Filming at the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo

Quite a memorable day today.

*Twinkle* and George


*Twinkle* and I

For our final episode of this series of Japan Podshow we knew we had to do something pretty special. We wanted to celebrate. Celebrate in Style.

A mysterious chain of events led us to the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo, located on floors 45-up in the Tokyo Midtown complex.

Upon arrival, we were shown to a Carlton Suite on the 49th floor – it was ours for the night.

Over the course of our time there a string of guests turned up to congratulate us on completing series one. Champagne was brought to our room, Bob Cratchit and his wife appeared in our bed, we had live music from Kat McDowell and a Japanese lesson with a very cute teacher.

We relaxed in the jaccuzi, ran 0.08km on the treadmill.

Japan’s First Podcaster, Scott Lockman, presented us with a trophy.

It was all very cool.

The final episode, a video episode, will be released late next week over at

In the meantime, here’s a video from my iPhone, and a few pictures all taken by Steve Nagata

Recording at the Tokyo Ritz-Carlton

Recording at the Tokyo Ritz-Carlton
Champagne, kindly provided by the hotel

Recording at the Tokyo Ritz-Carlton
Our Japanese lesson

Recording at the Tokyo Ritz-Carlton
At the hotel bar

Recording at the Tokyo Ritz-Carlton
With the Tokyo International Players

Recording at the Tokyo Ritz-Carlton

Recording at the Tokyo Ritz-Carlton
In the spa

Recording at the Tokyo Ritz-Carlton
On the treadmill

Recording at the Tokyo Ritz-Carlton
With Scott Lockman, Japan’s first podcaster

Recording at the Tokyo Ritz-Carlton
In bed

Recording at the Tokyo Ritz-Carlton

Recording at the Tokyo Ritz-Carlton

Recording at the Tokyo Ritz-Carlton
Waking up

Tokyo Marathon 2010 – The Big Plan

joseph tokyo marathon 14Some of you *may* recall that in the spring of 2009 I ran the Tokyo Quarter Marathon with an iPhone strapped to my head, which broadcast live video throughout the race. It also enabled viewers (of whom there were about 1000) to support me by sending comments which made the phone vibrate upon delivery.

On February 2010 I shall run my first ever full marathon. In a bid to reduce the the chances of it killing me, between now and then I shall be following this 16-week training program, with my co-runner and trainer, Tom.

The following plan emerged tonight from the minds of a man named Jim (who is also running), and Joseph.

The Big Plan

We want to make this marathon as interactive as possible for all of you who are either too sensible or too lazy to run yourselves.

We believe that given the power of the technology many of us now hold in our own hands (iPhones / eMobile enabled netbooks / Skype / uStream / Qik / Google Latitude / Twitter etc) we will be able to create a live online sports event unlike any other yet seen. It will be online and interactive, available to everyone to watch or particpate in.

We envisage having a central studio, manned by a member of our team fielding questions and feedback from our audience of thousands around the world. A second member of the team will be managing the live video streams coming in from our team of runners, and from additional cameras stationed around the course.

GPS technology will mean that you can track individual team members in real time, thus helping you get to the right place on the course at the right time to wave them on.

You will be able to talk directly to runners, and send in your words of encouragement by email and Twitter.

You will be able to ask them fiendeshly difficult questions, allowing them to become distracted from the pain in their legs.

It wll be a great challenge, something that everyone who takes part in will never forget.

We’ll be setting up an online group to enable all those who want to take part to do so.

We welcome your feedback and ideas – and get in touch if you’re a runner!

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 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 (Japanese music download site aimed at people outside of japan) to all listeners of the latest episode of!


A week of important decisions and output

There is something about the corner of this 50-storey building that thrills me.

It’s so sharp. So determined to cut through the air. So confident. You can’t help but admire an attitude like that.

sexy corner

It’s the corner of a building bordering Hamarikyu Gardens, photos of which you’ll find below.

But before we get into that, I have a favour to ask of any readers connected with the University of Sheffield (my uni) – my kohai (person in class below me) Alice is a lovely girl, and has entered a competition to help promote the university. To win, she needs a decent number of views of a Youtube video she and several other of my kohai made – so please go and watch it – it’s here (don’t be fooled by the black opening) Thank you.


I’ve got podcasts coming out me ears this week.

