Robot Cafe Opens in Sydney

The craziness of the place makes it one of Japan’s most eccentric destinations

Japan has been known all over the world for its innovative, highly advanced, and modern technologies. Apart from this, the Japanese people have also been known as a reserved, intelligent, and composed people. These traits usually attributed to Japanese culture are an extreme contrast to Japan’s wild, eccentric, and quirky side. Underneath all the composure and reserved stature of the Japanese is a fun, out-of-this-world, and unique side. One place that accurately depicts this side of the Japanese is Tokyo’s Robot Café.

Japan’s Robot Café has made headlines for bringing out and bringing to life the craziness of the country’s love for robots. The place, filled with laser lights, neon paint, dancing women, and glitter, is a close representation of Japanese pop culture. Not to mention the fact that it would probably be a haven for nerds like me. However, this place is not just for the crazy and unique people. It caters to all types of personalities because even though quirky people may find an immediate home in this place, timid and reserved people could also experience something new and refreshing.

Giant robots in the cafe

This café has been so successful that it has sparked the interest of those in and out of Japan. Recently, a travel group called Contiki decided to bring those from down South to the Robot Café to give them a glimpse into Japan’s wild nightlife. A 13-day tour of Japan was organized by the company, and tickets sold out within minutes of their release. A similar café was opened in Sydney to give people a taste of what they are about to experience in Japan. The show was choreographed and designed to replicate the original show in Tokyo. The place is also filled with dancers, loud speakers, robot fights, electronic beats, futuristic guitarists, laser lights, and all kinds of props. This side of Japan has certainly been embraced with open arms all over the world.

Photos from When on earth and concrete playground

A Tomato-Dispensing Robot Backpack

Tomatan being showcased

There have been many people who have criticized the use of wearable technology due to the practicality of having to wear something out-of-this-world. However, for the open-minded, wearable technology is actually a pretty great idea especially considering that it can help make a lot of tasks be done easily and prevent certain problems. An example of this kind of technology is the spray-on textile wherein people can make their own clothes by spraying a liquid that turns into textile on their bodies. Another is the water-repellant liquid that people can spray onto their clothes or surfaces to avoid it getting wet and dirty. These examples have definitely sparked interest in a lot of people especially with their unique and seemingly practical applications.

While some technologies clearly show their potential uses in society, there are some that seem to pose more questions. One example is the tomato-loaded robot backpack launched by Kagome, a tomato product manufacturing company. The technology is basically a humanoid veggie robot named Tomatan. The company has also decided to debut its technology during the Tokyo Marathon. The bold move will involve the company’s employee, Shigenori Suzuki, as he runs the marathon with Tomatan on his shoulders. This crazy idea will be witnessed by thousands in the event, and will surely get the publicity that it wants.

During Suzuki’s two-day run, Tomatan will provide Suzuki with tomatoes during the whole course. Suzuki will eat seven medium-sized tomatoes delivered to his lips by Tomatan. After that, he will eat 12 pieces of cherry tomatoes during his second run.

The 2-day run will be joined by the company’s employee while he carries Tomatan on his shoulders

While a robot feeding a runner with tomatoes during his run may seem entertaining, the future and practicality of a tomato-filled robot still seems to be hazy. Though the debut will surely gain attention, I’m not sure if the technology is something that we will be seeing in our homes and societies any time soon.

Photo from Citylab and AJW

Japan’s Robot Hotel

Robot staff

When staying in a hotel, a guest always places top priority on an establishment’s service. Even the nicest and most expensive hotels are not worth the stay if the hotel staff is rude. Now, in a technologically advanced country like Japan, hotels must also keep track of the dynamic world of technology. This is why a unique hotel in Nagasaki has recently opened a hotel that will surely surprise many. This is because the establishment features a team of robots as members of its staff. This will surely attract many guests who are curious of how a bunch of robots could run a hotel.

The Henn-na Hotel, situated at the heart of a theme park in Nagasaki, features ten human-like robots as part of its staff. These robots will do everything an ordinary hotel staff member would do: carry your bags, check you in, escort you to your room, clean your room, and so much more. Even more so, these robots can do all these while speaking in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and English. These robots even look like humans!

