Day trip to Kawagoe

Kawagoe is an old and small city north of Tokyo. It is famous for its old Edo architecture.

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Public announcement from the train company, something like “This train is not your private talk show”, meaning keep your voice down. They have this kind of how-to-behave posters in the Berlin subway too. I don’t remember seeing them in Stockholm.

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Very old and famous tower:

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Free of charge area to relax. Maybe more popular in the summer.

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Hot lemon:

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Some kind of old trick to protect the city from invading enemies:

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People write their wishes on these wooden bricks. Almost all were about wanting to pass a test.

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But this one was about wanting to marry a girl:

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Persimmon/Kaki fruits:

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The thieves’ bridge:

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As so often, we ended our day in Tachikawa with games and sauna. I won once at Taiko no Tatsujin.

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After work shopping in Ueno and Akihabara

After work I took the Yamanote line together with my coworker Miyagi to Ueno, where he showed me some bike shops.

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The new Cannondale Caad 10 frame, 2014 model.

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You might remember I saw the 2013 model of Cannondale Caad 10 in Okutama (my own Caad 10 is a 2012):

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I wanted to get this bell, but then it hit me that someone stole my last bell – unscrewed it from my bike, a totally regular bell. Another time someone had loosened the screws on my front wheel, just “for fun”. So I don’t think this looker would last long on the hard streets of Neukölln. I bought a detachable back light instead. (Of course I’m talking about my regular bike now, not the road bike, which lives in my apartment.)

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Then we strolled to Akihabara, where Miyagi, who is an engineer, showed me some small electronics stores. Dinner and beer at Tendon Tenya.

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This is Raspberry Pi! I wanted to get one of those some months ago, but decided I had enough hobbies. Maybe some other time.

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We ended up at Yodobashi Akiba.

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Many men flocked around the 3D printers.

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Nice goop.

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Here’s a more rough 3D printer that we found in one of the smaller stores. Some of the printed items (or well, one of them) also differ a bit from those in Yodobashi.

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Another 4 kg sent home with surface mail. Not so heavy, but huge box, containing all 6 action figures I’ve bought. Have a safe trip, Ryouma, Pitto, Yotsuba and whatever the rest of you were called.

Open Source Café Tokyo

Today I’m working from Open Source Café, a furnished garage in Shimokitazawa. They have an impressive bookshelf full of geek literature. My coworkers today use a Firefox OS phone and a Beaglebone Black mini computer. Apart from their macbooks and iphones of course. Later today we’ll attend a WordPress event in the adjacent garage (where I worked a couple of weeks ago). The old Mac in the corner is an original 512K.

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Sunday evening in Shinjuku

I think I did okay on JPLT N3, and it would be a shame otherwise considering I wrote the same level exactly one year ago! The sound stopped working in the beginning of the listening test, so after some confusion our test sheets were collected and we were asked to peel off the sticker with our number from the desk. We were then led in exact order into a new classroom with identical desk layout, where we sat down and pasted our sticker on our new desk. And then the test started anew.

Afterwards I had washoku (traditional Japanese food) and beer with Yusuke in Shinjuku. Plus some gaming.

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Yodobashi Shinjuku

Ever since I discovered Yodobashi Akiba back in 2011, it’s been one of my favourite shops. My co-workers told me that the original Yodobashi Camera was the one in Shinjuku, and then they started singing a song starting “Shinjuku Nishiguchi” (Shinjuku west exit). So that’s why they play the Battle Hymn of the Republic on repeat in all Yodobashi shops, a childish instrumental version. Here’s a cute commercial from 1978 where they sing the “Shinjuku Nishiguchi” text:

Today I started my shopping at Tokyu Hands though, so I chose the minamiguchi – south exit. I’ve found that Tokyu Hands has the best selection of cardboard boxes, which I use to send home things. Here’s a shot from the pedestrian bridge over downtown Shinjuku:

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When I left Tokyu Hands they had lit up the Christmas decorations on Takashimaya Times Square:

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Then I walked to the “nishiguchi” area and found my way to Yodobashi:

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Unlike the other Yodobashi stores, which are all huge department store buildings, Yodobashi Shinjuku is spread out over several blocks in the area west of the station. Outside each store they have a big map that lists which buildings and which floors sells what. I was going for the games, so that’s store number 6 on the map. What I particularly like about maps like this one, is the total absence of English.

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And here’s the main entrance of the main store. I guess it was the first one that opened, and that it grew from there. In any other city an area like this would be torn down and one single huge department store would be built in its place, I imagine.

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I think Yodobashi Camera and their main competitor BIC Camera got their names from the most high-tech gadget of the time when the stores were founded: Cameras. And then the names stuck despite the stores are selling all kind of electronics, and other stuff as well, nowadays. (I write “I think”, because I don’t want to google every single thought.)

Tomorrow I’ll write the JLPT N3 test. Unfortunately I’m neither well prepared nor particularly motivated, believe it or not!