Archive for May, 2009

Video: Watch and Tie embedded with spy cameras

[This is a cross-post from]


In the first in a short series of videos focusing on Akihabara, Steve Nagata (an Akiba Pro) shows Joseph a small shop specialising in cool little USB devices.

It’s in here that they come across the ultimate tools for spying on baddies – watches and ties with embedded video cameras!

Next time you go into a meeting with the enemy, make sure you’re prepared. With 4GBs of memory and absolute invisibility, you will never be left without evidence!

The video is also available via our Japan Podshow iTunes feed, or via our audio/video RSS feed, or as a direct download (25mb, m4v format).

It is also being cross-posted on our sister show Japan Techshow.

We look forward to getting your feedback, and will have more Akiba videos out soon!

The music in this video comes from Liquicity on YouTube. The ‘Akihabara’ voice is from a Yamanote Line train.

[Image: 56:365 by Practicalowl on Flickr]

Friday night

Recently there’s been times when 140 characters just hasn’t been enough, but I know when I get home I won’t be able to justify making time to blog.

So a few minutes ago whilst riding the yamanote line from near shinbashi to Shibuya, I decided to reinstall the WordPress blog app on my iPhone.

And here I am. It seems to be working.

I’m on my way home from the Appliya party, this time held on the 25th floor of Softbank HQ. Appliya, you will recall, is a Tokyo based iPhone developer, and has family ties to Softbank.

It was good to see friends there. Steve, Andrew, Danny and Johnny to name but a few. Steve had his camera equipped with the amazing Eye-fi SD wifi card – it uploads photos to multiple sites from any camera that uses SD – as you take them.

Change if subject: more gloom at our company as several more staff are asked to leave due to the recession. Needless to say any idea of job security has flown out of the window, and encourages me to continue down my path.

Good news there:

I’ve been asked to do a second regular slot on the metpod – and this is before our first slot has even gone live! The dream is turning into a reality. There may be further opportunities there, but it’s too early to tell.

We also got word that we’re on for filming backstage at the cirque du soleil early next month. This is tremendously exciting for us, a real chance for us to show what we (at pokya) are capable of.

Oh, and I’m delighted and privileged to be able to interview Arudou Debito next week too – most foreigners in japan will be aware of the important work he does to fight for our rights. He’ll also have an article in the Japan Times next week – watch out for that.

None of this stuff makes me any money – it’s all done in my spare time, for the love of it. Well, not just for the love of it. It’s perhaps more to see just what I am capable of. It’s an experiment. The thing is, if I realise this short term dream of mine to become a well known / respected producer/ presenter, that will provide me with confirmation that as humans we really do have enourmous potential to bring about positive change, and empower me to strive to reach far grander goals.

As I move from being a talker to a doer I am struck by how many of us do hold back from pursuing our dreams.

Anyway, I’ve just reached our front door.

There’s no spellcheck on this app so
Please do correct my errors in your head.


P.s. Thanks to Darryl for taking the photo.


Snapshot from Tokyo

Hello stranger.

No, I’m not giving up the mumble. Just a bit too busy living life to write about it. In the past, after a few days of not writing I would find myself with a burning desire to share stuff – but with the arrival of Twitter, and now all these other creative projects I’m involved in, I find that the thirst for sharing is constantly quenched.

But I absolutely no intention of abandoning the mumble. It’s my record of my life – vital for the movie that’s coming out in 2040.

I released another episode of Japan Podshow last week – a music video special recorded at a Shibuya bus stop. That was a promo for Emily and Serey, two enourmously talented musicians who are just at the very start of their careers. In fact, I went along to their first performance as C Cedille last Saturday, and was absolutely spellbound by their performance. Beautiful original songs, but a couple of great covers too – notably Radiohead and Kings of Convenience (one of my all-time favourite groups).

I believe that C Cedille are going to be very popular. They have the talent, and an established following (albeit for other reasons).

This week also marks the start of a new adventure for George and I – a weekly slot on the Tokyo Metropolis Magazine podcast – Metpod. This is a big deal for us as they have thousands of downloads every week. We had a lot of fun coming up with our characters – these will be developing as the weeks go by and we figure out what does and doesn’t work. I’ll put a link here when the first episode goes live.

Oh, and George and I had an amazing time at Cirque du Soleil – if you ever have the chance do go see them – we’re going to go back with cameras and make a mini-documentary; watch out for that!

