Tag Archives: suica

Next-generation vending machines

28 Apr

In your country, do vending machines give weather forecasts and recommend a drink for you based on your gender and estimated age ( using facial recognition software) like here in Japan?

image

We can also pay for the drinks by using our train commute IC cards.

Advertisements

Japan brought back the steam locomotive

22 Jun

Have you ever visited Japan? Even if you haven’t, maybe you’ve heard about Japan’s excellent, clean, safe, affordable, extremely punctual and high-tech public transportation system.

Especially in big cities such as Tokyo, there are train and subway stations and bus stops all over the city.

The trains, subways, and buses are on time to the minute. They’re very comfortable…upholstered seats, air-conditioning in the summer and heated in the winter.

The fare can be paid with the swipe of a convenient IC-card.

And, of course, the trains and subways are electric. It’s been that way for decades. Japan hasn’t used the steam locomotive (SL) for a long time.

But, for something fun to do this summer (especially for families with young boys) and also to show support to Fukushima, Japan Railways (JR) will offer the chance to ride on a steam locomotive train.

This is only temporary (for the summer of 2011) and also the trains will only run in the countryside area of 群馬県 (Gunma Prefecture), north of Tokyo.

Have you ever ridden on a steam locomotive? If you’re able to visit Gunma, Japan this summer, this is your chance.

スイカ祭り

1 Jul

At the DECKS shopping area in お台場 (Odaiba, Tokyo), they’re currently having a 「すいか祭り」 (“watermelon festival“) until 2010 July 19.

They’re selling all types of food, drinks and desserts made with スイカ (watermelon).

A great way to cool down from the summer heat in Tokyo!

コンクール

6 Aug

My oldest daughter plays the trumpet in her Jr. High brass band.

Today her school’s brass band participated in the annual 東京都中学校吹奏楽コンクール (Metropolitan Tokyo Junior High School Brass Band Competition).

She did excellent!

++++++++++++++++++

After that, we went to 東京ドームシティ (Tokyo Dome City).

It’s an amusement park and shopping center next to the Tokyo Dome (which is the home to the Tokyo Giants baseball team. And many concerts and events are held here, too) and the very tall “Tokyo Dome Hotel“.

Here’s a short video of the area behind the Tokyo Dome:

And here’s another short video I took while looking out a window in the shopping center:

When I walked past the Kentucky Fried Chicken there, I noticed the Col. Sanders statue out front.

KFC” (or 「ケンタッキー」 (“Kentucky”) as it’s known here) in Japan usually have a near life-size statue of Col. Sanders out front. He is often dressed to fit the current season.

Here’s a picture of him from last X-mas:

And here he is today (he’s wearing a Japanese 半被 (Happi coat)…which is a common sight at Japanese summer festivals):

Tokyo Dome City has a few food courts. At lunchtime, we went to the smallest one and ate at an excellent bread shop.

Here’s a short view of that food court:

The “McDonalds” that you can see in that video gets pretty crowded. So they have something I’ve never seen before…for customers who want their food for “Take out” can go through the “Walk Thru Gate” (as opposed to a “Drive Thru”). I was also surprised that the sign for it was written in English:

There’s a wild roller-coaster ride at the Tokyo Dome City that goes through a building.

Here’s a video of it:

In alot of restaurants in Japan, there’s a display out from that shows realistic, plastic models of the menu items.

++++++++++++++++++

Yesterday it stormed real hard and there was flash flooding.

Parts of the Tokyo sewage system became flooding and six workers were sent to repair it.

The current was so strong that they got washed away. One man escaped to safety, but two men have been confirmed dead.

The other three are missing, as of today, and feared dead.

When we left Tokyo Dome City today, we walked past 神田川 (Kanda River) on the way to the train station. As we did, we saw the Tokyo Fire Department and Police divers searching the river for the three missing men.

It’d be a miracle…but I hope they find them alive.

++++++++++++++++++

Japan has vending machines that sell nearly anything!

From vending machines here, you can get rice, beer, cigarettes, flowers, eggs, candy, cola, tea, coffee (hot or cold), magazines, newspapers, stamps, condoms, underwear, telephone cards, train tickets, bread, etc, etc…

Here’s an 傘の自動販売機 (umbrella vending machine):

++++++++++++++++++

Today my 「SUICA 定期券」 (I.C. monthly train pass) expired, so I had to get a new one.

When I first came to Japan, the train lines sold 磁気定期券 (Magnetic monthly train passes).

(This photo is from “JR East”‘s website. It’s not a photo of an actual pass…the name on it is “Tarou Higashinihon (East-Japan)”).

This pass would be inserted into the ticket gate like a regular ticket (and it would come out the other side). The customer would pay for either a one-month, three-month, or a six-month pass between any two stations. Then it could be used between those stations as many times as the owner of the pass wished…until the expiration date (at which it had to be renewed). The three and six month passes offered a greater discount.

If the pass owner went past either of the two stations on the pass, he would pay the fare difference in cash.

But a few years ago, Japan introduced a new Intregrated Circuit (I.C.) card (some countries call it a “smart card”).

The one’s issued by the main train line are green and called “SUICA“. Other train lines, subway lines, and bus companies all use the pink “PASMO” card.

The two are interchangeable…meaning either card can be used to pay for JR train lines, other train lines, subways, buses, as well as some vending machines and shops and restaurants near train and subway stations.

The SUICA card:

This card can be charged at station machines and used by swiping it at the train or store or vending machine sensors.

It doesn’t even need to be removed from your wallet.

But it can also be used, as I do, as a 「SUICA 定期券」 (I.C. monthly train pass). In the same way as the magnetic train pass that I mentioned above, this card can have a 1, 3 or 6 month pass between two stations.

What makes it better is that it can be quickly swiped as you enter the station and if you go past either of the two stations…it takes the fare balance from the funds that the card owner charged it with.

The 「SUICA 定期券」 (I.C. monthly train pass):

(Once again, this pic is from J.R.’s website)

It’s called “Suica” for a few reasons…スイ (“Sui”) is kinda like “swish” in English. A swiping sound. And カ (ka (or “ca”)) can be easily seen by Japanese as an obvious abbreviation for カード (card). Also, スイカ (Suika) means “watermelon” in Japanese…and the design on the card is train tracks in a circular pattern on a green background. It looks like a watermelon logo.

On the card, the name “Suica” is written with the “ic” a different color…because it’s an “IC” card.

Get it?

++++++++++++++++++

At the subway station, I saw this advertisement for the 「東京マラソン2009」 (Tokyo Marathon 2009):

It reminded me of “SF Runner“, so I took a picture of it so he could see it.