May 28, 2023

Japan pt.1: Tokyo Energy

Japan pt.1: Tokyo Energy

Flying from Vietnam to Tokyo, I dig into several of the books I've procured from Auroville by Sri Aurobindo. One of these is called "The Experience of The Psychic Being and its Growth" which seems to describe some of my more recent experiences related to enhanced synchronicity as well as some symptoms that I've not personally experienced... in particular the gold 'bursting' effect that clusters eight parametric qualities seems new, though I do seem to have touched upon the realm of golden pentads around January this year. That was freaky.

Esoteric experiences aside, I'm totally winging it on my travels listening to what Sri would call 'psychic intuition' so have absolutely nothing booked upon landing. Once on the ground, I grab a coffee and see what's available online; unfortunately most places are pretty expensive though it seems a capsule hotel in Shinjuku is on discount for the night so I book it and jump a train over from the airport taking me past the Japanese country side. The landscape is incredibly neat and tidy; somehow reminding me of a less wild version Ireland!

My capsule hotel is incredibly novel as it's basically an "Onsen", meaning that its modelled around a public bath and sauna. These baths are actually pretty common in Japan but I'm blown away by how lavish the hospitality is given they provide all sorts of free grooming products, sports drinks and rice bowls with miso soup. Talk about a drifters wet dream! 😂

Before stripping off and hopping into the pool off I double check with the attendant that this is indeed expected behaviour; he says yeah so I get naked, have a wash and start developing an 'Onsen Protocol' for myself by experimenting with heating sequences. The order of hot sauna followed by cold shower and warm pool leaves me with a sense of rather flaky expansiveness; relaxed and rather doolally from the jetlag I take a look around Shinjuku in search of a SIM card and some dinner; night time outside is frigging wild and incredibly high stimulus!

Awakening from my capsule casket the next day, I head down to the Onsen once again to try a new protocol; this time experimenting with a pattern of cold, warm, then hot which leaves me feeling rather social. I grab a coffee and then head off to shake out the caffeine by taking a walk down to Shibuya city.

Spotting the decorative manhole covers I remember that there is a tourist tradition of 'drain spotting' as the Japanese water companies intentionally highlight their manhole covers so that the locals are aware of where their tax money goes. Due to my personal interest in semiotics; I begin to run around the city enthusiastically photographing the floor like a stupid Gaijin!

Since I'm booked to go to Pragma Tokyo the next day I decide it best to try sort out my shoes situation to avoid looking like a complete rag and bones man. There's an interesting paradox I've noticed over the years that seems to relate to the Matthews effect; essentially those working their asses off tend to look so haggard and unappealing that they are passed over for opportunities, while the groomed and vital tend often to be the beneficiaries of opportunity. Since I'm intending to attract capital for a semantics project I make the effort doll myself up to avoid falling prey to such biases. Man we are suuuch irrational beings!

Yep, got some reaaal milage outta these guys #ProofOfWalk #FrugalThriftyness

Waking up early the next day I make sure to set myself up for success with another Onsen in the morning, coffee in the station and a decent half hour walk towards the venue. In all honesty; it's easier to find other lost bodies en route than the event itself and a group of about seven of us pile up before we find the exact location in a rooftop conference centre.

Upon entry to Pragma Tokyo we are provided with chopsticks and a notebook after which we proceed to the morning networking where I happen across an interesting spectacle between two gents who are politely wrestling with each other for conversation control.

Actually I've met one of them already - he's from Protocol labs - though his rather eccentric interlocutor is mysterious to me. I throw in some cheeky challenges for the sake of status signalling and we're into a relatively civilised game of triadic tennis. As the eccentric interlocutor departs, he offers his card and says goodbye; a science and technology guy hmmm - that's pretty resonant!

I stick around a little while longer to check in with the representative from Protocol Labs and then leave to talk to a few others in the crowd. As the Ethereum Foundation takes the stage on the subject of culture, I settle into a couch next to a really lovely guy called Nao - who was until recently leading up Coinbase Japan. He's a total gem; open, curious and friendly - so we discuss culture building and exchange resources on the topic (like emergent cyclical theory).

As I depart from the couch to grab a cup of tea I recognise a passing Juan Bennet from Protocol labs. Attempting to say hello he signals that he's getting ready to go onstage so I flash him an ok sign and resign to let him be. Pretty shortly after that he takes the stage to discuss technology trends, ecosystem building blocks and entrepreneurship in general. During the questions segment of the talk I relate to Douglas Englebart's work on Augmenting Human Intellect and ask him "given PL's mission statement to benefit humanity; what what kind of capabilities would you most like to see augmented". He's big on DataDAOs and Compute Over Data; which I reframe in my head as 'Semantic Ledgers'.

The guy who asked a question before me related to methodology development seems like an ally; so I grab a seat next to him and briefly chat before heading over to say hi to Juan (who's already getting hounded by a total bro dude man). I let Carlos my ally jump in ahead of me and hang back to create some space for them to talk while also enabling a clear exit path. After a few minuites of conversation Juan gracefully says he'd like to take a few more questions and warmly engages me on the subject of Xerox Parc and project Xanadu.

After a short lunch break Stani from Aavve companies takes the stage to talk about and promote lens protocol; a web3 social network. I've seen a number of people pointing to their lens profile but am generally unfamiliar with the project. I appreciate the way he's leaning into the positive potentiality rather than getting caught in problem thinking so feel inclined to eventually learn more so I ask him about digital identity during the questions round. Given his response I offer to share some design and end up jamming with him near the VIP section; this feels incredibly humble and receptive for a guy that's just come off stage. I like Stani.