Our company moved offices at the weekend. The new office is far nicer than the other one, which was a horrible dark corridor wedged between other buildings. The new office has windows on three sides, I have a much larger desk, and the local area is a lot more interesting than Google Street View had me believe. In fact, not 5 minutes down the road there’s a really wide river – well, more a canal between reclaimed islands. The banks have grass slopes – it’s a great place to eat a lunchbox. These things help counteract some of the negativity I feel connected with my job.

Yesterday was quite different from the usual routine – Myself and a member of the sales team headed out to another manmade peninsula jutting out into Tokyo Bay to visit a factory owned by one of Japan’s electronics giants. It was fascinating to see the factory floor – great vats of liquid with dry ice pouring out, huge turbines waiting to be loaded onto lorries – and a lot of staff who weren’t as interested in learning English as we would have liked. My job was to give a ‘performance’ that would encourage them to consider studying English – I told them my learning-japanese-and-how-it-changed-my-life story. I haven’t spoken in Japanese in front of that many people for quite a while (and they weren’t exactly a receptive audience), but found the experience pretty rewarding.

In the evening I met up with Bruce Nachbar, a movie producer from LA moving over to Tokyo later in the year. He has some really interesting projects up his sleeve and I look forward to his return. Many thanks to him and his family for the delicious meal!

Well, I’m out of time. Lunch is over.

Basically everything’s going really well. I’m studying japanese for an hour a day again, and making packed lunches every night. *Twinkle* is doing very well. Working hard. The spring weather is beautiful. My pineapple is happy in its new pot.


Japan Podshow: Kanda Matsuri – musings of a producer

Video: Kanda Matsuri

Wow. Second podcast out in 24 hours.

I really like this episode, even if I do say so myself. It’s the traditional Japanese music that does it for me, recorded live at the Kanda Matsuri, a huge street festival that takes place once every two years.

We hadn’t actually planned to record the podshow there, it just sort of occurred to us as we sought out conveyor-belt car-parks that it might be more interesting if we did do it ‘live’. The audio was all recorded on my iPhone – I thought it did pretty well.

It was such fun though. We were also lucky to get the two interviews with local people – the first one with the older lady was a real surprise – just goes to show you shouldn’t judge a persons’ English speaking ability by their face! The second interview was with a very amusing salarman on a bicycle, straight out of the 1970s. I loved the way he talked about traditional Japanese culture. I bet he reads Reischauer…!

I’m also delighted that the podcast has given me the excuse to talk to people like Brett (re. Edufire) and Ben (pachinko). Really enriches my life.

Editing these is getting easier as I get more used to the software, but it still takes an awful lot of time. On top of the audio, there’s the images, all the text and tags, various stages of conversion to normalise them and get the files down to an acceptable size. I’m not complaining – I love it, but I do just want to make a note of the fact that it completely takes over my life. 3 hours sleep last night – but  I just thought of it as practice for when we have children, and smiled. This is why we made the decision to just do a series of 12. Who knows what might happen next? I want to go full time with this sort of thing.

Anyway, I’ll just re-post the post from the Japan Podshow site below. If you do have any feedback on the show, we’d love to hear it, good or bad.

Japan Podshow Episode 4 - Kanda MatsuriIn episode 4 of Japan Podshow we take you to Akihabara, scene of the Kanda Matsuri (festival), a fantastic spectacle in which thousands of people crowd the streets carrying impossibly heavy mobile shrines.

Listen to the podcast now here or download it here.

We would love it if you subscribed in iTunes; Non-iTunes user? Here’s our standard RSS feed.

Join Joseph and George as they make their way up the street behind the Omikoshi (shrines), meeting people along the way who insist that we enjoy traditional Japanese Culture (and we did).

The podcast also features a very enthusiastic policeman with a whistle.

Tokyotopia – how to get into Tokyo from Narita International Airport

Honor Dargen is back! Having told us (in episode one) what happens when you arrive at the airport, Honor Dargen of Tokyotopia now tells us how to get into Tokyo.

For more information on the options honor mentions visit

Hiragana Times Competition Winner!

In this episode we also announce the winner of the Hiragana Times competition! The winner receives a 12-month subscription to the electronic version of the Hiragana Times, a fantastic bilingual magazine that brings you up to date news and views from Japan – with all articles having direct translations and furigana, it’s suitable for any level. You can also listen to some of the sections online – and there’s even native support for users of the learning platform

This week’s competition – 5 lucky listeners can win vouchers to use for free 1-on-1 lessons on Edufire, the only learning tool with live video

Brett Fyfield, an Australian teaching Japanese on the Edufire platform, introduces this week’s competition, in which you can win free tickets for lessons in ALMOST ANYTHING! Want to learn Japanese? Spanish? PHP? Photoshop? Or perhaps you’re a teacher yourself – give Edufire a go. It’s incredibly easy to use and gives you access to a huge pool of students and teachers worldwide.