One of the robot staff in the hotel

Kokoro is the company behind the creation of these robots, which have been in development since 2003. A group of researchers in Kansai University are further making research to make the robots look and act even more human-like. Only ten robots will be launched in the hotel’s opening. Three will be at the front desk, four are porters, one for coat check and 2 are maids.

Many have commented on how creepy it would be to stay at a hotel with robots. It definitely would be a new experience for first timers. This is also the first time anyone has attempted to open such a hotel which is why it will surely gain many visitors out of curiosity. How the hotel can convince its guests to come back is a more difficult task.

Photos from entrepreneur and ibtimes

Japan’s Vagina Artist

Igarashi on her vagina-shaped kayak

Art is often described as an individual’s freedom to express a person’s ideas, emotions, beliefs, and so much more. Art varies from one another, and can be done in a variety of ways. This is art is also a tricky field. It can evoke various emotions from people depending on how they understand a piece of work. Therefore, people will either love it or hate it. In Japan, one artist has been heavily criticized for her very unique and bold sense of style. This artist is Megumi Igarashi, a vagina artist. Yes, you’ve read that right.

Known in her hometown as Rokudenashiko, which translates to “no good girl”, Igarashi has made a name for herself in the country for her controversial works. People have dubbed her as a pornographic artist, but some have also dubbed her as a feminist. Recently, the artist has been arrested for obscenity, but this is not the first time. In July last year, she was arrested for raising funds online to make a kayak in the shape of her vagina with a 3D printer. She then distributed copies of the data, so that her donors could also print copies for themselves. In December of last year, she was then arrested for displaying obscenities in a Japanese sex shop. To all charges, she has pleaded not guilty.

Igarashi distributed files so people could print 3D copies of her genitalia

According to Igarashi, her works are not obscene because they are all meant to induce laughter because they involve cutely-decorated genitalia. She also poses a more serious question as to why exposing female genitalia is considered obscene, but an annual penis festival is considered a family event in Japan.

Public opinion about her works is still being debated because some think she makes a relevant point about gender equality. Igarashi’s intentions for her works are unknown, but one thing for sure is that she has definitely opened the issue for people to talk about and question.

Photos from BBC and NY Daily News

Japan’s Skinny Architecture

Skinny houses are normal in Japan

Japanese culture has indeed been known to be in the lines of crazy and bizarre. However, what some people overlook is the Japanese culture of ingenuity and creativity. This is why the country has had some of the world’s greatest modern technological advancements and discoveries. In the world of art and architecture, the same goes for the country’s culture. Art and architecture have definitely had its fair share of Japan’s crazy and bizarre ideas. However, in one way or another, the ability of Japanese people to think outside of the box is what makes their ideas one-of-a-kind and brilliant.

If you’ve ever gone to Tokyo, or any urban city in Japan, you may have noticed that some of the country’s buildings are a hodgepodge of various styles, designs, and materials. Somewhere between these designs, is a style that most people have probably pondered on, but never really understood. Have you ever seen or heard of the skinny structure phenomenon in Japan? Well, if what you are imagining right now are buildings that are we;ll, skinny, then you are guessing right.

Maximizing the space of a 5-feet wide home is what Nishida has done

Skinny structures are a thing in Japan. Buildings have gone as thin as just 10, 9 or even 5 feet wide! One might think that this is crazy and impossible to live in, but for architect Osamu Nishida it is just the right amount of space. The architect has designed a 5 feet wide house for owners Tomoyo and Naomi Sato. The house is three stories high, but in order to navigate from one room to another, they first have to step out of the house, then cross a short bridge to enter a volume of stairs.

Though a small house seems practical, too small could also be impractical. The couple has mentioned getting wet during rainstorms, and that definitely is something that shouldn’t be happening to you in your own home.

Photos from curbed

Nine Hours Capsule Hotel

Nine Hours Capsule Hotel

In trying to get over the stress of waiting for your next flight, NINE HOURS decided to open up an ultra-economical, pod-style accommodation at Narita Airport in Tokyo. The capsule hotels are widely popular choice of accommodation for frugal travelers, office workers and even unemployed. Some travelers think that they should just preoccupy themselves with work or maybe do some reading. However such task is very difficult because of the exhaustion they experience from their long flights. Nine Hours say that people need to see the importance of sleep in order to properly function.

