Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Blogging in Japan

The Japan Times often features bloggers. Today's item was on Brent Warner at Konbini Life blog.

Brent has been writing about some of the interesting and unusual items he's found in Japanese convenience stores (Konbini) since June 2006. Some of his recent finds have been Kiwi Flavoured Kit-Kats, the Moist Smoked Cheese Bar and Bikkle which he describes as "Maybe something like TUMS crushed into liquid form and made drinkable. A bit like drinking bones, in a good way."

According to the Japan Visitor blog there are between 40,000-50,000 konbini stores nationwide. They are renowned for selling all manner of easy to eat items, being open 24hrs, customers browsing the "adult" magazines and being able to pay utility bills . We have one at each end of the road, both are less than three minutes walk away. But we have something even better than that. Almost directly outside our house is a small grocery store run by a very elderly couple. They sell real food, they are always pleased to see us and their prices are no higher than the konbini. They are so sweet, their English is getting better thanks to our frequent purchases, in sharp contrast to our still non existent Japanese language skills.

Saturday's Japan Times item was on how Japanese is the number one language of blogs. A story they also covered before, back in April. Technorati calculated that 37% of the 70 million blogs they monitor are in Japanese and 33% are in English. The newspaper article described one lady who has been blogging every day about what she ate for lunch for three years. She blogs anonymously but she would never dream dream of giving a bad review to a restaurant she had eaten at.

Some previous interviews were with What Japan Thinks and Japan Probe.

In other blogging news : I left a comment on Annie's London Underground blog, which was about sleeping passengers on London's trains needing stickers saying "Wake me at station X". I said :

They need some here in Japan too.
I felt really guilty this week when I saw someone fast asleep on the train coming into Shibuya (the terminal station on my line). Everyone else streamed off after arrival, and then we all streamed on.

He didn't wake up, and no one else who got on, bothered to wake him up, so after 4 minutes the train set off again out of town. He was still blissfully unaware 10 mins later when I got off. I wonder how long before he woke up, poor chap.

I have resolved to always wake up any sleeping passengers at Shibuya from now on.

Someone in Washington DC noticed my comment and it was published in the local free newspaper the Washington Express. Thanks to Heather for spotting that and passing it on.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Seven Natural Wonders of the world

There was lots of publicity about the New Seven wonders of the world recently. Over 100 million people voted for their favorite landmark.

The New Seven Wonders Foundation that ran the poll have just started accepting nominations for their next project The New Seven Wonders of the Natural world.

I've nominated The Grand Tsingy of Bamara in Madagascar. We visited this most incredible rock formation of thousands of limestone pinnacles in 2004. This photo does not do justice to the awesome spectacle.

View of The Grand Tsingy of Bamara in Madagascar. 2004

I also nominated Japan's most revered mountain: Fuji-san, which I have the pleasure of seeing from my office window when the weather is clear.

Nominations must be for a clearly defined natural site or natural monument that was NOT created or significantly altered by humans for aesthetic reasons. Physical or natural phenomena like the northern lights, the gulf stream or shooting stars are not eligible.

The nominees must be one of the following: natural site, natural monument,landscape. There are 15 different categories to select from. If you are very keen, you can organise an official supporting committee to make sure your nomination is able to enter the final round of voting by the world at large.

Since voting, which will commence in 2009, will only be available on the internet or by telephone, this is one competition the Koreans will be very keen to enter. What natural wonder of the world in South Korea or Japan would you nominate?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Seoul on the Jubilee line?

As you may remember, one of my interests is the London Underground, so this map caught my eye:

London Underground style map of transit systems of the world

Thanks to a blog called Strangemaps.The caption reads“This playful diagram shows all the cities which have, are building or are planning to construct an urban rail system. It is the opening page of a new book about the graphic design of subway, metro, underground and U-Bahn system maps and diagrams.”

I like the way the six cities in South Korea with subway systems have been represented as stations on what is the Jubilee line on the London Underground Map and Tokyo is shown at the end of the Central line.

Credit for the map goes to Mark Ovenden, author of the book Transit Maps of the World which was published recently by Penguin USA.

Here's the real London Underground map to compare it with :

London Underground Map from TFL website

Geoff used to have a great collection of spoof London Underground maps, until TFL got the lawyers on to him. Luckily there are plenty of mirror sites of the collection. I wonder what TFL lawyers will have to say about this one?

Update: Thanks to a commenter who said:
The "Urban Rail systems" map was produced with the full support of TfL for the "Transit Maps of the World" book, which is why it was sanctioned to use the official "New Johnston" font (one of only a handful of non London Transport sources ever permitted to use it).

And if you want to hear a great story about what a good bloke Mark the author is, read this story at House of Jules about how much trouble he went to, to get a signed copy of the book to one keen fan.

Update 2: Thanks to Annie at Going Underground Mark Ovenden has a special offer for the first 50 people who buy a new copy of the book through amazon ( or .com) - a signed copy of the World Metro Map promotional poster for the book.
To qualify for the signed poster simply email a copy of your amazon sales confirmation to and remember to give your postal address.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

IT Job with Top Investment Bank in Seoul

I work for a prestigious investment bank that is recruiting IT support staff for the equities trading floor in the heart of Seoul's business district. There are two positions open, they require hands-on support of a wide range of business-critical applications and leading-edge technologies. The roles are varied and dynamic, with the opportunity to manage projects and to be directly involved in IT procurement.

Both roles require good technical skills in a Windows desktop environment. Knowledge of Market Data Systems and Linux experience would be an advantage.
The candidates are also expected to be fluent in English and Korean and to have a good education to at least university degree level.

Please submit your resume here. I guarantee a response within 48 hours.
All applications will be treated with complete confidentiality.
Update: These positions are still available.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Matsumoto and Nakanoyu Onsen

Here's a couple of photos from our recent trip to Matsumoto and Nakanoyu Onsen.
This was the view from the window of our room.

view from window at Nakanoyu Onsen, Japan

This is the castle at Matsumoto:

Castle at Matsumoto