Archive | Tokyo

Day 6: iPhone toys

I loved every encounter with a Japanese person in Tokyo. Friendly, polite, controlled… and playful. Of course, I didn’t meet everyone but those characteristics describe the ones I actually met. The way professionalism and seriousness live just next door to fun and playfulness is inspiring. Take toys, for example. They are taken seriously, not only for kids.

The last day we visited Hakuhinkan Toy Park. It’s a department store, four floors, just for toys. The first toy we saw when stepping in was this iPhone dog toy.

Apparently, you can connect it to the iPhone and also, while you are away, you can use the app to feed, pet and play. Sure, we’ve seen the Tamagothis before, but this is taking the concept to another level.

In fact, while we saw a lot of Android phones in Tokyo, I saw mostly iPhone accessories/toys/bling. Perhaps, this is a relevant measure on when/if a platform really has grabbed both market and imagination: that the toy store displays an accessory/toy on the prime spot.

A little further into the store, we saw these iPhone cases, made of real wood.

Photo enthusiasts will recognize the cult brand Holga. Well, behold this iPhone accessory in the toy store. It enables your iPhone to take those Holga looking shots…

… and no, this store was not a mobile phone store. It’s a real toy store, with toys for both kids and “older kids”…

While walking from the metro to our hotel, the last night, I saw that most buses and taxis had LCD-like screens displaying information about destination, time and so on. And it struck me that technology is so deeply embedded here that it’s just not a big deal. It just is. In transportation, stores, phones, and toys.

So, my last technology-in-Tokyo-lesson (from this trip, more will surely come) is that a critical success factor for any technology implementation is that it doesn’t need to be noticeable (in fact, it probably shouldn’t). It should just be there. And be fun, if possible.

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Day 5: Sony’s flagship showroom

On day 5 of our Tokyo visit, we went to Tokyo’s Ginza district. Ginza is famous for its luxurious shopping. Here you’ll find Armani, Dior, Hermes and all the rest. And you’ll find Sony’s flagship showroom. It’s four floors of all the latest products.

We went through all the floors, and the theme was clear. Apart from decorating most of the floors in a Spiderman theme, they wanted to play on the connectedness of their devices in the home: the one-content-on-multiple-screens-idea (movies, games etc across all devices). The clearest display of this was a diagram of the home with all the devices connected through different Sony services and devices.

I don’t think the products on display lived up to the diagram. Both Samsung and Sony are companies that seriously can challenge everyone else and bring true innovation to the market. What we saw in the showroom, however, didn’t really spark any awe. We played around some with the new Sony Tablets, which are arguably the best looking Android-tablets.

I do hope to see Sony turn the idea of connected services and software across all different types of devices into real products soon.


The entrance


4 floors of Sony products


Spiderman themed stairs and walls


The Sony Tablet

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Day 4: Tokyo National Museum and a phone

Day 4 went by without many tech impulses. It seems more and more as if the whole tech-in-Tokyo-thing is, if not a myth, at least exaggerated. Don’t take me wrong, tech is everywhere here: in the metro, vending machines, taxis, restaurants and even toilets (see the instructions manual on the wall below). But tech is everywhere in the US and Europe too. The difference seems to be that here it’s just taken for granted and where ever it’s applied, it’s just a tool, whereas we would probably make a big thing about it in other countries.

In some senses, tech is more global outside Tokyo. I haven’t been to a major city before where Visa, Amex and Mastercard cards are not global. Most ATMs here will only accept credit cards issued by Japanese banks. So far, the only ATMs that always accept my Swedish credit cards are found in the 7-Eleven stores.

Back to tech spotting. We went to Tokyo National Museum. They have phones throughout the museum that are not part of the exhibitions, though they should… So much for high tech. Finally and again, Twitter seems to be popular. The dessert menu includes the chain’s Twitter account. More than 34,000 followers. Not bad.


Still working


Instructions…



Dessert menu with Twitter

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Day 3: Blinged phones, RFID-based drinking and social shopping

Day 3 is soon to an end. Today we went to Shibuya, the young and hip Tokyo, home of the vibrant Japanese pop culture. We came just in time for the seven day super sales at the major department store Shibuya 109.

Most of the stores have some kind of Twitter or Facebook thing going by the cash register. After a couple of hours of fun shopping, we picked up some sodas outside. The vending machine accepted payment using the RFID-based Suica-card.

… and of course, Shibuya is the place to go to if you are looking for that young, blinged phone.


Facebook like and you’ll get a discount


Vending machines for RFID-payments


Pay here


Blinged phones

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Day 2: QR codes in the park and electronics galore

Today, we visited the Shinjuku Gyoen park, one of Tokyo’s city parks. The park is beautiful and offers a moment of peace and serenity. It’s the home of thousands of plant species and quite a few of them are labeled with QR codes. Just point-and-shoot and you can read up on what you see… that is, of course, if you can read Japanese.


Read more using the QR code…


… in Japanese

After the walk in the park and a fantastic elevator ride up the 332 metres up the Tokyo Tower, we headed to the Akihabara district, the Electronics Town of Tokyo. What you can’t find here in ways of electronics, you probably won’t find anywhere else. Store after store with up to six floors filled with electronics, Japanese movies and toys.


Never ending line of electronics stores


Electronics galore


In one of the stores, this video tutorial shows how to disassemble your iPhone.


You can get your iPhone in any color. They’ll disassemble it and put these on.


Street demonstration of Samsung Galaxy SIII

When I’m out walking, I try and figure out what phones people are using. What I’ve seen so far is that most use variants of Android phones. The Android-to-iPhone-ratio is about 5 to 1. Surprisingly many use large clam shell smartphones. I haven’t spotted many iPads yet.

… and that concludes Day 1 in Tokyo.

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