A Geek in Japan | 2007 July
Adventures of a geek living in Japan
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Harajuku and Shinjuku photowalk

Two weeks ago I joined a group leaded by Joi Ito and we spend the afternoon taking pictures around Harajuku and Shinjuku. I enjoyed a lot the experience, met new people and learned many photography tricks. Some of the people who attended were: Joi Ito, Fumi Yamazaki, Jim O’connell, Derek, Sean Bonner and Jim Grisanzio.

You can see all the pictures we made from this Flickr tag. In this post there are some of the pictures I took:

Photowalk

Photowalk

Photowalk

Photowalk

Photowalk

Photowalk

Photowalk

Photowalk

Photowalk
The one in the left is me, taking the cat picture. Picture from Distal Zou

Photowalk

Photowalk
Sean Bonner, Joi Ito y Jim O’Connell taking the last pictures.

Photowalk
Jim Grisanzio he is the community manager for Open Solaris, he’s been living in Japan since last year.

Photowalk

Photowalk

Photowalk

Photowalk

Photowalk

Photowalk

10

Elephant cage

Yesterday I was (trying) to read Asahi Shinbun and came into an article about a communications station from the United States army that is being demolished in Okinawa. It happens that this antenna cached my attention when I went to Okinawa, I took these pictures.

Okinawa

Okinawa

This big weird thing is in a village called Yomitan located near the west coast in the biggest island in Okinawa. The shape of the antenna and its size (You can appreciate it from the second picture) made some people to imagine that it looks like an “elephant cage” and that’s how local people call it. The place where the “elephant cage” is was conquered by the United States at the end of the war but two years ago it was returned to Japan. During the next months the antenna is gonna be demolished and the terrain will be returned to its original landlords (Not an easy job, you need to know who owned the land before the WWII).

4

Kasai Nana

Two weeks ago me and Danny promised Kasai Nana’s pictures, we are a little bit late but here you have the pics ^^. Today’s idol is Kasai Nana (華彩 なな), she is 23, 156cm, 90-59-88 a her blood type is A. The information about the blood type is the most important for Japanese, they can know everything about her just knowing she is A 😉 .

Kasai has released 9 DVDs and many photo-books. This is Kasai Nana‘s blog, the wikipedia article and official website. Let’s see the pictures, of course there are more at Dannychoo’s site, check them out!.

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

kasainana idol japanesegirl girl japaneseidol nanakasai sexy bikini

If after all these pictures you still need more, here you have a Video.

24

The lexus and the olive tree

Just finished reading The lexus and the olive tree from Thomas L.Friedman that Fer-martin recommend me. It’s a book about “understanding globalization”, talking about the dynamics and interaction of finance, technology, society and geopolitics in our world. But what I felt while reading it is that I was reading the 90s decade history. I understood more in deep what happened around me while I was in high-school, what happened when I started using computers, when I started using the Internet; how the world was changing while I was “concentrated” in studying.

Is the typical book where the main thesis is explained in the first 50 pages and the rest is just examples, going back to the thesis and “blahlblahblah”; or as Roy would say “only about 10% of any non-fiction book is worth reading, the rest is just filler”. Anyways, “The lexus and the olive tree” beginning is pretty worth reading, and also some of the real examples at the different chapters; much better than other globalization books as No Logo. I read more in deep finance related chapters where I learned about hedge funds, big financial firms and investment banks and how they rule the world. Technology chapters are pretty boring, maybe because I’m tired of listening always about the same stuff.

Some quotes I found interesting while reading the book.

I like to compare countries to three parts of a computer. First, there is the actual machine, the “hardware”. This is the basic shell around your economy. And the throughout the Cold War system you had three kinds of hardware in the world: free-market hardware, communist hardware and hybrid hardware that combined features of both.
The second part is the “operating system” for your hardware. I compare this to the broad macroeconomic policies of any country. in the communist countries the basic economic operating system was central planning. There was no free market. The government decided how capital should be allocated. I call that communist economic operating system DOScapital 0.0.
In the hybrid states the operating systems were various combinations of socialism, free markets, state-directed economics and crony capitalism, in which government bureaucrats, businesses and banks were all tied in with one another. I call this DOSCapital 1.0 to 4.0, depending on the degree of government involvement and the sophistication of the economy. Hungary, for instance, is DOScapital 1.0, China is DOScapital 1.0 in the hinterland and 4.0 in Shanghai, Thailand is DOScapital 3.0, Indonesia is DOScapital 3.0 and Korea is DOScapital 4.0.
Last come the big industrial capitalist systems. Some of these have operating systems that are based on free markets but still have significant welfare-state components. This group includes, France, Germany, Japan…

The cold war was a world of “friends” and “enemies”. The globalization world, by contrast, tends to turn all friends and enemies into “competitors”.

Bill Gates’s fortune at one point was equal to the combined net worth of the 106 million “poorest” Americans.

4

How would you retire with 5 million euros?

I was chatting with Diego and we ended up talking about “what would you do with a huge amount of money”, more concretely “How would you organize your life to stop working and live from that money”. At the end of our conversation we agreed to talk about it in our blogs. If you want to make the same mental exercise in your blogs, the conditions are: you have 5 million euros and you can’t continue working or create your own company.