There's some blabber blabber lightning presentations after this about defi stuff; during which I hang out with a pretty chillers old fella from a manga company who's working on a NFT story called 'laid back llama' before Balaji teleports onto the big screen via Zoom.

Man this guy is smart and incredibly driven to get shit moving due to his rather unsettling perspective of the macro economic situation which he does a good job to present eloquently. He asserts that he's not a doomer but is also thoroughly bell ringing about what he calls an omni-crisis. I'm a little torn about this because while he is justifying his position with facts I lack the macro economic experience to discern if whats evident to him seems likely. Still, he's damn smart and it was great to pick up that transmission!

My new friend Nao has been cool enough to share another event with me and heads over during Balajis talk. He's gonna see if he can leverage his clout to get me in and suggests I hang back until he knows for sure. He fails at the hero pass though I'm certainly grateful for the efforts. I hang around for the networking and meet a number of really great contacts that are all smart, interesting and resourceful. In particular I make friends with a guy called Cole thats interested in building on lens protocol the day after at the hackathon so I jam with him on some identity primitives and wish him good luck.

As I leave the building I see trees and decide to take an unusual exit - bumping into Cole once again. We wander around the rooftop garden and guesstimate a route out of the building only to encounter a Super Mario statue that leads us in to a Nintendo store. Oh hellll, this is a curios spot; the whole place is themed stores - Nintendo, Pokemon, Street Fighter, One Piece, Hello Kitty and a bunch of others; quite the cornucopia of novelty in here!

Finally making it out of the commercial novelty trap, I decide to wander home through Shinjaku park passing the many beautiful flowers hit the Onsen once again upon arrival. Mmmm miso rice for dinner and a wander round the famous crossings!

My next destination is Sogengi temple to try out Zazen meditation in a legitimate Zen monastery but that's not for another few days; I'm due to meet Alex upon her departure which seems to be happening slightly early. I've one thing to do in Tokyo before I meet her though... catch all the local Pokemon. Yes. Pokemon.

Enthralled with drain spotting as my tourist activity of choice I have discovered there are a number of Pokemon lids around Japan and right here in Tokyo city there are precisely eight of them to catch! These are distributed across two areas of the city; six in Machida and two in Ueno. Machida park has the greatest concentration of them as apparently their progenitor lived nearby, so I decide this will be my first stop. After this I'll go to Ueno get the last two before heading back to the hostel to pick up my bags and then down to meet Alex in the evening.

Besides the rare Pokelids I seek within the park, Machida is a new area - so I'm delighted to find some new covers designs of the off brand variety on my way to the entrance. Man this place is so beautiful the pictures compose themselves - which is lucky because I'm not much of a photographer!

I follow my intuition and quickly stumble into a Pollywag! I toss my Pokeball and capture the tadpole instantly, after counting to three for my flash to go off its sealed away into my gallery. I'm now officially a Pokemon trainer but this thing will be useless in a fight. I move onwards towards open ground where I find an number of cool off brand lids; a squirrel with an umbrella and two herons.

Theres a giant water statue nearby which looks like prime pokeland but alas construction workers have taped it off. However the Japanese are easily the most polite and helpful culture I've ever encountered; a worker spots me looking for something and asks if I need help. I tell him I'm poke hunting and he escorts me to the gym!! Domo origato, this gent has just helped me capture a Squirtle, Rattata, Pidgeot and Picachu across two lids. Around the corner I find an Oddish, Catterpi and Weedle; this games already far more fun than I'd expected and I feel like a total winner for capturing so many critters so easily; only two left in this park!

I set off again following my feet and am brought over a hill and past some streams. As the path rambles on I happen across the Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts and decide to pop in. The free exhibit is full of old school prints made from wood blocks; which is an aesthetic that I've always had resonance with. It's bloody gorgeous.

Leaving the museum I attempt to buy all the post cards in hopes of training an image generator with them but they don't take electronic payment, which sends me on a banking mission. After a modicum of difficulty but ultimate success over the bank machines I return to pay the cashier and take away a number of 'choice tokens'.

Back to my poke hunt, there's two more critters to find but and get distracted by a swing (with 'eat the elephant' lyrics in my head). Coming down from the hilltop I'm once again reflecting how bloody beautiful this park is. The pools and gardens are breath taking; full of winding paths that have wuwei written all over them. The composition is unparalleled. At the far end of the park I capture my Bulbasaur and Charmander lids!

All things considered, it's getting pretty late in the day. I've been enjoying the park thoroughly but it's time to get to the other side of town or I'll not make it down to Kyoto later. I head for the train and trip it over to Ueno about an 45m away. I'm pretty charged from my days activity and realise I need to add an hour in order to make it back to the hostel so I blast it round the park as quick as I can, while also snapping new lids and sight seeing at 2x speed.

Theres a shinto shrine in the middle of a large reed filled lake that takes me off course a while before I reorient myself and proceed with the poke mission. Up the stairs past another temple, ever vigilant I ensure not to miss any new lids nor the beautiful cherry blossoms, I make it to the Tokyo Museum to capture Baltoy, Bronzor, Wynaut and Tyrunt. That's it; I friggin' caught 'em all in one day!

Back to the hostel to pick up my bags and grab the train down to Kyoto. After some minor cashflow issues, a couple hours train ride and a reasonable walk to the hotel with my heavy bags, I arrive just before the clock strikes twelve. Having earn t my gym badges; I'm ready for a good nights rest and make contact with embracing company!

Ad Astra ✨