A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about tokyo

On to Japan! - arrival

I'm in Japan, it's 5 AM and I'm wide awake. Staying at the Hilton in Narita tonight and planning to meet up with Robin and Michele in the morning. The flight was fine - had a nap and watched Godzilla (naturally!). Took a few photos of Business class on Delta. Here's a typical seat (on a 777). Nice seats with a million controls, including back massage mmmmm.... massage!

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Fall colors were just about at their peak in Michigan when I left - one of the best displays in years probably because of the series of light frosts and very little wind. Anyway, here's a picture from the plane as we were climbing out of Detroit.
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Here are some pictures of our main meal - shrimp cocktail and drinkies to start.
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followed by corn chowder and apple salad
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Then scallops in prosciutto
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And a dessert cart
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We had a snack later (I slept through it) and breakfast before arrival but I'm not going to go all instagrammy over food!

Arrived around 7 pm local time and wandered over to the hotel for the night. The only picture I have taken of Japan so far is this one -
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I have always found UAC's interesting since I did a couple of rubbings of them in England back in the'60's. They are frequently ignored but often carefully crafted beyond the utilitarian minimum. By the way, UAC is my neologism for the iron things that cover holes in the street - Utility Access Cover; obviously calling them 'manhole' is inappropriate and the world hasn't yet decided on a more appropriate term. 'Personhole?' I don't think so!

Posted by tdeits 13:44 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo food on board delta Comments (0)

No Robots AT ALL

semi-overcast 74 °F
View RTW Oct - Dec 2014 on tdeits's travel map.

After the madness of Sunday, I planned a quieter day while Robin and Michele visited friends. Decided on museum hopping. Sadly, I forgot the First Rule of Global Museum Visiting - All museums are closed on Monday everywhere!! Never forget this, grasshopper - it will save you much anguish in your travels.

Undaunted, I wandered around through some parks and residential areas near the Koto area with no clear aim. I did discover an interesting item related to my search for unusual UAC's (Utility Access Covers - see the On to Japan post for what this is all about). The sidewalks were decorated with beautiful inset ceramic tiles with a nature theme and styles that varied street-by street. Here are some examples.

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I also encountered what has to be the worlds largest pedestrian bridge. Yes, that speck on the right side of the bridge is an entire pedestrian!

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I decided to take an afternoon run down to Yokohama. It's a pretty easy and inexpensive hour or so on Japan Rail commuter trains to get there. The area I walked through (between the Yokohama train station and Yokohama Bay) has more in common with Houston than Tokyo. It's all brand new, very car-centric with wide traffic-filled streets and big office buildings. Also some pretty fancy auto dealerships.

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I also ran across a particularly horrifying concept in retail shopping. This is a shop just opened by a Danish chain. The store is designed so that you are forced to go down every single aisle in order to exit the place! And sadly (because pirates are so awesome) it's pirate-themed, to the point that store clerks have to wear pirate hats. arrgh.

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One bit of nature was a crane that allowed me to slowly sneak up on it and get a decent picture.

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Yokohama was also a somewhat more fruitful venue for interesting UAC's - here are a couple.

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Had a fancy dinner at a floating restaurant overlooking the bay for a treat. Delicious brochette of perfectly grilled seafood for a main course with appetizers, soup and dessert. Quite nice.

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Hopped the train home and called it a night.

Posted by tdeits 15:02 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo uac yokohama Comments (1)

Robots - The Final Chapter

....or is it?

overcast 71 °F
View RTW Oct - Dec 2014 on tdeits's travel map.

Tuesday was the day for Robin's talk at the University of Tokyo, so getting ready and getting over there consumed most of the day. U Tokyo is a pretty standard university campus, with one attractive and unusual feature - a beautiful 17th century garden and pond (shaped like the character for 'heart').

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The talk went well - both Robin's and the U Tokyo team are friendly rivals in the DARPA Robotics Challenge so there was considerable interest in his work on robot locomotion. Here's Robin in action.

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After the talk we were treated to a tour of their robotics lab, which is just stuffed with robots. We watched an HRP-2 as it opened the door to let us in then loaded a cart and pushed it out of the room. We were served a beverage by a Willow Garage robot (sadly, not a beer - robotic beer delivery being the Holy Grail of robot/human interactions, of course). And saw their Baxter and the robot that did the barista demo at Japan Robot Week. Oh, and another Willow Garage robot. All of these critters in a single lab! Finally, we were introduced to one of their latest projects, a humanoid robot with movement controlled by cables and electrical actuators. Here's Robin getting to know it -

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This robot is intended to help understand human movement, so it is being designed to be as close to human in structure as possible. Does knowing that make it seem a little less creepy? I didn't think so.

We also got to see the robot under development for the DARPA Robotics challenge, but we didn't take any pictures; friendly rivalry only goes so far!

On the way out, I spotted another cool UAC

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We headed to the Ginza for a shabu shabu dinner including Waygu beef to celebrate, and wandered the Ginza for a while.

This was our last day as a group; Robin and Michele head home tomorrow and I head to Korea the next day.

What a start to the adventure!

Posted by tdeits 15:59 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo university uac robots Comments (0)

Japan at your feet

A little side excursion

sunny 87 °F

Well, this is my last post I am pulling together from my great Japan trip. It's something I noticed as we walked all over. Japan is very focused on building infrastructure and one of the places it shows is, of all places, in their sidewalks. As you walk around you notice that utility covers are specialized in every town, featuring things like the local festival, dogs in Akita, seagulls in Hachinohe and on and on. In addition to these attractively utilitarian additions, some neighborhoods have lovely ceramic tiles embedded in the sidewalk that change as you go block to block. One of the tiles below designates a local bike path.

Anyway, I would encourage you to look down now and then - you may be pleasently surprised by what you see!

Here, in no particular order, are some of the city art that we ran across. Some are labeled, some you may be able to guess, and the rest are just there to show how cool they are.

Enjoy!

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Posted by tdeits 14:18 Archived in Japan Tagged art tokyo streets yokohama covers akita kushiro hachinohe morioka aomori utility Comments (0)

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