First off, I’m really enjoying my private podcast (that’s the one that shows up to the right of the Daily Mumble). In particular, this one got some attention this week. It’s about my renewed determination to improve my Japanese.

I’ve since restarted my personal Japanese podcast (feed links in sidebar of The Daily Mumble), and am using that to update my long-neglected Japanese blog.

With language study, I firmly believe that if one is meeting repeated failure due to a ‘lack of time’ etc, you have to figure something out that fits in with existing routines. This does for me.

I’ve also finally got the sumo video out, which underwent a major re-write following a private viewing for *Twinkle*!! This is not meant to be taken seriously.

(If you subscribe to Japan Podshow you’ll find this in the feed.

Then accompanying that, we have episode 11.5 of Japan Podshow. I don’t feel this is up to standard, and think this is mainly due to the fact that it was recorded outside of the studio where we were limited in what we could do. Still, that’s OK.

I drew the artwork on the Hibiya and Ginza subway lines, in case you were wondering. I do enjoy drawing elephants!

I just have to finish off the full interview with Nathan of Hear Japan for Making it in Japan – should be able to do that tomorrow.

I’m determined to start running again – and have run for the past two days, and will again tomorrow (GPS route with embedded photos of this morning’s jog here, courtesy of the iPhone).

I was happily surprised by how the iPhone handled this spider (which incidentally I blogged about this morning over on

Japanese Spiders

After the run it was off to Hamarikyu Gardens with *Twinkle* and a friend visiting from Madrid. I blogged this photo too.

Hamarikyu Gardens Tokyo

Here’s a shot of Tokyo Bay from above, with Hamarikyu in the foreground (taken on the iPhone again. In fact all of these were).

Hamarikyu and Tokyo Bay

Also this week I met up with dear friend Paul P back in Japan for a quick visit, with CNet / Japan Times journalist friend Rick to discuss Augmented Reality apps (he might use some of the info I provided in a JT article next week), oh, and continuing to correspond with Ian the documentary maker regarding film-making. Who knows what the future holds.

The day job is going OK.

Eyes are tired though, and the Macbook needs to be seen to – the sound card seems a bit dodgy, i.e. all system audio turns into loud static pops after lengthy editing sessions. Not good. Just need to get to a time when I don’t need it for video editing all the time, like the beginning of November when Japan Podshow is done.

Things are good though. Exhausted, but excitement and motivation levels are high. Gotta make the most of the time we’ve got!


Cabbages, containers and doggy-do

MyGengo* I just posted my interview with Rob and Matt of over at Making it in Japan. Anyone interested in translation should check it out – they have some great new services on the way – and if you have the skills required (but are lacking in qualifications / years of experience that many companies demand) they might be just the folks you’ve been looking for.

After work last night I headed up to the in-laws’, about an hour from our place, just north of Tokyo. There were two birthday’s in the family to celebrate, a lot of good food to eat and my father-in-law’s travel stories to catch up on.

I found it interesting how the pace of life seemed to be a lot slower there, outside of central Tokyo. There wasn’t the feeling that there was lots that needed to be done (as is the feeling at home). 9pm seemed late, like bed time. I was asleep before midnight for the first time in a long time.

Walking back to the station this morning (*Twinkle* left earlier, taking our niece to Disneyland), I took a few photos of everyday stuff, which I thought I’d share.

First off then, we have the cabbage fields between the apartment blocks. I think of these as the remnants of years gone by, when the kanto plain was more agriculture than housing. You’ll still find quite a lot of them in the outskirts of cities, but every year their number decreases. I think the primary motivation for planting up land these days is not producing crops, but rather to obtain tax breaks.


Next up, the dog poo sign. Isn’t it cute? The woman seems to be really enjoying herself. The text literally reads, “Let’s take dog poo home!”


Storage containers are on the rise, as people accumulate more ‘stuff’ which they really have no need for. You can rent half of one of these containers for as little as 5,250 yen (GBP36) per month. Given the state of the Japanese economy, it won’t be long until we find people living in them, I’m sure.


Next, we’re down by the riverside. Not sure I’d want to eat anything that comes from one of these rivers though.


Finally, we have the mikan – or are they some other kind of orange? I don’t know. I like fruit trees in cities. They’re a good reminder of the natural seasonal cycle that is going on around us, masked by the tarmac.


Anyway, I need to change trains now, so had better pack up.