Lightning-fast update

Because of homework and stuff

Well, my courses have been going on for quite a few weeks now and my homework has been steadily increasing, so this’ll be quite a short update on what I’ve been up to recently. Also, I have something more interesting to tell of in an upcoming post.

Tokyo Tower

The tower itself

I finally met up with one of my official buddies again to go to Tokyo Tower. This tower was apparently built to look like the Eiffel Tower, except that for some reason it’s painted in stripes of red and white. It’s roughly as tall as the Sky Tower in Auckland (for those who know New Zealand) so although it’s nowhere near the tallest building in Tokyo you can still get some stunning views from the top. Unfortunately it was cloudy that day, but you get the idea.

Weird when you’re 300m up and still can’t see the edge of the city in any direction

There’s also an aquarium and an amazing crêperie downstairs, along with the inevitable souvenir shops and restaurants.

I love turtles anyway, but this has to be the coolest-looking one I’ve ever seen

The Return to Hiroshima

Last summer I worked for Catalyst New Zealand on a piece of software called Mahara. Later, I was surprised to find out that there a large number of people who use Mahara in Japan, and that they have an annual conference. After having this fact brought to my attention by Catalyst, I ended up going to this year’s Mahara Open Forum in Hiroshima. I was pretty nervous, but thankfully the attendees were both informal and welcoming, so I had fun trying to talk software development in a mixture of Japanese and pidgin English.

I also got the chance to take a picture of the Atomic Bomb Dome in daylight

Russian martial arts

Going to see a demonstration of Russian martial arts as part of some international relations stunt is certainly one of the most unusual things I’ve done with the Aikido club. It was a great day out though and fun to see some traditional Russian sports and costumes!

The man in fur is actually incredibly tall (even by my standards) so he spent most of the day striding through the Japanese crowd like some sort of demi-god
People were encouraged to give everything a go during the afternoon — here the Aikido club captain is being thrown by one of the first-years in a “belt wrestling” match


It’s somewhere Jackie had been trying to take me for ages, but it was only a few weeks ago that we finally made it to Yokohama. For those who don’t know, Yokohama is Tokyo’s port: Near the sea and with plenty of interesting foreign influences.

And they say J. J. Abrams uses too many lens flares …
So one of the things they have in Yokohama is a massive Pokemon store …
And another is the Red Brick Warehouse (which is famous for some reason). Oh, and we happened to visit in the middle of Oktoberfest, so many sausages were eaten and much German beer was drunk
Yokohama is perhaps most famous for its massive Chinatown, home to hundreds of $20 all-you-can-eat restaurants!


Apparently this is quite a big thing, at least in some parts of Tokyo. Unfortunately I had an Aikido event the following morning so I couldn’t stay out as late as I would have liked, but it was still fun being a dapper vampire (first chance I’ve had to wear my formal suit since arriving here) and getting free drinks, free popcorn and free candyfloss in Shibuya.

Yay for panicking about where to find vampire teeth 2 hours before the party, then giving up and using Kiwi ingenuity to make them out of an ice cream container, Sellotape and an orthodontic retainer

Weird things

  • In a bar after the conference, I was introduced to the concept of “frozen beer”. Sadly it turned out to be normal beer with frozen foam on top rather than an actual beer-flavoured snow cone, but it was still a first for me
  • Escalators talk! Most don’t, admittedly, but the ones in the station I always use to get to work say things like “This is an up escalator bound for exit 3” or “This is a down escalator bound for the platform” when you step onto them