It was a long time coming — you may remember that I worked on the project — but the first volume of the Tokyo Realtime series of audio tours finally came out a few weeks ago, and I have to say that it came out beautifully (note that I’m no longer involved). I remember when I did a test run of the Kabukicho tour when it was still in the editing stage, and even then I was amazed at how fun an experience it was.
You can read more about the series in this recent PingMag piece, but the idea is that you load up your audio player, and then follow your virtual guide in an hour-long tour of an area. More than just a sight-seeing tour, the whole thing mixes in sound bites from experts on the area, with sound effects and dramatic elements. I mean, you could probably get a lot from even just listening to it at home, but it’s quite an amazing experience to be walking through those streets, and really understanding what’s around you.
Kudos also for the beautiful packaging. The package includes a photo booklet, as well as water resistant map of the route. I’m happy to note that a lot of the creative design that went into it was born from connections made at PauseTalk. I myself got involved that way, and so did Chris Kirby (who designed the map) and AQ (who did the packaging).
If you haven’t already, you can order the Kabukicho tour through the official site, and on Amazon too — it should be in stores now too. The next volume — set to come out early next year — will cover Harajuku.
One of the strangest games to come out on the late great Dreamcast console was Seaman — a sequel was also released on the PS2. Designer Yoot Saito is bringing back the strange creature from the sequel, Gabo, to its own eponymous iPhone game/app. See this video for a peek. Gabo was supposed to come out in Japan earlier this month but isn’t out yet — hopefully it’ll hit the iTunes App Store soon. An international release is planned as well. Via Touch Arcade.
Dezeen posts a few images of the Vinegar Cafe, a space designed by Shinichiro Himematsu serving dishes using vinegar from an adjacent factory.
Muji has announced the results for this year’s “Muji Award” competition. The gold prize went to Yuki Iida’s Straw Straw (above). Lots of great winning selections this year, a stronger bunch that 2007 I think.
The LA Times reports that Takashi Murakami will open an animation studio in LA. He’s already produced a few shorts starring his mascot characters Kaikai and Kiki, as well as a video for Kanye West. The first project will be a full-length feature based on the “Planting the Seeds” shorts that were created for an exhibition. Via Anime News Network.
I just learned that Arcade Mania is now on sale from Amazon US! So no more silly pre-orders, if you want a copy now and didn’t want to order from Japan, now’s the time to get your copy! The official release was set for January, so this comes as a nice surprise, just in time for the holidays. Also, if you get a copy, add your review to Amazon, please!
Update: It’s available on Amazon UK too!
As I announced two weeks ago, starting next Monday I kick off life as editor at PingMag, and that means that I’ll be actively on the lookout for freelance pieces for the site. If you would be interested in writing for PingMag, and have some appropriately Ping topics, do get in touch with me.
The move to PingMag also means that I move out of my cave in Ikebukuro, and will now be based at Ping HQ in Harajuku, just across the street from Harajuku station. So yes, I rejoin society, and will be on the lookout for openings, shows, etc. So organizers and curators, I would love to hear from you.
If you’re a fan of the Professor Layton series of DS puzzle/mystery games, then you’ll be happy to hear that an animated film is on the way. Professor Layton: The First Movie is set to come out in Japan in January 2010, and will tell a new story. The voice actors from the game are reprising their roles. Via Anime New Network.
Interior designer Masamichi Katayama (Wonderwall) has launched a second monograph (following the release of a special edition for Colette in September). The art direction for Wonderwall Masamichi Katayama Projects No. 2 is by Groovisions.
Could Ikebukuro be getting its very own Chinatown?
A plan by some Chinese store and restaurant owners to create a community named “Tokyo Chinatown Ikebukuro” to promote interaction with their local Japanese neighbors is getting a negative reaction.
What’s the problem?
There has been trouble between Japanese and Chinese businesspeople over problems such as garbage disposal due to differences in lifestyle and language. Since the establishment of the preparatory committee, Chinese managers voluntarily collected waste material on several occasions around Ikebukuro railway station.
Oh, and this:
The possibility of criminal groups including the Chinese mafia coming to Ikebukuro is a source of concern for some Japanese.
I’m of course interested because I live in Ikebukuro. Read the rest of the piece here.