Joseph had covered a few language apps over two posts last year (see part 1 and part 2). Here’s a new one.

Midori is a Japanese/English dictionary useful if you are studying Japanese or if you find yourself lost in translation. This app is especially convenient for students, mainly for the following key features when studying Japanese:

    • Fast searching for translation terms. Whereas a lack of speed exists in many Japanese dictionaries, this app performs very well;

midori1

    • Kanji details are shown with an animation for the correct strokes drawing order;

midori2

midori3

    • A large number of examples using the searched word, which is great for learning purposes;

midori4

    • finally: bookmarks, kanji lists based on JLPT and a translation mode that automatically separates searchable words from particles.

In a nutshell, the strong point of this app is its speed and an easy, clean and minimalistic interface. Added bonus for the translation mode, really helpful to do searches of terms from an article.

Apple Store link

Do you like the idea of blogging using your phone and your voice? No more typing in a tiny keyboard. It’s possible using Bubble Motion technology.
After a great success in India, with more than 2 million users, Bubble Motion’s platform of voice blogging announced that it comes to Japan thanks to KDDI.

It’s called Koe-now コエなう, still in beta. Koe in Japanese means voice and “now” written in the Hiragana syllabary as なう (nau) reminds the way Japanese use the informal phonetic version of the English word in twitter. Japanese is a very graphical language and characters can represent much more meaning than the phonetic version. Using なう in the name is a clear way to call the attention of twitter users, whose number is huge in Japan.

koe-now

Celebrities will be the main stream, recording their messages at any moment so their fans can feel more in contact with them. Specially in a country where idols and celebrities have loyal fans.

Will this service try to compete directly with Twitter?
How will KDDI integrate this into other social networks?

More information at コエなう home page

Related sources: KDDI, TechCrunch Japan, Nikkei

“Who is my boss” is a new campaign led by DoCoMo to announce something by Tuesday May 11th. What will they announce? Is this a product? a new phone? Is DoCoMo going to get out something that nobody will be able to imagine?

Who is my boss?

This campaign has a story, our friend, Darth Vader is looking for a boss. He is like a ronin looking for a lord that will fit his expectations. Go to www.docomo-1-1.jp and check the website, you will find a funny video of Darth Vader trying to desperately find his boss.
You have to write your name in Japanese characters, then link an image avatar from twitter or your disk and finally you have to make a call to a free dial number and introduce a code that they will provide for just few seconds. If you are not in Japan, forget about the call, you can wait it timeouts and see the same result in the website. Basically, if you call that number, Darth Vader will call you back giving some important messages for your life :-)
If you don’t know how to write your name in Japanese, try this website but remember that Japanese language uses syllables so if your name is “Michael” you have to write it as “Maikeru”.

The campaign is quite aggressive. Darth Vader just invaded all the walls and corners of Shibuya station.

Who is my boss?

The big screens in the Shibuya crossroad constantly show Darth Vader looking for his Boss…

Who is my boss?

Who is my boss?

More pictures at Flickr

Check the website www.docomo-1-1.jp and try to play. Your picture will be included in the video :)

In an attempt to find his boss, Darth knows how to use new technologies and social networking. He has a twitter account and will reply to your questions with a nice link including your avatar:

It’s quite weird to see Darth Vader in every corner, I thought that he won’t make it but finally it seems that he will invade earth soon… :)

Traveling to Japan? Will you need a means of communication? Prepare your pocket if you are up to rent a phone, a SIM card or a Data card in Japan. Most providers give you different choices for rental devices, but be careful because prices from one to another might vary a lot. Please read carefully the following information and then check all the links. Prices can vary from one another, and through time as well.

Do you want to rent a 3G SIM card in Japan?

If you have an iPhone, or a NOKIA compatible with Japanese WCDMA2100 technology, then you are able to rent it. (Sorry, Android seems too new at this moment). Though you have some providers who give you the possibility to rent it, using Softbank might be one of the best choices.

http://www.softbank-rental.jp/en/phones/sim3g.php

Though renting might be cheap (105 yen a day), using it can turn your bill a nightmare.
Check the rates here

You can apply for it directly from your sofa at home. Get it online, and be ready to pick it up when you arrive at the airport. If you aren’t so sure yet about which provider you would like to use, just spend some extra time at the airport to rent your 3G SIM card. Note that you won’t be able to rent a 3G SIM card anywhere else.

What if I want to use my own phone?

If your phone uses a 3G GSM SIM card you will be able to use this option. You can rent just the handset and use the GSM SIM card. But remember that you must check your roaming agreements with Softbank (vodafone) prior to come to Japan.
http://www.softbank-rental.jp/en/phones/roaming.php

What if my phone has nothing of the above?

Then your only choice is to rent a Japanese phone. You can try the following services:
Softbank (quite cheap at the moment)
Pururu (with a special offer for 30 days)
E-phone
G-Call
Jal ABC

I also need a Data Card!

If you want to use internet wherever you go, to rent a Data Card for your Mac or PC might be a good idea. The most popular is called e-mobile.
The following companies offer data card services:

Pururu
E-phone
G-Call
Jal ABC

If you check the rates, Pururu has the best rental fees at the moment. But remember that this can change at any time. So please check all providers before flying to Japan.

What about a pocket wifi?

Unfortunately, at the moment, it seems that providers are not offering that option.

Where can I rent it?

