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kyonoki - 京のキー

They've stopped breeding Aibo

Sony's positive financial results for the quarter are all well and good, but come at a high cost in terms of company icons and branding. Aibo, and his humanoid starlet brother Qrio, have both come under the chopper at the hands of the company's new hero, Howard Stringer. I'm leaving off the Sir because I'm sad.

Sure, Aibo is meaningless in practical terms. Qrio is so far from any kind of use to humanity as to ensure he is little more than his name suggests. But as examples of the company as a pioneer, as inspirational, as visionary, they were hard to replace. The only thing to have come between Aibo and me is money. I would have probably bought each iteration had I had the funds. I don't regret that I didn't, of course. But I was always hoping that one day, it'd be worth it, and I'd be able to afford it. Now, of course, their price will skyrocket, and any advancements in robot doggies will come from Honda, or maybe Matsushita/Panasonic will take up the mantle. Or worse for Japan, maybe one of the ever stronger South Korean firms, LG or Samsung, will become the leaders in the field of domestic robots.

It's sad symbolically. It feels like Stringer is cutting parts of the soul from Sony. And it's sad for Qrio, who'll never become a real boy, with a 12th generation, real-slobber-producing Aibo at his side.

28 01 06 - 04:35 - rhod - kyonoki| No comments - §

About Last Week

Well, that was quite the week.

From the very beginning, it was a 'big' crunch week for me. No work days ended on the same day as they began, but it was all quite a lot of fun, as everything we did really showed improvements in the overall quality of the build. However, work didn't mean The World stopped. What else happened?

Livedoor, the huge Japanese internet company, was allegedly involved in buffeting their current account balance (apparently to assist with a takeover bid for another firm). This sent Japanese shares plummeting*, and resulted in the death of one of the higher ranking executives of the company.

A whale met a sorry, highly public, well-photographed end after getting lost and swimming up to Battersea in London. I was told a while ago that the Thames is the cleanest metropolitan river on Earth. Perhaps a side-effect of the continuing clean-up will be the addition of enormous sea mammals in the capital from now on.

The Man Who Made Super Mario , amongst other things, came to my office and shook my hand and signed my DS and liked our game and stuff. That was fun. He was accompanied by two other high ranking producers, and when combined, I think (off top of head) that they make up all of Nintendo's main franchises bar one (Metroid). My DS now rocks even more than it did last week.

Our company 'shinnenkai' - new year party - co-incided with the departure of Miyamoto et al from our office, and thus a very tired group of game developers drank and munched for as long as they could handle (sometime around 11) before returning home to sleep for most of Saturday.

24 returned to US screens. It is still very much 24. Slightly more shocking than usual, but all the hallmarks were there. Maybe I'll keep on it, maybe not.

Perhaps funniest/most surprising/worst of all, though - A Liberal Democrat family man MP was involved in a sex scandal with a 'rent-boy', involving toe-curlingly embarrassing first hand reports that I, for some horribly trashy, deplorable reason, couldn't help but read. Any reports of the demise of the Lib Dems is (sadly) quite possibly not greatly exaggerated. I am all for MPs having private lives, but I'm not sure I'm pro liberal party members staying in the closet for the sake of a secure seat. Or having a fetish for younger men dressed as soccer players.

I'll make sure that I check in like this at least once a week, as well as my regular occasional witterings, to complement Ki's ever entertaining posts.

*excluding, it seems, Nintendo, whose recent successes, and emergent plans for the year, have pleased the markets. Oh, right. Not so interesting. Sorry.

22 01 06 - 12:03 - rhod - kyonoki| No comments - §


Sorry for so few Rhod-Posts. Very, very busy week. No sleeping, really. Lots of progress. Project doing well. Oh, and Miyamoto-san, Eguchi-san, and Imamura-san of Nintendo Corporation Ltd. all came by to see the fruits of our labour today.

The three of them signed my DS, making it into one of the more valuable in The World, and re-igniting my long since dampened teenage groupie tendencies. Look!

