Thursday, May 28, 2015

Business trip to Tokyo - part 2: Reign of machines in Japan

Tokyo is a dynamic city employing various means  to manage and transport the millions of people existing within. An elaborate system relying on manners, politeness, discipline and perfectionism prevents the most overcrowded capital in the world from bursting into mayhem. Apart from the rules, demonstrated virtually on every corner by enormous concentration of signs with orders and warnings (see Part 1 of this story), Tokyo – just like the rest of Japan – implements technology and machines to accelerate, minimize and automate almost every imaginable (and unimaginable) activity.
A stand-alone category are Japanese trains and train networks, considered the most elaborate and fastest on the globe. It is not uncommon for Japanese employees to commute very large distances thanks to high-speed rails and trains (and that's also maybe why so many time-killing tech gadgets originate from Japan). After all, if Japanese would prefer car transport to trains, the islands would probably turn into a gigantic, constant traffic jam. 

If you have an affinity for cars with no desire to experience the delights of the intense train transport and people pushers, you're bound to come across several peculiarities. How about horizontal traffic lights or "car traps" in parking lots that just won't let you out unless you pay to be released? Pretty smart.

If you need to refuel, don't get upset about the missing stands, just look up. There's another machine to assist you :)

...but if you look up in open streets, you will immediately notice the omnipresent electric cables in thick, yellow bundles. Technical progress takes its toll.

No car? No problem. Two kids to carry around? Still not a problem! By the way, the bike is electric – machines take over everywhere. Also, there's arguably not a lot of mothers who would have the steam to pedal up a hill with two kids aboard.

Another chapter in Tokyo are vending machines of all kinds. From the very common machines selling drinks or packed snacks, you can also buy hot burgers, living crabs, umbrellas, toys, even gold. Yes, the metal. On the street. From a vending machine. The idea is to automate the selling process and remove the "unnecessary" piece in the delivery chain – personal contact. There are fast food joints and restaurants in Tokyo that have removed the front-desk and service entirely, just to oblige their customers through an impersonal interface of a machine. Machines are our new friends!

...and in case you wanted to store your luggage, it requires a higher technical education :)

In contrast to highly elaborate technology luring around every corner, it's fascinating to observe how state-of-the-art machines blend in with culture and traditions thousands of years old, but no less visible for that matter. More about the fusion of old and new in Japan is coming soon in our blog :)

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