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Xmas cards? New Years cards?

25 Dec

In Japan, Xmas cards aren’t commonly exchanged — but 年賀状 (New Years postcards) are.

When I lived in America, everyone gave Xmas cards to friends and family.  I had never heard of a New Years card until I came to Japan.

I have been sending and receiving New Years postcards every year since I came to Japan … but these days, more and more people in Japan … especially young people don’t bother to hand-write “real” paper New Years postcards — they just send ケータイ年賀状 (cellphone New Years postcards).

It’s not the same. I think people appreciate getting a hand-written card.
My kids love their cellphones … but they still write New Years postcards by hand, I’m happy to say.

How about you?  Do you send hand-written Xmas or New Years cards?
Email cards?
None at all?

The Tokyo Five smart-phone app

3 Oct

I just made a smart-phone application for my blog.

It has content that isn’t on this blog…so why don’t you install it on your phone?

Click here to read my page with instructions about how to install the app and how to use it.

And let me know in the comments section what you think of the app.
 

Bic Camera x Uniqlo

13 Sep

If you’ve ever been to Japan…especially a major Japanese city such as Tokyo…then you undoubtedly are aware of the major chain of electronics stores here called 「ビックカメラ」 (“Bic Camera“) and also the major chain of affordable clothing stores called 「ユニクロ」 (“Uni-qlo“).
(Actually, I’ve heard that 「ユニクロ」 (“Uni-qlo”) has expanded overseas and has stores in America and other countries now…so maybe you know that store even if you’ve never been to Japan.)

Bic Camera logo

Uni-qlo logo

I like 「ユニクロ」 (“Uni-qlo”). In fact, I happen to be wearing a shirt today that I’ve bought from one of their stores. But for electronics, I normally go to the biggest competitor of 「ビックカメラ」 (“Bic Camera”)—「ヨドバシカメラ」 (“Yodobashi Camera“).
I choose 「ヨドバシカメラ」 (“Yodobashi Camera”) because I have a “point card” from that store. If you live in Japan and you don’t make use of the point cards that many stores in Japan offer, then you’re missing an opportunity to get free stuff! I have many point cards and I’ve gotten things I needed from many stores, including 「ヨドバシカメラ」 (“Yodobashi Camera”) at no cost!

Anyways, I saw a commercial on TV this morning for a new store in 新宿(Shinjuku, Tokyo) that is a collaboration between 「ビックカメラ」 (“Bic Camera“) and 「ユニクロ」 (“Uni-qlo“).

This new store will sell both clothing from Uniclo’s stock and electronics from Bic Camera.
The name of the store isビックロ」 (“Bikkuro“)…which is a morphing in Japanese of both company names.

Technology

9 Jun

When I was a teenager in the ’80s, my parents finally got a microwave oven and a VHS VCR…they both seemed so “high-tech” back then.
The microwave could heat food in literally seconds! It seemed so “futuristic”! And the VCR allowed us to program it to record a TV show while we weren’t at home so that we could watch it later! How convenient!
(Never mind that no one could actually understand how to program it…even setting the clock on it was a chore!)

I think every housewife had a copy of this video in the ’80s when VCRs became popular.

Other “new” technology back then were CD players, the “Walkman“, and video games. They were all so popular.

(Click here and read a post I wrote a while back about the Walkman).

In the ’80s, everyone was surprised how “small” this music player was!

A popular TV show when I was in junior high was “Knight Rider“. It was about a vigilante and his “partner”…a super-intelligent Trans-Am that was bullet-proof (even the tires!) and it could do an endless array of unbelievable things. But the three things it did in every episode were: carry on a “witty” conversation with it’s driver and/or whomever else was near it, drive itself and “turbo-boost” over things.
I couldn’t wait for cars like that to become reality!

How often would this really be necessary?

A teacher of mine in the ’80s once told my classmates and me that by the time we were thirty there would be “flying cars”. Obviously that didn’t happen! What a let-down!

I was looking forward to this!

Another “high-tech” item that my family got was I was a kid was a “push-button” telephone with a “re-dial” button. It seems so ordinary now…but it was such a time-saver compared to how telephones had been until then!

Remember these? Yes? Then you must be at least my age. 😉

Now we have a huge variety of technology all around us that we would have never dreamed of even twenty years ago.
For example, when I was dating my wife, one time I misunderstood our meeting place and we couldn’t find each other. That date was lost!
Today’s young people couldn’t imagine such a thing happening because they grew up after cell-phones were invented and became something that everyone carries at all times—like a wallet and keys. If my wife and I had cell-phones when we were dating, my mistake wouldn’t have been an incident at all.

