Hello, I am a Gross Yellow Blob

fullsizeoutput_6016Oh no, another Unicode revision is coming with even more questionable emoji additions.

At this point, with emoji the most exciting thing to happen to written communication in centuries, emoji are the only reason for Unicode revisions anymore.

Unicode 10 looks like another move to scrub away the Japanese manga heritage of emoji and replace it with things that PC obsessed westerners really care about: skin tones, yoga and junk food.

Skin variations are a decent idea but poorly executed; most people just end up using the gross yellow defaults. Here’s the thing about emoji, they only represent my mood, not me. That’s why Japanese guys never had a problem using a cutie-white princess emoji. Kawai! What’s the big deal anyway, it all just manga, right?

Progress is progress but I miss the simplicity, and fun, of 2010-era emoji.

The Apple Pay Japan Ad Juggernaut

Why are you so slow? Don’t you have Suica Apple Pay?

The Japanese ad blitz that kicked off for the Apple Pay New Life campaign is shaping up as something unprecedented for Apple in Japan. The closest thing in scope, frequency and reach is the famous iPod dancing silhouette campaign at its pre-iPhone peak.

This is much bigger. Think of iPod ad intensity with ten more companies each contributing their own iPod ads. Since the October 29 Apple Pay Japan kickoff, ads have wrapped Yamanote trains, plastered train stations and escalators and that was just for JR East’s Suica Apple Pay.

Now we have Apple Pay ads from Docomo iD, JCB QUICPay, ORICO, Mitsui Sumitomo, Saison/UC, View and of course Suica. Lots more Suica Apple Pay advertising than ever: more wrapped trains, station posters, ticket gate stickers and six ads featuring hot actor Ryuhei Matsuda (son of Black Rain’s Yusaku Matsuda) using Suica Apple Pay on Apple Watch, looking at the camera saying “Let’s Go!” These ads loop endlessly on the Yamanote line train info-screens.

The JR East Suica Apple Pay ads in particular feature Apple Watch Series 2 in action and are enormously effective in a way that Apple’s own Apple Watch ads are not. The Apple Pay ‘ka-ching’ sound going through the ticket gate is the one single killer feature everybody gets instantly. It’s the perfect pitch to Tokyo commuters on the go.

Enjoy the ad gallery.


Ticket Gate Stickers

McDonald’s Japan Adding Full Apple Pay Support


The new ‘World Ready’ Panasonic NFC JT-R600CR Reader
スクリーンショット 2017-03-23 11.25.45
The full spport list

Mono-News Net reports that McDonald’s Japan is adding Apple Pay support in “the latter half of 2017.” The thing is, McDonald’s already supports Apple Pay Japan payments if you have an iD compatible card loaded.

The robust support coming later to all 2,900 stores nationwide is detailed on the McDonald’s Japan press release and includes Suica, QUICPay and, surprise, NFC A/B. In short this means McDonald’s will support Apple Pay across the board for all, from abroad and Japan. It just works.

The reason? Look carefully at the picture and you will see that McDonald’s is rolling out those fancy new Panasonic NFC  JT-R600CR readers announced in February that can do it all: NFC A/B/F (FeliCa) and the accompanying payment systems.

Panasonic is gunning to capture business from the card payment infrastructure investment frenzy related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Looks like they made their first big catch.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

With less than 24 hours to go until Moritomo Gakuen school principal Yasunori Kagoike appears as special witness before the Japanese Diet, Japanese media is waiting breathlessly to report the resulting brouhaha and political fallout. Then again it could all turn out to be an early April Fools.

The New York Times reporting from Tokyo is dismal as usual, reporting only what NYT Japan operator Asahi Shimbun wants written, calling everybody Asahi doesn’t like ‘far right’, ‘ultra right’, ‘nationalist’, etc. Most of the English language reporting out of Tokyo these days is, unfortunately, the same.

Much more fun, fascinating and spot on are the tweets from the mysterious, elusive and super globally connected Nekokumi-cho.  A former top financial officer of the Yamaguchi-gumi yakuza, Nekokumi-cho knows how the Japanese political, business and media worlds are hard-wired and  has a firm finger on the pulse of Japanese current events.

If you want to know what’s really going on in Japan, read @nekokumicho

Dear Apple Maps, Your Japanese Map Data From IPC is Rotting

IPC Maps.pngNot many people bother to blog about Apple Maps anymore so it’s refreshing to read a different user’s point of view. A Japanese blogger by the name of Train, a train enthusiast I think, posted an interesting take of Apple Maps Japan.

He notices that despite the addition of Google level quality transit info provider Jourdan, the embarrassingly out of date map data from IPC still ruins the party. His barrel-full of shot up fish includes:

  • The Missing: new roads such as the 2015 extensions to the Ken-O Expressway and 2016 extensions to Age-O  Route 17.
  • The Unburied Dead: various towns and train stations that no long exist, some dating all the way back to 2010.
  • The Stupid: The Akabane~Ikebukuro section of the Saikyo Line is not the Shonan~Shinjuku line, also the Tokyo Bay Aqua-line is not free but the route labels make it look like it is.

Some of this is Apple not updating the IPC date they have, but IPC’s data itself is pretty bad. My own favorite IPC goof is the Great Shibu Hot Spring Data Cutoff (zoom all the way in). The IPC motto says it all: Feel The Space!

Seriously though, I suspect that the poor state of IPC road data is the reason why Traffic is still missing from Apple Maps Japan.

A Shinkansen Trip with Suica Apple Pay

apple-pay-japan_inline-01The iPhone Suica app lets you purchase Shinkansen express tickets and reserve seats. I love using Suica Apple Pay but have not yet had the chance to try it on the Shinkansen. Fortunately Japanese blogger macgeek takes us on a his Suica Apple Pay Shinkansen trip from Tokyo to Ueno with a side trip to a his favorite Chinese restaurant.

His video walks you through the Shinkansen ticket purchase in the iPhone Suica app and his journey from Yokohama, Tokyo and Ueno. He uses Suica Apple Pay on his Apple Watch Series 2 and it is slick. If there is a reason to buy Apple Watch, this is it.

Currently Suica Apple Pay Shinkansen ticket purchases only work for travel on the JR East rail network. JR East is working with JR Central (Tokkaido Shinkansen) and JR West (Sanyo Shinkansen) to rollout complete smartphone compatibility, including Suica Apple Pay, in September 2017.

That Warm Fuzzy Feeling When Puppets Use Apple Pay in Japan

NTT Docomo TV ads are running in connection with the Apple Pay Japan New Life campaign. I never understood the appeal of the d CARD bird mascot puppets but the in-joke that puppets don’t have finger prints to use Touch ID and Apple Pay is clever.

The Docomo iD Apple Pay posters in Shinjuku are also appearing in Tokyo trains. That gold wrapped Docomo iD Apple Pay Yamanote train should be hitting the rails soon.