At the Airport. You can check the list of providers in Narita International Airport here:

http://www.narita-airport.jp/en/guide/service/list/svc_19.html

Providers only have rent options at the Airport, so once you exit it, you’ve lost all opportunities to rent a phone, 3G SIM card, or Data Card. Unless, that is, you go back to the airport just for that.

UPDATE Nov. 3 2010: Read Visiting Japan? Mobile Phone and Data Plans to Keep You Connected

Tonight, from 7:00 pm to 10:00 JST (Japan standard time), was held the new entry to Tokyo 2.0 series of events in collaboration with Mobile in Japan. Tokyo’s Next Mobile Application Star was discovered after great presentations of four participants in front of a passionate audience & special judges.

Steven Nagata did a great job organizing this wonderful event, in which some celebrities took part. Danny Choo, Noboyuki (Nobi) Hayashi, Hareo Shiiya and Hiroko Tabuchi were the celebrity judges, Hideki Francis Onda was the Moderator of this imposing quest to discover Tokyo’s Next Mobile Application —more information about the panelists.

Tokyo2.0/Mobile in Japan Event: TOKYO’S NEXT MOBILE APP STAR Tokyo2.0/Mobile in Japan Event: TOKYO’S NEXT MOBILE APP STAR

While lots of people were filling the place, the virtual public from around the world did join the event through various channels, from Twitter (hashtags #MiJ and #t2p0). Presentations were kept under 5 minutes each. The goal for the participant was obviously to be able to explain his application and convince the public and the judges of its greatness.

Tokyo2.0/Mobile in Japan Event: TOKYO’S NEXT MOBILE APP STAR

The first application was ふきだしツクール (manga balloon maker) [iTunes link] from Pool Inc., presented by Tomoya Nakamura.
With Manga Balloon Maker, you can add manga-like text balloons to your photographs.

Tokyo2.0/Mobile in Japan Event: TOKYO’S NEXT MOBILE APP STAR

The second application was iPoseable [iTunes link] from Ryuuguu & presented by Grant Morgan.
This application lets you play with 3D articulated models.

Tokyo2.0/Mobile in Japan Event: TOKYO’S NEXT MOBILE APP STAR

The third application, presented by Yoski Akamatsu, was Twitcasting [iTunes] by sidefeed.
TwitCasting Live is a Twitter client which adds a live broadcasting service (both visual and sound streaming).

Tokyo2.0/Mobile in Japan Event: TOKYO’S NEXT MOBILE APP STAR

The fourth & last application was フーフーミントン (Huff Puff Volley) [iTunes link] from ConIT, presented by Tetsuya Imamura
It’s a comical 3d sports game for iPhone. It’s a multiplayer game via bluetooth where you can interact with your character, blowing directly on your iPhone

At the end of the presentations, the public had around 15 minutes to vote for its favorite application, while the online audience was able to cast its poll using twitter.
When the time ran out, votes were counted and Tokyo’s Next Mobile Application Star was finally discovered! Two different prizes were given: the public’s and the judges’. Twitcasting got prize of the public (getting a mysterious prize the name of which cannot be revealed for legal reasons) and Huff Puff Volley got second prize. The first prize granted by the judges, though, went to Huff Puff Volley while the second went to Twitcasting. Funny, isn’t it??

Tokyo2.0/Mobile in Japan Event: TOKYO’S NEXT MOBILE APP STAR

Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times Tokyo journalist, announcing the winner.

Tokyo2.0/Mobile in Japan Event: TOKYO’S NEXT MOBILE APP STAR

The night ended with a glamorous background and a great feeling of achievement for all participants. Not only tech people attended the event, but also journalists, photographers, artists, etc. all coming to discover the Star of the night. Not to forget the cute girls who were cheering up the party.

Tokyo2.0/Mobile in Japan Event: TOKYO’S NEXT MOBILE APP STAR

Special thanks to all the participants who made this event a reality and kudos to all the volunteers.
First and foremost, thanks to Steve Nagata without whom this would have not been possible! Thanks also go to Joseph Tame and his funny D. App videos, Pepi Valderrama for helping to prepare the set, Satoka F for her technical support, Paul Papadimitriou for his transcontinental support from the old continent, and many others that made this a success.

Check for more pictures at Mobile in Japan Flickr group (join and add yours, don’t forget to tag with MiJ)

UPDATE: watch Dr. Appleton’s videos that ran throughout the event.

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. You can go to a coffee shop, leave your belongings in a table, go to the toilet and when you come back, everything is right there. Nobody will touch it. Anyway, Japanese do worry about security. There are tons of gadgets and even books to help people increase “security” in their lives. Of course, iPhone applications are not an exception. In fact, just think about it. Do you think that it’s easier to loose your wallet or your iPhone?
Usually you will keep your iPhone in your pocket or in your hands. You will always think about it to check emails, browse the web or you’ll just try to keep it right away in your hands to play some game in spare moments. How many times do you think about your wallet? Usually people think about it, only when they have to use it.

Japan Mobile Inc created an application to keep the content of your wallet safe in your iPhone.
The idea is simple. As soon as you realize that you lost your wallet or think it got robbed, the first thing to do is to block the credit cards, and inform the police about the loss. In that case you will need the following information: credit card number, expiration date, driver’s license number and so forth. Usually nobody remembers this information.

Wallet Guide uses the camera and it has many options to edit the picture. It also organizes the image from the front and back and it has a table to choose what kind of document you want to store.

The application protects this information with a security code, so in case your iPhone gets lost, nobody will be able to get the content.
Link to iTunes Store