The internet and computers are extremely convenient and useful. They can do so many things and are practical in our daily lives now.
I have had a cell-phone with internet-access for a number of years now…I can barely remember how I used to “kill time” on the train during my daily commute before I had a cell-phone!

Nowadays, nearly everyone uses the phone on the trains in Japan.

But all of this new technology isn’t always good.
When I came to Japan, I had no idea what to expect. There was no internet back then.
And when I got here, everything was different and unusual to me!
But nowadays, most people never travel anywhere without “researching” the destination online first. Nothing’s a surprise! Is that always good?

And there are often stories in the news about people (usually teenagers) bullying others online. It’s regrettable.

I wonder what new technology we’ll see in the future.

A Chevy TV commercial? There’s something you don’t see everyday!!

4 Dec

I saw a TV commercial yesterday for a 「シボレー」 (“Chrevolet“) car.
It was a car called the 「シボレー・ソニック」 (“Chrevolet Sonic“).

This may seem like nothing unusual to you…especially if you live in America, where TV commercials for American cars are quite common.

But I realized, after seeing that commercial, that I don’t recall having seen an ad for any foreign (ie: not Japanese) cars, until now, since I came to Japan in 1990.

I realized that every advertisement I’ve seen in Japan for automobiles or electronics (Japan’s two biggest industries) have all been for Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba and other Japanese companies.

Almost every car and motorcycle on the road in Japan is Japanese. Sometimes wealthy people buy a foreign car as a kind of “status symbol”…normally it’ll be an Italian or German car that they choose.
Also, close to every single electronic product sold in Japan is made by a Japanese company. Products made by American companies such as Kodak, Polaroid or Zenith aren’t normally found in Japan. Do those companies even exist anymore?

Here’s the commercial for the 「シボレー・ソニック」 (“Chevrolet Sonic“) that I saw on TV:

Do you see many TV commercials for foreign companies in your country? Are American products popular in your country? Have you ever seen a Chevy “Sonic”?

I-pad customers in Japan get overpriced nothing from U.S.

16 May

A number of people in Japan ordered the new “I-pad” computer product by Apple Corp. from a retailer in the U.S. only to receive empty boxes.

The I-Pad from Apple

The Japan Postal Service said that the products were removed from the boxes before they reached Japan and that the U.S. Postal Service should investigate the cases.

The I-Pad won’t be on store shelves in Japan until later this month so I guess some people couldn’t wait and decided to order them from America.
But I’m sure they’re regretting that decision now after spending about ¥56,000 (US$600) for nothing.

Anyways, I don’t know much about the I-Pad but I wonder why anyone in Japan would buy electronics outside of Japan.
For one thing, Japan has the world’s leading electronics products and also I doubt the products outside Japan have Japanese language support.
For example, my computer keyboard and my cell-phone keyboard both have English letter and Japanese characters on the keys.

So, I wonder, why would these Japanese people order an electronics product from overseas rather than wait a few days to get it domestically with Japanese-language features?

Walkman

1 Jul

Okonomibloggy has a blog-post with a link to a BBC story about a thirteen-year-old boy who traded his I-pod for a old-school 1980’s style cassette-player Walkman for a week.

The original "Walkman" (1979)

The original "Walkman" (1979)

It was an amusing read.

The article mentioned that the Sony Walkman was turning thirty years old soon.

The original "Walkman" logo (1979)

The original "Walkman" logo (1979)

The current "Walkman" logo.

The current "Walkman" logo.

I looked online and it turns out that today (2009 July 1) is the 30th anniversary of the release of the first Sony Walkman.
The first Walkman went on sale on 1979 July 1.

I didn’t have a Walkman in 1979. I got my first one in the mid-1980’s when I was in high school.
It was the most current version…but an antique by today’s standards.
And compared to the modern Walkman, it was as big and heavy as a brick. But back in the ’80s, it was the coolest thing. And it was considered small and light.

Compared to my current Walkman (I use a Sony Walkman MP3 player now…not an I-pod) which can hold my entire CD collection in it’s memory, the one I had in the ’80s played cassette tapes…which are crap, but back in the ’80s they were the most modern medium for music storage.

Did you have one of the “brick” Walkman cassette players back in the ’80s?
Do you have a Walkman now?

I have this type of "Walkman" MP3 player now. It's small and light, but...

I have this type of "Walkman" MP3 player now. It's small and light, but...

Sony's newest "Walkman" is smaller and lighter!

Sony's newest "Walkman" is smaller and lighter!