Category Archives: Culture

A Proposal: Steve 2.0

CEATEC 2009 - 001

So it’s been a pretty interesting week. A bit of a perfect storm in terms of my meta-life, with mini-crashes, new data influx, changing environment and my typical neurotic breakdown. The result being that I have decided that I need a good cleanse/redesign/rebuild of my information otherself.
Trying to attack this a piece at a time has not yielded any good results, so I dusted off my Project Manager cap and am going to attempt to deal with this the old fashioned way.  When in doubt, reboot, reformat, reinstall.

Warning. This is super dorky technical junk.

Read the rest of this entry

Dark Anniversary: Akiba Massacre +3 years

This Saturday marks the three month anniversary of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. Today marks another dark day for Japan however. Three years ago Tomohiro Kato, a disgruntled worker drove a rental truck into the crowds of Akihabara’s Pedestrian Sunday, a day the main street is closed off and turned off for traffic allowing shoppers to fill the street. Three people were killed after being hit by the truck, after stopping, Kato jumped out and begin attacking people with a dagger. Dozens were injured and another four victims were killed in the knife attack.

Japan is often plagued by these so-called toorima (通り魔) attacks, basically violent attacks on total strangers because the perpetrator is “pissed off”, but this has taken the lead as one of the worst in the countries history. Just a few weeks ago, Kato received the death penalty from the courts for his actions, and today at the scene of the attack, friends and family of the victims pay respects by leaving gifts and flowers by the side of the road. In typical Akiba fashion, the makeshift shrine holds not only flowers and paper cranes, but also canned coffee, energy drinks, and anime CDs.

Tragedies on an individual and societal level will never end. It’s part of life and we keep going on. The Pedestrian Sunday has been cancelled since the attack, but just a couple of months ago, the police and local government decided to reinstate it. You can see the busy intersection at the center of the attack now via a 24 webcam an d Akihabara is back to normal (or whatever passes for normal in this town). You cant stop all bad things from happening, but thats not really an excuse for living a morally vacant life (I’m looking at you Ayn Rand). Personally I just try to do more good than bad. I figure if we all do that the world become a pretty decent place for everyone. Why not try to do something nice for a stranger today, it could be for a victim of a natural disaster, or a refugee from a man-made disaster, or just a guy who had a really bad day at work. What could it hurt?

Tokyo CGM Night Episode 5: The Otaku Strike Back

Another day, another networking event in out lovely city.

Today was a special treat though as the event was CGM Night. My personal favorite as it focuses on content production rather than handing out business cards (although there is a fair amount of that taking place too).

Thanks again to Andrew Shuttleworth and Danny Choo for creating such a great event! For more about CGM Night, click this link.

Tonight I met lots of chaps from Google, quite a few idols and models, and got to spend time with some of the great friends I have been making in Tokyo over the last few months. Was also great to see Paul Papadimitriou who will be heading back to Manila tomorrow, but will always remain a big part of the community here.

As usual I shot way too many pictures. I usually try to filter most of them out, but tonight I focused on portraits and I didn’t want to cut out anyone, so most of them are here. The slideshow below will be quite long I think, but there are some very beautiful people in there, so hopefully it’s worth sitting through. So click the poster below and start the show!

In addition to the general hang out atmosphere, there were the regular Jan-Ken taikais, which I always seem to get close to winning, but never take home a prize. And a group of Akiba-kei otaku were there to show everyone the Top secret Akiba dance. Brrr. I still feel shivers. Take a look.

I’m looking forward to the next CGM Night and what new surprises Danny and Andrew have in store for us.

Akiba Akiba Akiba

Yes. I have been in Akiba a lot lately. I hope to be able to say more soon, but I’ve been working on a project that will hopefully get moving in ernest soon. That may just be an excuse, but it has lead to me doing lots of research in the area.

But is certainly comes in handy. My good friend and one of my top Social Media mentors Paul Papadimitriou is back in Tokyo for a few days after having left the Big Mikan for Manila a few months back. We took the opportunity to go on an Akiba Hunting tour to see the latest and greatest in Tokyo’s Electric Town.

