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Fear and loathing in Japan!

It started to get out of hand  with so much to say on my trip to the Far East, with all the anecdotes to tell, I had to leave a lot out in order to make it digestible. It is now broken up into sections to make it an easier read.

Section 1

I dragged myself back to London from a roller coaster expedition to the Far East where I was consulting on a 3d printing business that was aiming to expand in the Asiana region by planning offices in Korea, Thailand and Japan.  As usual, I do my push to get as many invites to attend Tech and Art events and the after parties for networking and most important to meeting people.

Visiting the oracle at a temple in Tokyo, reading  my fortune
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Japan has the biggest private cash reserve in the world: $1.3 Tril. locked up by corporates safes is enough to increase the global GDP by about 3% in one go

A typical night out having a toast with top Japanese business man, including PA’s and my friend an FT editor on assignment with Nikkei in Tokyo joined us at 

a top restaurants in Ginza
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As a self-respecting CPO*, I  get my hand dirty by visiting all the parties, night clubs and karaoke bars, and stay up all hours for the cause. I did improve my karaoke skills a few nudges while in Tokyo.

there were occasional casualties along the way, possibly induced by intoxicating substance abuse

I enjoyed two very contrasting cultures: Thailand, laid-back and idyllic, and Japan, fast paced and manic. In this process of having fun and networking, there were occasional casualties along the way, possibly induced by intoxicating substance abuse, thankfully in my case, it was only limited to a legal high, but I can’t vouch for others around me with the antics that went on. One of the key players ended up sectioned in a psychiatric ward.

Hercules Fisherman representing London from A selection of portraits taken at The Big Smoke mass portraiture event at Vout O’Reenee’s in London 2016.
More details here: http://olipix.com/the-big-smoke-event/
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taxi ride sets you back 50 bucks. I did manage to burn a few wallets while in Tokyo.

Section 2

reward get a £25 credit on Airbnb signup 

Both countries are yearning to catch up with the global startup culture as best as they can.Thailand is naturally hungry for progress and recognises the massive potential that awaits them. After all, no one wants to miss the global digital revolution that is unfolding fast.

A night out with a group of DJ’s at a music club in Tokyo suburbs
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Thailand is an affordable place to setup base, with a low cost of living compared to Japan where a short taxi ride sets you back 50 bucks. I did manage to burn a few wallets while in Tokyo.

At MLOVE stand where I was exhibiting at Mobile World Congress -4YFN
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Like everywhere in the world, the investors usually are very cautious, which translates to mostly only being ready to invest in real estate. But to succeed in this age, investment in tech startups is a must, or you are roast. In Japan, the conservative approach to investment and the gender inequality is detrimental to innovation progress, and government strategists are busy trying to find ways to address that.

 The track there turned out like
a Pokemon-go hunt, even though it was a few months before Pokemon-go release


Working at Mozilla Japan, tinkering with CHIRIMEN an opensource hardware and development platform for web interfaced  IoT devices
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Section 3

reward get a £25 credit on Airbnb signup 

For every city that I set foot in, I make it my priority to visit the nearest hackspaces I can find. For those of you who wonder what it is. A Hackspace is “where people share their interest in tinkering with technology, meet and work on their projects, and learn from each other.”

the Shin Star Gallery – Ginza- Tokyo looking through the window with works by Darren Coffield on display
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I see these places as the barometer for innovation and tech in the society. For example, London, boasts having the biggest hackspace in the world with 1000+ members. With that in mind, and knowing that Tokyo’s population is nearly twice that of the UK’s capital, my expectation ran high and maybe was a little premature. Excitedly, I sought out the first available “Tokyo Hackspace” meetup.  The track there turned out like a Pokemon-go hunt, even though it was a few months before Pokemon-go released and I was yet to know what it was nor had the pleasure of playing.

It is the Fengshui black art of “where to park your butt” that symbolises importance and enforces hierarchy in Japanese culture.

So to get to the legendary “Tokyo Hackspace”! I had to change trains three times the location was deep in the suburbs and needed lots of crisscrossing of the back streets to get there. I arrived outside a nondescript rather large lockup garage with the shutters down and it was all dark inside. By then, I was late by at least 15 min. I was starting to pull my hair out, and worrying if I had entered the postcode on my phone. I noticed another lost soul. Like me, he was about to turn back; we decided to wait for a little longer while talking and trying to contact the organisers.

Visitors to my show at the Shin Star Gallery – Ginza – Tokyo
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Section 4

reward get a £25 credit on Airbnb signup 

Finally, the organiser messaged us back apologising and explaining he was delayed due to a mechanical reason, and that another person was on their way too. Eventually, the meeting started about an hour and a half late.  It turned out to be a Gaijin fest, of a sort. A gang of four Gaijins (‘non-Japanese’ in Japanese) getting together and having a few drinks. It was a pleasure to meet them and make new friends, but soon we had to rush to get the last train back. Strangely, the tubes and trains in Tokyo stop by midnight.  I didn’t want to splash the equivalent of the cost of a one-way flight home just to get to my apartment.