Mi-ha- means 'to act like a groupie', and was reasonably appropriate to my peculiar behaviour today. I'll post more over the weekend, for now....SLEEP.

20 01 06 - 15:46 - rhod - Photostory| three comments - §


Snow is forecast for the next couple of days. You can just make out the cloud-shrouded mountains in their winter garb.

19 01 06 - 11:54 - kieren - kyonoki| No comments - §

Hammer Time!

It has to be said that my work rarely gives me any of those laugh-out-loud moments, the kind where you become immobilized through fits of silent guffaws and blinded by tears. Oh sure, it offers up enough eye rolling insanity and sighing disbelief, but giggles that you fear may have you pissing in your pants? Too few.

The fantastic Mibu-sensei provided me with my most fun moment of my work so far today. Let me paint a picture of Mibu. She truly is an amazing teacher...flowing crimped brown hair, tiny frame, Egyptian style make up, Thai clothes and enough jewelery to tip an elephant. Mibu-power has become the phrase du jour, for no other teacher has stirred so much affection amongst the students. She is fluent in English, is brazen, bossy, smokes a packet a day and comes out with outrageous stories. She tells students to fuck off, shouts at them, takes the piss, yet has them craving for more. She is the most wonderful teacher, and I look up to her immensely.

Today she warbled through My Heart Will Go On, claiming that she was the Japanese Celine Dion, except with a better grasp of the English language. She can't sing for shit, but she sure as hell belted out the words as if that ship depended on her. This, in the middle of a listening test. Then we patiently sat through Backstreet Boys. While the students filled in missing phrases she carefully memorised the words for her own rendition.

This was mildly amusing, but then the song stopped and the next track started before I had a chance to switch off the tape. Backstreet's Back with its thumping intro pounded out. At once, in a fluid motion, she was gliding up the aisle, doing the robot, throwing her hands up in the air and improvising the most amazing MC Hammer dance I have ever seen.

Bear in mind The Mibu is no Spring Chicken. She said she would cut my balls off if I dared stop the track. For five minutes she went for it at the back of the classroom. MC Hammer to perfection. Thank you! You just made a 10 month slog at work worthwhile in two seconds.

19 01 06 - 09:42 - kieren - kyonoki| No comments - §

Crime and Punishment

For those avid readers who more often than not ponder the fate of those school urchins known as the Red Button Gang, look no further than these few words. What goes around comes around. If ever you were thinking of taking up the mantle of thief extraordinaire then a few simple rules should be followed. Don't shit in your own back yard, and don't ever commit a crime in Japan. For Japan is still in the Victorian mould of death penalties and hard labour.

Police reports were published today, revealing the fate of said gang members. Notoriously absent from the school in December and January, three reappeared today and a deep shiver ran down my spine as I sat marking, occasionally lifting an eye to glance at the fallen members. Nothing so much occurred to me as Room 101 in the novel 1984. My school snitch pulled me aside and whispered that the final two gang members were not coming back. The judge had sentenced them to 6 months in a juvenile facility for no less than arson, vandalism, robbery and social disruption. Of the three now sitting comatose at their desks, all had been through one month of social conditioning. I shudder to think what that could mean.

Is it an improvement? Well they are not running riot or terrorising the school, but they do nothing but stare at their desks, barely able to lift their heads to the blackboard. Drugs? Or were some other methods employed? What they did was wrong, and I hear that the police mentioned the head honcho was not a student, but rather a 23 year old man, still missing. A shadowy figure bullying and manipulating junior high school students into doing his dirty bidding. Sounds like a nice guy.

Junevile facilities in Japan are not nice places. Japan has zero tolerance for criminals. For any stepping out of line the punishment is often harsh. The remaining students will be allowed to return, but they may choose not to. Their experiences will probably prevent them from rejoining the school.

And of the red buttons? Not one in sight.

