DoCoMo Brings the Blackberry to Japan (without Japanese language input functionality!?)

docomoberry.jpgThe Blackberry, the ubiquitous tool that has become a fixture in the hands of the white-collar executive in North America and Europe will finally gain a foothold in the Japanese market. NTT DoCoMo is partnering with Canadian Blackberry-maker RIM (Research in Motion) to offer customers GSM/WCMDA “worldphone” versions of the handhelds.

Now as a Canadian I can’t help but feel a bit of patriotic pride to hear that Canada’s greatest contribution to the consumer electronics market is trying to find a place among the tech-savvy, communication loving Japanese. But what remains to be seen is if the Blackberry is going to find a receptive home in Japan and even if it does would this really be a good thing?
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At Last! Some Responsible Journalism from Japan… AERA on Livedoor…

Cover of Oct 2, 2006 edition of AeraEvery gaijin who was in Japan in 2005 remembers Takfumi Horie. Riding by the seat of his pants, his company, Livedoor, was the symbol of new Japan. Young people, breaking the rules, creating the rules and doing things that they truly believed would better Japan. Unfortunately, when Horie made a hostile take-over attempt for NBS in the first half of 2005 he made an enemy of those who had been his biggest supporter – the media. It’s no secret that Japan’s “old” media companies pay their employees the highest average salaries in the country and so its no surprise that Horie didn’t win any fans talking about “cutting the fat” at NBS and Fuji. Continue reading

Musings of a Gaijin: First Months in Japan

By Guest Writer Simon Adams

Editor’s note: For us who have been living in Japan for so long, it is refreshing to occasionally read the account of someone who is fresh off the plane, and still living in wonder everyday at how this country ticks. This is an article that Simon wrote when he had only been here for a few months. It bought a nostalgic smile to my face, so I hope it does the same for you.

Bike attendant in JapanApparently, it’s common-knowledge amongst thieves in Japan, that your typical bicycle here – with its typical handcuff-styled bike-lock through the rear wheel, can be easily picked using an umbrella. At least, That’s what the local Police told my wife and I when we reported our fifth stolen bike in only a few months after arriving in Japan. Continue reading

The Fundoshi – All What They’re Cracked Up to be?

The Fundoshi in ActionJapan is a country that is obsessive about packaging. From wrapping goods in simple furoshiki cloth to the thirteenth layer of plastic on your box of evening gumboots, anyone who has had anything to do with Japan knows how they love to package things here. So it makes sense that they should have a solution for wrapping certain body parts. Enter the fundoshi (above).
Simplicity in design is paramount and the “wrap around effect” is really something to be experienced. On a sweaty summers day in Japan boxers and briefs cannot protect you from a nasty rash or “overcooking the goods”. A fundoshi on the other hand is lauded for its ability to “pocket” the frank and beans, keeping those future All Blacks intact and air-conditioned. Continue reading

Extra Firepower for Learning Japanese?

Canon WordTankFor anyone who has ever studied in Japan or is thinking of moving here and taking the plunge into a language that has three alphabets you will more than likely be lured by the electronic option. For me, who came to study in Japan with next to no Japanese ability, as with most foreign students even those that come here almost fluent, the benefits of using an electronic dictionary are clear. In the course of studying in a foreign language you can find yourself looking up scores of words a day, the ease and speed that electronic dictionaries present, especially when dealing with kanji where the reading or pronounciation of a word may not be obvious, is compelling. Continue reading

Video: Pitagora Suicchi

TV ピタゴラスイッチ (Pitagora Suicchi)The Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) has been running a show called “Pitagora Suicchi” ピタゴラスイッチ, (direct translation: “Pythagorean Switch”) for about 4 years now. It is an educational show overseen by Masahiko Satou (佐藤雅彦), aimed at assisting the development of kids minds, allowing them to think differently.

The program is mainly puppet based and really is only directed at young kids. However, of more interest for us kids at heart, the show is augmented with short sequences of contraptions called “Pitagora Souchi” (ピタゴラ装置). In English these are called “Rube Goldberg machines” (exceedingly complex devices that perform simple tasks in very indirect and convoluted ways). ピタゴラスイッチ (Pitagora Suicchi)These creations, as with most other cool gadgets and technology in the last century, have been perfected by the Japanese. Despite only using simple household items, they are mesmerising to watch, and must take days, or even weeks to perfect. I used to get frustrated with Dominos when I was a kid, but imagine trying to get something like these working!

To watch the video of Pitagora Souchi‘s gathered from many episodes of the show, Continue reading

J-WOTD: しゃくに障る

しゃくにさわる (shakunisawaru)

* “J-WOTD” = “Japanese Word of the Day”

“grate on one’s nerves” or when used about a person, “gets on my nerves”
Examples:
「お嬢ちゃんと言われるのは、本当にしゃくに障るよ」
“Being called a ojyo-san really grates (gets) on my nerves”
「彼はしゃくに障るね」
“He gets on my nerves”, “He is a trying person”

J-WOTD: 袂

たもと (tamoto)

* “J-WOTD” = “Japanese Word of the Day”

As I was getting my daily dose today of Horie’s trial today on the livedoor higaisha nikki, I came accross the word tamoto. While it literally refers to the sleve of a kimono, it is generally combined with the verb 分かつ (wakatsu) and used to mean “to part ways”.

Example: 宮内被告は…堀江被告と袂(たもと)を分かつ決心をした状況を詳細に語った。 “Miyauchi explained to the court in detail the situation that lead him to choose to part ways with Horie.”

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Café Art in Tokyo

Coffee Addict“My name is Blue, and I am an addict”..

When I was still a coffee cherry-boy, back in the days when all I knew was instant Nescafe (I still shudder when I think of those times!), I always used to scoff at the self proclaimed coffee habitués that loved to tell everyone within earshot how they couldn’t get through their morning without (insert number here) coffees. My Coffee MakerI was introduced to real coffee at quite a late stage in life, I guess when I was around 20. It was in Kyoto at Gold’s house actually, and I have never forgiven him for it..!

I am now as hooked as any of those junkies that used to preach to me, and I now want your sympathy for my caffeine addiction..!! Only joking, but I am hooked, and am the proud owner of one of those fancy espresso makers which make reasonable milk foam in the comfort of your own home. It is a Saeco Magic model, a little expensive, but damn it is easy to make a pretty reasonable cappuccino. You can click here to view it on Amazon.co.jp and buy in English, or just click on the image to the right. That is the machine in action. Continue reading