The company set up 129 pods at Narita, equipped with beds and that’s it. Each one measures about two meters long, one meter high and one meter wide. The price is ¥1,500 ($14.5) for the first hour, then ¥500 for each subsequent hour. Customers have the option to pay ¥3,900 for a full night. They can also access the shower facilities, high-speed WiFi, storage lockers and a shared lounge.

What guests can do for 9 hours

The popularity of capsule hotel was due to the sky-high property values and limited space in the metropolis. The idea to put up a capsule hotel in the airport is good for travelers wanting a low cost room. Travelers are not comfortable splashing out lots of money just to get through their layover. Unlike in a full blown hotel room, staying in the capsule hotel is easier for those wanting to catch their flight immediately the next day.

The pods concept became an inspiration to other business across Europe. For example, the Yotel, a British hotelier, sells hourly accommodation in “cabins” at London Gatwick, London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schipol airports. The rooms they offer is more spacious than the capsule hotel. They offer workstations, flat screen TVs and enough space to stand up and swing your arms around. In Munich Airport, NapCab sleeping cabins has beds and desks. However, the prices for both cabins are double the cost of Nine Hours’ pods.

Photos from modalux

The World of Tim Burton Tokyo


Burton attends his exhibit in Tokyo

The Japanese are very nationalistic people, but that does not mean that they close themselves off of things from other countries. In fact, Japan prides itself in the various cultures and attractions that can be found in it. This is why the country is a center of cultural diversity. Even though they are fond of their own culture, they are not afraid to discover culture from the countries. The diversity of its people and places are what make Japan a great tourist destination as well. In line with this, recently, Japan showed its love for American artist Tim Burton.

Tim Burton is an American film director, artist, writer, producer, and animator. He has been one of the most popular and quirky American figures in the film industry. His unique and mind boggling style of creating films and artworks have always left people in awe of his raw talent. His ability to create dark, eccentric, and sometimes demented works is what makes him the one and only Tim Burton. As of 2012, he has directed 16 films, and produced 12 of them.

If you were to take a look at all of his films, you would notice that all of them have a recurring theme of the dark and twisted. In honor of this man achievements and contributions to the industry, the World of Tim Burton, a retrospective of all his works, was established. The exhibit was featured in New York, Australia, Canada, Los Angeles, France, South Korea, and Czech Republic. Now, the exhibit has also opened in Tokyo, much to the pleasure of many of Burton’s fans.

The exhibit will be open from November 1, 2014 to January 4, 2015 at the Mori Arts Center Gallery. It features Burton’s movie-making magic such as his original pictures and art object of character. Approximately 500 of his works are to be featured including letters, props, and drawings. Some of his most notable works are Batman, The Nightmare before Christmas, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Edward Scissorhands. His ability to take viewers to the world of his films will always make him one of the best directors in the industry.

Photo from patpikierri

Robot Sumo

Robots competing in a sumo match

Sumo wrestling is one of Japan’s oldest traditional and cultural heritages. The sport is considered to be a staple of the country. When one talks about Sumo wrestling, one will always talk about Japan. The art of Sumo wrestling is always accompanied by talks of about the so-called “Land of the Rising Sun”. It is the sport of Japan.  Embedded into the country’s history, sumo wrestling has been a sport that prioritizes honor, respect, and good old fashion fun. Throughout the years, there is no doubt that the sport has somehow changed, but not significantly. However, recently, that does not seem like the case. Big changes in the sport have been made as science and technology have crossed it.

Recently, some of the country’s best and most respected sumo wrestlers gathered at an event held in Tokyo. In fact, all these sumo wrestlers attended the event not to compete, but to watch. However, this event was nothing like previous sumo matches. What is it these professional sumo wrestlers are going to watch? The answer is robots. You’ve read that right. Apparently, even Japan’s oldest sport has been modernized.

Engineers and robot novices from all over the world have also gathered to bring the best they can offer for this competition. Experts and fans alike have also united to make this event successful. The inaugural International Robot Sumo Tournament was held at Ryogoku Kokugikan, and featured 48 robots from various countries and Japan. This is the first international competition of this kind, as previous competitions were only domestic. The winner of the event is crowned the yokozuna grand champion.

