Transparent umbrellas

I think I’m starting to be too used to Japan and I’m loosing my capacity to be surprised by “things that make Japan different”. I uploaded his picture to Flickr and many users told me that all umbrellas in the picture except mine are transparent!

Paraguas
View picture on Flickr

Yes, the transparent umbrella is the most common one in Japan. They’re cheap and they break easily, but people does not care because it’s seen as a temporary or emergency umbrella. Many transparent forgotten umbrellas can be found on the streets after some rain,. Also, I call the transparent umbrella the “community umbrella” because when you put your transparent umbrella together with other transparent umbrellas when you enter a shop or restaurant… then when you leave the place you don’t really know which one was your umbrella so you just get one :) It would be interesting to track a transparent umbrella around Tokyo during rainy week, I bet it would have many “owners” until it breaks.

Another advantage is that you can more or less see what it’s in front of you. In fact when riding a bicycle under the rain it is really useful, although I think it is illegal to ride a bike with an umbrella in Japan. I do it all the time and the police never said anything to me.

Japan is the country in the world where more umbrellas are produced during a year, and transparent umbrellas are the most common here. It must have some kind of record, It could the most successful umbrella of all times, maybe the news super-umbrellas will be the transparent ones 😉 ? Do you know which company makes these transparent umbrellas?

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Leader in Photovoltaic Cell Production

In the last few years, the United States has lost its position as the leader in photovoltaic cell production and has stepped aside for Japan, which produces more than 50% of the “raw material” needed for the construction of solar power stations. In the late 90’s, the United States was the leader, due mostly to incentives by the Clinton Administration. From the moment Bush came to office, those incentives stopped being a priority. But in Japan, the government is setting up a lot of plans to stimulate installation, development and production of all kinds of technologies that allow to generate energy without the use of fossil fuels.

Below there is a graphic that shows the growth in world production of photovoltaic cells. More than 50% of the past few year’s production belongs to Japan:

Solar Cells production

Sharp produces 36% of all photovoltaic cells produced in the world in a year. Directors at Sharp say that they’re increasing production at a rate close to an annual 80% in order to cater for the great demand of the European market. Sharp will open the biggest photovoltaic cell production plant in the world in Nara in a few months. With the cells produced at the Sharp factory in Nara, a solar power station with a production capacity of 160MW per year could be built. Sanyo and Kyocera are great photovoltaic cell producers as well.

Japan, apart from investing on technology for the production of alternative energies, is also the world leader in production of hybrid and electric cars. It really looks like they want to stop depending on gas, something that still seems far but IS possible. The strategy of Japan and its big companies seems the best judging by what is happening NOW and “seeing” what is going to happen in a few year’s time. A country without great natural resources as Japan is, the best thing to do is turn into producers of the future “raw materials”. I hope one day the world will depend more on the production of photovoltaic cells than on the oil extraction in certain countries. And I’m sure that it won’t only be Japan, but lots of other countries where they’ll produce their own cells and will build their own solar power stations. In Spain we are not leaders in solar energy, but I think we are world runner-ups, both in production of windmills and in installations of wind power.

Solar Cells
This is how a photovoltaic cell looks like. It works thanks to the photoelectric effect discovered by Hertz and theorized by Albert Einstein more than 100 years ago.

Sources:

0

Firefox 3 event

Yesterday I attended the Firefox 3 release in Tokyo. Gen Kanai (Mozilla marketing manager) invited me and Danny to the event. Unfortunately Danny could not attend but Francesco and Peter came with me. We had a great time meeting all kinds of people and eating really good food. Here there is Gen Kanai‘s smile after the launch, I guess he has been working really hard lately and now he is very happy with Firefox 3 success.

firefox

What you can see behind Gen‘s head is a screen showing Firefox 3 downloads all around Japan. I recorded a video that shows how Firefox 3 was released and in seconds people all around the country started downloading it. I specially like the bursts around Tokyo and Osaka area.

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7

Daido Moriyama

Nobuyoshi Araki and Daido Moriyama are two of the most famous contemporary Japanese photographers. Nobuyoshi Araki is the bad boy, he likes colors and controversy, on the other hand Daido Moriyama shots almost always en b&w and his pictures are sad and melancholic. Daido Moriyama was friend with Yukio Mishima, and he confesses that his photographic style is very influenced by his melodramatic novels.

Daido Moriyama has been taking Tokyo’s pictures since 60 years ago, his pictures are one of the best ways to travel back to the past in to the post-war years of Japan. This weekend I visited the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum Of Photography where there is a great Daido Moriyama exhibition until the 29th of this month . Go if you have the opportunity.

Here there are some Daido Moriyama’s pictures I found goggling Daido Moriyama and 森山大道.


© Daido Moriyama


© Daido Moriyama


© Daido Moriyama


© Daido Moriyama


© Daido Moriyama


© Daido Moriyama


© Daido Moriyama


© Daido Moriyama


© Daido Moriyama


© Daido Moriyama


© Daido Moriyama

5

Crappy bus stops

One thing about Tokyo that surprised me from the beginning and still surprises me everyday are bus stops. Most of the bus stops in Tokyo are just a pole with the timetable, and if you are lucky there is a chair or a bench that someone put it there. I think this is because nobody (Compared to trains) really uses buses, that’s why the government doesn’t use money for bus stops. But anyway, some of them are just TOO crappy.

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Waterproof mobile phone

Docomo just released the new 906i and 706i series mobile phones. One of those phones is the F706i, built by Fujitsu. They are marketing this phone as “the thinnest waterproof phone in the world”. It has a 3.2Mp camera, I guess it would be useful and fun to use it to take some pictures while snorkeling, it can be submerged three meters. But what is more interesting is how these girls from the ItMedia 706i review are using it.

More pictures here and here.

6

Tocho special illumination

Tokyo’s city hall building is called “Tocho” (都庁). It was the tallest building in the city from 1991 until last year when Tokyo Midtown was completed. “Tocho” was designed by Kenzo Tange trying to emulate a computer chip shape, do you think it looks like a chip? Its texture reminds me the Tyrell Corporation headquarters building.

tocho

Since some time ago, during national holiday days it is illuminated with the Olympic colors in order to promote Tokyo’s candidature for 2016 Olympic games. Every time I saw it with the special illumination I was either far away or no carrying my camera, but yesterday I looked from my balcony and I could see the “Tocho” like this:

tocho
Park Hyatt on the left and “Tocho” on the right.

I got my tripod, a 10-20mm lens and rode my fantabulous orange bicycle towards the city hall building:

tocho

I could not resist and stopped just before arriving and this super-photo:

tocho

But, just when I was arriving… Murphy switched off the lights!!! I was 23h o’clock. I’ll try next time, this is what I could get when I arrived:

tocho
“Tocho” on the left and an annex building on the right.

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