Today we visited Ginza, a district of Tokyo we haven’t been to before. Ginza is arguably the most famous shopping area on the planet, and it’s easy to see why. Every high-end clothing label is represented there, either in its own store or in one of the several posh department stores. Prada, for example, occupies four floors of a skyscraper. There is lots to buy besides clothing, though; there are also flagship stores for Sony and Yamaha’s musical-instruments division (complete with a concert hall that occupies three floors and a recording studio in the basement), a Mont Blanc store, and so on. We ended up spending most of the time in a six-storey toy store and the housewares floor of one of the department stores. A young saleswoman made my day by telling me, “your Japanese is beautiful!” (And no, she wasn’t trying to sell me anything at the time.) read more

Just a Snapshot

Akihabara at Night, originally uploaded by Adam Schabtach.

It was a really long day, but a good one. We visited the Great Buddha in Hase (near Kamakura). I’m really tired so I’m just going to post this snapshot of Akihabara I took from the train-station platform. Probably the most interesting thing about it is that I shot it without a tripod, using the Canon S100’s night mode.

We Visit Mecca

Okay, yeah, not Mecca literally, since we’re in Japan. But for someone interested in electronics, or Japanese pop culture, or both, Akihabara in Tokyo is the holy city. We’ve been there before, but thanks to a lack of preparation and a foray in the wrong direction, we ended up seeing very little of it. This time, thanks to a great video on the Dangerous Prototypes site, I was better prepared.

The electronics shops are amazing. On the other hand, it made me realize how lucky I am to live near J B Saunders, an electronics shop in Boulder which I’ve frequented since my college days. Saunders doesn’t have either the breadth or the depth of the shops in Akihabara, but it does offer the same hands-on shopping experience described in the Dangerous Prototypes video. read more

Playing With My New Camera

What do geeks do when they go on vacation? They play with their new gadgets. Here’s a video I just shot out of the window of our hotel, using the fake-miniature effect in my new camera:

Cute, huh? You can get a somewhat bigger version by going to the non-embedded version here.

I took some photos of the Sky Tree also, which I’ll post shortly.

In Tokyo

It’s about 7:45AM here in Tokyo. We just returned to our room after breakfast, where we’ll pause for a bit before heading out into the shopping area in Asakusa. Among other things, I want to look at pots for making gyokuro at a shop from which I purchased a pot two years ago; the trick will be to find the shop again in the maze of narrow streets densely lined with other shops. I think it’s not far from the Kentucky Fried Chicken. Also, Tracie needs some socks, so we’ll stop at a department store called Rox, on the theory that there are socks in Rox. read more

Google Honors Father of Modern Origami

If you hit today, you’ll see that their logo is a photo of origami. I’m going to take the liberty of posting a screenshot here, since it’s probably a one-day event (although I’m sure that all of their Doodles end up in an online museum somewhere):


It was created in honor of Akira Yoshizawa, who would have been 101 today. Mr. Yoshizawa is recognized as the father of modern origami. He invented the notation system that’s used worldwide to create instructions for folding origami models. He also invented wet-folding, a technique which adds a sculptural aspect to origami. It’s not an exaggeration to say that he’s the person who transformed origami from a relatively simple craft to the complex art form it is today. read more