Startups is not looked at favourably, not seen as having a proper job, and not going to win brownies point with the in-laws of the one you may want to propose a hand in marriage.

Traditional wedding ceremony at a Shinto Shrine
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Like all hackspaces, it had an honesty box for the drinks, theirs was a smart one in which you could even donate Bitcoins. I learnt it was concieved by the organiser of the meetup, who is very bright, it is so cool.

Japan is highest male-dominated culture in the developed world. The traditional protocols and ceremonies are still central to daily life. Corporate bosses employ “Sitting Planners”; an expert who oversees the seating arrangements wherever you go, not only at the boardroom and meetings but also when out for business lunches and at bars. Heck, even which room is assigned at the hotel on business trips and next to which secretary. It is the Fengshui black art of “where to park your butt” that symbolises importance and enforces hierarchy in Japanese culture.

For every city I set foot in,
I make it my priority to visit
the nearest hackspace

the barometer
for innovation and tech …

Section 5

reward get a £25 credit on Airbnb signup 

Corporates by nature are intrinsically conservative and more so there everyone reveling in traditions and ceremonies. You will also find out that working in the Startups is not looked at favourably, not seen as having a proper job, and not going to win brownies point with the in-laws of the one you may want to propose a hand in marriage.

Jacko at his exhibition with scenes from Fukushima disaster
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It is clear that Japan is a few years behind the UK; their Startups ecosystem still developing and has some catching up to do. There are European and US startup incubator firms already on the ground, and those who are see this as a golden opportunity.

Brexit discount effect, which has seen GBP nose dive to its 30 year low, thereby making investment cost 10% to 15% less

In Japan, as an advanced technological hub, you would think that there would be plenty of cash available to throw at startups. After all it has the biggest private cash reserve in the world: $1.3 Tril. The cash locked up in corporates safes is enough to increase the global GDP by about 3% in one go. To invigorate investment, the government has imposed negative interest rates, but the hoard is so high that it does not seem to make much of a dent, and it has continued to grow year-on-year regardless.

Street performance measuring the cost of a Taxi ride around Roppongi
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Section 6

reward get a £25 credit on Airbnb signup 

The good news for the UK meanwhile is that we have seen a rush of inbound investment all of a sudden: foreign firms taking advantage of the Brexit discount effect, which has seen GBP nose dive to its 30 year low, thereby making investment cost 10% to 15% less than just a few weeks ago. That is plausibly why Japan’s SoftBank was in such a hurry to buy the Semiconductor Arm for $32 bn. Never in a million years would financial advisor “experts” (me included) have been able to pull off the $5bn reduction they got from Brexit. Lets face it, it is so unfair on the Brexit leaders, they are getting undue flak instead of a pat in the back. Companies like SoftBank are the happy beneficiaries from the mammoth stunt that was pull off, and yes maybe the leaders had to tell a few white lies, like the plan to give the £350m savings from leaving the EU to the NHS.
Who cares so long as it worked for some. The key leaders such as Farage and Johnson should be applauded, packed for a luxury retirement vacation they deserve. After all we are talking billions no chicken feeds. Our wonderful British taxpayers, so congenial and conscientious, always ready to pick up the tab.

boy it is going to be another long night
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 With Yoko Kosins  at Garter Gallery,Tokyo Japan
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I am offering freebies; there will be more rewards listed at the end please regularly check for updates, like and share certainly a great help, I will love you to bits for as it will promote the project “Herx Chronicle”. The plan is for a crowdfunding drive to publish a set of limited edition prints, a Pictorial Chronicle of photographs of the journey, which took place in various cities and locations from Europe to Asia. This trip started in London from the Groucho Club, then all the way to Uffizi in Florence. Followed by MWC in Barcelona, to my old art school friends’ gallery in Kirk Strasse Amsterdam, before setting off all the way Bangkok across to the Laguna in Phuket and before ending at Roppongi Karaoke bars in Tokyo. It is a jam-packed story with photographs, films and drawings few of which previously shared with my friends on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter only.

*CPO (Chief Party Office)

Ref: Negative interest set by banks in Japan

In the cover picture Darren Coffield with Yoko Kosins at Garter Gallery, Tokyo planning upcoming show

visit my online shop here https://www.artfinder.com/herx

Mozilla Japan – CHIRIMEN https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/B2G_OS/Board_guide/CHIRIMEN/CHIRIMEN_FAQ

Get to know Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son https://www.hottopics.ht/stories/how-to/masayoshi-son-ceo-lost-70bn-in-day-before-conquering-world/

Rewards

 

I have started a drive to fundraise for the next Chronicle

There are few ways you can help to make it easier

Airbnb is one of the places I sometimes stay particularly when I need to save money, if you use this link when you first book, i will get a little credit I could use for the future stays, while it gets you also £25 credit on you first bookings.

Get a £25 credit on Airbnb signup 

This is one of the web spaces I user and they are offering £5 

Earn 5 GBP by signing up to a One.com web space 

 

Save money on Evenbrite events 

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