Apple Maps Japan Reboot Start Line:

Here are possible changes I will be on the lookout for:

  • Higher contrast cartography with better Japanese text labeling
  • Less map vomit: default view with far fewer, better designed icons and 3C icons reserved for map search
  • Intelligent indoor mapping for major Japanese stations
  • 3D mapping that doesn’t obscure surrounding map information
  • Traffic, Lane Guidance, Speed Limits and other missing iOS features of Apple Maps Japan
  • More Apple collected Japanese map information with missing pieces proved by top tier JP map supplier Zenrin. The less 3rd rate 3rd party JP map data from Yelp, Foursquare and IPC the better
  • Destination check lists: smart transit information that updates on the fly and lets me set more than one destination

It will be slow but slow, constant intelligent updates will get Apple Maps Japan where it needs to go and finally deliver a good service for Japanese iOS customers.

(Via Ata Distance)

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“Tsundoku,” the Japanese Word for the New Books That Pile Up on Our Shelves, Should Enter the English Language:

There are some words out there that are brilliantly evocative and at the same time impossible to fully translate. Yiddish has the word shlimazl, which basically means a perpetually unlucky person. German has the word Backpfeifengesicht, which roughly means a face that is badly in need of a fist. And then there’s the Japanese word tsundoku, which perfectly describes the state of my apartment. It means buying books and letting them pile up unread.

The word dates back to the very beginning of modern Japan, the Meiji era (1868-1912) and has its origins in a pun. Tsundoku, which literally means reading pile, is written in Japanese as 積ん読. Tsunde oku means to let something pile up and is written 積んでおく. Some wag around the turn of the century swapped out that oku (おく) in tsunde oku for doku (読) – meaning to read. Then since tsunde doku is hard to say, the word got mushed together to form tsundoku.

As with other Japanese words like karaoke, tsunami, and otaku, I think it’s high time that tsundoku enter the English language. Now if only we can figure out a word to describe unread ebooks that languish on your Kindle. E-tsundoku? Tsunkindle? Visit our collection of Free eBooks and contemplate the matter for a while.

(Via Open Culture)

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Why Japanese whisky is so good and so hard to find:

One of Japan’s leading whisky bloggers discusses the shortage of good Japanese single malts, the state of the country’s whisky industry, and how to order a highball.
Once upon a time, you could walk into a shop in Japan and buy whole casks of Yamazaki whisky from Suntory. Today, you’re lucky if you can get a bottle of 12-year old Yamazaki Single Malt. Earlier this year, a bottle of Yamazaki 50 became the most expensive bottle of Japanese whisky ever sold, after it was purchased at auction for about $299,000.

Brian Ashcraft has spent the past decade studying Japanese whisky. His new book, “Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Desirable Spirit with Tasting Notes from Japan’s Leading Whisky Blogger,” explores how the spirit’s global popularity has exploded in recent years. Ashcraft, who is based in Osaka and has been living in Japan for 17 years, recently spoke to Roads & Kingdoms about the state of Japan’s whisky industry—and why it continues to become a popular spirit among whisky aficionados.

(Via Roads & Kingdoms)

I’m not a huge whisky drinker but I am appreciating it more. I do seem to be collecting bottles lately.

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Baths Are Better for Your Mental and Physical Health Than Showering:

Although taking a shower is almost always better than a bath in terms of environmental impact, baths appear to be the winner in terms of individual mental and physical health. So maybe it’s time to tell the roommate to scrub out the tub so you can let yourself soak— for your health, of course.

(Via Motherboard)

Japan’s a country known for valuing the bath, so the results of this study are expected.

I have to whole heartedly co-sign this regardless. I need to make a few tweaks to my bathing game, but it does a nice job of distressing and relaxing me.

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Screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto, who worked on iconic Kurosawa films, dies at age 100 | The Japan Times https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2018/07/20/entertainment-news/screenwriter-shinobu-hashimoto-worked-iconic-kurosawa-films-dies-age-100/

Like many Americans, #Kurosawa films were my introduction to Japan. I didn’t know about Hashimoto-sama’s contribution until now.

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America’s ramen obsession:

The latest video in the New Yorker’s Annals of Obsession tracks the transformation of ramen from a cheapo dorm room food to current culinary obsession showing no signs of abating. I ate the cheap ramen in college, dined at David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar early on, and might pick ramen as my death-bed food,1 so I guess this video was pretty much made for me. Honestly the toughest part about where I live right now is the 2-hour roundtrip drive to eat ramen.

  1. Specifically, I would have a bowl of the shoyu ramen from Ivan.

    Tags: food   ramen   video

(Via kottke.org)

An evergreen topic for me for sure as living in Tokyo means I can swing a dead cat and hit a dozen noodle shops.

