a book project and I've been wondering... what would be your #1 question about travelling to Japan?

Would it be: "I don't speak Japanese - is that gonna be a problem?" or

"It all looks so overwhelming - where do you start?" or

"I don't like Japanese food - what can I eat when I'm there instead of sushi etc?"

"I'm concerned about safety - does the Fukushima disaster mean I should postpone any ideas of travelling to Japan for now?" or...? What?

Why not post your question(s) below?

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Steve Evans

Just watched cancer sufferer @steveevans51 on BBC Breakfast - emotionally inspirational and he's currently getting around 500 new Twitter followers per second! #cancer

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Amazon's Kindle is most popular e-reader in Japan (finally!)

Back in April 2012 I posted about my surprise at the complete lack of e-readers in public in Japan ("Wot! No e-book readers!?"). I subsequently posted that I'd spotted a few but nothing like the numbers one sees in the UK - especially when commuting on the train.
So, this news item reporting that Amazon's Kindle is the most popular e-reading device in Japan: http://nyti.ms/1cBJjQH particularly caught my eye. 
Not least because relative newcomer Kobo (availble here in the UK via WH Smith bricks and mortar stores) is owned by a Japanese company (Rakuten). Whoever wins out, it's interesting to finally see dedicated e-readers catching on in Japan. 

Friday, 30 November 2012

Learning Japanese

It's been some 15 years or so since I last had Japanese lessons. Currently downloading Japanese fonts for Adobe reader. Time to get back to learning me thinks...

Friday, 14 September 2012

Not A "Falling Down" Moment

Hamburger in the Mos Burger fastfood restaurant.

In Joel Schumacher's 1993 film "Falling Down" Michael Douglas portrays an unemployed defense worker who, frustrated with the various flaws he sees in society, begins to psychotically and violently lash out against them. This is triggered in part by a disgusting-looking hamburger he is served in a burger bar bearing no resemblance to the tantilising photo on the menu board.

In Japan that would never happen. At least not in any chain restaurant. In fact, I think that most of the time the real thing actually looks better than the menu image! The menu images are often graphics rather than photographs. Which is rather ironic when you think about it. Why not photograph the product when they look this good in reality?! Also tastes great too. ;-)

Here's the scene from "Falling Down"...


The only natural conclusion we can draw from this evidence is:- if you get your burgers right, society will be a safer place for us all.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Tetra Mound at Moerenuma Park


The Moerenuma Park in Sapporo, Hokkaido, is possibly the most incredible and breathtaking municipal park in Japan.

Designed by artist Isamu Noguchi, the vast park is on the outskirts of Sapporo, transforming what was a waste treatment area into one of the most striking landscapes I have ever seen. There are several massive installations like this in the park, but I've chosen this photo of the Tetra Mound as my first image to post here.

Its scale (13 meters high) is discernable from the two figures seen below the point of the triangular pyramid. These were two teenagers skateboarding around the sculpture. Not strictly permitted, but I can't say I blame them. As skate park locations go this has to be among the best on the planet!

(Geek footnote: Anyone who remembers the 1984 Lucasfilm video game Ballblazer which featured a futurisrtic sports playing field of huge checkerboards will probably react like I did - which was like being *inside* the videogame on the field of play. A very surreal experience.)

Official Moerenuma Park website (in English): http://www.sapporo-park.or.jp/moere/english.php
Wikipedia entry for Ballblazer video game: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballblazer