For years now Google Maps did not allow us to download Offline Maps for Japan. It is an extremely useful feature when you are out and about and you might not yet have full mobile coverage or your plan is not set-up yet.
A week ago this was not possible and I have just now noticed that you can now select the Japan area for a custom offline map in the Google Maps app on my iPhone and on my iPad.
This is great news! Do you use the offline map feature?
Munzee is the next generation in global scavenger hunt games.
Track down QR Codes hidden in the real world and capture them for points. Whether you are a casual player, an avid explorer, or a hardcore competition enthusiast, Munzee helps you rediscover the world around you.
Augmented Reality – AR – is getting some buzz here and there throughout the last 20 years almost. With hardware becoming more powerful and optics+light hardware becoming cheaper and more efficient it’s still all but close to become widely used and available.
Many refer to some one-trick pony feature in location-based games like “Pokemon Go” to being “AR”. But actual useful cases of AR are there but not feasible with current hardware generations.
Nevertheless a team in california has taken our the scissors and keyboards and made HoloKit:
HoloKit features super sharp optics quality and a 76-degree diagonal field of view. Pairing with a smartphone, HoloKit can perform an inside out tracking function, which uses the changing perspective on the outside world to note changes in its own position. HoloKit merges the real and the virtual in a smart way. While you see through the real world, virtual objects are blended into it. Powered by the accurate gyro and camera on smart phones, HoloKit solidly places virtual objects onto your table or floor, as if they were physically there without physical makers. These virtual objects will stay in the same place even if you walk away, just like real physical objects.
HoloKit is different from screen-based AR experience like Tango. You can directly see through the headset and view the real world as is, and in the meantime the virtual objects are projected on top of the real world, as opposed to viewing both the real and the virtual through a smartphone camera.
Let me introduce you to a wonderful concept. We are using these movies as backdrop when on the stepper or spinning, essentially when doing sports or as a screensaver that plays whenever nothing else is playing on the screens around the house.
What is it you ask?
The thing I am talking about is: Walking Videos! Especially from people who walk through Tokyo / Japan. And there are lots of them!
Think of it as a relaxing walk around a neighborhood you might not know. Take in the sounds and sights and enjoy. That’s the idea of it.
If you want the immediate experience, try this:
Of course there are a couple of different such YouTube channels waiting for your subscription. The most prominent ones I know are:
In hearing distance of the place I am usually staying when in Tokyo is a train station. So if the wind is right and the window is open I hear all these train station chimes and sounds.
If you don’t know what it is, let Wikipedia educate you:
A train melody is a succession of musically expressive tones played when a train is arriving at or about to depart from a train station. As part of train passenger operations, a train melody includes a parade of single notes organized to follow each other rhythmically to form a lilting, singular musical thought.
In Japan, departing train melodies are arranged to invoke a relief feeling in a train passenger after sitting down and moving with the departing train. In contrast, arriving train melodies are configured to cause alertness, such as to help travelers shake off sleepiness experienced by morning commuters.
If you’ve ever been to Japan you must have noticed that everything and anything makes sounds and talks. Elevators, escalators, doors, train stations, gates, vending machines – you name it, it makes sounds and talks.
It’s so apparent but yet quite comforting that I enjoyed it. It became an additional channel of information without the need of point-and-call all the time. Highly effective for me.
Japan utilizes sounds to a degree that every detail seems to count. Take the station gates you rush through to get to your train platform. It’ll sound differently depending on how you pay, what status your ticket had and even how close your IC-cards balance is to being empty.
…in July takes 27.1 days, covering 2967 kilometers. At least if you would have taken the challenge in times of the Roman Empire.
ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World reconstructs the time cost and financial expense associated with a wide range of different types of travel in antiquity. The model is based on a simplified version of the giant network of cities, roads, rivers and sea lanes that framed movement across the Roman Empire. It broadly reflects conditions around 200 CE but also covers a few sites and roads created in late antiquity.
