Archive for June 2010




~*~ Mobile Phones in Japan~*~ Technology Review

Communication technology that continues to connect people with one another that are advancing more and more each day is the mobile phone.  While in Japan, people of all ages, young and old, were seen with their mobile phones checking messages or simply browsing the web. Mobile phones come in a variety of colors and styles that suit your personality. A hanging charm to accessorize your mobile phone was very popular to the Japanese culture as you would see more case covering with rhinestones more popular here in the United States   The mobile phone culture in Japan is also known as the “keitai culture”. “Keitai denwa” meaning “portable phones”.   The common style of mobile phone in Japan is the flip phone. There is also the sliding phone, iPhone, and a phone that flips horizontally.  These phones are capable of video, cameras, internet, video calling, online flash viewing, navigation, portable mp3 and mp4 players, mobile games, listening and viewing TV, fingerprint and face recognition for privacy protection, along with email and much more!

There are three main mobile phone companies in Japan. The biggest is Ntt docomo, followed by au by KDDI, and Softbank.  The parent company of Ntt docomo is Nippon Telegraph and Telephone.  It runs off the PDC (personal digital cellular 2g), i-mode (a mobile internet), W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access 3G), FOMA (Freedom of Mobile Multimedia Access 3G), HSDA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access), and PHS (Personal Handy-phone System) networks.  Ntt docomo has over 50 million subscribers, and their goal is to improve coverage areas, communication stability, and to have disaster preparedness. Also, to increase child protection. KDDI runs on a CDMA network and has over 20 million subscribers.  Softbank also known as Vodafone or J-Phone runs on the W-CDMA 3G network and has exceeded over 15 million subscribers in 08.

Having a chance to visit the KDDI studio in Japan, there was a phone on display that was water proof.  To have a phone immersed in water and stilloperate is amazing to me because a lot of people here in the US have incidents of dropping their phone in water, and many companies do not replace water damaged phones under insurance plans.  This only makes people have to purchase another phone. Also, Japan is more of an eco friendly country and has designed a phone that is solar powered.  The solar panel was located on the front of the phone and with just moments in the sunlight, it will fully charge the phone. Ntt docomo had solar powered phones to purchase as well.  Also, some students had mobile phones that have portable battery rechargers that can charge up their phones on the go.

When it comes to being unique, mobile phones in Japan take the lead.  By simply taking a picture of a QR code, the mobile phone can access a link to a webpage or email address. A QR code, also known as a quick response code is a two dimensional bar code that was created by the Japanese corporation Denso- Wave in 1994.  The content within these codes can be decoded at high speeds.  These QR codes appear on magazines, billboard ads, signs, buses, business cards, and even on McDonalds’ bags! It can be recognized by its distinct square shape and art form design.  While at Keio University, the students were asked to take a survey for MSU’s research, and all the students took out their cell phones.  They took a picture of the QR code that was on the projection screen and it directed them to the survey link.

Japanese mobile phones can be pricey. One student from the University said they paid what is equivalent to US dollars $600 for their phone.  Since some mobile phones from the US do not work over in Japan, or would cost a great deal of money for roaming charges, you have the option to rent a phone.  A rental phone is easy to obtain for the tourist who needs mobile communication for their duration of the time.  To obtain a rental phone, all you need is your id and credit card, and for prepaid phones, you need a passport and Japanese Alien Registration.  After you are done with your phone, they can be easily returned to the airport or post office.

Japan, launching 3G technology first, has paved the way for mobile technology of today. Being able watch real time TV or play mobile games is just one of the many functions available on Japanese mobile phones. The Japanese are developing new ways to use their mobile technology with faster downloads, becoming eco friendly, and privacy protection.  It would be great to see the US adopt the Japanese way of telecommunicating!

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Add comment June 12, 2010

~*~ Company Visit~*~ Japan Rail East

On our company visit to Japan Rail, we had the opportunity to see many up and coming ideas for trying to make the subways more efficient.  Japan Rail is building a testing center and we were able to walk over and view the building.  At the testing building, there will be a subway car with a gate just like the subways to do their testing. Even though the building was not completely finished yet, I thought it was cool that we got a glimpse of the work in progress.

