Gundam – ガンダム

Gundam is one of the longest series of Japanese anime, it started in 1979 with “Mobile Suit Gundam” and it is still running with “Mobile Suit Gundam SEED”. The fantastic world of Gundam is huge, I’m not a Gundam fan but I can see series, films, OVAs, video games and figures every time I go shopping around Tokyo. Figures are one of the most popular articles. If you are a big Gundam fan, Tokyo is for sure your paradise, but if you can’t come to Tokyo in the near future you should check this.

Here are some pictures I took this weekend, I found all this Gundam stuff by chance, it’s everywhere!:

Next to a big Gundam robot. It’s costs around 2.500 Euros.

Gundam DVD boxes.


Special Spray “especial” to paint your Gundam figures.

Everything Gundam!

Those are “special” for your Gundams.

Magazines about Gundam world.

Corridors and more corridors full of figures.


Building scalable web sites

“Building Scalable Websites” is one of those tech books that is really hot around Silicon Valley. It’s a book that every web developer working with big sites should have in his desktop.

While working at Technorati Japan I learned that is much much much difficult and expensive to develop a web application that is used by millions of people everyday than one that is used “only” by some thousands of people a day. It seems obvious, but 99% of the new Internet companies (those called Web2.0 companies) are failing because they don’t really know how to scale their services.

Scaling in a good way, means to do it fast, with the least money possible and thinking that in the future you will be hundreds of times bigger. Google, Amazon and Yahoo people are the best in the world scaling, they have thousands of millions of users a day without many problems. For example, in this great article you can read how they managed at Myspace, one of the fastest-growing web applications in the history.

The book “Building Scalable Websites” is written by someone that knows a lot about this stuff. The Flickr main programmer, the mind that crafted Flickr form it’s beginnings and is still managing everything. Flickr is possibly one of the most stable and big web applications on the net. The book is written in a very simple style, no “crap talking” to make more pages, it explains real problems that they found when building Flickr and how they solved them (They even show Flickr source code). It explains how to build a nice API, how to create a nice development environment, how to scale mysql, load balancing, attack protection, internationalization, syndication, apache and php scaling, caching, messaging services and so on.

Flickr serves 5.000 pages every second, it has more than 100.000 working, and its users are generating 60.000 database transactions per second. by far one of the most stable web applications I know. Learn from someone who created it is a pleasure, one of the best technical books I know.



Well known by everyone who has ever watched the movie “My neighbor Totoro”, the Nekobus is a cat-bus (“Neko” is cat in Japanese) that can travel very fast on any type of terrain. One of the most fabulous means of transport that you can imagine. There are many Nekobus fans around the world, and some of them try to create Nekobuses replicas in the real world. Here are some pictures I found thanks to Google:

This is not a Nekobus but it is very “Ghibli”. I travelled using this bus when I went to the Ghibli Museum at Mitaka.

This is the original Nekobus.

I finished at this web and this web where you “Totoro Station” pictures. It seems there is a real bus station called “Totoro” somewhere in a little village at southern Japan.

“Totoro” bus station.


First time it doesn't snow in Tokyo since 1876

From 1876 when they started to gather weather data in Tokyo it snowed at least one time before February 10h every year. This year, it’s almost March and it didn’t snowed, and I don’t think it will do with 15-17 degrees that we are having these days. In order to be registered as “it snowed in Tokyo” it has to snow in a place called “Otemachi” at Tokyo’s city center, it didn’t happened for the first time in more than one hundred years.

Because of this warm weather Sakura and Ume flowers blossomed before expected. Japanese LOVE Sakura and Ume flowers, they will have conversation topic for next weeks “Is the global warming changing our Sakura season?”, “Was Sakura more beautiful in the old times?”.


First impression

The first thing you see in Japan after Narita International Airport is:

Rice, rice and more rice!

I took this video from a Narita Express train, my favorite train (fast and comfortable) to travel from Narita to Tokyo. Other lines from the Airport to Tokyo are Keisei Skyliner a little bit cheaper, JR Sobu Line much slower and Keisei Limited Express that is the slowest and the cheapest one.

For lines from the airport, not bad. The problem is that Narita is very far away from Tokyo. Narita Express takes more than one hour, and is the fastest train. In the seventies they started to built a shinkansen (bullet train) from the airport to Tokyo but the project stop because there were some political problems… (Who knows). Good news is that right now there is a new line in construction called Narita Rapid Railway that will start to work around 2010 and will connect Narita Airport and Tokyo in 36 minutes.

One curiosity about Narita is that there is a “type” of divorce known as “Narita Divorce” (Narita rikon). “Narita rikon” is broadly used by people because it seems that many Japanese couples decide to divorce when they are back at Narita Airport after their honey moon travel. There is even a Japanese drama called “Narita rikon” that made the expression even more popular.


Panasonic e-book reader

We all dream with the day that some company would create a GOOD e-book reader , with a nice screen, long battery duration, that could read lots of formats (open formats included) and a with nice shape/size/design. A long time ago I tried librie from Sony, and from my point of view it faild because it was too big and you could only read closed formats (typical Sony style).

Panasonic has launched his e-book reader a while ago but is not a killer. The batteries only last 6 hours!, it’s too thick and pretty expensive. At least it has a good screen and it allows JPEG reproduction from SD cards without any limitation. It doesn’t read PDFs, and if you wanna get books that are not JPEGs you need to download/pay Panasonic propietary files from some websites they built with partners.


100% automatic

Space is a big problem here in Japan, but Japanese people are always thinking how to use it in smarter ways. Robotic car parks are very common in Japan, Tokyo is full of them. Here there is a video where you can see one of the most advanced ones I used in Odaiba island:

The sound you listen when the car is ready reminds me a microwave owen “beep” “beep”.