Some gadgets I come across, well, I sometimes think their destiny is best fulfilled as an April Fools’ Day joke… Here are some of my favorites.
Humping Dog USB
Leave a Humping Dog USB in a co-worker’s computer and he’ll probably do the rounds around the office for the next month or two. An April Fools’ Day gadget that keeps on giving…
I Love You Mouse
The I Love You mouse – you know, the one that says “I love you” every time you use the scroll wheel – may be marketed as a Valentine’s Day gift. But let’s be honest, it probably has more practical joke potential than romantic power.
Nikodama Blinking Eyes
The Nikodama Blinking Eyes are new to our store. I think the video demonstrates their potential better than I could…
Cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen (photo taken 2 years ago – don’t think they’re this fully in bloom just yet this year).
The cherry blossoms are just starting to bloom so by the end of the week, we should have some very beautiful sakura around town. Many organizers are canceling the official festivals, since most Japanese are not feeling particularly festive these days. But if you’re in Tokyo, you shouldn’t miss at least a walk in one of the top sakura parks… And if you want to avoid the crowds of Ueno (seen in the stock photo above), you may want to check out one of these great alternates…
The canal runs for about 2km between the Ichigaya and Iidabashi stations. The sakura run along side, with their branches reaching down right to the water’s edge. Very nice.
TIP: Head to the Canal Café near Iidabashi and rent a rowboat. 600 yen gets you 30 minutes of romantic sakura viewing, free from any noisy, drunken crowds.
Kodomo no Kuni
Getting into Children’s Land, on the Denentoshi/Kodomo no Kuni or JR Yokohama Lines, will set adults back 600 yen. But most people think the 3000+ cherry trees (triple what Ueno Park has) are worth the price of admission.
Top spot: Shinjuku Gyoen
So in our informal office poll, Shinjuku Gyoen came up on everyone’s list. It costs 200 yen to enter, but beautifully landscaped gardens, wide lawns perfect for picnicking and of course, plenty of cherry blossoms await you there.
TIP: If you’re doing your hanami on the weekend, avoid the Shinjuku Gate which is mobbed with people. Head around back to the Sendagaya Gate (easily done if you take the JR Chuo-Sobu line) and walk in without the crowds.
What’s your favorite sakura spot in Tokyo? Leave us a comment and let us know!
Nice to know that even the famed Hotel Okura isn’t above offering be-Engrished toiletries.
“Make yourself comfortable – ing to the plea, “Make us grandparen bring a child into the wor one of the poorest reasons I know second generation to cool”
Ah, remember last June, when no one outside of Japan had ever heard of TEPCO and the successful return of the Hayabusa probe to Earth put smiles on the faces of science geeks around the globe? Those were good days for Japan and its scientists so perhaps it’s not surprising that a Hayabusa movie is hitting theaters in May.
The movie is Hayabusa – Back to the Earth. It was previously released on DVD, but it’s been impossible to get a hold of after selling out its production run. So starting May 14th, this brisk, 43-minute CG film will be hitting the big screens.
Ok, a word of context for readers who live outside Japan. When Japanese TV networks started running commercials again after the quake, it was still too early for most advertisers to get back on board. So every break featured some PSAs from AC – a mysterious entity whose shrill jingle and trite messages became the source of much loathing.
One of the commercials that ran in endless rotation was on the importance using greetings and polite words like “hello,” “goodbye” and “thank you.” Thank you (arigatou) is illustrated with a rabbit (usagi). I thought it was just a stretch of a pun (arigato-usagi), but as this video shows, the Thank You Rabbit is actually a creature with surprising powers…
Update: I couldn’t resist adding my new favorite, the “goodbye” sayona-lion
The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami have a lot of people thinking about their emergency kits – beefing up the ones they already have or starting ones they never got around to. Now, we all know what should be in an emergency kit – water, canned food, flashlight, etc. Our question this week was about emergency kit extras – what thing would you add to your kit to help you stay sane in the local evacuation center?
Battery-powered phone charger
This one is Moses’ pick, and not just because he’s seriously attached to his iPhone. After the quake, Moses tried to reach his friend in Ibaraki for days but couldn’t get through since the friend’s phone wasn’t charged.
It’s a good choice – after all, in a no-power situation, you could probably gain some serious bargaining power with a battery-based cell phone charger. But Moses promises there will be no price gouging…
News addict Fernando says he would pack a radio so he can hear the news and find out what to do.
Big a** book
Fernando is all for staying informed but I think checking out is the way to go. So that’s why I’ll be looking for a copy of War & Peace at the second-hand bookshops of Jimbocho for my emergency kit. One of the Japanese-language newspapers had an article called “24-hours in an emergency shelter” where I learned that the typical day consists of lining up for food, using pool water to clean the bathrooms and maybe joining fellow residents for the early morning stretching-and-light-exercise radio broadcast. A good book sounds indispensible.
(Plus the pages could double as toilet paper in a pinch. And if there’s anything we’ve learned from the Tokyo panic buying, it’s that toilet paper is the first thing to run out.)
So what will you be packing in your evacuation kit? Leave us a comment and let us know.
Relaxed kitty, enjoying the weekend scene in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo.
It’s been another strange week here in Tokyo, where the blackouts, aftershocks and radiation scares – legit or no – continue to keep us on our toes. There have been a lot of really great resources floating around on the Jblogs and Twitter though… Here are a few of my favorites from this week.
Japan Quake Map
This is really quite amazing. Just visit the Japan Quake Map and you can relive the foreshocks, earthquake and aftershock, visualized in chronological order with location, magnitude and depth all worked in. It’s a really unique way to see the activity on the fault line unfold.
Live TEPCO power consumption chart
This handy chart shows you TEPCO’s current power production capacity, normal consumption (i.e., a year ago today), yesterday’s actual consumption and the current consumption. All in English and as an added bonus, it tells you whether the scheduled blackouts will take place or not.
Radiation levels around Japan
Not only is the information in the Japan radiation chart nicely presented, but if you scroll down, you get to see the numbers in context. Another fine example of a thoughtful amateur fighting the good fight against the sensationalized mainstream media.
Why Do Japanese Politicians Dress-up Like Workmen After Natural Disasters?
This post doesn’t really answer this much-pondered question. But it does offer up a whole load of pictures of politicians playing dress up.
We’ve all seen so many videos of the tsunami tearing through the coastal villages in Tohoku. But if you’re curious about what those tsunami waves looked like before they reached the shallow coastal waters and the shore, then take a look at this video.
It’s a bit eerie to see a large wave coming up at you from a calm sea, but on the other hand, the tsunami was still much shorter than the waves you would see in a storm. The real danger begins when the water gets shallow and the wave starts slowing down and piling on top of itself, as well all saw so well last week…