Azabu Juban Festival

Azabu Juban is an area in Tokyo where many of the embassies are located- Embassies of Russia, China, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Taiwan, Norway, Finland, South Korea, Iran, France and Greece, etc.

That is whey they are able to hold this exciting event "Azabu Juban Festival" each year, and I was able to pay a visit with several friends from EDD(English Dinner Party that we've been doing for maybe 10 years now...?).

This year the "international bazaar" section where each of the embassies sells their local cuisine counted 30 booths.

Syria stand with Paella

Syria  boothpaella
Photos CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki

Swedish stand with meat balls

Swedish booth
Photos CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki

Palestinian stand with Palestinian cous cous and samosa

palestine booth
Photos CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki

Turkish stand with Shish kebab

turkey booth
Photos CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki

They also have a section where all the Japanese local cuisine from all over Japan provides the stands. There were 45 of them this year.


Photos CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki


Akita kiritanpo
Photos CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki


Photos CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki

They even had Don Perignon tower :)

Don Perignon tower
Photos CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki

After walking around for a while, we went to Le Petit Tonneau, a French restaurant with an excellent view of the center of Azabu Juban.

view from Le Petit Tonneau
Photos CC-BY-NC-SA by Fumi Yamazaki

If you are around in Tokyo during summer next year, make sure you try it out. It's a lot of fun. They have food booths, merchandise booth, live performances, etc. It's huge and crowded- 400,000-500,000 people comes in 3 days.

Official website


Living with iPhone 3G in Japan

According to an article on CNN, 3 million iPhones has been sold in first month worldwide.

One month after its debut, Apple's new iPhone has hit the 3 million sold mark, according to analyst Michael Cote of the Cote Collaborative.

Apple has not confirmed that number, but at least we know that they sold 1 million iPhones in 3 days.

CUPERTINO, California—July 14, 2008—Apple® today announced it sold its one millionth iPhone™ 3G on Sunday, just three days after its launch on Friday, July 11. iPhone 3G is now available in 21 countries—Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and the US—and will go on sale in France on July 17.

“iPhone 3G had a stunning opening weekend,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “It took 74 days to sell the first one million original iPhones, so the new iPhone 3G is clearly off to a great start around the world.”

So how is iPhone doing in Japan? Apple and Softbank are both not releasing the numbers, but it looks like is having some difficulty.

BCN released the sales ranking(Japanese) of cell phones in Japan based on the POS data. iPhone was not in best 10- iPhone 3G 16GB was in 13th place, iPhone 3G 8GB was 48th place as of data on 2008/8/27-9/2.

FujiSankeiBusiness released an article about this, and according to the article, people expected 1million iPhone units to be sold, only 200 thousand has been sold so far.

Why did this happen? If you search on Google "the reason why I won't buy iPhone" you'll find a bunch of people writing "3 reasons I won't buy iPhone""7 reasons I won't buy iPhone""10 reasons I won't buy iPhone" etc.

Personally, the direct reason I bought iPhone 3G was because I have injured my back a month ago. Carrying my Mac Book Pro all the time had become a pain, and as an alternative to that, I am using iPhone. It is more of a mobile PC rather than a cell phone for me.


I am quite satisfied with my iPhone so far - except for several issues:

1) battery last so short that I need to charge it very often
2) can't view websites with Flash or Java
3) network reception is very unstable- I lose 3G connection so often- even in places where my other 3G Softbank cell phone works, and other people's iPhone works
4) camera quality is low
5) no video camera
6) have lots of issues in Japanese input (at least for me... )
7) No neckstraps - seriously, I think I might drop my iPhone some day.
8) No One-Seg digital TV tuner
9) No Felica (e-wallet) function

10) was supposed to be the price- until Softbank announced a price reduction on 8/5. Having iPhone in Japan was very expensive, as you needed to pay 5,985yen (60USD) flat fee packet price + 980yen for voice + 315yen for internet connection + price for the hardware (2,880yen * 24 months for 8GB model, 3,360yen * 24 months for 16GB model). There is 1,920yen discount, so the actual amount paid would be 8,240 yen per month for 8G model, 8,720 yen for 16GB model. It was pretty expensive- and Softbank announced to reduce the price. Instead of forcing 5,985yen flat rate packet price, they announced to make the pricing range from 1,695yen to 5,985yen maximum.

Why did Softbank make this price reduction?
1) Sales of iPhone has slown down - when I went to Softbank shop 2 weeks after the launch, there was nobody in line, and I could get any iPhone (white or black, 8GB or 16GB) very easily. Geeks / heavy users rushed to buy them on the launch, non-geeks / light users found it too expensive. Softbank needed to reduce the price to get non-geeks.
2) Softbank has less infrastructure compared to NTT Docomo and au.There are already network complaints from the users. By abolishing the packet flat rate price, they want the users to use wifi more to save cost, which is also good for Softbank to save the network bandwidth.

