Category Archives: Travel

Venice day 3

Having a great time here with Burns… this was the perfect last stop for my trip… sunny beach and great people. Tomorrow I definitely have to go out and explore the rest of LA πŸ™‚
Here are some pictures of the bike ride and the beach with Burn’s friends and a video of some parts of the bike ride.

Venice – first pictures

Almost over the jet lag… ended up staying awake for something like 30 hours… met up with Burns for his famous “innocent” beer… ended up going to Santa Monica pier where live music was being played and people were hanging out on the beach… followed by two or three other bars. Very interesting scene!


Still awake! Stayed up during almost all of the entire trip watching movies and reading… the view going down the west coast was amazing – clear blue skies… and now at Burn’s place right on the beach! Struggling to stay awake so went our for a quick bike ride – very nice to have the sun and the ocean so close again! Was a little tired of all the urban settings πŸ™‚

Museum day in Tokyo

Yesterday I took the “day off” and just went to Akihabara to browse the electronic gadgets and play some video games.
Today, thanks to Gian Pablo’s tips (friend from ITP) I went to the following:
NTT ICC – an amazing space with ITP-like projects. Pity there it you are not allowed to take pictures! But the building itself was great… actually almost every major building here is a feat of architecture, design and engineering:

At the NTT ICC center, some projects worth I particularly enjoyed:
KAGE – a series of cones on the floor that produce an image both on the floor and two projections on adjacent walls when you touch them.
Modulobe – stick and joint models move around on the screen and through large buttons, a track ball and a joy stick you can make the model jump and drag it. You can also change the view you have of the model as well as change the model you play with. Very dynamic and entertaining.
The Secret Life of Numbers – a data visualization panel that shows the popularity of numbers from 0 to a million on the internet since 1997! Every time that number appears on a site it gets a hit. The number 1 and 1 million were obviously popular. To my surprise the number 365 (days in a year) was not popular but the number 6600 (one of Nokia’s phones) was very popular.
Tablescape Plus – a simple but very effective board “game” where the characters interact if they are placed close together, saying hello to each other or sitting on the bench for example.
There was also a special exhibit for kids – Sight & Sound – Watch the Sound and Listen to the Images – very entertaining even for adults… well, especially for someone who is going to ITP – trying to figure out what technologies were used and all. One puppet show project was actually using the Wii stick to control the animation… the girl explaining the project said I was the first one that noticed that πŸ™‚
After that I went to Roppongi to the Mori Art Museum to see a fantastic exhibit of the architectural genius of Le Corbusier. An impressive exhibit with both his art work (paintings and sculptures) and his architectural work including original sketches, sc AND full size models and many videos about his work. Interesting to know that he is said to have influenced much of modern Tokyo’s urban planning in terms of joint housing, museum, shopping and entertainment centers!
As a bonus to the museum, you get to walk around the Tokyo City View – a large space around the building’s 52nd floor!

On the other side of the spectrum, the subway/train stations does not seize to amaze me. Not only the shear complexity and extent of them, but how deep the are! I was doing some mental calculations and my estimate is that some of these lines must be at least 10 stories or more underground… amazing.
Very interesting day!

I missed the earthquake!!

This is wierd… as you may know there was an earthquake in Japan today… 6.8 magnitude with epicenter on the northwestern Tokyo region…
I did NOT feel it at all!! I saw on the subway that many lines were delayed and service was suspended on some lines because of an earthquake. I felt nothing.
Max and Anais both felt it and said that they could see the top of buildings swaying and the lamps and curtains moving… as if you were in a boat in a storm…
I guess I was in the train and did not recognize it as a quake…

Tokyo – Odaiba

Today I went to an area called Odaiba – a futuristic shopping and entertainment district. Some amazing buildings, lots of shopping centers, and many very interesting museums.
I took some pictures and videos of:
– The ride on the unmanned rubber tired tram (Yuirkamone) and the interesting buildings along the way.
– Fuji Television building with a sphere inside its structure.
– National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) where kids learn about everything from superconductors, nano-technology, advanced medicine, space exploration, robots and much more – amazingly interactive and informative museum.
– Panasonic building with an amazing display of the electronics of the Matsushita group including a Wii event (yes, I played with the Wii – very entertaining!)
– Toyota showroom with their latest cars, a track with a self driving car and some concept cars
– The giant ferris wheel
– Tokyo Big Sight – a HUGE building for fairs and expos where I ate some lunch…
I still had to go the Museum of Maritime Science but I ran out of cash and honestly I was too tired from walking for almost 5 hours around this mega complex.
Good day πŸ™‚

Very interesting blog about Tokyo/Japan

Came across this blog and found it quite interesting.
Was talking about all the small differences in culture, signs, behaviors and so on that a Japanese would probably not be able to point out to us Westerners simply because it is so normal for them. This blog though seems to be able to show all of the little quirks that makes this country so interesting.

Edo-Tokyo Museum

Today I went with Max and Anais to an incredible museum – the Edo-Tokyo Museum. I have never seen a museum with so much information in my life. It was actually exhausting to see and read everything but extremely interesting. A complete history of how Edo (Tokyo’s old name) became Tokyo… the typical houses, customs, trading, evolution and a series o reconstructions. Fires, earthquakes and floods constantly devastated the city throughout history.
One interesting fact was that Osaka was the production city and Tokyo was the consumption city…
This museum is a definite spot that every tourist should go to when in Tokyo!
Here are the videos: