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.