Archive for January, 2013

Tokyo Travel Diary – Day 2

Tuesday, 29 January, 2013

Wednesday 23 January, 2013

Tokyo dawn

I just have time to jot a few notes before heading out to dinner with Matt, who used to work with me in Sydney, before he married a Japanese woman and they moved to Tokyo. It’ll be nice to catch up.

I had a bad sleep in the hotel room. Trouble getting to sleep, then I woke up about 04:00, since that was 06:00 at home, and couldn’t fall asleep again. Hopefully I’ll adjust better tonight.

A bit before 07:00 I got out of bed, got dressed, and went in search of breakfast. I’d found a food court in the hotel complex last night, and tried that first, but it didn’t open until 10:00. So I crossed the road to the station and tried the food parlour where I’d bought the mochi last night, but that was closed too. So I went into a 7-11 and grabbed a tray of sushi and a vegetable rice cake thing and brought them back up to my room to eat while I got ready for the day visiting the Canon Inc. offices in Shimomaruko.

Back streets of Tokyo

I needed to be there at 09:40 to meet my contact, and people told me to allow plenty of time to find my way there. So I left a few minutes before 08:00 and walked over to Shinagawa station, where my first task was to find the platform for the Keihin-Tohoku line, southbound. This was actually very easy to find, and when I walked down the stairs a train pulled in and I hopped on. It was full of people, but not really crowded – there was plenty of space to stand. Three stops later I arrived at Kamata and made my way across to the Tokyu-Tamagawa line trains. I arrived just as one train was departing, but the next train was a mere four minutes later, so that didn’t take long at all. It was only another three stops to Shimomaruko. The stations along this line were smaller and more rustic, with shelters made of wood.

Shimomaruko itself felt very different from the neon bustle of Shinagawa. The buildings were older and smaller, and it felt almost like a Japanese village. The walk to Canon goes down a street lined with fruit stalls and little shops, and it is fairly picturesque. I’d arrived so quickly that I had a full hour to spare before my meeting, so I dawdled down side streets, seeking interesting photo opportunities, as I meandered along towards Canon. The walk wasn’t very long, so I got there with plenty of time left, and continued walking past the Canon campus to the Tama River, where the street went over a long bridge across the broad floodplain and the river in the central part of it. Parts of the floodplain were made into sports fields, and a jogging track lined with trees ran along the side of it.


Tokyo Travel Diary – Day 1

Sunday, 27 January, 2013

Tuesday 22 January, 2013
12:34 Sydney time; 10:34 Tokyo time

Exit Row

I’m sitting comfortably in a seat on Japan Airlines flight 722 from Sydney to Tokyo. This is a short trip for work, to discuss the wrap-up of last year’s project and the plans for new one I’ll be leading a team for this year. I have two days of meetings in Canon’s main office in Shimomaruko, then a Friday morning to myself before flying home on Friday evening.

I woke up just before the alarm, set for 6 o’clock this morning. I had some muesli and yoghurt for a quick breakfast, brushed my teeth, tossed my toothbrush into my luggage, and rang a taxi to collect me for the trip to the airport. M. got up as I was leaving to wish me farewell. The taxi arrived shortly after I walked out to the street, and whisked me off to the airport.

Partway through the drive, I heard a strange clunking noise from my side of the taxi. The driver heard it too, and expressed surprise. I realised it was the belt buckle of my trenchcoat, which had got caught in the door when I closed it, and must now be flapping along the outside of the car. I elected not to open the door while the taxi was flying down the expressway to the airport, but a minute later the knocking became so persistent that I asked the driver if it would be okay to open the door and pull it inside. He agreed and I did so, making the remainder of the journey quieter.

I arrived at the airport, walked inside, and found the check-in counters for JAL. There were no queues, and I had no checked luggage, so it was very quick. I asked for an exit row seat if one was available, and the woman granted the request, saying the flight wasn’t full and I’d probably also have an empty seat next to me. I went immediately through customs and security to the departure lounge area to wait for boarding.

I sat down and tried the airport wi-fi, which took a few minutes to wangle, but managed to get connected. After reading the news and checking Facebook, I ran out of things I could do from my work laptop without all my passwords (I tried one but misremembered it). I had a long time to wait, and my breakfast was smaller than usual, so I bought a chicken caesar wrap from a cafe. It was incredibly mediocre, but satisfying enough. Then with nothing much else to do I browsed the couple of book shops and walked around a bit to exercise my legs. Eventually the clock ticked to 08:45, half an hour before departure, and I headed to the gate. Boarding had just started and there were fewer than 100 people left, so I got straight into the queue and headed on to the plane. My seat is an aisle seat in a row of three at the exit row just behind the wing of the Boeing 777-200. Another guy taller than me got the window seat, but there’s an empty seat between us.

Economy meal

The TV screen on the facing panel showed video from the nose of the plane as we taxied out to the runway, leaving the gate a good 5 minutes early. I could see the tarmac and the plane in front of us as we queued up waiting to take off. After quite a wait on the taxiway, we moved to the runway and I could see the video of the yellow lines speeding below us as we took off. The view changed to a downward facing camera showing the city slipping past beneath us as we turned slightly west of north and headed up into the sky.

