This is the first time I write in English for Miraikan, so let me introduce myself in case you haven’t read any of my previous articles in Japanese.
My name is Dimitris Kontopoulos, I am from Greece and I am a Science Communicator at Miraikan. I studied astronomy at Osaka University and even though I believe that the stars are enchanting enough by themselves, I am now trying to find new ways to communicate the endless beauty of the universe to the public. Enough about me, let’s get back to the reason why I am writing this article.
In 2005 I won an essay contest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and as a result I came to Japan for 2 weeks with 30 more people from Europe. The first night in Tokyo we stayed at Tokyo Prince Hotel. Nice room, nice view, everything was very impressive. But I hadn’t been to the bathroom yet. That’s where the real surprise was waiting for me.
There was the toilet…with buttons and blinking lights.. . For a moment I thought I was in the cockpit of a robot as the ones you see in anime. I braced myself and I sat. Then I pressed the buttons. If you have used a Japanese washlet you know exactly what I felt. I thought to myself “Japan is crazy! Full of surprises. Who knows what I’m going to see next in this country!”.
Surprise. A feeling that foreign people who either live in Japan or come to visit know very well. Japan is full of products and technologies that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Yurikamome (the train that has no driver), talking vending machines, mobile phones that can act as wallets. The list goes on and on.
As a result of all the unimaginable surprises that I have experienced in Japan, I became interested to see if other foreigners like me have been surprised by Japanese technology. Why don’t we have those technologies in our home country? What would change if the world became more like Japan?
In order to investigate those questions my fellow Science communicators and I came up with an idea for a workshop for this year’s Science Agora. We are looking for foreigners living in Japan so that we can discuss about all the weird technologies and products that we see in Japan. In the second part of the workshop the participants will be spilt into teams and each team, drawing inspiration from Japanese technology, will try to design a product for the future.
Do you have any stories to share from your stay in Japan? Do you like to dream about how the technology in the future will be? Share your thoughts and dreams with everyone by joining us in our workshop “Amazingly Surprising! Japanese advanced technology” on November the 10th, here at Miraikan.
You can find more information and an application form in the link below: https://www.miraikan.jst.go.jp/en/info/121010197323.html
We are looking forward to hearing your stories and your ideas!