If you have ever visited Japan you can’t have failed to notice the many huge game centers or arcades in every bigger city or shopping center. Usually they do not allow photography, especially not with huge cameras like the ones I lug around, but this one was big enough and interesting enough that didn’t even need to enter it to take some photos. Most Tokyo game centers are geared towards teenagers and adult while this one had quite a few rides and games marketed towards much younger children. I would have loved these when I was four, and the Transformers shooting game would have been great when I was nine! This one was in a shopping center in Tsukuba City, in Ibaraki Prefecture.
Christmas is coming and Christmas trees, decorations and light shows are going up all over Tokyo. One of the more spectacular ones is the big tree in the middle of Omotesando Hills, a shopping center in the fashionable Omotesando district. On the hour every other there’s a bit of a special light and music show at the base of the tree above the very attractive miniature winter town. In fact the whole tree is decorated with miniatures and great fun to watch both from a far and up close. If you are passing by I recommend a quick stop to visit the tree!
If you find yourself in the neighborhood of the Ias Tsukuba shopping center in Ibaraki prefecture north east of Tokyo you could consider visiting the Cyberdyne Studios gallery on the second floor of the center. It is a gallery showcasing the robot and exoskeleton technology currently being developed at Tsukuba University as well as a selection of other man and machine cultural artifacts: Iron Man, a Terminator, something from the Evangelion series and some historic robots including Elektro and his dog Sparky that were showed to the public on the 1939 New York World Fair. There are also a whole bunch of robots and vehicles from the 1985 Tsukuba World Fair. The addition of a robotic design studio to a shopping center is no coincidence, as the nearby Tsukuba University has ambitions to become one of the world leaders in robotics and are already prototyping several kinds of exoskeletons for farm and field workers, some of which are seeing commercial use starting this year.
The most famous Cyberdyne products are the HAL line of exoskeleton for medical and therapeutic use that allows disabled people greater mobility and strength.
Passing by Omotesando Hills last week I saw this rather blingy Christmas tree outside the Omotesando Hills shopping gallery in Tokyo’s fashionable Omotesando District. Sponsored by Moet & Chandon Champagne, couples are encouraged to enter the golden bath tub and have your photo taken! Unfortunately there were no takers when I was there!