Friday, August 29th, 2014

Otaku no Video!

by Warren

Confession time: I was an anime fan in the early 90s. Back then it was tough to find anime, and watching the stuff was difficult, with 4th generation fansubbed VHS tapes regarded as a major find. Anime was a predominantly male (and Asian) hobby at the time, something that has massively shifted over the last two decades.


Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

My Japan Times article on the Sharp Galapagos tablet

by Warren

Can’t believe I forgot to post this earlier, but I wrote an article for the Japan Times last week about Sharp’s Galapagos tablet, a pad device aimed straight at the Japanese market. Sharp claims otherwise, but “Galapagos” has become a term to define the uniqueness and weakness of the Japanese mobile phone market, which created some of the most advanced and esoteric phones on the market, in a sealed environment where innovation was allowed to flourish but never interact with the outside world.

With the onset of the iPhone, that market is crumbling. I personally see many, many iPhones everywhere in Tokyo, and that has to strike fear into the heart of every Japanese cell provider (other than Softbank, presumably making a killing by offering the iPhone exclusively in Japan.)

So I don’t hold out much hope for this Sharp tablet. They may know something I don’t, but I can’t see a device like this competing in any way with the iPad.

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Japanese capsule hotels become homeless haven

by Warren

Way back in 1984, William Gibson took the then new phenomenon of the Japanese capsule hotel, a place for salarymen to rest their head when they’d missed the last train home, and turned it on its ear as a last chance saloon for his criminal protagonist. While the capsule hotel hasn’t yet become a den of villainy, it is a new alternative for the many otherwise homeless Japanese desperately looking for work. While the Japanese economy continues to tank, many are turning to the tiny self-contained bunks as their last resort before hitting the streets.

I’ve never been to a capsule hotel, but I have been to Tokyo several times, most recently this October, and the homeless problem is definitely getting worse. What was at first an anomaly is now if not common place than certainly more noticeable. With an aging population and a seemingly intractable economic mess, it’s hard to see how this problem will get solved anytime soon.