Results tagged “Tokyo” from kwc blog

IREX 2007 Photos

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Photos set (115 Photos)

Subaru Robots (1) Baby I am Robot Herby Dentist Bot Head

Servo bots playing soccer and laser tag:

Robo Soccer Robot Laser Tag

A concierge robots, including one with a virtual robot concierge on its chest:

Aro - Concierge Inside a Concierge Service Robot Enon

Tiny, tiny motors:

Tiny Namiki Motors

Hands:

Squse Hand (1) Yaskawa Hand Hand with non-functional ultrasonic wrist (1) Hand

Freaky dentist bot and contemplative Rubics cube solver:

Dentist Bot 2 Motoman Rubics Cube Solver

Industrial arms:

Kuka 1000kg arm Fanuc candy packaging (1) Fast Toshiba arm Nachi

And more:

Ladybug (1) Kawasaki balancing bot Hexapod Flexpicker Furo Halluc II Comet IV

Photos set (115 Photos)

IREX Robo-One Grand Championship

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I skipped out on the championship to have some delicious teppanyaki. From what I can see of the video of the final battle above, Robo-ONE has really come a long way. I'm not used to the fights actually resembling fights -- this one actually has the feel of an old video game, where your character has a dodge and attack that must be carefully timed to your opponent.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

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Toyko Metropolitan Government Building Toyko Metropolitan Government Building

I didn't even have to do a single bit of processing to capture how impressive oppressive the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building really is. Its huge size makes it seem as if it were responsible for the grayness around it, though I'm sure its better on a sunny day. Bulky angles dominate its bulky Kenzo Tange design, which until 2006 was the tallest building in Tokyo at 799 ft/48 stories. Building #1 towers over the Shinjuku skyline with its dual Neo-Gothic pillars, which are advantageous for tourists trying to getting a great (and free) view of Tokyo from above. My overall impression was that it was comedy: the Tokyo government headquartered in a building perfect for the set of a fascist movie.

Toyko Metropolitan Government Building Toyko Metropolitan Government Building Toyko Metropolitan Government Building Toyko Metropolitan Government Building

Omotesando Hills, Tadao Ando, Tokyo, 2005

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Omotesando Hills is one of Omotesando's latest forays into the world of luxury-eccentric architecture for retail shops (e.g. Herzog and de Meuron's Prada Building). It occupies a long stretch of Omotesando, partly obscured by trees, and with only a few retails shop on the outside. The repeating glass panels on the external facade aren't very exciting, though they are dressed up at night with a light display that emulates silhouettes of people's legs walking (video). There is also a small stream of water that flow adjacent to the building and flows along the slope of the street. One consequence of the sloped street is that the retail shops on the outside gradually climb up the facade of the building as you walk alongside.

Omotesando Hills - Ando Omotesando Hills - Ando Omotesando Hills - Ando Omotesando Hills - Ando

Ando connects the interior to the outside by echoing these external design elements: walking, slope, trees, and water. A odd speaker stick fills the mall with ambient water noises, flowing silhouettes of leaves are projected onto the floor, and images of stick-figure people walking adorn many of the walls. Slope is the connecting design of the interior in the form of continuously ascending ramps set around a thin triangular perimeter. The ramps create a series of convergence lines at the apex that are fun to photograph, though I must admit they aren't quite as impressive in person. A long stairway fills the apex of the triangle while escalators occupy the base. They, too, are fun to photograph.

Omotesando Hills - Ando Omotesando Hills - Ando

Omotesando Hills - AndoNothing can change the fact that the interior is ultimately a mall. Retail shops line the outside perimeter, though there position is made slightly more difficult because of the continuous slope. Like Ando's Collezione down the street, Omotesando Hills has a difficult problem: it's hard to transcend the nature of a shopping complex, even if you throw water and trees at it.

Not all have appreciated the new mall. Many of the rants I've read against it center on the fact it replaced the old Dojunkai Apartments. And by old, I mean 1927 old. Although there seems to be general agreement that the apartments were dilapated, some saw the apartments as a sign of an old cultural past of Omotesando that should be preserved. I only have the perspective of someone who has seen the new and I remain neutral: Ando's building fits in with the current luxury eccentric character and could even be called tame in comparison, but it is difficult to be enamored of a mall.

