All things about the media, marketing, business, Japan and other musings by Mike in Tokyo Rogers.
Shinkansen "Bullet Train" Chopsticks
By RICK MARTIN
One of the more popular items to come out of Japan last year was Kotobukiya's "Star Wars" Light Saber Chopsticks, which made the rounds on popular tech blogs such as Gizmodo, Wired and TechCrunch's CrunchGear. And while they might not have "the force" (nor the brand power) of any "Star Wars" product, Japanese company Daiwa Toy (www.daiwatoy.co.jp) has a similar set of chopsticks that will be sure to make a splash among Japanophiles and densha otaku(train geeks) the world over.
The shinkansen chopsticks — also known as the "Chopstick Express" — take the form of Japan's famous bullet trains. If you've ever taken the shinkansen, it's quite possible that you bought a boxed lunch to enjoy during your trip. Can you think of a more fitting pair of chopsticks with which to dine on a train? I don't think so.
Unlike the actual shinkansen, these chopsticks are not divided up into multiple cars, but rather each chopstick is crafted into one long, sleek car that gives the impression of a train rocketing down the tracks, a mere blur to the human eye as it zooms past. Because the form of a chopstick tapers off into a narrow tip, the illusion of perspective is easily created, making this miniature replica appear deceptively long.
For extra dramatic effect the package design includes railway tracks underneath each train, as well as a tunnel near the bottom out of which the chopsticks appear to be racing out of. While many people will buy these shinkansen chopsticks with the intention of using them to eat, the elaborate and beautiful package makes an excellent display case should you opt to show off your pair on the mantle.
Included among the varieties of shinkansen are the 0-Series train. That was the first shinkansen to be introduced, in 1964, and it was only retired in 2008. The recent N700-Series train is also available, this being the latest model to hit the tracks just three years ago. According to Daiwa Toy, the N700 chopsticks are 21 cm long and other models will be comparable. In total, four different kinds of shinkansen will be produced, giving train fans and collectors a sizable collection.
For anyone who would like to pick up a pair of their very own shinkansen chopsticks they can be purchased at Yamashiroya in front of JR Ueno Station, but you can expect to see them on sale in more and more station kiosks in the future.
For overseas buyers, Jbox.com (www.jbox.com/PRODUCT/YYN408) is one online merchant that has already sent these special trains over the Pacific Ocean.
One of the most attractive features of these unique utensils is the price: ¥630 ($7.50) a pop! The Chopstick Express makes a perfect souvenir to remember your travels in Japan, particularly if you spent any significant time riding the shinkansen during your visit. But be warned: Children will probably end up playing with their food far more than before.
Rick Martin is a contributor to CNET and Gizmag. Read more of his work on his website at 1rick.com
I found a most wonderful place to take the kids for a day out in the sun and for some great excitement, fun, sports and adventure. It is called Heiwa no Mori Koen Field Athletic Course (平和の森公園フィールドアスレチックコース) and it's about a ten minute walk from Keihin Kyuko Heiwajima station or a ten minute bus ride from JR Omori station.
The Heiwa no Mori Koen Field Athletic Course is an obstacle course for kids. The entire course, from start to finish has 40 obstacles that the kids have to challenge. There's climbing giant rope and wood jungle gym types of structures to climbing over walls using ropes to jungle bars and rowing across ponds full of deadly piranhas (oh, and I'm kidding about the piranhas part). You and your child could have a wonderful time at this fun park.
I'd say that it is best for children between the ages of 6 to 12 but younger ages will also have a blast at this park as mom and dad can help them out with the obstacles that are too scary!
I got together with my friend, Satoshi Miyaki and, unbeknownst to him, I've come up with a list of Japanese Girl Rock Bands that matter in 2017.... Satoshi, who just likes cool music because, well, just because that's what he does, has selected a bunch of these groups (Thanks Satoshi san!)... I have also added a few of my own. This isn't the complete list. This is just Japanese girl bands - with girl members only - who are performing gigs now.... If I miss your band from the list, send me an email as I am going to make another list a little later.
Also, these are all female only bands. There's lots of cool bands in Japan but if we start making exceptions and adding bands that have guys and girls, we'd be here forever. Also, these are bands that I think (from my most probably confused viewpoint) that a foreign audience might like. Also, there is no particular order to this list excepting the first two. I think not putting Shonen Knife at the top of the list along wit…
Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers' Top 50 Best Songs of 2016 マイク・ロジャースの2016年のトップ５０曲（１から５０の順番リスト！）
These are my favorite songs and/or something from my favorite artists of the year. These are just my favorite 50 as I placed on the weekly Top 3 Video Countdown (http://robot55.jp/?s=top+3). There are also 5 songs included this year from the Cool & Strange Music Countdown too! (http://robot55.jp/?s=cool+%26+strange+music) Now, some of these songs were not released in 2016... But so what? I play alternative and underground stuff so this year was the first time I had heard them and it's my countdown, so there! Also, these songs were chosen by my iTunes software as the Top 50 songs I played from October, 1 2015 until December 20, 2016 (Plus some late entries and other stuff that tickles my fancy!).... I have placed videos with the songs whenever and where ever possible. #1) Ginger Wildheart - Do You?The real story here in 2016 was Ginger Wildheart. Not only did he tour Japan but his music was…