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Feb 22, 2007 10:02am

(no longer) big in japan

I returned from Japan yesterday, where I spent a week hanging out with Boris, helping with part of the redesign effort for Global Voices Online.

I didn't take a camera with me, so this is a collection of photos from Flickr that are better than any I would have taken.

My first stop off the train from the airport was Shibuya (渋谷) Station, where I was supposed to meet Boris. I mistakenly expected the European experience of meeting on the platform, so I spent about 40 minutes pacing around as wave after wave of people finishing work boarded their evening trains. The platform was constantly this crowded, with a fresh rotation of passengers every five minutes or so:

(photo by halonfury)

Eventually, I figured out that a ticket was required to get to the platform in the first place, so I used my piddling 50¥ to call and make everything okay. Next time, better arrival preparation.

I stayed at Joilab, in Jiyugaoka, an apparently ritzy part of town with extremely narrow streets.

(photo by shibo)

Bananas often come individually wrapped. I saw my first $4 apple.

(photo by A is for Angie)

Adam warned a bunch of people I was coming, but I got to meet them anyway. This is Craig and Chris, of AQ:

(photo by cpalmieri)

Both were wearing normal shirts when I met them. Chris wrote the excellent guide to mapmaking for Tokyo I linked the other day.

AQ's office is in Co-Lab, a shared office space where designers of various sorts rent tiny cubicles and ethernet connections. It's partially a rent-reduction move, but also a way to squeeze with like-minded people. The space houses AQ's other project, Tokyo Art Beat. Paul showed me their use of QR codes on venue pages, which is interesting. This is probably old hat to anyone with any experience of mobile phones outside the US, but the idea of a commonly-readable 2D barcode for transmitting snippets of information via stickers or posters is just great.

Weekend was all work-work-work and food-food-food, including these oysters:

(photo by bopuc)

Then we took a quick trip up Mori Tower. The view from the top of this beast is just insane, and especially worthwhile when your visit can straddle the sunset. We didn't see Fuji, but it was still quite a panorama.

(photo by Koninho)

(photo by Urban|nexus)

(photo by /\ltus)

While in Tokyo, I kept seeing bikes like this one around town. They're made by Muji, a sort of Japanese general store that sells well-designed stuff ranging from ice cream to stationery to bicycles. The frame design with single horizontal post is great, everyone rides them around town, and I almost bought a new one for $150 but decided it was silly to drag a bike home.

(photo by ihateanarchists)

My other shopping experience while there was Tokyu Hands, a "Creative Life Store" that sells an unclassifiable range of everything. The Shinjiku branch I visited was about eight floors of stuff. I bought some Tabi that ended up not fitting very well.

(photo by antimega)

Now I am home, it's late, and I'm mildly jetlagged.


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