From June 2013

Applying for a Chinese Visa From Tokyo

Update: as of 2016, tourists and foreign residents in Japan can now apply for a visa at the Chinese Visa Application Service Center so you no longer have to use a travel agency.


If you’re a foreigner living in Japan (not a tourist) you can no longer apply for a Chinese tourist visa (type L) direct from the Chinese embassy in Tokyo (although type F business visas are still available). Despite conflicting information on their website you will be given the number of a travel agency who charge more than double the going rate than the embassy (10,000 ¥ vs 4,000 ¥). Read more

Japanese Architecture Influence & Origin

A friend recently recommended me a visual treat of a documentary, Kochuu, that looks at the roots of modern Japanese architecture and it’s influence on buildings throughout Scandinavia. It’s title translates as “in the jar”, referring to the Japanese tradition of constructing small, enclosed physical spaces, which create the impression of a separate universe. Read more

Kowloon Walled City Rebuilt in Japan

If you don’t know anything about Kowloon Walled City (九龍城寨) then have a read of my earlier posts where I looked at what it was (a lawless area of Hong Kong) and what it is today 20 years later (now redeveloped as a park). It’s a fascinating story which was confined to the pages of history until recently when a games company in Japan decided it would make the perfect backdrop to a new arcade they were building in Kawasaki (川崎市 – located between Tokyo and Yokohama). Read more

Design is…

I’ll save passing comment on iOS 7 for another day (short version: brave new world) but more than this I wanted to share the beautiful video’s Apple made explaining what design means to them – a mission statement if you like.

“I think there is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity, in clarity, in efficiency. True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation, it’s about bringing order to complexity.” – Jony Ive

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs

Green Island Penal Colony

Earlier in the year (before moving to Tokyo) I visited Taiwan for the third time and spent a very enjoyable week travelling down the east cost by train. Along the way I stopped off at Taitung (台東市) – a rather unremarkable small city but the gateway to my intended destination of Green Island (綠島). Read more

This is Shanghai

Shanghai’s skyline got to show off it’s better side in last years Skyfall, but photographer Rob Whitworth and urban explorer JT Singh, have gone one better with this spectacular portrayal of the 21st century giant.

“In 1980 Shanghai had no skyscrapers. It now has at least 4,000 — more than twice as many as New York. ‘This is Shanghai’ explores the diversities and eccentricities of the metropolis that is Shanghai going beyond the famous skyline.”

For all its pollution and censorship I miss China.