I am at a coffee shop near Ginza. Suddenly a mother and her daughter enter inside. The mother is probably in her late fifties and the daughter is most likely around twenty years old. Both are wearing sport suits and are not very well dressed compared to the rest of people you can usually see around Ginza on Sundays. They sit down and order two coffees. Without saying a word the mother opens up a novel and immerses herself into it, while the daughter starts tapping at her smartphone screen. It doesn’t seem like they have much new to talk about.
After a while, the daughter gets tired of fiddling with her iPhone.
- The couple of earthquakes last week were quite strong – the daughter says leaving her phone on the table.
- Yes, what a shake! Your father’s coffee spilled all over the kitchen table.
- I was at the university taking an exam. Before starting, we had to leave our smartphones in a basket at the entrance – she says while trying to grab her mother’s attention, who closes her book placing it on the table. – Shortly before the building started to shake, the earthquake alarms of the phones started to ring. We all heard our phones in the basket, with the exception of Daisuke’s which rang in his pocket.
- Oh I see, they caught him with his phone during the exam.
- Even when you put your smartphone in silent mode, the earthquake alarm always rings.
- With this system we are more safe. But poor Daisuke, he was caught red-handed.
- The professor forgave him, but he will most likely never be able to sneak in his phone into an exam again – she says while grabbing her smartphone and lowering her glance once again. – The news I am reading on Twitter say that “The Great Earthquake” is coming. There’s a 70% chance that it will happen within the next four years.
- They’ve been saying the same thing for the last 40 years – the mother says without giving it much importance and she comes back to read her novel.
They look relaxed, not rushing at all, most likely happier than the salarymen that are trapped in their offices. They are pulling the small weeds that are coming out of the grass in the park, practically one by one. I asked the man that is looking at the camera in the video below: he told me that they do it for free, that they are volunteers and that the grass on this park is solely maintained by the neighbors association.
JR is now offering free wi-fi for the passengers of the new Tohoku Shinkansen. We thank JR for its kindness as it is still not easy to find places with open wi-fi networks in Japan. However lately it seems the situation is improving a bit in preparation for the 2020 Olympics.
In addition to the free wi-fi in some train lines, stations and airports, you can also get wi-fi in 7-Eleven shops, Dennys restaurants and Starbucks. You will have to register in the service the first time you go online but once you do it you can seamlessly connect at any Starbucks/7-Eleven/Dennys.
When strolling around the streets of Japanese cities one of the things that I enjoy the most is bumping into small Buddhist temples or Shintoist mini shrines. Sometimes they are so well integrated into the architecture of the buildings that you might not even notice them when passing by.
Kyunkun is a girl born in Tokyo who defines herself as a “Robot Fashion creator”. She started making wearable prototypes using arduinos and LEDs and little by little she evolved her style by adding mechanical elements. Her latest model is some kind of bag with arms coming out of the back. For the moment this is just a hobby and to make a living she does temporary work “baitos” バイト.
In the following videos you can see the process followed by Kyunkun to create her “wearable” robot models.
When you find many flowers at the entrance of an office building, hotel, restaurant or store like in the following pictures…
…the most likely reason is that a new business is being inaugurated or and existing one has relocated. Each flower pot is the present of a client or a business partner. If you can read some Japanese you can identify the name of the companies and the persons that sign the flowers. For example these flowers are a present of the president of Kadokawa:
Another curious thing is that you could guess how wealthy or powerful the company sending the flowers is just by spotting the biggest and most sumptuous flowers, which can cost as much as 1,000 EUR / 1,100 USD.
I found these flowers in this website, it is one of the standard models and costs around 250 EUR / 280 USD.
This one was sent by a board member of Fuji Xerox
The Japanese love fish, not only from the sea, but also fish (Sakana 魚) from rivers (Kawa, 川). Depending on the area and the season, the types of fish available vary a lot. The most common ones are ayu 鮎 and iwana 岩魚, which you can find almost throughout the country. They are easy to spot in a menu or in street food stalls because they are almost always barbecued and served with skewers.