As for network issue, although I sometimes have issues, I think it is far better than the situation in US:

A huge thread on Apple's discussion boards has sprung up related to problems that iPhone 3G users say they are experiencing with AT&T's network, and I received several e-mails from CNET readers following last week's Ask the Editors session reporting similar problems. It's not clear at the moment exactly what is causing the issue, but it has some iPhone 3G early adopters up in arms.

The most common complaint seems to be poor reception in areas that are known to have a strong 3G signal. AT&T's 3G network is not nearly as pervasive as its EDGE one, but its Web site claims that 3G coverage is available in large cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, as well as smaller metropolitan areas like Sacramento, Calif., Tulsa, Okla., and Hartford, Conn.

As for the iPhone application sales, I think the Japanese developers are doing quite well- I see many of their applications in Top25 list.

According to an article in Wall Street Journal,iPhone application downloaded from App Store counted more than 60 million and although most of them are free software, total sales over the month is $30 million. (Apple gets 30% and the creator gets 70%), so I think there is a big chance for the Japanese developers.

In the month since Apple opened an online software clearinghouse called the App Store, users have downloaded more than 60 million programs for the iPhone, Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in an interview at Apple's headquarters. While most of those applications were free, Apple sold an average of $1 million a day in applications for a total of about $30 million in sales over the month, Mr. Jobs said.

There's some of articles on iPhone Apps:
"50 Applications recommendation" by ASCII
"10 applications I can't live without" by Lifehacking.jp

A list of Japanese iPhone application developers

08/10/08 update:

11) No copy and paste. NO COPY AND PASTE!
12) Safari is extremely unstable. mail app is unstable as well.
13) Horrible auto correction. When I put "Fumi" (my name) it always corrects to "Gumi".
14) no emoji -although it looks like they will include emoji on iPhone 2.2 ver
For those of you who don't know what emoji is, check this out.


What is "MIAU"?

MIAU (Movements for the Internet Active Users) is an internet activist group in Japan.

There are not many internet activists and internet activist organizations in Japan. This is probably because the Japanese policy makers are generally conservative/bureaucratic and internet activists find it difficult to work and influence the policy making process. Such facts make the internet activists shrink their activities, and also the general public not being knowledgable about the legal and technological issues during the policy making procedure. However, once a law has passed, it is difficult to abolish it. Therefore, it is important for the public to know, and discuss important issues while it is in the policy making process. Activists who collect information, hold symposiums etc to inform the public, generate public discussion, lobby towards the policy makers representing the consumers, educate the public how to communicate with the policy makers (such as using the "public comment" system of the Japanese government)- are very important for those reasons, in my view.

MIAU was established on October 2007, in order to promote and protect the freedom of the net.

Their activities include:
1) To inform the general public on the information on legal aspects of Internet and digital technology.
-They host symposiums on critical issues on internet-related legal issues, and are going to create a textbook on the internet- not just a book on how to use the internet, but of a real issues, problems on the net and what should be done by the users in order to avoid those problems.

2) To bring technological expertise to the policy making process in Japan.
-Not many policy makers has knowledge on the digital technology, digital cultures and technological problems/issues that the users and society might face. MIAU is trying to provide information in order to make proper decisions in the internet age.

3) To convey information about the Japanese situation, learn from other countries, and collaborate with other digital rights organizations worldwide.

Legal system should not diminish the development of technology, content creation and cultural innovation- it should rather be the opposite if the government wants this country to grow both economically and culturally. However, there are various cases where we see policy makers aiming to prevent such activities. MIAU's activities includes action against such policies. For example:

A)Action against "Illegalizing downloading"

- What is "Illegalizing downloading"?

Under the current copyright law, uploading copyrighted contents without permission are considered to be illegal, and downloading them is not considered illegal. "Illegalizing downloading" is an idea to illegalize downloading illegal files.

-What is the issue?

As it is often difficult for the users to distinguish what is legal and what is not, this policy might shrink the user behavior towards content consumption- even for legal contents.

-MIAU has sent a public comment to the government on 2007/11/15 on this matter,
and held a symposium for the public on 2007/12/26.

B) Informing the public as well as moderating the discussion over "Dubbing 10"

-what is Dubbing 10?

Dubbing 10 is a new system enforced from July 4th, 2008 - a system to protect copyright in the Japanese digital TV broadcasting. Until Dubbing 10 was enforced, "Copy Once" system was implemented, and you could only copy the recording of digital TV once. Copy Once was enacted because allowing to copy digital TV more than once was considered to have the potential of damaging DVD sales of movies (as digital copying will not diminish the quality of the videos compared to analogue copying). However, users suffered from this "Copy Once"system, as when the copying failed for some reason, there was no way they can copy the contents anymore- and in the worst case, the original file would sit in the hard disc forever as you can't copy to other media such as DVD-Rs- and the idea of Dubbing 10 was proposed.