Ometesando Hills photos

Collezione, Tadao Ando, Tokyo, 1989

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Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-10 Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-09

Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-04 Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-03

Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-22 Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-23

Tadao Ando - Collezione - Tokyom and I explored Tadao Ando's Collezione building late one night in Tokyo. After one wanders to the far end of Omotesando, past the Prada Building and many other similar bauble-ly buildings, you stumble across the almost non-descript Collezione building -- you might even find yourself turning back before you even reach it.

It was nice to explore the building with no one else but me and m around -- it certainly made the photography easier. It is overpowered by the rest of the high-priced Omotesando shops and in isolation is lacking some of the natural elements that I enjoy in Ando's work. Nevertheless, the combination of a circular core and rectilinear surrounding structures made for some fun exploring.

I included both color and B&W comparisons above. One archetypal style of Ando building photos is high contrast B&W to show off the concrete, but I also wanted to document how the building is actually lit up. I'm no longer sure how accurate the color photos are, though, as the different types of lighting played havoc with my camera and I took these photos over a half a year ago.
Tadao Ando - Collezione - Tokyo

Collezione - Tadao Ando - Photoset (31 photos)

Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-30 Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-16 Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-17 Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-15 Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-13 Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-11

Back

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No time for full posts, but some random bits:

  • In a correction to my previous Japan trip log, I'd like to proudly state that I now have a DS Lite. ota, m, and I waited in line at the Ikebukuro Toys R' Us and were able to pick some up. I promptly bought a copy of old-school Dr. Mario, which doesn't use the capabilities of DS Lite in the least, but I'm looking forward to trying some other games out. I did pick up a copy of the 'America' travel assitant, which I will play around with to see if it is good enough for reverse English->Japanese usage.
  • Jangara Ramen in Akihabara/Omotesando makes me sad to eat ramen in the US again.
  • All-you-can-eat food in Japan is awesome. We had all-you-can-eat dessert at Sweets Paradise in Ginza for ~$13 and all-you-can-eat shabu shabu at Mo Mo Paradise in Shinjuku for ~$15. I suggest that you visit these places first when visiting Japan, as your stomach will start to shrink from the smaller Japanese food portions the longer you're there. I think I lost weight despite the constant consumption of highly sugared vending machine drinks.
  • I think I should have been using Japanese soap and shampoo my whole life. It's possible that it's the California desert climate, but my half-Japanese skin didn't feel the least bit itchy like it does with US products.
  • Is Karl Rove indicted, or no? I'm confused.
  • Lost is finally going somewhere, just in time for the season finale this week. It sure does make me think that the entire first half of the season was a waste.
  • TiVo let me down on recording the Giro di Italia. Bad TiVo!

Tokyo day 1+2

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This post should actually go before the previous, but it's hard to tell which way time is running when you're in Tokyo. Mike had to remind me that today is Monday, not Tuesday. Instead of returning every night to Saitama, where we're staying, part of me thinks that I should just stay on the Yamanote line, get off whereever I wake up, and repeat as necessary as Tokyo is already a blur linked together by the Yamanote circle. But Saitama is actually quite nice as Neil's friend has lent us an apartment, which gives us tons of space to recharge ourselves and our camera batteries. The slightly less dense neighborhoods in Saitama also ensure that the awesomely gigantic feeling of Tokyo is fresh every morning when we arrive.

On our first day in Tokyo, we managed to walk through Harajuku, Omotesando, Roppongi Hills, and Shibuya. We had very good guides, without whom we wouldn't have been able to see so many sites spread across Tokyo. Each of these spots was overwhelming in it's own way. Roppongi Hills was architecturally ginormous, Shibuya was super dense, and Harajuku had an impressive level of dress-up.