The robots are placed in a 1.54-meter diameter ring, and are only allowed to have a maximum weight of 3 kilos. There are no restrictions for height. There are two categories at the event. The first is for remote-controlled robots, and the second for self-operating robots.

Compared to ordinary sumo matches, robot sumo matches finish faster. Although they are faster, nothing still beats the real thing, where people work and train hard to win. The good thing about robot sumo matches is that they promote and revive the relevance of sumo wrestling in modern society.

Photo from mcuoneclipse

Robot Band

Z Machines Poster

If you live in Japan, robots are probably an ordinary part of your day. In the country, the use of robots in various tasks is the norm. The Japanese have robots as comedians, tour guides, companions, and many more. There are even cafes or clubs dedicated to this piece of technology. This is why it no longer comes as a surprise that they have also built robots for making music.

Since 2013, a team of robotics students from the University of Tokyo has been developing a project dedicated to creating a music-performing system that could surpass even the abilities of the most experienced and talented musicians. With this, a three-robot band was built. The band, known as Z-machines, is composed of a guitarist, drummer, and keyboardist.

The guitarist, Mach, is a 2-meter tall humanoid with 78 fingers that strums a colorful instrument attached to its torso with a speed of one note every eight milliseconds. The drummer, Ashura, has 22 arms that could play the drums faster than any musician. The keyboardist, Cosmo, shoots out green lasers and plays notes with high accuracy.

The band’s music is specially created by British musician Squarepusher, also known as Tom Jenkins. According to him, the band’s music can be tweaked to change its genre from rock to even soul. The concern for music enthusiasts is whether or not the robots can engage their audience with their music. Some have expressed the eerie feeling of listening to the robots play. On the other hand, some respond that this unfamiliar way of making and listening to music is an electronic revolution.

Led by the band’s musical producer, Kenjiro Matsu, the robot band has gained a lot of attention. Last year, the band had their first performance at an electro-rock “Future Party” in Tokyo. Although operation of the robots requires 300 kilowatts of electricity, engineers believe many can make similar kinds of robots in their homes. The band is set to release a 5 track EP, while the rest of the world waits for what they have in store for us. Despite this electronic revolution, people must not forget that this technology would never be made possible without humans.

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Hello Kitty Cafe

Facade of Hello Kitty Cafe

Themed cafes are probably some of the unique and crazy trademarks of the Japanese. Think of any random topic you can come up with. Name it, and they have got a café to match it. I have read about toilet cafes where customers actually sit on different styles of toilets. They have vampire cafes for those who want a little kick in their dining experience. Of course, they also have robot cafes, since the country is practically obsessed with them. No matter how extreme or crazy these themed cafes get, one thing they all have in common is the ability to give a fun and out-of-this-world experience.

Most recently, announcements of a pop-up Hello Kitty Café have been circulating the media. This temporary establishment will definitely arouse the interests of Hello Kitty and Sanrio fans everywhere. The café will be serving all things Hello Kitty from the coffee to the food. That’s right, if one takes a look at the café’s menu, one will Hello Kitty’s face on the coffee, Hello Kitty-shaped pancakes and turkey sandwich. Even the vegetables are Hello Kitty. A Hello Kitty-shaped apple pie crust is also available for dessert.

This pop-up café will be in operations from November 14 to December 14 at the Parco department store in Tokyo. This surprise is in celebration of the 40th anniversary of this timeless and beloved character. The prices on the menu range from 300 yen to 1,600 yen.

Although the opening of this Hello Kitty Café is a big deal, this is not the first time that there will be a Hello Kitty themed eatery. In fact, there was one restaurant, Hello Kitty Dreams, with a similar theme in Beijing which sold Hello Kitty burgers. A similarly-themed café can also be located in Seoul, South Korea where even the bathrooms are overflowing with Hello Kitty toilets and bidets. In the Netherlands, a Hello Kitty tea shop serves cookies and cheesecakes in the shape of the beloved character.

Hello Kitty is definitely one of the most popular Japanese characters in the world. The influence of the character reaches various parts of the world, as can be seen through Hello Kitty-themed eateries, stores, and other establishments. Its 40th anniversary will definitely excite a lot of fans across the world.

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