Archive | June, 2009

Japanese Creativity

25 Jun

June 21, 2009 001 (2)Standing at the urinal in the men’s bathroom at a train station in Nara, I notice again the little hook sticking out from the wall in which to hang your umbrella on while you use the facilities. This triggers my memory of how creative the Japanese really are.

During my travels in Japan, I have been confronted with many situations and technology that has rooted the idea that nothing goes unnoticed in Japan. Bathrooms are a prime example of this, where it’s very common to open the door by touchpad, have the lights turn on, and the toilet lid flip up as you enter. Sit down on the toilet and you’re in for a real treat for your bum, that seat is heated, and who knew how soothing it is to sit on a warm toilet seat.

Even a small amount of time in Japan will reveal the great lengths the Japanese go to in order to make life more convenient. When the cashier at any store puts your change down on that little tray and slides it over to you, notice how easy it is to pick up? No struggling to flip up coins for those of us with short fingernails on a hard flat counter here. Say you bought a snack at the corner Lawson’s or 7-Eleven, don’t use your teeth to open that box of Pocky, take out that straw, open your breakfast treat or get the dressing out of that little package. A quick look at the package and simple directions on how to easily open it up will be revealed to you!

Retractable Ethernet cables, 8 GB memory sticks no bigger than a dime. How about that Nozomi Train that pulls up and stops so the door to your car lines up exactly where you are standing. Yup, you can find a million examples that will really make you believe, that Japan is the land of imagination.

Rainy Days are Good Days in Kyoto

22 Jun

Kyoto

Awake, crawl out of bed, you tip toe in the darkness past the zen garden, pour yourself some tea, and sit down on the tatami mats as you write about your previous days experiences. You look out the window, but the morning light is still slow at creeping out, you can only hear the pitter patter of the rain.

The rain is hardly enough to stop you, afterall its already 25 degrees, and near 100% humidity, the cool rain is a welcome refresher. So with some friends, you grab an umbrella, and duck under the door to head outside, taking notice of the moring routines of the locals as you experience early morning in Kyoto.

You wander the Shinto and Buddhist temples of the Hagashiyama district, walking through winding alleys, and making your way into the lush green forested hills of Kyotos eastern boundary. Climbing ancient stone steps, to grand wooden gateways and temples, your greeted with spectacular views across the mist cloaked hills. This is when you realize that the rain has only enriched this experience. Everything seems so placid and serene. Afterall, bad weather doesnt have to be bad, it’s all perception.

Jetlagged in Tokyo

18 Jun

TokyoBanner

Tokyo, for the first timer, its a sensory overload. You find yourself lost in the neon lights of Shinjuku, baffled at the crowds at Shibuya and contemplating how all those people fit into your subway car. Your scarfing down conveyor belt sushi, drinking sake and green tea, and people watching in Harajuku. No matter where you’ve been in the world, there is nothing like Tokyo.

You find it difficult to do things slowly here, as nobody else does. One good example is the Tsujiki Fish Market, as soon as the subway doors opened you could smell the scent of fish, which made it easy to find if you just follow your nose. If you can manage not to get your shins smashed by the traffic jams of forklift and trucks hauling around the fish being unloaded off the boats your in for a treat. Its hard to fathom how much seafood is consumed in a city like this, but when you see the action here you kind of get the hint. Tuna bigger than you are being dragged across the stalls as bidders take their catch away,  octopus, eels, squid, and red snapper being packed into boxes, you soon realize that in Japan, seafood is king. And you can sit down at one of the nearby sashima bars for a breakfast like noneother. Dipping your fresh slices of tuna and salmon into your wasabi and soy, its not a breakfast your used to, but it doesnt get any more fresh than this.

When your done, maybe you’ll stop by Ginza, and catch a glimpse of the future as you wander through the displays at the Sony building. Or head up the Metropolitan Office towers for a look across the Tokyo Skyline, or try your luck in the noisy arcades. You’ll find it hard to put the camera down as your bombarded with excitement. And if you get lost, you just may have a helpful stranger off you assistance.

So when your in Tokyo, take your time, and soak it all in. Don’t be shy, eat whatever comes your way, and dish out lots of ‘domo’s’ For its an experience like no other, its Japan, enjoy it!

Jordan Factor

16 Jun

When one notices a higher frequency of anomalies in their life, one should not interpret that as being “unlucky”. These are merely events that enhance your experience and keep one sharp, never allowing the mundane to take presidense over the extraordinary.

