iPhone apps, Study, and Japanese TV


Ahh, what a cute Yamanote train. Taken and (poorly) tilt-shifted on the iPhone.

Been a good day today. Finally updated www.iphoningjapan.com with a re-write of the Tokyo Metro app, now includes my take on using the Augmented Reality function. It’s very cool.

For those of you who don’t know what augmented reality is – it’s what they have in fighter jets and very high-end cars, whereby additional information is somehow projected onto the windshield, so you can keep on looking where you’re going without taking your eyes off the road / sky ahead.

This technology is now available for iPhone users (and on other Japanese handsets) – you hold the phone up and it will use the built in GPS and compass to figure out what you’re looking at, then overlay info from its database (cafes / stations / shops etc). Read more on iPhoning Japan.

There’s another app called Sekai Camera which uses the same technology, but also allows you to add your own ‘airtags’ – for example, I took a photo of a friend and placed it outside a shop in Shibuya (where we were), so from now on whenever you go there, they’ll be floating around. It’s still a kind of game at the moment, but the potential of these apps to majorly impact upon our lives (especially in places like Tokyo) is very exciting.

I’ll be posting about Sekai Camera later this week.

I also blogged about Koetan! – a fantastic voice-recognition Tokyo train route app.

Finally got Anki and iAnki (spaced repetition software for learning ANYTHING!) up and running – very excited about learning Japanese again.

Oh, had a meeting too about a dream like production studio myself and a friend would like to rent. It is a dream though.

Oh oh oh, and I watched TV for an hour too! First time in forever that I’ve done that. Used my dictionary throughout picking out unknown words – very beneficial.

Mind you, Japanese TV is absolutely terrible on the whole, and I can’t believe people actually pay so much for such limited choice, and such drivvle. It’s like paying US$200 (or whatever it is) per year for the privilege of watching 10 of the most mindless YouTube channels on Earth, whilst stabbing yourself in the eyes with red hot needles. I seriously wonder what people are thinking when they come up with some of the extraordinarily bizarre things you see.

Basically, I don’t really want to watch TV as I think it’s a complete waste of time (for me). It strikes me as being like pouring your life down the loo, but I do want to use it in my Japanese studies (thus my asking for recommendations earlier). You know, the average time spent in front of the TV in the UK is about 25 hours per week (and far more in Japan). Yes, I sit in front of my computer, but on the whole that’s productive time. I rarely find myself procrastinating these days as there’s just too much I want to do in the short time I have. I’m grateful in a way that Japanese TV is so awful as it means I’m unlikely to voluntarily indulge, instead only watching one of two things a week that are well-produced and help my studies.

Anyway, best go to bed. Don’t forget that we’re giving away free credit for use on www.hearjapan.com (Japanese music download site aimed at people outside of japan) to all listeners of the latest episode of Japanpodshow.com!


Out now on DVD – Joseph Tame in Fuji TV’s ‘Bizan’ with Tokiwa Takako

Stills from Fuji TVs 'Bizan' Featuring Tokiwa Takako starring alongside Joseph Tame

18 months after the filming, I’ve finally got around to locating my scene in the Fuji TV production of Bizan, starring Tokiwa Takako, and that guy. And me.

For some reason I was under the impression that it had yet to be released, thus didn’t realise that the copy of ‘Bizan’ I’d rented from Tsutaya a while back was actually the one I was in. It was only a few nights ago when looking to see what I had on the ‘waiting to be watched’ hard drive that I skimmed through the drama, and noticed that Tokiwa Takako’s dress looked strangely similar to the one I’d surreptitiously photographed her in in 2007.


It’s always amazing how so many hours of filming become compressed – in this case two days down into just under two minutes. Of which I, er, ‘star’ in for a total of about 15 seconds.

In the photo above, the tour guide is kindly teaching me how to say “dog” in Japanese (‘inu’).

Joseph in Bizan, Yoyogi park

You may recall that one of the things I had to agree to in order to be in the drama was to keep my hat on. For the audition, I’d had quite a lot of hair, but then a few days later, forgetting all about the program, I shaved it all off in preparation for the 9000 mile train ride home. When I got the call telling me I was in, I suddenly realised the implications of what I’d done. That’s when my precious Tilley Hat came to my rescue. The director said they’d use me, provided I keep my hat on (I had quite a job doing so in the windy Yoygi park where the above scene was shot.

Doing part time acting work is quite fun, and I’d recommend anyone who fancies trying it contact the agency I use, Group Echo, who should not be judged by their home page.