While we were in the testing lab, we all were able use the route finders to help us find a quick and efficient way the airport when we left from the hotel on our last day in Japan.  It calculated the duration of the trip, the total fare, and how many transfers we would have to make. They said that this would be a free service and I think this would be very helpful in finding your way throughout Japan! Also, there were TV screens that would monitor the stations in case someone fell down the stairs, or left suspicious bags in the subways. There was also a map of where the train would be at a certain time, and a more up to date design of the map.  These diagrams became very useful in the subway cars when we would be traveling to our destinations for the day, because it would let me know what stop we were currently at and which stop was approaching.  Also, in the lab was machine that helps you find your way throughout the subway stations, and it could point to where you needed to go.

One thing about the Japanese culture is the need to be on time to. The trains were very efficient and on time for the most part and when trying to board a train, you saw many people rushing to get on, even when the door was closing. This did not stop the doors and they continued to close! One thing that could be helpful in keeping passengers safe when trying to board these subways is probably a sensor to know if someone is in the doors.  But I suppose this is why most of the time the trains are on time, because if it were to delay and keep opening when it is detected that someone is in the door, the train would never leave! I learned about why there were different types of Pasmo’s/ Suica cards and basically it’s the branding. Also, I learned that to build a car is very expensive. I believe 1 million dollars a car!

I really enjoyed this company visit and like always, we were given beverages and iced coffee.  Many of my peers really enjoyed it, but personally I’m not a fan of coffee of any form so I gave mines to my professor!

Add comment June 10, 2010

~*~ 1..2..3 Strikes you’re out!! Tokyo Baseball~*~

While in Tokyo, we got to experience one of Americans favorite past time, a baseball game.  That night at the Tokyo Dome, the Tokyo Giants played the Blue Jays  and the stadium was filled with lots of people.  There were two bands in the stands and a section where the fans spelled out the name “Giants”.  At this baseball game, people were able to bring in their own drinks and have the people place your beverages in cups for you to enjoy. I must say, while going through security, the guards were very friendly and lenient. The lightest security I have ever seen! Then we received complementary Pokey Sticks as well.

At the game, I was craving  hot dogs which I usually get when I go to a baseball game at home, and luckily they had them! I was so hungry, I ended up buying two of them and they were delicious.  When ordering a hotdog, a mustard and ketchup pack came with it that was connected together.  When you clamped them together, both squirts out very neatly. I thought this was very efficient way of dispensing your mustard and ketchup! I really enjoyed the game as we chanted along with the crowd, even though I did not know what they were saying, but it was fun! They had cheerleaders and the mascot came out to dance with them.  We had orange towels with the teammates names and  numbers on them and we swung them in the air after a good play was made. At the end of the night, the Giants won and we all had a good time after a hectic day of getting there!

Inside Tokyo Dome Baseball Game

Tokyo Dome Baseball Game

1 comment June 10, 2010

~*~Company Visit ~*~ NTT docomo

NTT docomo

Another company we had a chance to visit was NTT docomo. At this company, when we first walked in, there was a special greeting welcoming us to the research and development center.  Then we proceeded to the conference room where we learned a little bit more about the company.  After the presentation, we headed to the video room and watched a short informational.  Then we headed off to the technology lab.  In the lab, it was very hands on and in the first exhibit two of my peers had a chance to test out some more AR Solutions by looking through some glasses, with a camera on them, onto a book and have a 3D image of a nearby park appear on the TV screen. A very interesting piece of technology that allows you to zoom in and out of a certain area.

Another exhibit we saw at NTT docomo is the exhibit where purchases that you made previously are recorded to let you know if you bought that item before.  It also helps you pick out clothing items for your chicken and for that special occasion.  We had a chance to play the video game Tekken. This brought back childhood memories of playing video games.   Then we all had a chance to  test out this cool ring.  When you stick your finger in your ear, the vibration allows you to hear sounds.  There was also this watch that controls functions such as opening locks and turning on lights with the rhythm to whatever you like.  Also, there was a piece of technology that you hold to your head as you plug your ears and it allows  you to hear sounds.  This company happened to be one of my favorite places to visit.  I enjoyed  testing out all of the new technology they presented.

