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I find a lot of the preconceptions on Japan seem to carry over from perceptions of their economic and industrial prowess from the 80s and 90s and consumer electronics and mobile technology dominance in the 90s-00s.

Things have changed a lot since then - besides high tech the other preconception is the assumption that costs/expenses are quite high - I’ve found these days Tokyo (and doubly so for the rest of the country) on the cheaper end of world class cities/developed countries these days.

Tech-wise there are a few things that I think continue to be interesting:

* As mentioned their transit system is first class. Their touchless pay system continues to develop and works pretty much seamlessly across the country now (there are some cash-only country buses still) and you can use it at just about every convenience store. Phones support Suica natively now and can auto refill - I’m not sure I’ve seen another transit card around the world that works across the whole country. There isn’t real-time GPS tracking for buses and the like but everything runs on schedule so maybe not so necessary

* Japanese vending machines are the best and the rest of the world should get with the program. This is as much infrastructure as technology - having the supply chain to restock and maintain vending machines every 100m (max) in cities and in literally the middle of nowhere across the country is really something if you think about it

* Japanese people still like tiny gadgets and you’ll often find slightly miniaturized versions of everything, which can be neat/charming, although not the insane feats of engineering they were in the past

* Japanese software generally sucks but it’s interesting for me to see where there engineering effort has gone like into pikakura machines, networked arcade games (like MMO horse racing simulators, NFC card-based RTS arcade consoles, etc), etc

* I’ve heard lots about domestic robots but I haven’t seen anything out in the wild. There’s that one somewhat automated theme hotel, but that’s more of a gimmick than anything. The Robot Restaurant is awesome for many reasons, but the mechanical stuff is all RC’d.




> I’m not sure I’ve seen another transit card around the world that works across the whole country.

HongKong but it is a small city. The card also functions in Macau.


As is Singapore's EZ-Link. In fact, you can buy a EZ-Link SINO Visitor Pass, which is both a Singapore EZ-Link card and a Guangdong Lingnan card... I know Hong Kong issues a few cards like this for cities across the border in the mainland.

Still, not nearly as impressive as the Japanese system.




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