Real money disappearing in Japan

At the beginning of 2001 Suica IC card started to work in Japan, it is an e-money card based on IC technology exploited by JR (Japan Railways). At the beginning it was used only to pay train travles, but nowadays you can use it in many traditional shops, convenience stores and even vending machines. From some months ago Suica is compatible with other IC cards (PASMO is the name of one of them), right now in Japan there are around 20 million users who have the “same type” of electronic wallet. That’s huge! That mass helps a lot to expand it through new businesses and start becoming really useful for everyone, blahblahblah… next you can see a video showing how I use my Suica to pay a train travel:

Look how fast people enters, payment with IC cards is very fast and allows a high flux of people entering and exiting from train stations. You just have to approach your wallet to pay.

The same thing you saw in the video you can do it with a mobile phone, just put your mobile phone next to the reader and you pay. IC Cards inside mobile phones are already being used by millions of Japanese.

Paying in a supermarket just approaching your mobile phone.

For example, today I tried to live without “real money”. In the morning I used the train and the bus, I paid both with my IC card. At lunch I had to pay with “real money” in a restaurant :(. Then I bought some snacks in a convenience store with the IC card, also got a drink from a vending machine with the IC card. When I went back home I payed everything at the supermarket just approaching my wallet to the reader. Except the restaurant, everything was electronic money!

The future is a combination of electronic wallet, credit card and mobile phone. Something similar is what Docomo is trying to do right now with his latest technologies. Some of the things that you can already do (or will be able to in the short term) are: bank transfers, buying with your mobile phone without pain, you can pay something you found on the Internet with your laptop just approaching your mobile to the computer (Many new Japanese laptops have an IC reader by default), you can transfer money to other mobile phone, buy/sell stocks, use your phone as a “normal” credit card, pay plane tickets using your phone in the airport… Here is the picture that explains it as Docomo sees the future:

IC reader in a laptop.

Suica IC reader in a shop.

And this is the security system:

That little black thing is “the key”. If the key is farther away than two meters from phone, then it blocks. For example, if someone steals your handbag with your mobile phone inside, if you have the black little key in your pocket the robber won’t be able to use the phone, it will be blocked.

I don’t know you, but for me “analog”|”real” money makes no sense in the world we live nowadays. Can you imagine living without coins in your pocket? I hate coins!


Naha monorail

When I was in Okinawa one of the most surprising things I found in Naha capital was that the main public transportation system is a monorail. Here are some pictures, so you can get a sense of how much they profit space, there are monorail tracks even above rivers!. Looking at the building nearby you will be able to appreciate how tall is the monorail.


Hiro Nakamura's katana

Hiro Nakamura is Heroes main character (If you are not watching Heroes, what are you waiting for!), he has a sword that belonged to someone called “Takezo Kensei”. The cool thing is “Takezo Kensei” is not a fiction character, he was a real samurai, in fact he is probably the most “famous” samurai ever. If I tell you that “Miyamoto Musashi” is his usual name you will probably know him, but “Takezo Kensei” is how he is called in Heroes. “Takezo” is an alternative reading of Musashi 武蔵, and “Kensei” is the highest rank a samurai can hold, only legendary samurais are considered “Kensei”. “Kensei” could be translated as “Heroe”.

He is the historical Miyamoto Musashi, known in Heroes fiction TV series as Takezo Kensei.

Miyamoto Musashi/Takezo Kensei fought at Sekigahara, one of the most important battles in Japanese history, he survived more than 60 duels “one vs one” during his 61 years of life, he created many fighting styles and he finished his days writing books. He is considered the best swordsman ever.

Spoilers warning! Spoilers warning!
Miyamoto Musashi appears many times in Heroes, in the museum when they are trying to steal a katana, when Hiro talks about Takezo Kensei, and we can even see the “real” Takezo Kensei at the second season’s beginning when Hiro travels back in time to 1671. Another interesting detail that future Hiro Nakamura has the same air style as Miyamoto Musashi .
Spoilers finished!

Miyamoto Musashi air style is very similar to future Hiro Nakamura.

The katana in the TV series is an invention, in the real history Miyamoto Musashi never had a favorite sword. In the katana from Heroes TV series there is a symbol (This symbol can be seen many times in many places). As Ando explains in one episode, the symbol can be created combining two Japanese characters: sai 才 (Great talent, genius), and yo 与(One of the meanings of this kanjis is “godsend”). If you put together these two kanji characters you obtain the symbol from Hiro’s katana that belonged to “Takezo Kensei”:

Are Hiro Nakamura and his father descendants from Miyamoto Musashi/Takezo Kensei? Are Heroes main characters Gods? Is Heroes a battle between Gods?

If you wanna learn more about the real Miyamoto Musashi, I recommend you: Musashi Miyamoto by Eiji Yoshikawa; which is the best book around there. Is huge but I’m sure you will enjoy every line if you are a fan of Japanese culture.

Images from: Akinokai y Heroes Wiki .



Japanese girls love “pika pika” (Shiny) stuff. They love things covered with “swarovski”, specially since two years ago covering your mobile phone with them is considered very trendy.

I took two pictures with many objects totally covered with crystals. Can you recognize the gadgets?

swarovski moda

swarovski moda


First bending OLED displays

Sony showed yesterday his first prototype of bending OLED (Organic Light-emitting diode) screen.

Sony is the first company in the world that is going to “mass” produce OLED screens. They will start producing 1.000 screens every month and see what happens. Do you imagine being able to fold a screen and put it inside your pocket?



“Aero-train” is a levitation transport system alternative to the famous “Maglev” (Magnetic levitation). The purpose of both systems is to keep the train some centimeters above the ground, “maglev” trains use the power of electromagnetism most of the times using superconducting magnets, in the case of “aero-train” technology it uses an air cushion using the power of the “ground effect” (Something similar to hovercrafts).

In France they thought it was a good idea 40 years ago and started to create “aero-trains”. The project worked from 1965 until 1977, they even managed to beat the some world speed records, but at the end they decided to stop all the research because changing all railways for “aero-trains” was too expensive. Special rail tracks are needed for “aero-trains”.

This is one of the french Aero-trains.

More French aero-train pictures .

Research stop during many decades until Tohoku University started a project called“0 emission Aero-train”. It seems that Aero-trains if well designed do not require too much energy, so they thought that using some wind mills installed along the rail tracks would be enough. Tohoku University’s aero-train will start to work in 2020, and will be able to travel at 500km/h transporting 335 passengers at 10cm above the ground.

This is how the Japanese aero-train prototype looks like. Here there is one video where you can see it moving.

I’m really impressed with the projects that Japanese Universities are able to conduct, there is lots of money for students/teachers/researchers !