We struck out on our own on our second day using y's notebook guide, which so far has led us to delicious ramen (Jangara Ramen in Akihabara) and all-you-can-eat dessert (Sweets Paradise in Ginza). I highly recommend y's guide for those of you that can ask her for a copy ;). The Akihabara/Ginza/Tokyo area was much easier for us to cover on our own as we took it 'easy,' but we still managed to walk a ton. Sitting down for 90-minute-all-you-can-eat dessert and a kabuki play helped a bit, but exploring all the nooks and crannies requires a bit of legwork. I almost felt bad for nearly nodding off during the kabuki play, but then I noticed that many of the other theater patrons had already passed out -- a warm theater at 4:30pm is probably not the best audience to perform to. Kabuki was interesting, but I think it's probably too difficult to appreciate from the nosebleed seats as even the theater binoculars I purchased didn't help me see the performer's faces very well. Next time I'll probably shell out for the closer seats. I also want to figure out the performer's stage names so i can give a hearty yell of encouragement to keep the blood flowing ("Yamatoya!").

Akihabara is awesome

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... but if I lived there I would quickly spend all my money on every gadget and toy ever known. I visited both the old Akihabara with the various small shops with various specialties as well as Yodabashi Camera, which is pretty much Akibahara sanitized and compressed into a single giant building. My purchases were as varied as Akihabara: a SATA/IDE to USB converter, model Shinkansen trains, an LED light on a cellphone strap, a Godzilla toy out of a capsule machine, an R2-D2 bottle cap, and pixel blocks for recreating Nintendo sprites. Yes, a bunch of crap, but now I own it all. I would have bought a radio and hopups for my unfinished R/C car if only I had a bit more room and actually remembered what I needed.

One of the coolest things I saw was that they have video games where you use trading cards to control the action. In a military strategy game, you manuever and command your units by moving their cards across the table. In a soccer game, you control your lineup by positioning your player cards on the table. We tried one of the more boring card games that just involves sticking your cards into the machine, but we didn't get beyond the tutorial section -- that darn goblin just wouldnt die!

I also saw a Nintendo DS Lite for the first time. I would buy one if they weren't sold out everywhere. I didn't fully understand the coolness of that platform until y's sister showed me an America travel program that teaches American English. It fully utilizes the two screens of the DS. If you select a phrase to 'say' something in English, you can display that phrase upside down on the top screen so that the person you're talking to can read it. You can also use the touch screen to practice writing English phrases displayed on the top screen. There's currently programs for America, Germany and Thailand, among others, but that's not too helpful for me as they are all in Japanese. I wish that all of our Japan guides could be compressed onto a signle DS cartridge.

Off to Japan

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Stage 1: AAMAS Conference in Hakodate, Japan

Stage 2: Fun in Tokyo

Stage 3: ?

There probably won't be a stage 3 as I don't imagine I'll run out of things to do in Tokyo, though I do have a hankering to visit more of the Kansai region, seeing as I have spent most of my time in Japan either on Kyushu or Okinawa.

I have no plans to post from Japan, but I should hopefully get some photos of cherry blossoms from Hakodate. pqbon was generous enough to lend me a wide-angle lens, which will definitely help with some of the shots I'm planning on taking.

Final thought before leaving: I think I spent more time making sure my TiVo would be okay while I was gone than I did packing.

The Week in Links

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For the engineer that prefers applied math, there's this guide to cracking Master Locks, which explains some of the math behind how Master Lock chooses combinations as well as some hands-on technique for getting the last number in the combination. You should be able to narrow the number of possible combinations down to 100 for any particular lock. For the "I'm a Ph.D mathematician, applied stuff is for wusses," there is the McNugget number, which (I hope) is keeping some theoretical math major busy somewhere (and safely off the streets).

In the world of architecture, the Torres de Calatrava look pretty cool (gallery 1, gallery 2). Not having seen Calatrava-style skyscrapers before, I wonder what Calatrava's New York City might have looked like, in comparison to the imagined NYC's of Norman Foster, Gaudi, and Spielberg.

There were a bunch of historical links this week. In light of current dollar/yen investment issues, let us harken back to the day of the One Yen bill, facilitated by this nice overlay of Tokyo in 1948 and 1992. For those of you who prefer historical comparisons via sequential art, this tour of Batman logos over the years shows some of the 20th century's best and worst graphic design, but which one did the caped crusader battle under when he made his greatest boner?

Staying in the 1940s, we can look at these World War 2 color photos. They could add even more photos to the collection using this really interesting colorization technique for black and white photos/video that only requires some scribbled color hints (I wonder if the technique would work on these 1910 Paris flood photos).