Thursday, December 29, 2011

Let's get social : mixi

mixi is the largest social networking site in Japan. Unfortunately I see some dark clouds over the horizon for them.

I was on this site almost as soon as it was launched in 2004. But it's restrictive features have always kept me from being a addict (or at least a frequent user). Of course this site is only meant for Japanese users from beginning, but again that is one of the policy I find very narrow minded.

The fact that you need to have a registered mobile mail address in Japan to get an account is most baffling of all. (See 'mixi hates foreigners'). Mixi has been adamant to change this policy even after other social networks like MySpace and Facebook have really became viral and spreading like wild fire even in Japan.

This site is a classic example of what I call restrictive business mentality of Japanese. I have always maintained that Japanese businesses which deal with the service industry or people (Personal banking, insurance, Airlines, retail and now social networking etc) are unfortunately too much focused on doing things 'The Japanese Way'.

That is another topic but the point is mixi was way ahead of other social networks in a sense of opportunity and timing to take of as a global network. But it missed the bus by self imposing restrictive policies and not thinking in more global way.

When Facebook took off in west, there were even critics saying that Facebook will fail remarkably in Japan. The trend seems to have gone other way. I myself know that almost all of my Japanese friends are now on Facebook. No language or culture barrier! And unfortunately for mixi, it's share is declining every day.

Declining fortune? (Source: 2011 Social Network Analysis Report)

Being here in Japan for more than a decade now, it's sad to see that except for very few, most Japanese corporations failed to have wider vision of their future. As a sliver lining, strong Japanese Yen has literally forced many companies to look outside Japan. Let's hope it is a beginning of a new chapter in Japanese corporate world.

Canon EOS 60D from

Finally it was delivered yesterday.

I ordered my first Digital SLR last week from After much deliberation, research, comparisons and reading many reviews, I settled for Canon EOS 60D. In my opinion this particular model is a very good mix of close to professional features and ease of operations needed by beginners for a reasonable cost.

This was my first purchase through and for those who can read Japanese or get help, I suggest that is a great site which can save you around 20% to 30% on most of the items. For those who would rather touch and feel the purchase they are making, you still have an option of going to any big electronics shop like Yodobashi Camera or Biccamera and see the gadget there. Then you can come back to kakaku and choose the best deal. I have seen some foreigner painstakingly noting down prices of things they want at Akihabara but this site will save you a lot of time for sure.

I found that some of the nice features of are ease of use (if you know Japanese of course), wide range of products (almost any consumer goods) and wide range of dealers (from amazon to your local electronic shop). You can compare the products easily and can navigate to the purchase form right there.

Paying is easy too, most of the shops have online order forms and have option of Cash on Delivery. Although the dealer may charge nominal fees (somewhere around 1% of the purchase) if you choose COD.

By the way, this is the first photo I took!

My first experiment with panning. Not too great and had to take almost 15 shots to get that one right, but I found some of the points I need to improve already!

Look forward to some armature clicks.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Shochu Ads

Last month, I was with my colleagues in a Tachinomiya (立飲み屋:A standing bar). And I saw these posters.

All these posters are mainly advertisements for Shochu but most Izakaya (居酒屋: Traditional Japanese bars) and Japanese restaurants (especially old ones) have these type of posters for Sake and Beer too.

I find it intriguing that there is similarity among these pictures, wherever you go in Japan. As if all these posters  belong to particular class of art or as if they are work of a single artist!

Faces of the models, their hairstyles and typical clothing, fuzzy colors and borderlines, specific font for text all are similar. I wonder if these posters have kind of history as well...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

You know you are here for long time...

I was going through my old stuff  as a part of year-end routine of massive house cleaning ritual in Japan and found these. Wow! I thought. It really made me feel the flow of time.

My first mobile in Japan.
J-Phone(later transformed to vodafone) sanyo model:

My second phone by Sharp.
Larger screens and 3-4 Mbps mobile camera were in vogue; The name 'J-Phone' is history but Vodafone is still hanging in.

Next similar, but more powerful from Toshiba.
Softbank has taken over and Vodafone is out of Japan. Looking at this now, I wonder why I carried such monsters.

Shifted to iPhone 3G; One Button Revolution!!
Proud to be among first users of iPhone in Japan. Thanks Mr. Son and Steve!

And my current phone is iPhone 4S. I find no reason to run away from Apple. Just that looking back, I feel how mobile users have come long way...