Archive for category services

Date: January 2nd, 2012
Cate: services

Japan Emergency/Holiday Hospital Situation

The service design around Japanese hospital system (particularly in case of emergency/holiday situ) is horrendous.

Most Japanese hospitals are closed for a coming few days. First I called public number to consult if my daughter’s case requires immediate attention. The lady says yes as ears are sensitive.

Then I was requested to call another public number to find out which hospitals are open today. They told me that these are only a static information and requires me to call to these mentioned hospitals directly to make sure they are open.

Then I called to both hospitals only to be told that where I live differs from their ‘jurisdiction’ – though those two hospitals are much closer, they asked me to go to the hospital in Nakano, which my residence area is covered.

So my daughter and I went – indeed she was developing an ear disease. The doctor prescribed her medicine, however, the nurse reminds me that neighboring pharmacies are all closed and we should look for one that is open on our own.

I went to 5, 6 pharmacies, naturally all closed. Felt that I am out of luck and called one of the two hospitals (the friendlier one), which she was earlier rejected. The doctor was kind enough to understand this odd situation. Because that hospital is large enough to prescribe the medicine in-house. So after four hours of struggle, the only thing accomplished is that my daughter takes a two-hours errand and was diagnosed to confirm the symptom.

Now leaving for another hospital. Nice way to start a year.

Date: October 21st, 2011
Cate: Culture, Experience, services
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Nine Hours – Capsule Hotel Experience

I wonder if you have ever heard of a term Capsule Hotel – an inexpensive accommodation, which allows you to sleep on a mattress placed inside a pod. Capsule hotels were once extremely successful, however, became a minor business. To begin with, the facility was never considered as an option for women. Confined and tasteless, the facility was considered for salarymen, who didn’t care much about the esthetic comfort. As Japanese economy declined, there were fewer reasons for Japanese businessmen to stay in these cheap hotels after work or work-related dinners overnight. And it did not help that there are competitors like 24-hour opened Manga Cafes in town, offering you with private rooms and comics to read.

Last year an interesting Capsule Hotel called Nine Hours opened in Kyoto. Photographs we see from their websites and Good Design Awards presented the facility as if it was a small design hotel.

Yesterday taking the opportunity of visiting Kyoto, I eagerly booked a room, no, a pod.

Just like I have seen on websites, the place was clean and approachable. As soon as you enter, you are attacked by white. From walls, ceilings, to reception desks, they come in bright white.

As the receptionist explains the system, you realize that the hotel made a lot of effort to segregate men and women, perhaps, for the sake of the comfort for women. Men and women, they take separate lifts, which is essential, as shower rooms and beds are on different floors.

After check-in, you can go up to the locker/shower room on the third floor (if in woman’s case that is). Inside the locker you will find room wear, or more commonly known as pajamas, toothbrush, and hair products.

What I particularly impressed was the shower area. As soon as you open an individual door that leads to a changing space, you see that there are two more glass doors in front of you. The first door leads you to the shower space, then the next door to the common bath. I was also impressed by the fact the door can be locked so that while you are in the bath, your belongings will be beyond reach from others.

Once you are ready, take a lift once again and go to the sleeping floor. The locker key you receive at the reception indicates not only the locker ID but also the pod for you to sleep in.

But when everyone sleeps so closely, next to each other, how can we wake up in the morning, without waking the others? The pod comes with some sort of an alarm clock, which controls the dimming of the light inside the pod. Once you set the time to wake-up, the light will gradually fade away. And in the morning, you realize that the light around you gets stronger as the time approaches. By the time the clock hits your wakeup time, the entire pod will be flashy white, which will most likely kick you out from a deep sleep.

To sum up, how was my experience? Well, if you cannot stand other people’s hair lying in the shower room, I suggest you don’t try. And if you cannot stand being awaken by the footsteps of the others, I don’t recommend the experience, either. For me, the place made me realize that I am not missing much although I may not have had much personal space. And the fact that the place was not packed also helped, as even though the space was open, I did not have to share much of the time with others and did not feel that I was stared at, or being forced to stare others.

And was I able to sleep well in the pod? Yes, I surprisingly did, with some help from my favorite podcasts coming into my ears.

Date: May 2nd, 2008
Cate: services

Power of Color Copies


Railway stations color-copy photographed signs at construction sites. As the format of signs remain familiar, the solution seems much more friendly than a simple handwritten signs.

Iidabashi Station, Oedo Line. Similar solutions can be found at Tokyo stations, JR.

Date: May 1st, 2008
Cate: services

A Business Opportunity For Keyless Lockers


Recently, we had an opportunity to try out a coin locker in Harajuku station, which uses your mobile phone number as a means of identification. By dialing to the phone number displayed on the screen, the system records your number and locks and unlocks a box of your choice.


Date: May 1st, 2008
Cate: services

A Natural Fit


There’s no explanation required, a time table accompanied by a clock.

At Wakamatsu-Kawada station, Oedo Line.

Date: April 29th, 2008
Cate: services

without disruping the atmosphere


I had an opportunity to visit Nanjatown thanks to my British friend Chris’ recommendation. Nanjatown is in essence an amusement park containing four unique theme parks: Dumpling Stadium, which collects dumplings (gyo-za, or jiao-zi in Chinese) from different parts of Japan, Ice Cream City, with hundreds of different ice creams and jelatos, Relaxation Forest, providing different massages from Thai to UK, and Tokyo Dessert Republic, offering desserts. The facility takes place across two separate floors inside a huge complex called Sunshine City in Ikebukuro.

The photo was taken in Dumpling Stadium, where they provided an atmosphere of Japan 50 years ago. People on wheelchairs and families with baby carts are provided with a special ticket which also serves as a key to open doors with limited access. Behind the door lies an elevator, hardly retro. A nice trick.

Img_2437 (in Japanese)


Date: April 29th, 2008
Cate: services

Multi-purpose toilets


One hassle for mom with kids is to go to a toilet while you are out. In facilities like department stores and museums, you are most likely to find multipurpose toilets which allows entry with wheelchairs and baby carts.