The JAL flight attendants are all women, and they put on pink aprons with an antique hot air balloon motif over their uniforms as they started serving rice cracker snacks, drinks, and then a bit later on the first meal. It was a choice of beef curry, or chicken ravioli in a tomato sauce. I chose the ravioli. It came with a bewildering array of sides: a brown bread roll and butter; potato salad; another salad with crisp asparagus, red capsicum, and lettuce with a separate vinaigrette sachet; a serve of soba noodles garnished with shallots and something which I thought was ginger but had a spicier kick, with a small bottle of “noodle sauce” on the side; and a fruit salad. The ravioli was mediocre, but the rest was on the good side. Then there was chocolate ice cream for dessert! It was frozen like a rock and took some heavy spoonwork to chop up.


Saturday, 26 January, 2013

I’m back from three and a bit days in Tokyo. Most of it was business, with meetings and stuff, but I got some time off to do some sightseeing. And there are a lot of sights to see in Tokyo. Here’s a photo from each day.

22/365 View from Shinagawa Prince Hotel, Tokyo

Tuesday I arrived after sunset. This was the view from my hotel room window in Shinagawa.

23/365 Tokyo parking

Wednesday I went to Shimomaruko for business meetings at Canon Inc. headquarters. Shimomaruko has a much smaller “village” feel than skyscraper feel, with detached houses and little fruit stalls and stuff in the streets.

24/365 Meiji Jingu Garden

Thursday I had a few hours free before meetings to tour Meiji Jingu, the major Shinto shrine in Tokyo.

25/365 Akihabara Electric Town

Friday I went to the National Museum, and spent some time in Akihabara, which is the major electronics retail area. It’s insane!

Four very different flavours of Tokyo in four days.

Fish & Chips & Riesling

Friday, 18 January, 2013

Friday night, dinner out. We went to Garfish at Crows Nest, a really good seafood place about 15 minutes walk away. The weather was really hot (new record all-time high temperature for Sydney at 45.8°C), so I opted for the beach feel with the simple fish & chips from the menu that includes a lot more fancy stuff than that. It’s really good fish & chips. And the wine was Brindabella Hills 2011 Riesling, from the Canberra wine district. Really nice, lemony, a bit of residual bubble, and a bare hint of the usual riesling stoniness. It went really well with the fish on a hot night.

18/365 Fish & Chips & Riesling

What I’m working on

Friday, 18 January, 2013

I work for Canon Information Systems Research Australia, a subsidiary R&D company of Canon. It’s usually very difficult for me to say much about what I’m working on beyond “stuff to do with optics and cameras”, because of the need to keep our current research within the corporation. Once the work is patented and published, it becomes more public and I can point and say, “I did that” – but that’s two years or more after I actually did the work.

But I just found some stuff on Canon’s own public website that will give you an idea of what I’m working on right now. This. I’m working on this. Not all of it, just some aspects. But yeah, my work right now feeds directly into this, and more specifically the last section, about health management and safety.

Morning swim, with satellite dish

Thursday, 17 January, 2013

The swimming pool at my work, with a view to the main satellite dish which I believe is used by Foxtel to uplink subscription TV broadcasts to their satellite. I went for a swim this morning. The pool is only 12 metres long, so I did 84 laps for a total of 1008 metres.

17/365 Dish in pool

The other end of the line

Wednesday, 16 January, 2013

And this is the other end of my daily train commute: Wollstonecraft station near my home. Much nicer than the underground station at Macquarie Park.

Trivia: My suburb, Wollstonecraft, is named after Edward Wollstonecraft, who settled the region after fleeing England to escape from the controversial notoriety of being related to his early 19th century feminist aunt, Mary Wollstonecraft, mother of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

16/365 The other end


Tuesday, 15 January, 2013

So, I’m going to be in San Francisco (attending Electronic Imaging 2013) from Sunday 3rd February to Friday 8th. Monday to Thursday I’ll be busy at the conference during the day, but I may have evenings free. And I’ll have Sunday afternoon and most of Friday free.

So… who do I know in San Francisco?

(Oh, I’ll also be in Tokyo next week for business, with most of Friday 25 Jan free before I fly home in the evening. But I figure there’s less chance of anyone I know who reads this being in Tokyo…)

The Station

Tuesday, 15 January, 2013

I catch the train home from work here every (working) day. It’s a fairly new station, opened in 2008. Before that I used to catch a bus to and from work. The train cut about 30 minutes off the trip in each direction.

15/365 Macquarie Park Station

Door to another time?

Monday, 14 January, 2013

Monday morning, so I thought I’d take a picture at work. I work in the same building as Foxtel has some of its offices. They seem to split them up by channel. So for example the ground floor houses the Weather Channel and Nickelodeon, both of which have signs and other stuff proclaiming them (such as the giant Spongebob Squarepants by the door). On the first floor there is this mysterious door off the lift lobby, with no other labels. I presume that behind it lurks either the BBC or Sci-Fi channel.

14/365 TARDIS door

I didn’t blog Saturday’s and Sunday’s photos, but if you want you can see them by clicking.