Christmas: Shibuya 109 style

Freed of its weighty Christian implications (since most Japanese people are not Christian), Christmas in Japan has morphed into a high-pressure romantic extravaganza (have a date or feel pathetic and depressed) marked by expensive dates and present exchange between young couples.

Christmas illuminations (light displays), which go up as early as the end of October, play a big part in this, as one part of the Christmas date might include going to see the lights and maybe a little shopping. Catering to a moneyed (or would like to be) crowd, the displays at Tokyo’s upscale shopping malls typically endeavor to create images of sophistication and refinement. Take this Swarovski display at Omotesando Hills for example:


Meanwhile rival crystal company Baccarat does the display for Ebisu Garden Place. How would you feel if your boyfriend took you to the place that puts out the same light-up plastic Santa every year? Right, you get the point.

Teen fashion mecca Shibuya 109, though similarly intent on conveying wealth and glamour, however, wants nothing to do with refinement. Presenting Shibuya 109 “Xmas in Las Vegas!”


The ideal behind “real fashion” shopping complexes like Shibuya 109 that carry almost entirely trendy domestic labels is that they project an image of giving young shoppers what they really want, with a “by girls for girls” attitude, and thus stand in contrast to the imposing luxury malls and their unattainable foreign goods.


Linking Christmas with Sin City may seem inappropriate, however, I’m sure cynics would agree that 109 hits the mark in depicting the contemporary commercial Christmas experience.


Come on girls! Time to start looking for that perfect Christmas date dress!

Giant Crystal Cave


The Naica Mine of Chihuahua, Mexico, is a working mine that is known for its extraordinary crystals. Naica is a lead, zinc and silver mine in which large voids have been found, containing crystals of selenite (gypsum) as large as 4 feet in diameter and 50 feet long. The chamber holding these crystals is known as the Crystal Cave of Giants, and is approximately 1000 feet down in the limestone host rock of the mine. The crystals were formed by hydrothermal fluids emanating from the magma chambers below. The cavern was discovered while the miners were drilling through the Naica fault, which they were worried would flood the mine. The Cave of Swords is another chamber in the Naica Mine, containing similar large crystals.

The Naica mine was first discovered by early prospectors in 1794 south of Chihuahua City. They struck a vein of silver at the base of a range of hills called Naica by the Tarahumara Indians. The origin in the Tarahumara language seems to mean “a shady place”. Perhaps here in the small canyon there was a grove of trees tucked away by a small canyon spring.

For More Information go to NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC



It’s “the Sistine Chapel of crystals,” says Juan Manuel García- Ruiz. The geologist announced this week that he and a team of researchers have unlocked the mystery of just how the minerals in Mexico’s Cueva de los Cristales (Cave of Crystals) achieved their monumental forms. Buried a thousand feet (300 meters) below Naica mountain in the Chihuahuan Desert, the cave was discovered by two miners excavating a new tunnel for the Industrias Peñoles company in 2000. To learn how the crystals grew to such gigantic sizes, García-Ruiz studied tiny pockets of fluid trapped inside.

The cave contains some of the largest natural crystals ever found: translucent gypsum beams measuring up to 36 feet (11 meters) long and weighing up to 55 tons.The crystals, he said, thrived because they were submerged in mineral-rich water with a very narrow, stable temperature range – around 136 degrees Fahrenheit (58 degrees Celsius). At this temperature the mineral anhydrite, which was abundant in the water, dissolved into gypsum, a soft mineral that can take the form of the crystals in the Naica cave. (text by Discovery News and National Geographic)

Cosmic Snowglobe

Like a whirl of shiny flakes sparkling in a snow globe, Hubble catches an instantaneous glimpse of many hundreds of thousands of stars moving about in the globular cluster M13, one of the brightest and best-known globular clusters in the northern sky. This glittering metropolis of stars is easily found in the winter sky in the constellation Hercules and can even be glimpsed with the unaided eye under dark skies.

M13 is home to over 100,000 stars and located at a distance of 25,000 light-years. These stars are packed so closely together in a ball, approximately 150 light-years across, that they will spend their entire lives whirling around in the cluster.