Listen to the podcast to hear how you can enter the competition.

Brett Fyfield (also known as Rainbowhill) can be found in the following places: on Edufire on Blogger and on Twitter

Brett also mentions Smart.FM and Anki.

There’s listener feedback too! Thanks to News from the Other side; Kobe Kevin; supreme_nothing (Brian); Nick Ramsay; Tokyo Dan; Doug of Planet Japan; AnoBaka; Ongakuhenjin… and thanks to all our listeners for listening!

As always your feedback is welcomed.

Join our Facebook group; follow us on Twitter, write a review on iTunes, email or Skype us (24 hour answerphone enabled!)

You can alsosubscribe to us in iTunes here – this really helps us spread the word! For non-itunes users we have a standard RSS feed.

Thanks for listening!

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My week in Tokyo

Wow. What a day. What a weekend. What a week.

In brief:

3-day email exchange with NHK-related TV producer . Very helpful. Pointed out what I need to work on to make it happen. The Susan Boyle video served its purpose.

Taught English cooking lesson (and got paid for it!)

Accidentally deleted Japan Podshow website database. Panic. Finally get it back online tonight.

Release special edition of Japan Podshow, focusing on Pachinko (subscribe now in iTunes)

Invited to see the amazing Cirque du Soleil – great seats, then a tour backstage. Have been asked to return again with cameras to make a mini-documentary. It was absolutely INCREDIBLE!

Invited to attend Foreign Correspondents Club by very kind photographer who has work published all over the place. Will be working with him to create a podcast about what he does.

Obtain 2 video cameras via Twitter – very grateful – thank you @podgy and @light_riot.

Do volunteer work at local city hall.

Film tonnes of footage for Japan tech podcast, including interview on Edufire with @rainbowhill via skype video from Australia.

More staff cuts in day job – and wage cuts all round as of next month. Nikkei is advising everyone to get second jobs.

Am amazed by what happens when you follow your passion. Very exciting times. Very busy times! Make it happen!


Joseph attends the Fujima Kanrei school of traditional Japanese Dance

Having lived in Japan for a little over three years, I thought it was time to experience a bit of ye ancienty Japanese culture – starting with Nihon Buyo – traditional Japanese dance.

View the video here

Joseph learns Nihon Buyo




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Video blog: Edogawa Ekiden (relay race) and more

It’s been a looong day.

In the morning I joined Tom, Nami and Phil to run the Edogawa Ekiden (relay race). Things didn’t quite work out as planned for us personally, so I thought instead of focusing on our story I’d share with you some footage of the various characters we met throughout the event.

You can also get an idea of just how appalling my taiko drumming skills are!

The girls take on the Edogawa Ekiden

All sorts of people run Ekidens. There tend to be a lot of men wearing dresses.


Here’s our team in full









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Video: Japan is not all skyscrapers and concrete

Yesterday, I made a trip to see my friends and Mrs. Bibi in the hills of Saitama, a couple of hours by public transport from where we live in central Tokyo.

Getting off the bus at the end of what had been quite an exciting journey there (I finished editing a video on the train and then had the opportunity to tell a taxi driver to “Follow that bus!” – after the initial confusion he rose to the challenge and did a fantastic job of heading it off at a junction a few kilometres down the road) I found myself struck by the beauty of Spring, and so decided to make a little video of the area as I walked up the hill.

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Japan Podshow 3: The Hiragana Hostess

Episode 3 - the Hiragana Hostess

I’m delighted to announce that episode 3 of Japan Podshow is finally out – 36 hours late. A lot of it was recorded on a row boat on the pond in front of the Himonya Studio.

Click here to listen.

Whilst a hell of a lot of work, this was a really fun one to make, and I’m quite pleased with the end result considering how bad it was all looking at one point. I’ve had to cut a fair bit out – *Twinkle* had recorded a bit, and George and I talked a bit more twaddle. The Hiragana Times interview started out at 25 minutes and ended up as 2.

Make sure you stick around for the end where I’ve stuck in some out takes from the boat.

Please do send in your feedback, it would be much appreciated. If possible, please do so via the Japan Podshow site rather than here.

Thanks 🙂


Susan Boyle gives me a break

Joseph on the ITV Chez Long thingy (UK)

In news that I’m sure will disappoint at least one Mumbler out there, my Susan Boyle Video has given me my first big(ish) break.