By simulating movement along the principal routes of the Roman road network, the main navigable rivers, and hundreds of sea routes in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and coastal Atlantic, this interactive model reconstructs the duration and financial cost of travel in antiquity.
We consolidate location and information of wireless networks world-wide to a central database, and have user-friendly desktop and web applications that can map, query and update the database via the web.
So what’s my use-case? Apart from the obvious I will make use of this by finding out more about those fellow travelers around me. Many people probably to the same as me: Travel with a small wifi / 4g access point. Whenever this accesspoints shows up in scans the path will be traceable.
I am curious to see which access point around me is in the million-mile club yet…
The Chaos Communication Camp is an international, five-day open-air event for hackers and associated life-forms. It provides a relaxed atmosphere for free exchange of technical, social, and political ideas. The Camp has everything you need: power, internet, food and fun. Bring your tent and participate!
This year it’s time again for the Chaos Communication Camp in Germany. Sadly still I won’t be attending. Clearly that needs to change with one of the next iterations. With the CCC events becoming highly valuable also for families maybe it’s a chance in the future to meet up with old and valued friends (wink-wink Andreas Heil).
The Chaos Communication Camp (also known as CCCamp) is an international meeting of hackers that takes place every four years, organized by the Chaos Computer Club (CCC). So far all CCCamps have been held near Berlin, Germany.
The camp is an event for providing information about technical and societal issues, such as privacy, freedom of information and data security. Hosted speeches are held in big tents and conducted in English as well as German. Each participant may pitch a tent and connect to a fast internet connection and power.
And of course there’s this list of craft beer breweries missing:
A microbrewery or craft brewery is a brewery that produces small amounts of beer, typically much smaller than large-scale corporate breweries, and is independently owned. Such breweries are generally characterized by their emphasis on quality, flavor and brewing technique.
Addresses in Japan are fascinating. There’s a system to it, with lots of exceptions and special cases. And just recently there was an announcement about the city I am technically considering home-base when in Japan: Kawasaki (川崎).
As you see in the title of this post there’s a kanji character missing:
川崎 means “Kawasaki” – just the name itself, like used on signs and such.
川崎市 means “Kawasaki-shi” – the name got extended by -shi which in itself will signal that the name before is a city.
And then there is this other kanji in the title: 区. It is spoken as “ku” and basically means “ward”. It’s a bigger city broken down into separate wards.
Not all cities in Japan are required to differentiate into wards – just the ones considered big enough. Kawasaki was considered big enough by 1972 to name out it’s wards.
And so its the Nakahara-ward (中原区) I am usually staying to be more specific on the Kawasaki-home-base-statement at the beginning of this post.
And the designated cities are somehow ranked according to their population. The news here is that apparently given the 2019 population numbers Kawasaki has improved it’s position among all big designated cities by one rank:
Some more details then to the japanese addressing system:
Japanese addresses begin with the largest division of the country, the prefecture. Most of these are called ken (県), but there are also three other special prefecture designations: to (都) for Tokyo, dō (道) for Hokkaidō and fu (府) for the two urban prefectures of Osaka and Kyoto.
Following the prefecture is the municipality. For a large municipality this is the city (shi, 市). Cities with a large enough population, called designated cities, can be further broken down into wards (ku, 区). (In the prefecture of Tokyo, the designation special ward or tokubetsu-ku, 特別区, is also used for municipalities within the former city of Tokyo.) For smaller municipalities, the address includes the district (gun, 郡) followed by the town (chō or machi, 町) or village(mura or son, 村). In Japan, a city is separate from districts, which contain towns and villages.
So let’s make an example, since it’s always great fun for me to figure out the address again when I try to order the SIM card to the hotel address. A good example would be a randomly selected and nice hotel in Nakahara-ku:
The typical english-language online order form / address entry form for shipping SIM cards to hotels gives you this interface:
Ha! Now that’s a challenge, right? At first glance its not obvious but if you take a look at the structure of the address it opens up:
Highways allows us to travel long distances and interchanges, or junctions, connect those highways so that traffic can pass or change direction without interruption. And in Japan, where heavy mountainous terrain and dense cities create unique constraints, interchanges are, simply put, magnificent feats of structural engineering that we sometimes can’t appreciate through the typical vantage point of a car window.
