April 26-27 Amyu Exhibition

From April 26-27 (Saturday-Sunday), 2014, the various labs from the information technology department of Kanagawa Institute of Technology as well as many other companies held a joint exhibition in the Amyu department store near Hon-Atsugi.  The exhibition occupied four floors in Amyu starting from the fifth floor and ended on the eighth floor.  The KAIT labs were stationed in room 604 on the sixth floor and our exhibition was titled “The Future Gaming Center”.  Our supervising professors were Shirai-sensei and Nakamura-sensei while the student in charge of “The Future Gaming Center” exhibition was Ogawa Kosaku, a friend of mine and a fourth year student at Shirai-lab.

KAIT exhibited a total of seven games, including FamiLink TV and Manga Generator from Shirai-lab, アオモリズム, ワットラットラッシュ, はげピッ!ピッ!, “頭”を使って暗算トレーニング!, Let’s SPANKING!!」, and リキシトール.  FamiLink TV is the multi-imaging project that I worked from early Feburary till late March and was shown previously in the KAIT Hon-Atsugi Exhibition roughly two months ago as well as the Laval Virtual Conference in France in April.  This project lets people do a variety of things such as watching a movie and playing a  game on a single television screen at the same time without splitting the screen.  Manga Generator is the project I am currently working on that allows the user to act out various manga scenarios as the protagonist in the story.  アオモリズム is a rhythm game about a fight between Hokaido and Aomori state in Japan.  ワットラットラッシュ puts the player into the shoes of a mouse roaming around the living room.   “頭”を使って暗算トレーニング! lets the player play the role of a cashier counting the exact price of bald middle aged man in shopping carts.  Let’s SPANKING!! is yet another rhythm game that encourages people to do exercise by having them tap their head, shoulders, knees, or toes instead of regular gamepad buttons.  This game is actually very close to a Building Virtual World project I did a year ago where the player also taps their body parts in a rhythm game.  Last but not least is ツッパリで迫りくる障害物を吹っ飛ばせ!, a first person beat them up rhythm game where the player plays as a sumo who has to beat his way through a crowded street to the sumo stadium.

I am very impressed with the dedication of my labmates who were willing to come here during the weekends at 9:00 AM on both days to set up the exhibition and stayed until the exhibition was over.  I was not required to come to the exhibitions at nine and only came at 1:00 pm on both dates and on top of that, I did not have to stay in room 604 the entire time and was allowed to go look at other exhibitions.  My labmates demonstrated extreme patience with people and many times even acted as guidance for young children in the Manga Generator project where youngsters do not know that they have to remain stationary for the camera to take their pictures and have their image ingrained into the manga.  On numerous occasions my labmates even gave hints to children as to what poses they should make in different scenarios.

Some other exhibitions I saw include a robot dancing exhibition where robots dance to different songs, ikebana (flower arrangement), Ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world), sculptures made by children living in places struck by the 2012 tsunami with their household items, a western painting exhibition done by  an old Japanese painter who lived to 100 years old and passed away on 2012, a Japanese spinning top battle  (where people put two tops inside a small arena and the first one to got knocked off balance loses), as well as a robotic exhibition from Tokyo Polytechnic University featuring a maze solving robot and a soccer shooting bot.  I am amazed by the stuff I saw in different exhibitions to say the least, as this is the first time for me to see dancing robots, spinning top battle, and a complete Ukiyo-e exhibition.

At the end of April 26th, all KAIT students who exhibited in Amyu gathered in a pizza shop in the basement of Amyu to celebrate the success of our first day.  On Sunday after the exhibition was officially over, we packed up all of our equipment and put them into a truck that took them back to KAIT.  I and Shirai-sensei as well as dozens of other students also went back to KAIT carry the equipment from the truck back to their respective laboratories.  We had a short party afterwards on the fifth floor of K1 where people drank beer and ate snacks before parting their ways.

Overall the exhibition was a huge success and we got 1313 visitors on Saturday April 27 and 1259 visitors on Sunday April 28, which adds up to a total of 2572 visitors.


Japan Vending Machines, Toilets, and Convenient Stores

I will be talking about the vending machines, toilets, and convenient stores in Japan in this blog.  While this may seemed like a weird combination, these three elements are some of the first things one will notice when arriving in Japan.

Japan is literally filled with vending machines and one can find two or three of these machines on a single block.  Most of the vending machines sell hot and cold drinks (cold drinks are marked by a blue label underneath the product display and hot drinks marked by a red label) while some other machines sell ice creams or cigarettes.  When I first arrived at Japan around January 22nd, I was very sick and actually got better by buying hot drinks from these machines.  All vending machines have a recycle bin right next to them, which is a very convenient and environmental friendly design as it discourages people from throwing empty cans onto the streets.

The toilets in Japan are unlike any other toilets one will come across, in that most of them contain heated seats, meaning one does not get one’s butt cold in winter when sitting on a toilet.  As far as I know all of the toilet seats in Kanagawa institute of Japan have heated seats and even the toilets in some convenient stores have them (yes convenient stores have restrooms for people to use in Japan) have heated seats.  I have to admit that I enjoyed sitting on toilets a bit too much when I first came here during winter.  So please give these lovely seats a try if one ever comes here, for these toilet seats are sure to warm your heart from your butt.

Last but not the least are the 24 hour convenient stores in Japan.  Much like the vending machines, the convenient stores are a big part of life in Japan in that one not only buys goods such as snacks, drinks, tobacco, and manga from them, one also pays rent and all kinds of bills in these places.  Need to pay the gas bill or electricity bill?  Just take the bill to the convenient store and pay the clerks money and you are all set.  The convenient stores also have microwaves and boiling water that one can use to heat up one’s ramen or bento (but only for those who purchased the bento and ramen from the shop).  Lastly these chain stores also provide wireless network service for customers who have purchased wireless network plans from the store.