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    Sun, 28 May 2006


    Was in Tokyo for work last week and was able to catch up with some friends based there ahead of things kicking off on Monday.

    On the Saturday spent a thoroughly enjoyable few hours with Stuart, a friend of ours that is doing Japanese language studies there for six months or so. We took a trip to Akihabara and had a good geek out looking around. I was particularly impressed by Stu's faculties with Japanese - effortlessly ordering us up some nice Udon for lunch while texting a friend in Kanji on his mobile phone.

    Akihabara has changed a little since I was last there (c.2002), couple of new buildings and a few less of the tiny hole in the wall places that I personally prefer. These latter are just amazing for anyone of a hardware hacking sort of background. By turns a great array of surplus/second hand odds and ends, just right for that next project, mixed with shops selling a tremendous array of small hand tools, test equipment and new components.

    In the evening Ben, Arnd and I met up with Raster and Horms for a little sightseeing and food. We had a good wander around before having things cut short by a rain storm. Fortunately our guides were able to find us shelter in a nearby yakitori place which (obviously) sold beer and nibblies which allowed us to while away a couple of hours most comfortably.

    Eventually the rain gave up and we went down to the Ginza district which was a bit of a eye opener - almost brighter by night than by day courtesy of the many signs and large LED screens around the place. Certainly gives Times Square in New York a good run for its money.

    Went to a great place for dinner, it's good to the point where I want to write up how to get there etc. so that will have to follow presently. A really nice evening and great to be able to catch up with Horms and Raster IRL for a change.

    Sunday hooked up with one of our hosts in the morning and he led us on a tour through Akihabara (as you'd have gathered, I don't mind repeat visits to the area at all) he kindly helped me bridge the language barrier and buy a couple of specific things. That afternoon I caught up with a mate of mine from IBM who's there on assignment - we only chat a few times a year but it's always a pleasure when we do.

    Remainder of the week was throughly enjoyable both professionally and socially, our hosts were very gracious in taking care of us and the various technical discussions productive as well.

    Did a final run out to Akihabara in the afternoon before we flew out and picked up an assortment of PIC microcontrollers and some neat little QFP probes made by Sunhayato. These latter are a particularly neat little tool as you can clip onto lead pitches down to 0.5mm which means you can get at most SMT parts in a hands free manner. The former are bound to come in handy at some point :)

    A good trip, my only regret is that I don't get to Japan more often as its one of the more consistently enjoyable places I travel to.

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