In my life, some of my friends and I have dubbed these anomalies in my personal experiences as “The Jordan Factor”. It would pop up when we were building cars as teenagers, and more recently it has been popping up in my travels. My time in Australia was interupted by a cyclone that altered some of my travel plans, our dive trip to Belize was nearly cancelled due to not one but two Class 5 Hurricanes an either end of the trip, southeast asia travels encountered politcal turmoil in Thailand, and the Israeli invasion of the gaza strip in 2009 began just as we departed for the middle east. The latest event came with a phone call from a friend, regarding my flight to Japan.

Sarychev Peak, a Russian volcano located in a chain of islands in the north pacific had erupted. A large explosion had sent volcanic ash rising 12km above sea level. This ash was disrupting commercial air traffic in the popular Vancouver-Asia flight path, and my flight, AC003 to Tokyo was affected. Fortunetly, as it stands, our flight is being rerouted through Honolulu and will arrive in Tokyo Narita on the same day.

Bad luck? I don’t think so, just another reminder that life is far from mundane, its these events that define our experiences as we move through life. Because after all, nobody said it was going to be easy.

Revenge of the Fallen: Chevy Premiere Vehicles

13 Jun

Adding into my recent post about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I thought I would share the GM lineup to be premiered in the movie.

As most of us know, GM was a huge sponsor for the first Transformers, and vehichles such as the Pontiac Solstice, GMC Top Kick, and of course the all new Chevrolet Camaro were featured in the film. GM forsees no change of pace with its Transformers exposure, and you can expect some new vehicles to be again premiered in ‘Revenge of the Fallen’.

Featured in the second installation of Transformers we will see the Chevrolet ‘Beat’ and ‘Trax’ compact concept cars, the concept ‘Stingray’ Corvette, and of course Bumble Bee is still the new Camaro. Most notibly though, Chevrolet will introduce the ‘Volt’, the all electric car that Chevrolet hopes to guide its new shift into building smarter more efficient vehicles. The Volt can travel 40 miles on a single charge using only electricity, and can be charged on a standard 120V outlet.

You can expect to see some of Volt’s features to be boasted in the movie as well.

So when you go see the film, keep an eye out for all these vehicles!

Philips Carousel Commercial

9 Jun

Philips released their new cinema proportion 21:9 TV, and to debute the product, they came up with this quite amazing commercial. Warning, if clowns scare you, it may not be for you!

Strange how with no motion at all, not one movement, we can understand the entire scenario of the heist gone wrong. Props goto Philips for bringing us such a brilliant piece of advertising. Check it all out at www.philips.com/cinema.

And if your wondering how they did that, you can watch here:

Revenge of the Fallen: Epic or Bust?

8 Jun

RevengeoftheFallen

Michael Bay is up to his old antics again, after the much anticipated release of ‘Transformers’ in 2007. Anyone could guess that there was soon to be more Transformers movies on the way. Director Michael Bay, executive producer Steven Spielberg, and the team from Dreamworks and Paramount have teamed up again and are bringing us the second movie; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Watch the offical trailers here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb2fUOW1ne4&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_Veo0G2qfY

Sequel success often rides on how many original cast members are featured in the second movie, and most of them are back, with Shia LaBeouf playing Sam Witwicky and Megan Fox as Mikaela Banes. Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Kevin Dunn and Julie White are all back as well in Revenge of the Fallen.

So will the latest film be the most successful movie of the year? I vote yes. Hollywood has proven audiences do not need substance to make a great movie. And if you have a fleet of giant metallic robots in an all out battle of mass destruction with mankind caught in the middle, definate hit. And robots we will see, with a plethora of Autobots and Decepticons premiering in the new movie, it makes the orginal Transformers seem like childs play. With the premier appearance of the `Constructicons/Devastator’, the decepticon robot made up of several smaller construction vehicles, remember collecting those toys as a kid?

Michael Bay must have a travel itch as well, because Revenge of the Fallen is bringing us to new places around the globe. Scenes in the movie take place at locations like the Eiffel Tower, and the Arch de Triomphe in Paris, Petra and Wadi Rum in Jordan, Luxor and the Pyramids of Giza in Egpyt. Bringing in these locations helps bring audiences into the global scale of the events, and it defiently draws bigger international revenue. I quickly recognized Karnak Temple in the trailer, and was pleased to see that filming did take place (albiet breifly) in a number of foreign locations.

And if you thought the Transformers legacy might end with this second movie, think again. Paramount and Dreamworks already announced a July 1, 2011 release date for the 3rd installment of Transformers.

Release dates for ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ are slated for June 19, 2009 in the UK, and June 24, 2009 in north america. I will be in Japan on release date, so expect to see updates when we see the movie in Tokyo!