Near the core of this cluster, the density of stars is about a hundred times greater than the density in the neighborhood of our sun. These stars are so crowded that they can, at times, slam into each other and even form a new star, called a “blue straggler.” (text by Hubble Site)

USB Air Conditioned Shirt from Kuchofuku

The USB Air Conditioned Shirt is a fantastic invention for hot days! USB- fans blowing fresh air into the shirt. Best cooling effect – Made in Japan. Featured in press and gadget blogs.

Included in delivery:
1 Eco Wear shirt, Size XL (Japanese XL)

Size: XL 126/45,
Fans: 1,2 W
Weight: 325 g
Material: 80% Polyester, 20% Cotton

Weekly ROBOZAK (RZ-1): Build Your Own Programmable Robot…with a Magazine?

Just announced today from publisher DeAGOSTINI, the “Weekly ROBOZAK” magazine will be available from January 9th. The concept has been tried before, is bold as hell, and will require serious commitment on the behalf of subscribers, but we can’t help but feel enthusiasm and admiration for it.

Simply put, every week for eighty weeks you get a new issue of the magazine, which includes a new part and instructions on how to apply it to your robot, dubbed the RZ-1. There will also be lots of other info and articles related to the project, its participants, and the future of it.


The first issue will be available from January 9th for 790 Yen, and you’ll be able to build the forearm of the left arm. Every following issue of ROBOZAK will be 1990 Yen. At eighty issues, that brings our grand total to 158,000 Yen, or $1,370 in today’s dollars (not eighty-four weeks from now dollars). An expensive price tag, but doing it on the installment plan like this brings perspective. It’s steep, but you’re paying for the experience as much as you are a kickass robot. Watch the video!

The RZ-1 is a completely programmable, 12-inch tall robot that can do much of what we’ve seen from the VSTONE robots we covered here, with full 360-degree action. It can walk, climb stairs, do lots of fighting moves, cartwheels, and all kinds of other things we here at CScout Japan would never try to do on our own.


RZ-1’s base is the ROBONOVA-I, and it allows the RZ-1 to be easily controlled via infrared remote. We aren’t sure yet whether mobile phones will be able to control it, but that would be cool of course. With the included CD-Rom, it’s possible to create your own moves and combinations together, and then upload them onto the RZ-1.

- Size: 310×180x90mm
- Weight: 1.3kg
- Torque: 7.4kg/cm
- Charge Time: 1 hour, with 40- 60 minutes of action
- Battery: Nickel Hydrogen

All in all, it seems to be great for beginners especially, but has a *bit* of a slow pace to it. It’s tough to imagine snapping two parts together and then waiting a week, and once it really gets going people are going to really want it all…like…NOW!

Nissan Dualis Powered Suit in Ginza

We finally got down to the Nissan showroom in Ginza to see the Dualis Powered Suit, and (as you you can see) it’s pretty darn cool.


According to Danny Choo, the Powered Suit was designed by Shoji Kawamori, creator of characters for the anime series’ Macross, Ghost in the Shell, Eureka Seven, Aquarion and Patlabor. Basically, it’s what the real Dualis would look like on Transformer steroids, and with really cool detail. More pics after the jump…




Now, if we can get all of the car makers to anime-up their cars, we can see what happens when a Prius battles a Pino. Fight!

– Tokyo International Robot Exhibition 2007

We headed out to the Tokyo Big Sight to check out the 2007 International Robot Exhibition this weekend, and made sure to take a bunch of photos and some video as well.

The exhibition is typically a mix of industry, lifestyle, and toy gadgetry and allows the public to see up close what they typically only see on the news. After all, robots are a source of national pride in Japan for a number of reasons we won’t go into here.


Highlights included police robots, a (kind of creepy) dental training robot, a two-wheeled gyroscope balanced table, and the Robo-One Grand Championship. Consumer offerings were light, but those typically come out at the Tokyo Toy Show anyway.

For now, check out the video and photos below, and be sure to click the jump to see more…