Add comment June 10, 2010

~*~ Sensoji Temple ~*~

On our way to visit the Sensoji temple, the streets were filled and I saw people riding in human driven carriages.  Also, I saw a strange looking  man who had various toys and fish in fish bowls hanging from his hat.  Once we got to the entrance, there were tons of people taking photos of the statues  and our study abroad took the infamous “group photo”. Then we all split up to go on our separate ways to sight see. There were tons of shops that sold souvenirs,swords, clothing, food, drinks, and also temples that you could walk into.

This one temple I went into had a  place where you give a coin and say a prayer.  I was told, the bigger your prayer, the higher the amount you put in and you had to put in a coin on the way out if it was a major blessing/prayer. Many people were bowing their heads as they threw their coins in. Also, there was a place where you could get your fortunes told. The fortunes  were 100 yen and when you pulled out a stick with a symbol on it, you find the symbol on the draws to retrieve your piece of paper with the type of fortune you chose.  I got the “best fortune”. If you pulled a bad fortune, I was told that you should tie it so that it would not come true. There was a rack with different rows that had many bad fortunes tied to it. I tend to notice a couple of these at the various temples we visited throughout our stay in Japan.  They came in different shapes; ie. square and round.  A couple of my peers had pulled bad fortunes and many of us advised the students to tie them.

This place was definitely one of my favorites because of the many souvenir stores, beautiful temples and statues, and different foods people were selling. It kind of reminded me of the festivals that we have back at home.  Since it was a weekend, there was also a display of shrines people carried through the streets as they chanted! Even women were holding these shrines as they were crowded amongst the people.  The men and women wore robes and the shrines were different colors made out of gold. The shrines were very beautiful.

1 comment June 6, 2010

~*~More company visits ~*~Q Entertainment

                     

A company visit Q Entertainment!

Another company visit was to Q Entertainment.  When we entered the building, we had to travel up at least 4 flights of  narrow  stairs. Then, we entered into a small room.  It seemed as if we were rushing to get to the company on time, and I was very tired. On another note, they gave us bottled water for our libation.  It was very warm in the little room at first, but then the AC started to kick in and I was ready for the presentation.  Then we got to hear about the games and games for mobile phones. We could not take photos during this presentation because of the many drawings and designs posted on the walls for new ideas.  I must say, some of the pictures were very good.

One of the mobile games that was brought up in the presentation was about horse racing.  The guy admitted that he was sort of a horse racing fan.  It was mentioned that this game was very popular amongst the mobile games in Japan and to me, it honestly looked very simple.  The goal was to make your horse run faster.

3 comments June 6, 2010

~*~McDonalds in Japan~*~ I’m lovin it :)

While in Japan, I had the opportunity to try Mc. Donalds Japanese style! there were some foods on the menu that were the same here in the states, such as french fries, cheese burgers, apple pies, big macs and chicken nuggets.  One difference about Japans McDonalds is the portion size. A large drink was compared to a medium size here in the states. I’ve noticed that most of Japans portion sizes are a lot smaller than what I have seen at home. This could be a possible explanation why many Americans are so obese. Some other choices on the menus there were shrimp burgers (Ebi Fillet O), and Ebi-Chiki (shrimp nuggets).Also, while dinning in at the McDonalds in Osaka, there was a section for smoking. Usually, there are no smoking in restaurants like that in the US.  There was also wifi available in the McDonalds.  Every morning while staying in Osaka, I would stop at the McDonalds in the subway station for breakfast.  I would order a egg sausage Mc Muffin, hash brown and orange juice. With the McDonalds being in the subway station, you were able to use your pasmo/suica cards to pay for your meal.

8 comments June 4, 2010

~*~Tokyo Disney Land~*~

Tokyo Disney Land!

