I was part of the entertainment at the recent GDD Tokyo 2011; I guess nobody’s feelings are hurt if you hold a Tokyo-branded event down in Yokohama.

I did not fall in love with Yokohama; mind you, we only saw the glossy boring built-up part right around the Pacifico convention center. The only thing that was visually interesting was this great big honking pink Ferris wheel. It was right outside my hotel room window. Here it is by day:

Yokohama Ferris wheel by day

And two by night, one close-up. The latter is when I walked over to try to get a ride; at closing time, alas.

Yokohama Ferris wheel by night
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Yokohama Ferris wheel by night, close-up

The Event · It was great. The Google Japan team is formidable, and they threw themselves into the work. Production values, preparation, polish, energy, nothing was missing. Maybe my favorite part was the ADK corral, where people showed off contraptions built around Android’s new USB-wrangling capabilities.

This first is a mobile multi-fan; it has cameras to see you, a motor and wheels to follow you around, and, well, you can see the fans. Someone had serious fun here.

Steampunk motorized fan based on Android ADK

The most impressive demo, I thought, was this, from Seraku:

Android-driven washroom mirror

Somehow or other, this bathroom mirror had a data display, a little ghostly but very clear, and you could control it by waving your hand; no touching required, and thus no mirror smudges. In this demo it was showing traffic and weather info, presumably for use to plan your commute while shaving or applying make-up.

There was a sort of sheet hung off the back of the mirror; they let me peek in and there was quite a bit of technology back there, obviously hand-assembled. Very impressive; I want one.

Closing the Show · The organizers set up a “closing ceremony” which was cheerfully deranged in the best Japanese style. I’m not quite sure what this guy’s schtick was, but the audience loved him.

Performer at GDD Tokyo closing ceremony

To end it all with a bang, they had forty-plus Googlers from the Tokyo office do a precision high-energy in-the-flesh cover of World Order’s famous sarariman dance routine. They’d practiced it endlessly and it brought the house down. I thought the visual appeal was enhanced by the inclusion of gaijin and females in the troupe.

There’s a three-minute retrospective of the event on YouTube.

Anyhow, on the morning after they showed us which trains to get on to go home, or in my case to Haneda airport on the way to Shanghai. I took this picture with my new Galaxy Nexus’ camera on the platform at Yokohama station.

On the platform at Yokohama station

It’s also included in my Galaxy Nexus World Tour set over on Google+; for some reason or another, it drew the most reaction of any picture in the set.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Janne (Nov 10 2011, at 17:18)

You didn't get to Chinatown? That's a fun area of Yokohama, with lots and lots of good restaurants. A shame.

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From: Jon (Nov 11 2011, at 01:38)

No Noge? Just the other side of Sakuragicho is one of the oldest remaining entertainment districts that i know. This place alone would have been worth it:

http://w3.bs-tbs.co.jp/sakaba/shop/066.html

A woman in her 80s (this was a while ago...) serves you warm sake out of tin kettle. Each round comes with a little dish. After three rounds she cuts you off and will absolutely not give you more to drink!

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From: Mike (Nov 11 2011, at 10:15)

I love Yokohama, including the built-up modern area. The Triennale art exhibit just ended, too bad you missed that. Chinatown is fun to wander around in. It's a very walkable city.

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From: whump (Nov 11 2011, at 21:12)

Next time you're in Yokohama with time to spare, take the train down to Kamakura. It's a nice day trip, and the Daibutsu is pretty cool.

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