Michelin Guides are a series of guide books published by the French tyre company Michelin for more than a century. The term normally refers to the annually published Michelin Red Guide, the oldest European hotel and restaurant reference guide, which awards up to three Michelin stars for excellence to a select few establishments.
A purchase of this guide is recommended in any case but these days people also need something they can intuitively use and which integrates into already existing workflows.
These people, like myself, need a map and maybe more details in a machine readable, filterable spreadsheet.
And as time goes on it might be quite useful to have all the sources that lead to these great tables and maps. Sources that allow you to crawl and grab these information.
A script that crawls Tokyo-based michelin guide establishments and saves it into a JSON file. I personally did this project so I can plan my tokyo trip based on the cheapest and most-renowned restaurants,
When you are travelling Japan you will observe very interesting things while using public transport. In a train or a bus the driver is likely to talk and seemingly magically point with his finger and wave his hand.
You will very likely observe a behavior that might not make sense at first but is fascinating to see. And all is to ensure the safety of the vehicle and all it’s passengers.
It might look like this:
Pointing and calling is a method in occupational safety for avoiding mistakes by pointing at important indicators and calling out the status. It is common in Japan and railways of China. It is sometimes referred to by its Japanese terms, shisa kanko (指差喚呼), shisa kakunin kanko (指差確認喚呼) or yubisashi koshō (指差呼称).
Making large gestures and speaking out the status helps keeping focus and attention. The method was first used by train drivers and is now commonly used in Japanese industry.
It is recommended by the Japan Industrial Safety and Health Association (JISHA, 中央労働災害防止協会)
. Pointing and calling requires co-action and co-reaction among the operator’s brain, eyes, hands, mouth, and ears.
While we were visiting Japan we usually stay quite close to Kawasaki. And with some hints we found that a replication of “Kowloon Walled City” had been put up as a video game arcade there.
Kowloon Walled City was a largely ungoverned, densely populated settlement in Kowloon City, Hong Kong. Originally a Chinese military fort, the Walled City became an enclave after the New Territories was leased to Britain by China in 1898. Its population increased dramatically following the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War II. By 1990, the walled city contained 50,000 residentswithin its 2.6-hectare (6.4-acre) borders.
A partial recreation of the Kowloon Walled City exists in the Anata No Warehouse, an amusement arcade that opened in 2009 in the Japanese suburb of Kawasaki, Kanagawa. The designer’s desire to accurately replicate the atmosphere of the Walled City is reflected in the arcade’s narrow corridors, electrical wires, pipes, postboxes, sign boards, neon lights, frayed posters, and various other small touches that
I did not know a lot about the Kowloon Walled City before we found this arcade. And it’s – as you can imagine – a very colorful reproduction of the ambiance that you – according to documentations and reports from the time – would have experienced. Especially in the entrance area, the theming of the rooms and some game cabinets as well as for example the rest-rooms.
Of course there is a full blown quite nice but – as it is good custom – extremely noisy arcade in there as well. We’ve easily ‘lost’ 3 hours in there. Be aware that smoking is allowed in these places in Japan.
The first floor contained the UFO catcher machines and a good portion of vintage and modern arcade cabinets. I’ve had a go and Gradius and greatly enjoyed it. There’s a battery of Mech-Pods as well as racing and rythm games.
The second floor had lots of pachinko and other medal and slot machines. Even more noise than any arcade cabinets could do.
The third floor finally contains Dart and Snooker / Billard tables.
All in all it was one of the nicer arcades. Much nicer than others because there was a lot more room. It did not feel half als claustrophobic as an arcade usually feels in Japan.