-what was the issue?

When the new system "Dubbing 10" came to be in question, content owners insisted that allowing to copy more than once should mean that the manufacturers should pay some subsidy to content owners, and the manufacturers insisted that as there is a limit (10 times) to the copying, they should not be liable to compensate to the content owners, and this became a long debate that lasted for 4 years.

In Japan, the media industry still believes in the old style business model where TV is broadcasted just once, and if users wanted to see that content, they should purchase packaged media such as DVDs. Copy Once and Dubbing 10 discussion has its root cause in such business model. Putting TV contents online is still thought to be a taboo except for some companies which are starting to create new business models online.

-MIAU has held a symposium for the public on 2008/1/16 on this matter.

C) Action against "Internet regulation bill"

-what is "Internet regulation bill"?
This bill is aimed to prevent children under 18 years of age to have access to "harmful" contents on the internet which contains violence, pornography, drugs etc. This bill has passed the Diet on June 11th 2008 and will be enforced within a year. Mobile careers must provide content filtering service, internet service providers must take action to promote content filtering services, site owners must take action to prevent children to watch harmful contents.

-what was the issue?

There were lots of questions and objections raised to this bill, major ones are as follows: 1) Who decides what is harmful and what is harmless? 2) Would there be punishment for this law (...the answer is no) 3) Is there a real efficacy of this law if there is no punishment? 4) Is there a real efficacy by the filtering in the first place? 5) This law forces internet related companies to suffer financial burdens 6) It has a large potential to harm Japanese people's freedom of expression and creative activities. Cultural activities on the net such as Keitai shosetsu (mobile novels which is often created by junior high- high schools students) has the possibility to shrink, etc.

Many companies/organizations objected to passing this bill- Rakuten, Yahoo! Japan, DeNA, Microsoft Japan, NetStar, WIDE project, JPNIC, Japan Newspaper Association, The National Association of Broadcasters in Japan, etc.

Because of such objections, although the bill has passed the Diet, the law has taken into consideration much of the opinion presented during the objection, and is going to be enforced for 3 years, and is bound to be reformed after 3 years.

-MIAU has taken an active roll on the opposition activities on this, and held a symposium for the public on 2008/5/1 on this matter.

9/19 update:

MIAU released the "internet literacy textbook" under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license.

This is their textbook-ver1.0 PDF file, and they will be updating this textbook in the future.

This textbook is not a "know-how" book such as how to use excel, how to use Twitter, etc. Its aim is rather to educate the public of what the backgrounds of the social activities that you see in current society and how to cope with them.

In Japan, information such as how to commit suicide or some murder incidents arose because of some website. The government decided to pass the "Internet regulation bill" in order to cope with these problems. On one hand this is an understandable approach, on the other hand 1) it might have negative effects such as oppression towards freedom of speech 2) does not solve the real problem of internet literacy education 3) diminish the competitiveness of the Japanese citizens in the future when they have lower internet literacy.

The real problem lies upon the "information literacy education" of the children and the society, and that is what MIAU is trying to solve.

Here are the 2 highlights that are focused in ver1.0 textbook.

1) Internet is not an "anonymous world"

Most of the problems in the internet world seems to stem from the anonymity. MIAU textbook tells people that the internet is not a completely anonymous world- the logs exist, and if you do bad thing in the internet, people WILL FIND OUT about it.

2) Avoid email addiction

In Japan, many of the children are cell-phone mail addicts, and it is said that some children has rules that you need to reply within 3 minutes whatever you are doing (called 3 minute rule). This is the same as other addiction such as alcohol addicts. MIAU proposes to get away from the cell-phone once in a while to balance between the real life and the net world.


Wonder Festival-2

Wonder Festival report #1 was here:

And here's some more!


Tokusatsu (特撮) literally means "special effects", and it primarily refers to live-action Japanese film and television dramas that make use of special effects.

The most famous of those is Godzilla.

This dealer had a tank of water and smoke in that tank and created a battlefield diorama for his Godzilla

Golden dragon


Kaiser Ghidorah

Other tokusatsu-ish figures:


It looks like some people are selling a lot of Miku :)

Rin & Ren figures


This robot figure can be moved by remote control.

Figure made of coils

Girl fighting robot?

Ingram @ Patlabor!!
See how huge it is. And it says "would someone please take it home?"


Papercraft data of Appolo space craft

Ship garage-kit and girl figure sold together :)

A figure riding on the ship


I talked with a dealer and he says he is a spear creator, not a figure creator. And this is his products. It is not made of metal, so it is not that dangerous.

Found a female soldier with a large weapon

Food creators



kits of soldiers


display with flowers

Some people display original picture with the figure

Some does cosplay of the figure

Yoyogi Animation Gakuin

It looks like Yoyogi Animation Gakuin (school) has special make-up class and they had a booth.

Yoyogi Animation Gakuin had a booth for their figure class too.