Washoku dinner with the Idea editors

Yesterday I was treated to dinner by the Idea editors. We went to a famous tofu restaurant where we had washoku in the traditional way; small plates served one after the other. We drank beer and sake. My friend Kohei from Berlin joined us too, he stays at my place now. I was given the new issue of Idea magazine, which I saw being printed a couple of weeks ago. This issue focuses on French designers.

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This event beautifully marks the end of my autumn in Japan.

Shibuya Publishing & Booksellers

I visited Shibuya Books yesterday, a publisher and book shop that stocks interesting art books and magazines from around the world. Since 2011 they also sell some of my publications.

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We started off at the famous Shibuya crossing.

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Shibuya Publishing.

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Brutus logotype designed by Masahiro Shintani.

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Swedish designer Lisa Larson is popular in Japan.

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The photo book I published was almost sold out. Upon its release, it was recommended by Shibuya Books on their blog.

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A coloured manga based on a Ghibli movie. Maybe the equivalent of those novels based on screenplays that are published in the West.

Last night at Vacancy Office

Yesterday there was another after work party at Vacancy Office in Gotanda, the coworking space where I’ve worked the most. At the beginning of the evening, everyone introduced themselves and said a few words about what kind of work they were doing.

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The other freelancers, whom I’ve become friends with over the last two months, surprised me with a goodbye “omiyage”: it’s a towel that you can use in the sauna but also wrap around your head at festivals. The kanji 祭 reads “matsuri”, which means “festival”.

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Then we ordered food from a nearby yakitori place.

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Miyagi and I made a quick stop at the local game center for one round of Taiko no Tatsujin.

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Then we joined the others at the yakitori place, where I was treated to beer and grilled sticks of for example Japanese Quail (japansk vaktel) eggs.

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Miyagi, who is from Okinawa, told me that these dogs are traditional Okinawa figures. I saw them at Yusuke’s place too, and in a chapter of Yotsuba-to, in which one of the older sisters came back from her vacation in Okinawa, and gave Yotsuba one of these dogs. Apparently the one with the open mouth is male and the other one female.

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Dinner and donuts in Shibuya

I’ve been to this izakaya before, it’s called Maru-something and is quite close to the Shibuya crossing.

I remember it mainly because their food is so delicious.

I ordered my favourite dish from before – raw tuna, avocado and garlic mayo salad (not pictured) – and Miyagi and Tsuruta ordered “nabe”, which literally means pan, in this case filled with seafood and cabbage in a very tasty tomato sauce. But as usual in an izakaya, you take from all dishes and eat from a small plate.

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We had fried frog too:

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Desert at Krispy Kreme:

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DIY happy meal:

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Designing my own action figure – and printing it on a 3D printer

At Fab Café in Shibuya they have 3D printers and laser cutters. Most of the Christmas decorations in the café seemed to be made on those machines. Very creative atmosphere in general, the girl in this photo seems to be making music:

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I spent 45 minutes designing a little action figure in a 3D sculpting app on Miyagi’s ipad. Miyagi had designed a dog. I improvised and learned the program as I sculpted.

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Then the staff helped us to print our figures, which cost 1,400 yen each.

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The staff adjusted the size of the figure so that it would take under 30 minutes to print it, since after 30 minutes you have to pay more.

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Gluing up the platform where the figure will be printed:

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A bottom plate is added automatically, so that the figure can stand up:

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This is halfway through. My figure took 20 minutes to print, Miyagi’s dog took 28 minutes because it needed more goop.

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Voilà, Miyagi’s dog and my … alien? I think I made the head a bit too big. Miyagi’s dog needed some “support goop”, I think that should be taken away manually after printing.

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Some of the Christmas decorations that were made at the café:

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It was fun to see a 3D printer in action and to print my own action figure, but at the same time I must say that it’s a bit funny with all this fascination about the physical object. After all, we have just learned to read books digitally instead of on paper; we’ve got used to the idea that the physical book is nothing more than “printed content”. With 3D printers we go in the opposite direction: It’s not enough to just fathom the object I created digitally – we want the 3D printout. Maybe the fascination in part is due to our otherwise totally digital society.

My own fascination with 3D printers is that the technology is in such an early phase. We gathered around the 3D printer, photographed and filmed it, in pretty much the same way as we did in my high school 20 years ago when the new printer produced a colour print. Which took about the same time. I figure 3D printers will develop in the same way, and that we will look back and laugh when thinking about how long time it took to print a simple figure back in 2013, and with such a crappy resolution at that.

Earlier this year I read Jaron Lanier’s book Who Owns the Future? He describes a future where any object can be printed on 3D printers, which will be extremely advanced and will print in many different materials. 3D printers might change the world in the same way that the printing press and the internet did. It could kill off the whole traditional manufacture industry when everyone just prints the objects they want. But at the same time it would create a new industry that would produce all the 3D printers. Which in theory could be printed too in bigger 3D printers, and those printers … Yes, it’s a very theoretical or philosophical book, but give it a couple of hundred years and the future he describes doesn’t feel impossible at all. And it’s when you have that perspective that you get a thrill from printing a simple figure on a 3D printer in a small café in Shibuya.

Reporting live from the tallest building in Tokyo

After arriving in Roppongi we had vending machine dinner and then headed for Mori tower, which is … well, I erred in the headline. With 238 meters it’s apparently the 6th tallest building in Tokyo. And except those five taller buildings, as in normal buildings, there are also the two towers.

However, 238 meters is pretty high when you’re allowed to walk around on the roof! I’ve climbed Tokyo Sky Tree as well – which is not only Tokyo’s but the world’s tallest tower – but there we were not allowed to go outside, thank god. As a comparison, Sweden’s tallest building (Turning Torso in Malmö) is 190 meters.

Fierce views, and surprisingly warm. Unfortunately I had only brought my phone camera, which is very bad in darkness, but you can still get an idea.

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At the bottom of the building we found a German Christmas market, so I bought Yusuke some Glühwein.

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Roppongi Hills is quite exclusive and upscale. I hadn’t been here since my first visit in October 2011.

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Then about 7 rounds of Taiko no Tatsujin (each round is 3 songs). I’m starting to get better and won a few times. This was some kind of “special edition short time only” machine, so it had some new songs, and also gave different drum patterns to each player during certain parts of the songs. I fucking love this game and am really happy to be able to bring it home to Europe – including two (!) fat drum controllers that take up most of my luggage.

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As you can see in my post from yesterday, Taiko no Tatsujin is the best-selling game in Japan at the moment (for the Wii console). The Wii and Wii U versions of the game, and the huge drum controllers, are piled up in all game shops. So it’s a very popular game here, and still there has been no release outside Asia!

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Sightseeing in Tokyo

Yusuke took me to Tokyo today, which might sound strange, since we both live in Tokyo. But there’s also a train station called Tokyo, so it was in that area we walked around in the hour before the sun set. We started at department store Daimaru, more precisely the bakery floor in the basement, where Yusuke bought us a popular cake made from sweet potato.

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And this is the Tokyo station building, I like the contrast to the skyscrapers behind it:

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Strolling through the open spaces around the Imperial Palace. I think …

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This sign shows how many people died in traffic in Tokyo yesterday. It can be seen on several places in Tokyo and acts as a reminder to take care.

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The National Diet:

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Then we tried to find the best way to Roppongi, but I’ll make that a new post.