January 30, 2006

Pander to my Brain

In additions to hopeless attempt at an interview to stay in Japan, I visited Tokyo's Odaiba/Bay area. It being the middle of winter and surrounded by snow (and me still slightly suffering from chilblain) walking along an overdeveloped commercial beach district wasn't exactly what matched the weather. But I was in Tokyo and didn't really see why, especially when it turned out the company was going to sponsor by train ride, I should waste my time by returning to boring Hitachi and not use my whole weekend there.

Aside from looking at Akiba shops in a futile search for a birthday present for my mother (oh, I knew there was something else on the plans today) - and bypassing an oppurtunity to buy a small but powered-up iBook, mainly because even with a wireless receptor - my apartment at present is a dead zone as far as internet connectability is concerned. And then spending the night in an overpriced Shinjuku capsule hotel - the trip to Asakusa is definitely worth it for their LP capsule hotel - not only is it a bit nicer (if smaller), the area is nicer and prettier for a solo traveller. If you are in party mode, Shinjuku/Kabuki-cho may be worth it.

Odaiba is certainly a pretty cool area. The nice sea-breeze and scenery was nice even in the snow, and would probably be 10 times as fantastic in Spring/Autumn --- but somehow I suspect the serenity and feeling of isolation is lost when Summer crowds return. Not only are there some good shops, nice eateries (I ate at Captain Santa's - he really does make all your dreams come true), and some cool showrooms and theaters - there's a few nice parks for relaxing, and a few museums. I gave the Maratime Museum a pass, I do like the sea - but for swimming and animals, not boats or fishing - in favour of the Miraiken or the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation . Yes I spent my day off at a Science Musuem. Brand me a hopeless geek but Science Musuems are fun (and educational) - my two favourite things in the world. I was meant to only spend an hour hear, I lasted from 1:30- until a bit after closing at 4:40. Damn you very nicfe English translations on almost every display.

Th highlights of the Science musuem were on the Technology floor (the last floor for me to examine). This housed a "drive a robot with a playstation display", superconductors in the devolopment of floating "UFO" technology, nanotechnology, miscellaneous robotics (including ASIMO, Honda's bipedal robot), Phototronics, Virtual Reality CAVE, and how the internet and computer microprocessors work. The internet display was amazing for its almost-near-likeness to dial-up speed of transmissions. Chants of "osoi" (late, slow to do) could be heard from any child who used it.

Driving a robot was pretty fun. First you would prcatice the controls with the demo robot. You could walk forwards, backwards, rear up, rear down, roll left and right. To turn you sort of had to shuffle, but you could do that as well. Next you were admitted into one of those 3D roll-ship theatres like they have at Disney-theme parks, a camera is mounted onto robot number 2 and you have the controls for it in the theatre. You get to walk the robot around and see what it sees - while attendants wave all sorts of fuzzy animals and props in front of it. However they are very careful to ensure you don't run the robot into anything, something they should probably tell the driver before they let them into the theatre.

Other highlights were an examination into the science behind visual, aural, tactile and oral illusions. Olafactory tricks are never too fun, so thankfully they don't include those (though I know some good ones with esters myself). Real-time feeds of Japan's status as a really earthquake ridden island chain can be a little disconcerning, but nonetheless intersting.

After the three an a bit hours I spent trekking about there it was time to head home, though I did have to stave of the temptation to blow my savings on the iBook. Damn, it I should've... I should've...


At Sat. Feb. 18, 09:00:00 am AEST, Anonymous kevinbonbevan said...

I'm with you on Odaiba!


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