Actually this all started last night with the invitation from the #1 servant of the Empire in Tokyo, Mr. Danny Choo, to attend the launch party of the Otaku Encyclopedia at a maid cafe in Akiba. Such an amazing book and I had a great time there. The author, Patrick Galbraith, has done years of research and it all came together into a great new resource on the Otaku/Anime/Akiba subculture. He also looks really familiar, but I can’t quite place him. Maybe it’s the hair. The book won’t be available in the US for a few months, but there might be a way to get it sooner for a few lucky people if my plans go well.

Click the picture below to see some shots of the party and lots of pictures of Stormtroopers with sexy models.

Otaku Encylopedia Launch - 13

More coverage of the party here. Kodansha International

Zuco: Otaku Encyclopedia

Paul Papadimitriou: Otaku Encyclopedia with Danny Choo

HobbyBlog: OTAKU ENCICLOPEDIA – Patrick Galbraith

Jonny Li Flickr pics

Update: Sayuki, one of the “Trooper Girls” in the pictures above sent me a link to her blog with a few more shots and thoughts.


So getting back to Akiba, my first great find is the pay toilet near the Chuo (Central) exit of Akihabara Station. Yes, I said Pay Toilet.

Seriously. I was impressed. The most geeky toilet I have ever seen. For 100 yen, you can enter. But while you can pay with boring, outdated things like “coins”, you can also use high-tech RFID enabled cards or cellphones. If you use a Suica or Pasmo trainpass or electric wallet enables cellphone, simply pass it over the scanner, and the door magically opens up. Check it out in the video below.

So putting toilets aside, what else does Akiba have to offer? How bout Cosplay?

Along the way, Paul and I ran into Yui & Mio from the anime K-On!, a favorite of Danny Choo. So I snapped off a few shots for him. What do you think? Mio was very embarrassed by the attention (of course), and begged us to check out the cookies on sale behind her as she was doing her part time job trying to sell them. If you stop by Asobit City in Akiba, please buy some maid cookies to support you local Otaku. Yui seemed to be there just for moral support and to promote her website on Ameblo. Click the pic below to see more of Mio and Yui.


More of my Akiba adventures to come, but in the meantime, check out the video I made with Joseph Tame at Japan PodShow in Akiba.

Gundam RX-78 1:1 scale model complete. But where are the leftover plastic mold pieces?

It’s been a crazy week so far. Between various events, buzz on new technology, visiting friends and ignoring the building pile of mail on my desk, I have hardly slept since Sunday.

So when the call came in from Danny Choo that the giant 1:1 scale Gundam robot that they have been building in Odaiba was nearly complete and some people were gathering for a photoshoot I had regretfully decline in order to catch a few REM cycl…

What?!? Are you kidding me? I am so there!

No way I am missing out on Giant Robot terrorizing Tokyo action. -EVER!

So Paul Papadimitriou and I hopped on a train from Narita aiport and went straight to Odaiba. There we met up with the rest of our Mission:Impossible crew.

Our leader, the Amazing Danny Choo (undercover and sans armor today), 3-dan Black belt in Otaku-do Ken Lee, World famous music-video director Jonny Li, Digital camera meastro Pietro Zuco, and infiltration expert Lester Ho, Paul and I gathered at a our top-secret remote base in Odaiba. and planned out strategy.

Danny Choo plotting 地球制覇
After weeks in the jungle and having subdued countless dangerous and armed security guards (really, i wasn’t counting), we arrived at the secret contruction site of the Federations’ new Prototype Mobile Suit. Approx 15 min south of Aqua City.
Here’s what happened next.

Well, kinda like that. Here’s what we saw. (click Gundam to see slide show of more pictures)
Real Gundam - 02

Here are more reconnoissance photos by the rest of the crew.

Paul Papadimitriou
Ken Lee
Zuco PietroLester Ho Jonny Li

The Gundam is still not completely finished and will soon have lights realistic sound and visual effects.