Posted by: David Stewart | December 21, 2008

Tokyo Tech

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In my visit to Tokyo this month, I decided to visit the temple of technology while I was in Tokyo. Like at the Buddhist and Shinto temples, I go not to worship there, but merely to sight-see.

Bic Camera (above) is a large multi-story technology chain with stores in several areas. This one was close to the Ginza area, and had some interesting toys, like a flat screen TV that was almost as tall as I was:

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But the greatest temple of tech in Tokyo is Akihabara, a district devoted to dial and diode.

Akihabara, Tokyo
Akihabara, Tokyo

But Akihabara has changed. It’s not just a place you can find any imaginable gizmo. It has been overrun by “Otaku” as my local patron called them. Men, usually, who are obsessed with the seedier side of Japanese animation, basically cartoon porn.

Mixed in is a dose of “cosplay”, where people dress up as their favorite character. Below, a costume shop, and girls in costume, working to drum up business from the Otaku:

Cosplay shop, Akihabara, Tokyo
Akihabara, Tokyo

I found a really fantastic camera store in Shinjuku called “Yodobashi Camera.” My old Fodors says, “Shinjuku the photographic equipment center for Tokyo, and this store … is the biggest in the area.”

Shinjuku is the largest train station in the city. To the east of the station is Tokyo’s red light district plus a range of restaurants, bars and shops. To the west is a major center of skyscrapers, and Yodobashi Camera is there too. I played with all manner of Canon DSLRs including their very high end models, all on the counters, ready to be picked up and played with.

I remember my first visit to Tokyo in 1990. Smoking seemed to be everywhere in the interior spaces such as offices and restaurants. Now, smoking seems to be forbidden everyplace inside, and even on the sidewalks:

No smoking outdoors, Shinjuku, Tokyo

One morning I did run from my hotel (the New Otani, a few miles east in Akasaka) past Shinjuku Station and back. Even though it was 5:00AM, there were plenty of revelers making their way from bars and clubs to waiting taxi’s.

Technology is a constant part of life in Tokyo – it permeates the air here, and it is a major driver of industry, innovation and personal consumption.
Threee generations of texting, Tokyo subway

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