Cat Interlude

by bicyclemark 4 Comments

Greetings once again from the neon streets of Tokyo. The TBLI conference is in full swing here and that means yours truely is working hard to make sure technology works during this two day event. Therefore I shall interrupt the serious citizen journalism with a little interlude worthy of the worst and most distracting entertainment websites on the internet today. Yes as of this post, I too am guilty of promoting cat humor.

The following is what I believe to be a very unique cultural experience here in Tokyo, a place where those who cannot or do not own cats can pay a small fee and go spend time in a wonderland of felines.  Here they can sit for hours just watching cats or actively petting and playing with them.  Why? Who cares? All these questions are valid, and as your intrepid reporter, I considered these questions.  With help from my Japan anthropologist friend Semisara, here is what we learned in the form of a video entry.

Tokyo Type Questions

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

After 36 followed by 25 hours on the Trans-Siberian train last month, flying 12 hours to Tokyo was a walk in the park.  A walk in the park followed by a long nap where you wake up in a mecca of neon lights and video-game-style pre-recorded voices.

Wandering the streets of Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Akihabara and beyond, I’m observing a culture and a city that for my entire adult life people have been explaining or trying to describe to me.  Yet of course it is one thing to be told about Japan and this crazy capital, yet it is entirely something else to experience it first hand.

This type of writing isn’t unique because it is found on this blog; throughout the internet, intrepid and less-intrepid travelers have been musing about Japan for as long as there has been a WWW.  Before that they stuck to tv documentaries, films, novels, and I’m sure many a pamphlet.

Still, my Japanese experience is most unique in that it is shaped by all of you. You being the twitter people, the facebookers, the comment leavers, the online and offline friends. Through your recommendations, your photo-memories, and your in-person meetups, in what is a short visit to such a culture and adventure rich nation, I manage to learn and soak in more than I would have otherwise; on my own, with a guidebook.

Many would say, I’m curious to travel to Japan and far away places like that, but I would feel lost or intimidated by things I don’t understand.  But the online-offline communities I have the good fortune of being a part of – the hackers, the journalists, the podcasters videobloggers, the couch surfers, the frisbee players – they all ensure that no matter what, I’m never truly traveling on my own, unless I want to.

I hear the lamenters. Those who say – ah but traveling on your own is rewarding too. Discovering things for yourself is important. I hear them and I keep this in mind as I do indeed take the time or the effort to discover things for myself. However when I turn a corner that I would not have otherwise turned, because someone walking next to me or following me on twitter recommend I do so, and I find myself somewhere magical, those fears about how things are changing, don’t seem so important.

bm221 Aske Dam on Japanese Community TV

by bicyclemark

Aske Dam has watched the world go from huge cumbersome video equipment to the tiny cameras he enjoys using today. And throughout the last decades he has also been a first hand witness to the phenomenon of local community television stations in Japan. At a time where we are so focused on the internet to set us free, Aske remembers groups of people in Japan who had made their own personal and community media, long before the internet. In this internet we discuss all this and more, while sitting outside overlooking the beautiful city of Heidelberg during VlogEurope 2007.

We Discuss:
-How he first got started with television in Japan
– Cable systems in Japan
-The function and structure of community stations
– The unique and wonderful programs and philosophies of the people involved
– Comparing it to community tv projects in Denmark
– The evolution of localized tv production
– Interactivity
– Later on, bought and sold? Or disappeared?
– Digital Education
– Digital Cinemas

bm164 Ishiharas Tokyo

by bicyclemark

He has been the governor of Tokyo since 1999, and successfully made many enemies with his opinions and policies. Shintaro Ishihara takes a lead role in his city, changing politics, society, and culture… but it may not be in the direction you expect. In another edition of the global series on mayors, Arudou Debito joins me to help explain the person and the policies behind Ishihara.

Correction from Debito, in case anyone is fact checking: I said the Takeshima/Tokdo islands were between China and Korea. They are in fact between Japan and Korea.

Shintaro Ishihara on Wikipedia