17 01 06 - 09:46 - kieren - kyonoki| No comments - §


10 01 06 - 11:23 - kieren - kyonoki| two comments - §


10 01 06 - 11:22 - kieren - kyonoki| No comments - §


10 01 06 - 11:19 - kieren - kyonoki| No comments - §

Mike is Here!

Mike arrived last night, fresh from Ben and Emily's Sydney pad, and today we have been on a whirlwind trip around Kyoto. Instead of a mad dash from temple to temple, we opted to just go with a long visit to one of our favourites, Nanzenji. After that? Shopping of course. Mike has done his bit for the Japanese economy today. This evening we're taking him to our regular haunt, Chikyuya, for delicious food, drink, and possibly karaoke.

07 01 06 - 09:35 - kieren - kyonoki| two comments - §

Jiving Elvis

Do my eyes deceive me, or are these chaps dressed up as Elvis, hip-jiving away to the beats of the King outside the City Hall?

04 01 06 - 13:23 - kieren - kyonoki| one comment - §

Snowy Mountains

Cycling to the immigration office today, we stopped at the Kamo River to take some pictures of the snow dusted mountains to the north. Just beyond the mountains everything is snowy along the Sea of Japan which makes me very jealous indeed.

04 01 06 - 06:44 - kieren - kyonoki| No comments - §

Hard Gay

For those of you who don't follow trends in Japan (I am assuming that's most of you), we thought you should see this: It's 'Hard Gay' - a do-gooding celebrity who dresses up in zip-covered PVC and surprises store and business owners by turning up to help them out. And embarrass them greatly in the process. We can't work out where it fits with regards to equality, exploitation and human rights, but like most of Japan, we just watch, intrigued.

03 01 06 - 14:08 - kieren - kyonoki| No comments - §

Nekomusume (Cat-daughter)

How better to advertise your tasty food treats, than with this delightful little doll? Taken from a famous Japanese folk tale, how nice it feels to chew on your noodles under the watchful gaze of a befanged demon.

01 01 06 - 08:09 - kieren - kyonoki| No comments - §


The first visit to a shrine on the first day of the New Year. Mitsuko decided to pray at a small deserted temple close to Tenmangu Shrine, wrapped up despite the surprising warmth of the day, a few metres away from thousands of people thronging towards the main precinct. Food stalls lined the avenue, funneling people into a crushing frenzy of coats, scarves, black hair, and wafts of squid, noodles, candy floss, sweet potato and roasting chestnuts. Wave after wave of revelers washed through the grounds, and I sat observing the mob as Rhod and Mitsuko battled for pancakes.

01 01 06 - 08:03 - kieren - kyonoki| No comments - §

Omedetou Gozaimasu

You know it must be New Year's Day when your folks are calling a few minutes after you have finally put head to pillow to wish you a Happy New Year from England, when the dangly thing at the back of your throat is stuck to the roof of your mouth, and when your old housemate is rolling over you to wake you up. One minute I was comfy in a little oasis of warmth, then suddenly the blankets were being ripped off with a far too genki 'Good morrrrrrrrrrning'.

2006 arrived in low key style, in fact mostly in a fuggy haze. I put this down to alcohol, but take no responsibility. After settling down for dinner at Merry Island (the swank colonial restaurant we had booked), we ordered drinks and decided on the menu as quickly as possible. Two hours later and the main meal had still not arrived, (despite the restaurant being not overly busy) and we had ploughed through five bottles of wine in our growing impatience. Thus everything else is a blur

My old housemate Mitsuko, on the spur of the moment decided to join us, so she took the bullet train from Kobe and slipped in for a quick beer before we trundled off to SS Bar and our usual space in the loft. Cocktails, wine, beer, party poppers, and lashings of greasy food and I don't quite remember anything but being very hot and the sudden mad rush to hail in the New Year, as most people forgot to count down.

I have a lovely dizzy feeling this morning and I am sure we will take the camera out to visit some shrines on the first day of the year.

Happy New Year one and all.

01 01 06 - 03:29 - kieren - kyonoki| No comments - §


Rhod and Ki's tour of life in Kyoto, Japan.


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