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A Glimpse into Private-Sector Cybersecurity in Japan:

Many Japanese government agencies and corporate actors are discovering the importance of cybersecurity as a set of national policies (the selection of Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics has been an impetus). But Japan’s role in the global economy means that government, business, policy, and academic actors outside of Japan need to understand the current policy stances and policy processes for their own economy and cybersecurity. “Business Management and Cybersecurity” provides an excellent entry into Japan’s changing understandings and its roles in global cybersecurity.

… Another example of the value of the book’s comparative approach is its description of the different expectations the chief information-security officer (CISO) role in corporations in Japan and overseas. Only 63 percent of Japanese companies assign a CISO, whereas the ratio is 95 and 85 percent in the U.S. and Europe respectively. While CISOs are “dual-hat” positions in 35 percent of Japanese companies, the ratio is only 17 percent in the U.S. and 18 percent in Europe. Since Japan does not have many long-term cybersecurity professionals as the U.S., and since Japanese business culture does not usually recruit C-suite executives externally, “Business Management and Cybersecurity” expresses doubt that an American or European approach of hiring and assigning a CISO would work in Japan. Instead, the book suggests that cybersecurity team building would be more effective given Japan business culture and patterns of Japanese corporate governance.

(Via Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices)

The review definitely echoes my observations working here for the past 30 months. Looks like I found my next book! I just hope there is an English edition that doesn’t lose too much in translation.

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[https://tidbits.com/2018/06/15/uk-travel-tips-giffgaff-for-cellular-and-apple-pay-for-transit/](UK Travel Tips: Giffgaff for Cellular and Apple Pay for Transit)

Apple Pay for Transit

The challenge of driving on the opposite side of the road was one thing when we were out on the motorways and around Stratford-Upon-Avon, but driving in London was insane, what with the traffic, squirrely little roads, trying to match Google Maps directions with difficult to find street signs, and more. We were happy to return our rental car right after arriving and planned to use London’s famed public transit system—the London Tube!—for the rest of the trip.

Relying on public transit systems as a tourist is often quite stressful, between the confusion of trying to figure out routes and figuring out the local payment systems and policies. Luckily, both Google Maps and Apple’s Maps did a good job of providing detailed directions that included walking routes when switching from a bus to the Tube, for instance. But payments were still a worry because there are all sorts of variables based on zones, time of day, age, and more.

The advice we’d been given by tech-savvy friends who had been to London recently was to just use Apple Pay. When you do that, TfL’s system tracks your usage throughout the day and charges you the lowest appropriate fare—taking into account daily caps that make the final amounts cheaper than day or week passes. (An alternative would have been to buy one of TfL’s contactless Oyster cards, add money to it, and then get it refunded when we left the country. Our friends did that for their young children, who didn’t have iPhones. Also, we could have used contactless credit cards, which are still rare in the US, if we’d had them.)

The physical process of paying with Apple Pay is brilliant—most of the time. There’s a yellow payment pad on gates in the Tube stations and at the front of buses. You invoke Apple Pay, authenticate, and then touch your device to the pad. (You’re supposed to be able to touch your device to the pad to invoke Apple Pay and then authenticate, but that didn’t work the one time I tried it.) The gates then open, or a light turns green, indicating you can proceed. For the Tube, you have to touch in when you enter the station and touch out when you leave; for buses, you just touch in when you board and don’t need to touch out.

If you want to use Apple Pay for public transit in London, there are a few quirks to keep in mind:

• Use a supported credit card. Our debit cards from our local credit union had no currency conversion fees, so we thought we’d use them with Apple Pay. However, it turned out that US debit cards generally aren’t accepted in the UK, so we had to set Apple Pay to use a different credit card. Make sure you have a few credit cards loaded into Apple Pay to be safe.

• Use the same device each time. To avoid higher fares for seemingly incomplete journeys and to take advantage of the daily capping, you have to touch in and touch out with the same device for all your trips in a day. In other words, settle on your iPhone or your Apple Watch, and don’t switch. We only used our iPhones because I’ve had more trouble in general with Apple Pay payments registering from the Apple Watch. (Although I’m sad that I didn’t try it one day when we had little travel planned.)

• Be patient and try again if necessary. We had a non-trivial number of failures, where Tristan and I would get through the gates, for instance, but the system would reject Tonya’s payment. Some of that was user error, as we all figured out how to use Apple Pay more fluidly, but other failures had no obvious cause. It might have been related to all three of us using the same credit card in too quick succession, but sometimes everything worked as expected. Apart from suffering dirty looks from other commuters who we were blocking, there was no problem with waiting briefly or trying another gate—it always worked in the end.

Regular readers know I enjoy a good contactless payment travel story. While not as frictionless as the Japan system(s), this seems workable for a visit.