While in Tokyo on our free day, a few of my peers and I ventured off  to see Tokyo Disneyland! I have been to Disney World in Orland, Fl when I was 14, and I had an amazing time. I was curious to see if Tokyo Disneyland would meet my expectations and be just as exciting as it was when I went with my family.  When we first arrived, we were so excited to have made it there on our own! After purchasing our tickets, and I was glad they took Visa, we walked through the gates and through World Bazzar! There were plenty of shopping stores. This area was covered by a plexiglass canopy.  The park was very clean and so pretty! After walking out of Bazzar World, you can see Cinderalla’s Castle.  There was also a parade passing by with Minnie and Mickie on the Easter float. In Japan, Easter lasts for a month and it was an Easter Celebration going on.

Then after watching the parade, we went to one of our first rides. It was the Star Tours ride. I rode this ride when I went to the Disney World in Orland, FL as well. This was a simulated ride and it was really fun. The only thing about riding the rides here in Japan is that everything is in Japanese, so I did not know what they were saying! Another thing about Japan, there are tons of people, and the lines for the rides were ridiculously long!! We did not have to wait that long for this ride though! We then went to Toon Town and along the way, stopped at a concession stand that sold various toys and gadgets, hats and Mickey/Minnie mouse ears! I bought a pair later on that evening for a souvenir! Many people had these ears on at the part too!

Since some of us wanted to ride the rides and others wanted to go to the shows, we split up into groups. We went on another roller coaster ride and waited in the line for almost an hour and then went to another ride and waited for over 2 hours. It seemed like we never was going to get to the ride! That is why when going to an amusement park as such, you need a whole week just to do everything, but I’m glad I got the chance to go. Also at the park, we stopped to get some waffles!   They were in the shape of Mickey Mouse and was covered in strawberry and custer with cool whip! It was delicious! After eating and riding a few rides because the lines were just too long, we decided to leave the park. We did not get a chance to see the fireworks or the electronic parade but a couple of my peers said the parade was really nice with all the lights on the floats and that the fireworks were not that great. Overall I still think the Disney World in the US is way better but I had a great time and enjoyed the beautiful park in Tokyo!

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2 comments June 4, 2010

~*~Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum~*~

Hiroshima and the Peace Museum had to be one of the most historic places that I have visited.  Stepping foot in the peace museum and learning about how all the people were killed and affected after the atomic bomb dropped August 6, 1945,  made me feel sad that this happened.  It is also remarkable that the Japanese does not hold any grudge against the US after this tragic event.   I am hoping that this would not happen anywhere in the world again! In the museum, we had little head sets that you could use by typing in the number of the exhibit and you could hear the voice recording and explanation of the items pertained to it.  There were many exhibits and also a wax exhibit that showed the melting skin of the people. Many were children who were sent to work.  Also we got to see before and after models of where the bomb hit.  Then we walked outside to the Peace Memorial Park area and took photos and we saw this statue of a crane.  The Japanese culture highly treasure the crane as it symbolizes honor and loyalty.  One of the beliefs of the Japanese culture is that if a person folds 1,000 cranes he would be granted his/her greatest wish.

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Add comment June 4, 2010

~*~ Sumo~*~

On Saturday, my teacher, peers and I went to go see Sumo! At first, we waited outside to watch the sumo wrestlers as they walked into the entrance.  They had on their kimono robes with their hair in ponytails.  Many stood outside to cheer them on as we took pictures of them passing by!   This was my first sumo match and I did not know what to expect.  As we left to go inside the stadium, we found our seats way at the top. There were so many people who came out to watch the wrestlers.

Before entering the stadium, there were a few concession stands that sold food and souvenirs.  Half way through the match, a couple of my peers and I went to get ice cream ( a favorite in Japan), and to buy some sumo souvenirs as well. At this event, I noticed people were able to bring in their own food to enjoy. Many places in the US would not allow you to do as such. Also, we saw a form of advertising when after a match was completed, men would walk around the stage holding banners of companies. One I remember is McDonalds.  This experience was quite different but I enjoyed it at times especially when a match was intense.

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1 comment June 4, 2010

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