This evening I met with the producer of a very well-known podcast, a podcast which sees thousands of downloads every week. It’s a podcast I listen to and enjoy, and a podcast that I did always want to be on. It was also one of the inspirations for my own podcast.

As of next month, I’ll be presenting a new regular feature on the show.

Details will follow in due course.

This is really exciting news for me. As many of you know, I see my mid-term future as being in the media industry, whether that be podcasting, radio or TV. This is not for the sake of becoming ‘famous’ etc, but because I believe that I can make a big positive difference to the world through the media. I’ve always felt drawn towards this field, but until recently have not made any real steps to create a reality in which I am working within it.

It’s only having read stacks of self-development books and having listened to hours of biographies from Audible that I appreciate that there is no secret to fulfilling my dreams. It’s simply a case of taking positive steps, acting on acquired knowledge and accumulated passion to make them a reality.

Becoming successful in my chosen field is no different from becoming successful in, say, obtaining the right to remain in Japan – in that case I invested 5 years of my time in study, $40,000 in school fees and expenses, and a lot of time and effort to persuade *Twinkle* to marry me ;o)

I don’t believe in blind ‘luck’ – I believe that we draw things towards us that we need at a given time – but we have to be in the right frame of mind and give out the right energy to draw the right things towards us (and if the ‘wrong’ things appear in our lives, they are ultimately the ‘right’ things. e.g. having unreasonable demands made of you in a job might piss you off so much that it becomes a trigger for you to pick up some long-held dream of yours that until now you’ve neglected out of fear).

So it’s good to see that my plan is working. Whilst my podcasts may take up every waking moment I’m not in my day job, whilst they may not pay a single penny, and whilst the resulting mp3 may be judged by some as a pile of pants, it doesn’t matter. They are what I have to do now. They are the natural next step.

The alternative is for me to sit here and wait for the day I’m ‘discovered’ by Fuji TV.

It’s only too easy to sit on our dreams. I’m happy that there are not so many of those kinds of people around me; most I know are either happy in what they are doing, or they are taking steps to change those parts of their lives that they are not happy with. They do this year round too, not just at New Year.

Anyways, best get on with the editing. Watch this space for future announcements.

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Video: Tokyo English Life Line Runathon

Yesterday, I ran the 10th Annual Tokyo English Life Line Runathon – 10km around the imperial palace. I completed it in 45 minutes – my target time!

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Photos: our house and ‘garden’ in Tokyo


I’ve lived in a lot of houses in Tokyo, and I must say, most of them have been absolute dumps. They’ve been a combination of small, smelly, dingy, and totally lacking in a view. I still remember the classic view I had from my bedroom window in Asagaya – it was of the next building, 30cm away.

As regular readers will know, this time around we really did strike it lucky, being able to take over the contract from *Twinkle*s sister and her English partner (the two of whom are now living in Scotland). There was no key money, just 40,000 yen fire insurance and processing fee (and the deposit for my inlaws). The rent is treasonable (approx 100,000), and with it only being a few minutes from Gakugeidaigaku station in Meguro the location is great.

Our Tokyo Garden

Now that Spring is here I can hardly believe how fortunate we are to live here. The glass-walled east-facing side is a wall of green leaves blinking in the sunshine, through which we can see the fountain on the pond beyond.

himonya park lake

The south-facing side (that’s the one above, featuring my new homemade window-ledge garden and bird feeders, which are proving to be immensely popular with the sparrows) was going to be home to a new mansion, but the plans were put on hold, providing us instead with a beautiful poppy-strewn garden.

Tokyo Poppies

Looking at these surroundings, I can hardly believe how fortunate we are, and how different this is from that cell in Asagaya, or the dungeon in Hokkaido located underground next to the sewage tank.

Our House

Oh! And another dream of mine has come true – I have a new baby – a pineapple baby! I’ve only ever seen them growing once before, when I went to the semi-tropical islands of Okinawa in 2003 – before that I thought that they grew on trees!

Our House_-11

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Tokyo CGM Night Volume 4

Last night saw the fourth installment of Tokyo CGM Night, a night hosted by Danny Choo and Andrew Shuttleworth to celebrate Japan’s Consumer Generated Media producers.

It’s a chance for Japan’s top bloggers, YouTubers and podcasters to gather and talk about past achievements, and make plans for future collaborations.

This was my second CGM, and looking around I was staggered by just how many people I counted as ‘friends’, when, just three months back I knew virtually no one in this arena. It’s a good demonstration of just how easy it is to get on with folks round here – they’re all so bloomin’ nice.

Here’s an experimental video I shot on a row boat in which I talk about last night. The video undergoes a big change 4 minutes in…

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