The first thing I would do is to look for professional advice, so I can guarantee that I can live from my money for the rest of my life without problems. Probably what I would do is to invest two millions in stocks/bonds/etc, next two millions I would use them to buy houses and the last million to enjoy it. Once I have my first two millions invested I would start looking for ideal places where I would like to live.

Diego suggests Panamá as an ideal place: low criminality, good weather, taxes are very low, 1 square meter next to the sea costs 40 dollars at most, and you can get a VISA if you demonstrate you have a 500$ income per month. I would say Hawai, Okinawa, north of Australia or New Zealand; all of them paradisaic places, low criminality and stable economies. Once I buy my ideal home I would travel during two years, practice my hobbies and visit my friends and family around the world. At the end of those two sabbatical years I would create a family and enjoy it, I would use my free time for hobbies, sport and probably I would concentrate in writing; lately I’m discovering that I really like writing. I would also continue studying new stuff, I’m an addict to studying and learning. I would use some money to create or help some kind of foundation/service on the Internet, but I would not only help with money I would also participate actively; I think it is important to have something to do. Of course I would continue traveling and I would buy an extra home in Tokyo, Sidney or Barcelona.

I think I covered what I consider the most important things in this life: health, family, friends and self-realization. I lied at the beginning, the very first thing I would really do is to buy a new computer and a new camera :) What would you do?

6

Surprise

This weekend I took zillions of pictures, I think this is the best one I took. Colors are not perfect but I pressed the shutter at the perfect moment.

4

Dance Vader behind the scenes

After Tokyo dance trooper success, Danny gave me the opportunity to become the most powerful being in the universe. I couldn’t say no, I became Darth Vader! Our purpose was to make a video where Darth Vader is dancing together with an Stormtrooper in Harajuku and Yoyogi park, the final video is at Dannychoo’s site. As you can see, Darth Vader is just trying to dance, I’m really out of sync!

I made the “behind the scenes” version where you can see what we did while we are not dancing.

We concentrated with video stuff, but there are also some pictures.

Darthvader

Darthvader

Darthvader

Darthvader
Free hugs from the dark side.

Darthvader

Darthvader

Darthvader

Darthvader
Using the force to park the car.

14

Go – 囲碁

Go or Igo is a very popular board game in Asia. The basic rule is “try to surround all your rival’s pieces”.

Go
I took these two pictures in Beijing.

Go

It seems easy, but it’s not! It’s much more difficult than chess. No computer program can beat the best go player in the world, it seems that even “normal” players can win against the best go software. The number of combinations in a go game is huge! The number of possible combinations at the beginning of the game is greater than the number of atoms in the whole universe.

I had the opportunity to learn the basic go tricks in Spain, and here in Japan I continued with my hobby. After many games, I’m starting to really see how deep is this game, and how much do players have to think to make your next movement. It is the oldest board game in the world that is still being played using the original rules; furthermore, it’s nowadays the second most played board game in the world after Xiangqi.

Go comes from China, but is also played professionally in Korea and Japan. If fact, Japanese were the best during almost all the twentieth century. In Japan there is a long tradition starting in the Edo period when the Tokugawa shogun created a government title called Godokoro. This position was covered by the best go player in the country. Dosaku was one of the most important Godokoros ever, his games are still used nowadays to study go, you can check some of this games at this site.

At the beginning I didn’t really like the game, but after you learn some tricks it starts to become addictive. If you want to start learning the basic stuff I recommend you this interactive site and wiki only about go.

There are many people playing go in Japan, there is even a manga-anime called Hikaru no go, there is a go TV channel and Saturday mornings there is a TV show on NHK second channel where professional players explain step by step interesting games. It seems that Go is very good for your mental health (health sells a lot lately), it helps kids to develop their mind and you have to use all your power. When you play chess you only use your right hemisphere. If you want to have both of your hemisphere in fit, play go! … I’m not playing go lately 😉

11

Japanese squatting

One of the first things you notice when you arrive to Japan (Or any other Asian country) is that there are lots of people crouching on the streets. For me, and most of my European friends it’s very difficult to squat during more than one minute, but Asian people seem to have an special ability. Many times you can even see groups of friends squatting and eating noodles while chatting and relaxing. I could never relax in that position!

cuclillas

cuclillas

cuclillas

cuclillas

cuclillas
Las picture was taken by friend P.J. Marquez.

By the way, English speakers, what do you prefer: to squat or to crouch? is there any difference?

61

Clean Japan

Watch next video where I’m just showing you the floor of some Tokyo metro stations:

You can even see the people’s reflection while they walk, I’m sure many of us would like to have our home’s floor as clean as Tokyo’s metro floor. The funniest part is to see the cleaning employees cleaning something that is already clean. I remember a guy at Haneda’s airport who was kneeling and patiently cleaning every floor tile one by one using a pocket vacuum cleaner.

Some months ago I spent some days in Madrid, and it was not difficult for me to take pictures like this one:

Metro Madrid

Of course, in Japan there are also some dirty places, but the quantity of these dirty places is ridiculous if you compare with some European countries or China. I’m sure Japan is one of the cleanest countries in the world, together with some north-European countries like Sweden, Holland, Norway, Denmark o Finland.

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