A new book about the famous design retailer reveals how certain objects found their way into American lives.
Anyone in the United States who loves Chemex coffee makers or Marimekko dresses has one man to thank for bringing them stateside: architect Benjamin Thompson. The new book Design Research: The Store that Brought Modern Living to American Homes (Chronicle Books) tells the story of Thompson’s pioneering emporium of modern design.

Catalogue of Crazy Watches from Japan



Everyone knows that Japanese live on their own time. Their culture is alternatively more fast-paced and intense than the rest of the western world (like in urban areas), or more relaxed and introspective (like a Japanese garden).

Knowing these idiosyncrasies, one Japanese company "TokyoFlash" sells absolutely marvelous and really bizarre watches. They fulfill every kind of purpose, except clearly telling the time. A few examples from their catalog:

A steampunk dream come true

Those fabulous Japanese have raised the bar for the laptop technology... again. Not only is this model made out of wood (plus a bunch of original 1930's typewriter parts), but guess what - it actually works, and has all the hi-tech features that you'd expect from a respectable laptop.




"Decotora" Trucks Shine in the Night

What happens if a Japanese truck "dies and goes to heaven?" It becomes one of the glorified "Decotora" trucks! Decorated trucks, vans and semis glow in the night with the million lights, adding to the already incredibly bright Japanese urban landscape.
(click to enlarge images)



Japan 
digital photography

Everything you always wanted to know about Japan,
but did not know where to ask


1. Giant robot takes care of cars

This blog tracks the news about robotics advances in Japan. One company definitely to watch for is TMSUK, which has quite an impressive line-up of robots for various applications, with some even in use on campuses throughout Japan. The biggest of the bunch is T-52 model:

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Computers, Electronics
Computers, Electronics
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Computers, Electronics

Is this robot on a mission to seek and destroy improperly parked cars? Certainly the idea has been around long enough:

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- Car-wrecking robot from the cover of "Wonder Stories" science fiction pulp magazine from 1935.

T-52 however, is not a nemesis to cars. Quite the opposite:
Pink Tentacle reports:
"This is the giant rescue robot called T-52 Enryu ("Rescue Dragon"). It has a bulldozer-like base and a 5-meter long arms that can lift cars stuck in the snow. In the tests T-52 Enryu showed off its avalanche prevention skills by removing accumulated snow from the edge of a cliff. The robot also demonstrated its ability to extract a car buried under a bank of snow."
T-52 Enryu stands 3.45 meters tall and weighs 5 tons.

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More pictures of this model tests: here

Robot Stylists Go Medieval

T-82 model may be the coolest-looking robot to date. Your personal stainless-steel "Knight of Antiquity", eager to help you shop for groceries and around the house.
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T-82 scoops candy into a bag at Robotics show in Fukuoka. It has the most dexterious hand movements among robots today.

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3. Practical Patrol and Monitor Robot (QC-SR)

Watch out! This robot goes on patrol in a building, and is capable of handling various emergencies, including fire.
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Computers, Electronics

5. Bipedal Walking Robots

Humanoid Two-legged Walking Robot "SHINPO"

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Using the rotation of the human pelvis and the free movement of leg-joints as a model, the company has finally succeeded in making a robot that can walk without bending its knees - a first in this field with almost humanlike walking style.
It can climb stairs and carry things weighing 60 to 90kg.
"SHINPO" was developed in a collaboration of TMSUK Co., Ltd. and Atsuo Takanishi Laboratory for a part of the robot exhibition at Niigata Science Museum.

Biped Humanoid Robot WABIAN-2
(WAseda BIpedal humANiod-No.2)


From Takanishi Laboratory comes this cool humanoid model:
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Computers, Electronics

and another stair-climbing one (not so humanoid):
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Computers, Electronics

More cute robots:
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A model of the Tachikoma robot from the anime "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex."

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Balancing wheel model.

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Like some Godzilla monster, the giant crane looms over the city

Early in the morning it arrives at the city dock to begin the bridge construction for the man-made island in Kagoshima bay. Boom length: 132m. Lifting capacity: 3700 tons!
It's "Yoshida" - Japanese biggest floating crane, built by Mitsubishi heavy Industries Division.

Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan

The task is to lift the whole bridge sections, each weighing approx. 3500 tonnes.

Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan

Each hook is 10 meters tall. The workers around it look as small as ants.
Some 800 steps lead to the tip of the boom, to the small cabin on the top.

Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan


Another day's job -
transporting a submarine


The Japanese submarine SS-600 Mochishio is lifted at the Kobe Kawasaki yard. The Mochishio is the last of the Oyashio-class and is approximately 84m in length. (thanks JB for info)

Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Sources: Jikki, Nifty

Safety First!

Large shipping cranes...

Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan

or crane vessels...

Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan

all require lots of TLC in operation, as the following unfortunate example demonstrates:
(more pics here)

Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan
Ships, Heavy Machinery, Japan

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